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Money, Money, Money

Travels along the Silk Routes Shapero Rare Books

Two hundred and fifty years ago this year, a group of stock-jobbers, dealers and brokers, and market-makers got together to erect their own building on Sweeting’s Alley, which became known as The Stock Exchange. For a daily fee of 6d anyone could pitch up and make a bet, and so the art of speculation was born.

Travels along the Silk Routes Shapero Rare Books
Today it’s difficult to imagine London without the City, although bowler hats and trading floors have given way to e-trading and online news. Faced with a dizzying array of free advice, apps, and cryptocurrencies, I find myself wondering how did it all begin?

One of the earliest items in our latest catalogue, which brings together 72 works on the stock market, is a handbill advertising the state lottery of 1780. It was here that brokers like Brooksbank and Ruddle first cut their teeth selling shares in the prize draws which attracted punters from all walks of life.
These lotteries were an important method of raising state finance at a time when the national debt was still in its infancy, however from the beginning lotteries proved controversial. In one of the first critical histories of the London Stock Exchange, John Francis recalled how the ‘streets swarmed with unhappy wretches, who, while they suffered for the past, were making imaginary combinations for the future’.

Ever since, the stock market has swung in and out of public approval, mirroring its own slumps and economic booms. The run-up to the Great Crash of 1929 was a period of boundless optimism. Insider accounts like Thomas Lawson’s High Cost Living give a sense of the adventure and limitless opportunity of a time filled with speculation and market intrigue. Our copy is Lawson’s own, with his bookplate pasted to the front free endpaper.

Edwin Lefèvre’s Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is a classic in the genre of the Wall Street novel. Although framed as a fictionalised biography of the legendary day trader Jesse Livermore, the book contains many valuable observations on investing, speculating, and the nature of the market, and no investor’s education would be complete without it. Found here in the publisher’s tan cloth.

Other works offer advice and courses on how to beat the market, with Richard Wyckoff’s Method of Trading and Investing in Stocks being a rare survivor. Unusually, the text was loaned, rather than sold to a select group of clients who were paying for what they believed was a unique glimpse into the technical mysteries of the market as written by a living master.

Against this trend, those stung by market speculation urged caution. Frank Boyce’s Pitfalls of Finance and Politics exposed prominent politicians and firms involved in the promotion of dubious and downright fraudulent investments. Like many of the books in the collection, the work is scarce.
These works offer a rare opportunity to delve into the history of the stock market, following its highs and lows over 200 years of trade and speculation.

Click here to browse more rare stock market items.
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About Us

Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in London, specialising in antiquarian & rare books and works on paper, with particular expertise in fine illustrated books from the 15th to the 20th century, travel & voyages, natural history, modern firsts, rare children’s books, guidebooks, Hebraica & Judaica, Eastern European, and Islamica

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