The Great Mirror of Folly

The Great Mirror of Folly

Full Name
The Great Mirror of Folly: Finance, Culture, and the Crash of 1720

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 misfortune inspired the publication of an extraordinary Dutch collection of satirical prints, plays, poetry, commentary, and financial prospectuses entitled The Great Mirror of Folly, a unique and lavish record of the financial crisis and its cultural dimensions. The Great Mirror of Folly is a wide-ranging interdisciplinary collaboration that uncovers the profound, lasting, and multifaceted impact of the crash of 1720 on European cultures and financial markets.

“As global as anything could be in its time, the financial collapse of 1720 elicits a multidisciplinary approach from authors magnificently skilled in art, economic, social, and book histories. Would that our own economic crises will one day produce erudition of this quality, in a volume that pleases both the mind and the eye.”

— Margaret C. Jacob, Distinguished Professor of History, UCLA

"Will we ever grasp that a dynamic society sometimes flops?  Judging from this ravishing display of financial folly from three centuries ago, and the illuminating modern commentary, it doesn’t look like it."

— Deirdre N. McCloskey, author of Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World  


"The most visually stunning and. . . one of the most important investing books of the past year."

— Jason Zweig, Wall Street Journal

“This is a wonderful book about an extraordinary work, Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid (The Great Mirror of Folly) . . . . a giant piece of satire aimed at denigrating the greed and hubris of the speculators of 1720 . . . . This is a book of great scholarship . . . that should adorn the shelves of all those interested in money, banking, financial innovation, bubbles and the behavior of people during asset market crashes.”

Antoine H. Murphy,

“Beautifully produced . . . admirably coherent . . . generally impressive.”

— American Historical Review