"De Inbeelding; Heersseres van't Rookverkopers-Gild, Maald Missisippi hier, 't Geen Vrankryks Schat Verspild", Anon.
Subject: Satire - Stock Trading
Period: 1720 (circa)
Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid
Color: Black & White
11.4 x 6.8 inches
29 x 17.3 cm
This satirical engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. A translation of the title is, "Fancy, the ruler of the guild of smoke-sellers, paints the Mississippi, which wastes France's treasures." The central scene of the painter and her painting of the Mississippi River and New Orleans is surrounded by vignettes of people printing, selling and distributing shares in the company. At lower right, John Law's horse is depicted producing golden droppings. The verse below satirizes the disastrous Mississippi scheme, the speculations in its stock led to the complete ruin of many of its over-eager French, Dutch and English shareholders. On a sheet of Dutch text measuring 13.3 x 14.8".
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 dark impression on a bright sheet with marginal soiling. Professionally backed in archival tissue to repair a couple of short separations along an extraneous fold and a long tear in the verses below the image at bottom left.