|Principal names within the
|QUINQUEPOIX: capital of the island, named
after the headquarters of the Compagnie in the Rue
R: de Seine, R. de Teems & R. de Maas: the
principal rivers of the three major countries involved:
the Seine (Paris), the Thames (London) and Meuse
R: de Bubbel: Bubble River
Z.Z. have: South Sea Haven, alluding to the
English South Sea scheme.
M. have: ie Mississippi haven.
Van't Zeer Vermaarde Eiland Geks-Kop. Amsterdam, 1720, 290 x 230mm.
Trimmed close to neatline, bottom right corner repaired.
A map of the island of "Geks-Kop" (fools cap) from "Het Groote Tafereel
Der Dwaasheid" (The Great Mirror Of Folly). The title translates as "A
representation of the very famous island of Mad-head, lying in the sea
of shares, discovered by Mr. Law-rens, and inhabited by a collection of
all kinds of people, to whom are given the general name shareholders."
At the center of the image is a map of an island depicted as the head of
a Fool wearing his traditional cap, the place names on the map have such
names as Blind Fort, Bubble River, and Mad House, surrounded by the
islets of Poverty, Sorrow, and Despair. Either side of the central map
are a number of additional images, including a crowd stoning the
headquarters of the Compagnie and a creditor fleeing his investors in a
land-yacht. This satirical engraving of the Mississippi Bubble is one of
the most famous cartographic curiosities. It represents the collapse of
the French Compagnie de la Louisiane d'Occident, and similar English and
Dutch companies. John Law, a Scottish financier, established the company
in 1717 . The Compagnie was granted control of Louisiana, and its plans
to exploit the resources of the region - the "Mississippi Scheme" -
captured the popular imagination. Believing that the region was a source
of limitless wealth, people rushed to invest. Share prices opened at 500
livres, but rapidly rose to 18,000 livres. At this point, speculators
indulged in profit-taking, causing a run on the shares. Confidence
collapsed, causing a run on the company's capital and the company went
bankrupt. Many individuals were ruined, not only in France, but
throughout Europe. As a consequence of the failure of the Mississippi
Scheme, confidence in other similar schemes failed, [and many ventures,]
including the English South Sea Company collapsed, as did a number of
smaller Dutch companies. The general term ‘Bubbles' was applied to such
schemes where promises proved illusory, burst by the pin of reality.