[Amsterdam]. 1720. Title-leaf,25,,52,31,,8,10pp. plus seventy-five plates (forty-seven double page, sixteen folding) including frontispiece, plus three maps. Frontis. Large folio. Contemporary paneled calf, ornate gilt covers and spine, black gilt morocco label. Remarkably clean and bright. Bookseller's label pasted to front free endpaper. An excellent copy, with additional engraved plate laid in. Item #WRCAM51443
One of the great satirical plate books of the 18th century, directing its invective at the Mississippi Company of John Law, and the wild speculation and financial collapse engendered by the pioneering stock issuance of the company. The Netherlands was a particular hotbed of speculation, with over 350 million guilders invested in the scheme before its collapse. The plates and their accompanying text, in prose and poetry, begin with a portrait of John Law and follow the course of the speculation in ludicrous and sometimes obscene images. It is a remarkable final chapter to the literature of Law and the Mississippi speculation. "The book is divided into six sections, with no general table of contents. The first part contains the articles of various Dutch companies. The second section consists of comedies and farces; the third part, poems, often containing street language; the fourth part, descriptions of playing cards satirizing speculators; the fifth part, four letters to "N.N."; and the sixth section, chiefly pictures, although pictures appear elsewhere in the book as well" - BOUND TO PLEASE. This book has always been a bibliographically perplexing one, with no two copies seeming to collate alike. Sabin states that copies have anywhere from sixty to seventy- four plates, but ignores the supplementary series. Even the most diligent student of the book, Cole, notes that "Rarely does a single volume combine in itself so much economic interest and so many bibliographical puzzles." BOUND TO PLEASE 5. SABIN 28932. Cole, THE GREAT MIRROR OF FOLLY. EUROPEAN AMERICANA 720/114. GOLDSMITH 5879. HOWES G442. MULLER, AMERICA 1503.