Result list 10 April 2021

The results of our April 10 sale are now online. Unsold items can be obtained in our aftersale until May 9 (first come, first served). .

Lotnumber: 467
PARIS. Action de 6000 Livres. black on vellum. Folds and small hole at the top (above the printed part of the certificate). The top piece in this auction, as it would be in any scripophily auction or collection. This is nothing less than the earliest share ever auctioned worldwide, and thus of the utmost historic importance. The certificate states that this is a share of 6000 French Livres of which 2000 Livres has been paid. The buyer declares that he wishes to enter the company capital and the payment has been inscribed in the accounting books ('Journal de Caisse') of the Compagnie des IndesOrientales. The history of the Compagnie des Indes starts in 1664. Colbert, the famous French statesman who had just brought order to the French state finances, wanted to promote the commercial and military naval power of his country. He ordered a study which proved his point: compared to Europe's leading power, Holland, France was far behind. The fact that Holland had 15-16.000 boats and France a mere 5-600 is but one illustration. Colbert decided to combine the handful of very small company partnerships that existed (including one operated by the well-known Duc de Mazarin) into one major new and share-issuing company, the Compagnie des IndesOrientales. On 26 May 1664, Colbert and his followers discussed the draft of statutes they had written with the King himself, the legendary Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King. The man who built Versailles and who reincarnated the system of Absolute Monarchy better than anyone else in history. The Compagnie was to get a 50 year monopoly of all trade beyond the Cape of Good Hope (thus all of Asia and the Asian Pacific). The company was allowed to occupy land, to declare war, to trade slaves and much more. Soon after the (successful) meeting with the King, the quest for capital started. The statutes foresaw a total capital of 15 million Livres. Despite the example given by the King (he bought shares worth 3 million Livres), and heavy government pressure, the notables remained reluctant to put money in such an uncertain venture. By late 1665 a little more than half the shares were sold, raising 8,2 million Livres (of which only the first third had to be paid straight away). Still, enough capital was collected to build a completely new harbor city for the company (Lorient in Brittany) and to prepare for a first expedition. Under royal pressure (Louis XIV personally attended actively several shareholder meetings), the primary goal was Madagascar where a small French colony was alreadyestablished. Commercially speaking, this was not the most promising choice. No wonder that in the following years, the company went further east and established its principal settlements of trade in India (Surat, Masulipatam, Pondicherry and Chandernagore). The cargoes (spices, tea, perfume,Indian cotton,...) the ships took back to France were often very profitable (selling at up to three times the purchase price). Yet, many of the ships never got so far : France was regularly at war withEngland and/or Holland who were all-powerful at sea and seized the company's ships or blocked the ports. Moreover, the king often used resources of the Compagnie for his own political objectives, for instance when he wanted (but failed) to conquer Siam(=Thailand). As a result, the company debt grew larger and larger while the shareholders were increasingly reluctant to pay further instalments or agree with a capital increase. After the death of the Spanish King Charles II in 1700, the Spanish War ofSuccession broke out in which France stood isolated against Austria, England, Holland, Germany and Portugal. Sending ships to India became as such a very dangerous mission. Despite the company's attempt to raise some money by selling goods from piratesand from ships seized by the French Navy, cash became a huge problem. After 1706 there was no money left to organise any further voyages. The company continued to exist in a sleeping form until 1720 when it was merged with the Compagnie d'Occident (=the Mississippi or Louisiana Company) of John Law and renamed simply Compagnie des Indes. Despite heavy speculation in the new company's shares on the Paris bourse in 1720 following the bankruptcy of the famous 'Banque Law', the company survived untilthe end of the 18th century (1793). According to our research no museum or archive in France or elsewhere can claim to own a founding share of the illustrious Compagnie des Indes.
Themes: BEFORE 1800
Date: 2 March 1665
Quality: VF
Startprice: € 44000