"Monument Consacre a la Posterite en Memoire de la Folie Incroyable de la XX. Annee du XVIII. Siecle / Ter Eeuwiger Gedagtenisse der Dwaasheid van het XX Jaar der XVIII. Eeuw", Anon.
Subject: Satire - Stock Trading
Period: 1720 (circa)
Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid…
Color: Black & White
13.8 x 10.6 inches
35.1 x 26.9 cm
This engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. This street scene focuses on the female personification of Folly riding a chariot with the naked figure of Fortune above her, scattering stocks and shares. The six allegorical figures pulling the chariot represent "bubble" companies: South Sea, Mississippi, West Indies, the Banque Generale or Royale, Insurance and East India. Above, the devil sits in the clouds blowing bubbles. The chariot is heading towards three buildings in the background labeled Hospital for the Sick, Mental Hospital, and Poor House. There are two columns of text in French and Dutch below the scene.
John Law, a Scottish financier, established the Banque Generale (central bank) in France. He was then granted control of Louisiana and founded the Compagnie de la Louisiane d'Occident, in 1717. Law developed an elaborate plan to exploit the fabulous resources of the region, which quickly gained popularity and people rushed to invest, not just in France, but throughout Europe. This resulted in the development of several other overseas companies, such as the English South Sea Company and a number of smaller companies in the Dutch Republic. The share prices rose dramatically in a frenzy of speculation. In 1720 the bubble burst; speculators cashed in, caused a run on the shares, and the company went bankrupt. As a consequence of the failure, confidence in other similar companies failed, and thousands of individual investors across Europe were ruined.
There is minor soiling and a several tiny tears along the centerfold that have been archivally reinforced.