Catalog Archive
Auction 146, Lot 791

"Opkomts, Midden, en Geen Eynde van den door Trapte Jan Lauw", Anon.

Subject: Satire - Stock Trading

Period: 1720 (circa)

Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid…

Color: Black & White

14.7 x 11.3 inches
37.3 x 28.7 cm
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This engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. The central vignette depicts John Law taking leave of the Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon in Paris. A medallion with a portrait of Law appears at top, surrounded by spider webs, snakes, thorns, and fishing rods. Sixteen additional vignettes show scenes from John Law's career.

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.


Condition: B+

A fine impression with a few faint spots and a small abrasion in sky of central vignette. Backed in Japanese tissue to repair a few tears in blank margins.

Estimate: $70 - $90


Closed on 9/4/2013