Catalog Archive
Auction 183, Lot 532

"De Schynschoone Actie-Sphinx Springt hier zig Zelven Dood, zo dra als Edipus het vals Geheim Ontbloot", Anon.

Subject: Satire - Stock Trading

Period: 1720 (circa)


Color: Black & White

12.5 x 8.1 inches
31.8 x 20.6 cm
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This satirical engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. The engraving includes a man being rolled on a French barrel (with a cock symbol on it), causing him to vomit stock papers, which are the picked up by several investors at center, who hand them off to a group at left. A woman at far left rips up her papers and tosses them into a fire, while a man uses the papers to wipe his behind. At top is a map flying with the help of inflated bladders, as well as a sphinx jumping off a mountain towards Oedipus. There are 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 price of the (Carte du Mexique et de la Floride) 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 few minor printer's creases at top right and marginal soiling.

Estimate: $80 - $100

Sold for: $50

Closed on 6/9/2021