Contemporary Sammelband of 20 works on the South Sea Bubble.London, 1717-33 Stock Code: 134766
NotesAn exceptional collection of South Sea material, comprising 20 works on the Company bound together in the immediate decades following the burst of the bubble. The majority, 14 titles, are by Archibald Hutcheson, the great Cassandra of the project. They include both his warnings of financial irregularities before the bubble burst, and his post-crash analyses. Hutcheson's researches give a valuable overview of the spectacular rise and fall of the Company stock. Indeed, his "meticulous, even pedantic, approach is reflected in calculations involving up to ten decimal places" (Dale, p. 124). The remaining items include Company and parliamentary reports, a reply to Hutcheson, and anonymous post-crash irate publications. But it was primarily Hutcheson who interested the compiler: the spine label is lettered "Hutcheson's Calculations &c on South:S". Although Sammelbands of South Sea material are sometimes found, they were generally put together much later. To find such a collection in a contemporary binding - especially one that remains in such good condition - is rare.
Archibald Hutcheson (c.1660-1740) served as MP for Hastings from 1713 to 1727, throughout the bubble period and its aftermath. "Hutcheson strongly opposed the company's proposals for taking over the national debt... In the aftermath of the 'bubble' he proposed his own radical 'engraftment' scheme, and with several other prominent opposition MPs and peers led demands for the company's directors to be stripped of their estates and effects. He subsequently participated in the Commons' secret committee which investigated the scandal. His idiosyncratic efforts during 17212 to persuade Lord Sunderland to inaugurate a popular ministry, embracing 'country principles' and capable of governing a nation traumatized by the South Sea crisis, produced nothing but his own disillusion" (ODNB).
Following the crash, Hutcheson was part of the parliamentary faction that favoured aggressive action against the Company directors. In assigning blame he railed against the deceit and corruption of the Company ("the most wicked arts of deceit and fraud, which were ever put in practice amongst a free people"), but also blamed the greed of ordinary speculators - "all the present unhappy sufferers have been made so by the most extraordinary and epidemical frenzy, which ever reigned in any nation" (preface to item no. xi, see below). Hutcheson's bitterness is tempered by his obvious satisfaction that events had proved him right: "if what I published very early on this subject, had been duly attended to, and thoroughly weighed, it would, in a great measure, have prevented the innumerable mischiefs which have been the consequence of the most vile and wicked execution of the South-Sea scheme" (preface to item no. x).
Hutcheson was correct: he had published numerous detailed works analysing the Company's finances in the run up to the crash, but they had for the most part been ignored. But as Richard Dale has noted, Hutcheson's meticulous calculations, though understood by the leading financiers of the time, were beyond the ken of the general investing public. Hutcheson resorted to leaking summaries of his valuations to the press and using simple fables to get the message across, but still failed to make much impression on the public. "The real significance of Hutcheson's writings, however, lies not in the influence his views may or may not have had on contemporary opinion. Rather it is the fact that Hutcheson, far from developing new share valuation techniques, was merely applying with great rigour and care, valuation principles that were already well known to the early eighteenth century financial community. If others had valued South Sea shares on the same basis they could hardly have avoided the conclusion that by the mid-Summer of 1720 the stock had become wildly overpriced" (Dale, p. 160).
Both because he used methods that were sound but not revolutionary and because he failed to avert the crash, Hutcheson's "remarkable writings on the subject have been too often neglected by historians over the years" (ibid., p. 82). Nevertheless, he stands out as perhaps the most significant commentator of the period. Although others were using similar methods to prove the weakness of the South Sea Company's prospects, "none of these commentators provided a fully specified valuation framework of the kind developed by Hutcheson. In this sense his critical evaluation of the South Sea project is unique" (ibid., p. 95).
The present volume is evidence that at least one contemporary recognized the importance of Hutcheson's writings and felt them worthy of preservation and study. The collection contains a significant portion of Hutcheson's total output of South Sea writings, including some of which few copies are recorded in libraries, making their preservation here particularly valuable.
i) HUTCHESON, Archibald. A Collection of Calculations and Remarks Relating to the South Sea Scheme & Stock, Which have been already Published. With An Addition of Some Others, which have not been made Publick 'till now. London: Printed in the Year 1720. ESTC T99470 (28 institutions); Goldsmiths' 5805; Hanson 2742; Sperling 106.
