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Het Groote Tafereel Der Dwaasheid - The Great Mirror of Folly


Author: Anonymous

Publisher: Isaac Stockmans?

Year Printed: 1720

Edition: First

Printing: Unknown

Condition: Fine

eBook: See detailed plates with title translations -  Description - PDF of a similar edition from Yale

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Pages: 409

Height: 15.75 inches

Width: 10.2 inches

Notes: Other copies of this book: Harvard Study - Yale Library - Harvard Library - Flickr - British Museum - Bibliodyssey - South Sea Bubble - Library of Congress - Economists, Crises and Cartoons - Yale Conference: The Great Mirror of Folly: Finance, Culture, and the Bubbles - The South Sea Company, 1711-1855 - Wall Street Curmudgeon - John Law: Financial genius or charlatan? - DUTCH MIRROR OF FOLLY, Windhandel 1720 - Published by various connoisseurs, in order to taunt this despicable and deceiving trade, by which in this year, several families and persons of high and low standing were ruined, and depraved of their resources, and the real trade halted, in France, England and the Netherlands.
As long as the greedy person, 
Has money and goods,
The swindler will get his way,
Because the greedy and feeble-minded will always supply him.
[The Great Picture of Folly, 1720]

Individual Print Database - IFA Print Collection - Reflections from the Mirror of Folly - Het groote tafereel der dwaasheid and the Speculative Bubble of 1720 - Wiki: Stock Market and the Dutch Republic 

To translate sections of the original see Google translate. 

Galleries: Grosvenor Prints - Swaen - ILAB - bubble text - Old Master - Kunsthandel - PhilaPrintShop 

It is estimated that 300 books were published and one researcher has inspected 82 copies that exist today. The total number of copies that exist today is unknown.  A new book about the Tafereel is about to be released. Zoomable Images: Cover - CardsSwaen Zoom - Deck of Cards 

The Great Mirror of Folly: Finance, Culture, and the Crash of 1720 (Yale Series in Economic and Financial History) by William N. Goetzmann (Editor) , Catherine Labio (Editor) , K. Geert Rouwenhorst Ph.D. (Editor) , Timothy Young (Editor) , Robert Shiller (Foreword) from "The world’s first global stock market bubble suddenly burst in 1720, destroying the dreams and fortunes of speculators in London, Paris, and Amsterdam virtually overnight. Their folly and misfortune inspired the publication of an extraordinary Dutch collection of satirical prints, plays, poetry, commentary, and financial prospectuses entitled Het groote Tafereel de Dwaasheid (The Great Mirror of Folly), a unique and lavish record of the financial crisis and its cultural dimensions." 
Expert on this book: Professor Frans De Bruyn

Also see Shares from 1602.

The Great Mirror of Folly Playing Cards

This beautiful deck of playing cards is originally included in the book Het Groote Tafereel Der Dwaasheid.  We have translated the text into English and stylized them as more modern playing cards.  This collectible deck of cards will serve as quite the conversation starter at friendly gatherings.


Some plates are done by Bernard Picart - This is a great line from the end of the title page: Printed as a warning to those who come after, in the ill-fated year, for many fools and wise men. 1720.

An interdisciplinary symposium sponsored by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the International Center for Finance of Yale University.

The Great Mirror of Folly [Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid]
 is a compilation of texts and images that came out within months of the crashes that affected the financial markets of England, France, and the Dutch Republic in 1720. Texts include prospectuses for new equity issues, plays, poems, epistolary exchanges, moralistic sermons, journalistic accounts, and town edicts. Images include elaborate satirical prints, detailed allegories of finance and speculation, complex emblematic warnings of impending madness and penury, maps, and decks of cards.

This conference will bring together scholars from a number of different fields, including economics, history, art history, and literature to talk about this extraordinary volume, its context, and its aftermath. The three day conference includes presentations and breakout sessions for group discussions of individual prints and related works in a workshop setting.

The conference also includes a public plenary presentation by Professor Robert Shiller on the evening of Thursday, April 17 and a staged reading (in English) of Pieter Langendijks Arlequyn, Actionist (Arlequin, Stockbroker) on the evening of Friday, April 18.

The most puzzling aspects are how, why, when and by whom the book containing the above illustrations came into existence. 'Het groote tafereel der dwaasheid : vertoonende de opkomst, voortgang en ondergang der actie, bubbel en windnegotie, in Vrankryk, Engeland, en de Nederlanden, gepleegt in den jaare MDCCXX' has a title page that translates as:

'The Great Mirror of Folly, showing the rise, progress, and downfall of the bubble in stocks and windy speculation, especially in France, England and the Netherlands in the year 1720, being a collection of all the terms and proposals of the incorporated companies for insurance, navigation, trade, &c. in the Netherlands, both those of which have gone into actual operation and those which have been rejected by the legislatures in various provinces. With prints, comedies, and poems, published by various amateurs, scoffing at this terrible and deceitful trade, by which various families and persons of high and low condition were ruined in this year, and possessions lost, and honest trade stopped, not only in France and England but in the Netherlands.

As long as the avaricious
Own money and property,
The deceitful man gains his end,
For the miser and the fool will always feed him.
Printed as a warning to those who come after, in the ill-fated year, for many fools and wise men. 1720.'

Each particular issue of the book is said to be unique, cobbled together on demand so it appears, by an unknown Amsterdam printer and containing anywhere from 49 to 74 illustrations from the work of up to 56 different engravers. It seems astonishing that such a publication could be compiled in the few months following the financial collapse in September and be released in the same year. The inclusion of the date in the title may otherwise have been part of the compiler's desire to give immediacy to the sense of moral indignance they wished to convey, if, as has been supposed by some, that it was in fact first released after 1720. Many editions were published throughout the 18th century. This is one bibliographic record worth reading about (says he who usually shys away from the printing history) - in the extended 1949 essay by Arthur Harrison Cole: 'The Great Mirror of Folly ('Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid') an Economic-Bibliographical Study'.

Christie's 6-23-2011 $6k - 10-27-2010 $11,462 - 4-12-2012 $11,875 - 4-21-1997 $1,955 - Current Sale of the book - Alexandre Antique Prints