Apr 15, 2021 - Sale 2564

Sale 2564 - Lot 249

Price Realized: $ 2,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 800 - $ 1,200
(LOUISIANA.) Geographische Beschreibung der Provinz Louisiana . . . von dem Fluss St. Lorenz bis an den Ausfluss de Flusses Missisipi. 6 pages on one folding sheet, 14 1/2 x 17 inches; tightly trimmed, minor dampstaining. Offered without the accompanying map. Stored folded in a custom 1/4-morocco folding case. [Leipzig?], circa 1720

Additional Details

This piece was printed to accompany a map of the region, "Novissima Tabula Regionis Ludovicianae Gallice dictae La Louisiane," not offered here. However, it stands alone as a scarce and important promotional piece to attract German investment in the French "Company of the Indies," encompassing not only modern Louisiana but also much of the entire Mississippi River basin. Settlements, forts, American Indian groups, and natural resources are all discussed. Efforts like this brought thousands of German immigrants to the area, many of them settling on the "German Coast" west of New Orleans.

Wild speculation in these shares was known as the Mississippi Bubble, which soon burst and wiped out the investments of many participants, large and small. The architect of the bubble, the economist John Law, is mentioned here: "The whole trade of the shares rests on the credit of a Scotsman named Law . . . a clever and sharp mind, who started the bank in Paris and afterwards got the West Indian Mississippi trading company going. He also knew by persuasion and imaginative advertising to exalt the enterprise as great and profitable for the people so that everybody wanted to share in these profits" (translation taken from the Cornell University catalog). After the bubble burst, Law left France in disgrace and eked out a living as a gambler, yet his economic theories remain influential today. European Americana 720/102; Streeter sale I:116.