The work comprises three parts formerly published by Hutcheson earlier in 1720, here reprinted with a general title page and continuous pagination - 'Some calculations relating to the proposals made by the South-Sea Company' (pp. 5-19), 'Some seasonable considerations for those, who are desirous,.. to become proprietors of South-Sea stock' (pp. 21-35), 'Several calculations and remarks relating to the South-Sea scheme' (pp. 37-119). The book was published with four parts, but the fourth is here absent - 'An appendix to Mr Hutcheson's calculations' (pp. 120-140).
ii) CROOKSHANKS, John. Some Seasonable Remarks On a Book publish'd in the Month of July, 1718. by Archibald Hutcheson, Esq; Relating to the Publick Debts and Fonds. With an Explanation of his Encreased Debts since the Peace at Utrecht:... London: Printed in the Year 1718. ESTC T49395 (22 institutions); Goldsmiths' 5453; Hanson 2403; Sperling 70. A response to Hutcheson's A Proposal for the Payment of the Publick Debts, published the same year, and evidence that at least some of Hutcheson's contemporaries were paying attention to his writings. Hutcheson published a response, included as number xiii of this volume. With the printed folding table present.
iii) HUTCHESON, Archibald. Some Calculations and Remarks Relating to the Present State of the Publick Debts and Funds. And a Proposal for the Intire Discharge of the National Debt and Incumbrance in Thirty Years time. The Second Edition. London: Printed for Henry Clements, 1718. ESTC T155539 (copies in only four institutions for this second edition, although the first edition is better represented); Goldsmiths' 5477 (first edition); Hanson 2402n; Sperling 73 (first edition). The first edition was published earlier the same year (item xiv in this collection).
iv) HUTCHESON, Archibald. An Estimate of the Present National Debt; To which is Added A Copy of Remarks Which were subjoined to some Calculations made in April 1717. relating to the Publick Debts. London: Printed in the Year 1718. Two variant title pages are known, one without a publisher as here, the other naming Henry Clements, no priority assigned. ESTC T12362 (five institutions, and another five for the variant title page); Goldsmiths' 5476; Hanson 2401; Sperling 76. With the printed folding table present.
v) B., A. - signed as such at end of preface. An Impartial Enquiry into the Value of South-Sea Stock; with Some Thoughts of the Occasion of the Present Decay of Trade and Credit: and some Means proposed for restoring the same. In a Letter to Sir Richard Steele Knt. London: Printed in the Year 1720. ESTC T37022 (13 institutions - ESTC notes another variant with a colophon bearing the imprint of J. Roberts but does not distinguish them further); Goldsmiths' 5720; Hanson 2782; Sperling 89. Published after the collapse, in an open letter to Richard Steele who forewarned of the crash, the present work traces the rapid rise of the value of the stock beyond any justification. Although the author does blame those who falsified the Company's position, he does also blame the greed of the people themselves, noting the "mad humour of the time" and their bewitchment by the "pleasing dreams of growing rich without labour and industry" (pp. 7-8).
vi) HUTCHESON, Archibald. An Abstract of all the Publick Debts remaining Due at Michaelmas, 1722... London: Printed; And Sold by T. Payne, 1723. Two variant title pages are known, the other without listing T. Payne, no priority assigned. ESTC T53752 (12 institutions; a further 16 for the other variant); Hanson 3226; Sperling 442.
vii) HUTCHESON, Archibald. Some Calculations Relating to the Proposals made by the South-Sea Company, and the Bank of England, to the House of Commons; Shewing, The Loss to the New Subscribers, at the several Rates in the said Computations mentioned; and the Gain which will thereby accrue to the Proprietors of the Old South-Sea Stock. London: Printed in the Year 1720. This variant, without a publisher or seller name on the title page, is unrecorded by ESTC, who note only two variants with the imprint of J. Morphew - ESTC T12336 and T17254 (22 institutions). Goldsmiths' 5810, Hanson 2806; Sperling 115. This work was was republished in the collection comprising the first item in this volume. "This tract establishes the basic methodology used by Hutcheson in all his writings on the South Sea project" (Dale, pp. 83-84).
