Saturday, April 28, 2007

Financial History Collection on the Market

The Times reports that Christopher Dennistoun, "a stock speculator and general bookseller" is going to sell his collection of "more than 750 first-edition books and pamphlets ... that spans the history of the stock and commodity markets in London, Europe and Wall Street between the 17th and 20th centuries." The books will be sold en bloc for £395,000 (just under $800,000) through London dealer Bernard J. Shapero; from 15-28 May the collection will be on display in Shapero's shop, part of a show titled "Bubbles, Busts and Booms."

Dennistoun's collection includes what is believed to be the earliest broker's sheet, "issued by John Castaing 'at his Office at Jonathan’s Coffeehouse' on May 3, 1698. Castaing’s publication was the first in an unbroken chain of published share prices and the earliest evidence of organised trading in marketable securities in London." Other notable items include Daniel Defoe's 1719 The Anatomy of Exchange-Alley and Charles Mackay's Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841).

Any who've read David Liss' excellent A Conspiracy of Paper will understand the important role of pamphlet literature and printed matter during the nascent years of the 'financial sector.' This sounds like a very carefully-constructed collection, so if you're in London in the next few weeks, consider stopping in to take a look.

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