Auction 148, Lot 776

"Vasten Avonds Vreugde Krans en Tooneel Stuk", Anon.

Subject: Satire - Stock Trading

Period: 1720 (circa)

Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid…

Color: Black & White

7.5 x 11.8 inches
19.1 x 30 cm

This engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. At the center is an engraving of Cupid teaching Pan to play the pan-pipes, while a naked nymph and bearded man peer from behind a tree. In the top corners are a putto at left and a winged monkey at right, who appears to have a human head and is blowing bellows. The engraving is flanked by verses in Dutch, which are surrounded by an elaborate border consisting of Callot figures, a contortionist dwarf between reliefs of Heraclitus and Democritus, and numerous odd objects, including a tobacco pipe, a guitar, carrots, playing cards and dice, and a pheasant.

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: A

Watermarked paper with marginal soiling and an archivally repaired tear in right blank margin.

Estimate: $70 - $90

Sold for: $35

Closed on 2/19/2014