Reflections from the Mirror of Folly: The Adventures of Lord Londonderry in the Stock Markets of Paris, Amsterdam, and London in the bubbles of 1719-1720



The experiences of Lord Londonderry, born Thomas Pitt, Jr., in 1688, during the bubble year of 1720 took him in succession through the Mississippi bubble in Paris, the South Sea bubble in London, a brief boom in Dutch West Indies stock in Amsterdam.  He even initiated a bubble company of his own, the Bahamas Society in mid-1720.  Although his speculations were undone time after time, in each case he managed to hedge his risks with a variety of stratagems available to him in the early capital markets of Europe.  His resiliency in response to each setback provides us insights into the risk management possible in the three major securities markets of the time, with each operating under distinct political and legal regimes.  In contrast to the moralizing of the Groote Tafereel der Dwarsheid “Great Mirror of Folly” moreover, Londonderry’s adventures demonstrate the value of animal spirits when they are combined with bourgeois virtues and perseverance.
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