"Verklaaring van 't Klyne Taferreltje... / Actieuse papiere Atlas naar de mode... / L'Atlas Actieux de Papier a la Mode...", Anon.
Subject: Satire - Stock Trading
Period: 1720 (published)
Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid
Color: Black & White
13.4 x 10.4 inches
34 x 26.4 cm
This satirical engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. At center is John Law holding up the world (which is noted as LAUdo Britannos, a pun on his name and birthplace), with Hercules assisting beside him. Seven others, each representing a different character in the Mississippi Bubble incident, carry additional worlds on their shoulders. A dog with a stock share in its mouth runs around in the foreground. At top right is a vignette of Hercules about to slay the hydra. Four columns with verses in Dutch and French fill the bottom of the engraving.
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 price of the Compagnie de la Louisiane d'Occident 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.
A sharp impression on a bright sheet with a professionally repaired centerfold separation in the bottom blank margin.