Catalog Archive
Auction 180, Lot 760

"De Opgehulde Actionisten in hun eer en Aanzien Gesteld", Anon.

Subject: Satire - Stock Trading

Period: 1720 (circa)

Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid…

Color: Black & White

10.3 x 14 inches
26.2 x 35.6 cm

This engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. This engraving is centered on a woman upon a stage representing the South Sea Company. She wears a ship as a crown while holding a rudder in one hand and an infant in the other. Fortune floats above her holding a crown of thorns over her head while releasing share certificates in the air. The infant represents Credulity and hold both a cuckoo bird and chains that are attached to a woman kneeling on the floor. The woman is dressed in rags and represents Avarice, grabbing coins from the floor and shoving them in her mouth with one hand, while the other hand drops papers on which are written the names of Dutch towns involved in the "Wind Trade." There are four columns of verses in 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.


Condition: A

A sharp impression with a couple of short tears at bottom.

Estimate: $70 - $85

Sold for: $50

Closed on 11/18/2020