LAW, John.

Autograph letter signed to an unnamed "Monsieur", giving orders for the provision of payment in his role as controller-general of finance of France.

Paris: 3 March, 1720 Stock Code: 125706
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A fine example of the famous speculator John Law's signature, appended to an autograph letter written in a neat cursive secretarial hand, to an unknown "Monsieur", giving orders for the provision of payment, written during perhaps the most prosperous period of Law's career, following Law's appointment to the post of controller-general of finance of France and a month before his promotion to the prestigious title of superintendent.

"Il est necessaire que vous ordonniez au directeur de la monoye de Tours, de donner en payement des billets de banque qui luy seront presentes les Ecus qu'il a dans sa caisse il y a lieu d'esperer que ces especes jointes aux pieces de vingt sols, procureront aux entrepreneurs des manufactures et aux fabricants, toutes les facilites qu'ils peuvent raisonnablement desirer pour le payement de leurs ouvriers".

"In the course of April and May 1720 he was effectively chief minister and minister of finance, a sort of latter-day Cardinal Mazarin and Nicolas Fouquet combined; but on 27 May, the first crisis of his 'financial system', he was temporarily dismissed from office and threatened with imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris. Yet the eclipse was only brief: he returned to office on 2 June with the additional responsibilities of the superintendence of French commerce, the director-generalship of the Banque Royale, and a councillorship of state with a seat in the council of regency. With the collapse of his system Law was forced to offer his resignation on 9 December 1720, and he went into exile abroad, first to the Austrian Netherlands on 17 or 18 December. He returned to England, though his time there was not untroubled. The death of the régent in 1723 wrecked his hopes for a restoration in France and he moved on to Italy two years later with a commission from the king of England to any other prince or state 'not for use but for protection' (DNB). He died from pneumonia at Venice in comparative poverty on 21 March 1729, having received the Catholic last rites. The collapse of his system had brought down his own personal finances, which though very considerable in 1720 (a letter from Law to the régent, dated 1 March 1721, talked of his shareholdings at that time being worth nearly 100 millions) had been inflated by paper assets which in the end proved worthless" (ODNB).

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Single folio sheet (304 x 199 mm), 2 pp.


Docketed in the top left hand corner "M. Law. [?] de la monnoye". Creased from folding as usual, else in fine condition.


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