Within this work is bound an additional single-sheet item, between pp. 12 and 13: A Letter from a Merchant, to a Member in Parliament, concerning the Importation of Swedish Iron from Holland. London: 1717? ESTC T20610, locating copies in only three institutions. This is unrelated to the South Sea Company, but nonetheless is a rare survival, even if in an incongrous place.
viii) HUTCHESON, Archibald. An Estimate of the Value of South-Sea Stock. With Some Remarks Relating thereto. London: Printed in the Year 1720. ESTC T33521 (22 institutions); Goldsmiths' 5807; Hanson 2779; Sperling 110.
ix) HUTCHESON, Archibald. The Reports Of the Honourable the Committee of Secrecy In Relation to the Late Directors of the South-Sea Company; with the Examination of Sir Theodore Janssen taken the 20th and 26th of January, 1720, at the South-Sea House, by the Honourable Committee of Secrecy; with their Proceedings thereupon at large being exactly set forth. London: Printed for G. Bateman, and Sold by the Booksellers of London and Westminster 1721. ESTC N12824 (7 institutions); Hanson 3025; Sperling 282. With the requisite leaf inserted between pp. 36 and 37; ESTC calls for p. 53 to be mis-numbered 45, which is not the case here. The reports of the parliamentary committee in which Hutcheson sat, which was set up to investigate the Company and the Bubble; the reports contain much information regarding the price and dissemination of the stock.
x) HUTCHESON, Archibald. A Computation of the Value of South-Sea Stock, on the Foot of the Scheme as it now subsists. Made From the Facts as they are Stated by the Directors of the South-Sea Company, in the Accounts and Papers by Them laid before the House of Commons... With some Remarks relating to these Matters. London: Printed in the Year 1720 i.e. 1721 as per ESTC. ESTC N5267 (21 institutions); Hanson 2945; Sperling 109. Hutcheson gives a valuable overview of the Company finances, and retrospectively shows how the stock could have been sold without leading to a bubble.
xi) HUTCHESON, Archibald. Some Computations Relating to the Proposed Transferring of Eighteen Millions Of the Fund of the South Sea Company, to the Bank, and East-India Company. Shewing How the same will come out on Two different Suppositions, to the Old Proprietors of Bank and India, and to the New Proprietors of the Ingrafted Stock. London: Printed in the Year 1720 i.e. 1721 as per ESTC. ESTC N23058 (14 institutions); Hanson 2947; Sperling 116. Hutcheson's analysis of the plan to transfer the funds of the South Sea Company to other institutions, which he opposed.
xii) HUTCHESON, Archibald. Some Paragraphs of Mr. Hutcheson's Treatises on the South-Sea Subject; Which Relate to the Relief of The Unhappy Traders in South-Sea Stock, and to Publick Credit. And the Reason of His Reprinting Them at This Time. To which is Added, A Near Estimate of the Value of South-Sea Stock, if the Bill now order'd to be brought in, pass into a Law. London: Printed for T. Payne, 1723. ESTC N483034 (1 institution only of this variant - see below); Hanson 3328; Sperling 444. There are two variants of the title page, one listing Payne's imprint as here, the other - more common - not. It was also issued with another tract with a new title page - The Two Last Treatises Published by Mr. Hutcheson. This copy has a small contemporary notation to the title page.
xiii) HUTCHESON, Archibald. Mr. Hutcheson's Answer to Mr. Crookshanks's Seasonable Remarks. London: Printed in December, 1719. ESTC T41542 (12 institutions); Goldsmiths' 5590; Hanson 2531; Sperling 84. A response to item number ii in this volume.
xiv) HUTCHESON, Archibald. Some Calculations and Remarks Relating to the Present State of the Publick Debts and Funds. And a Proposal for the Intire Discharge of the National Debt and Incumbrance in Thirty Years time. London: Printed in the Year 1718. ESTC T49247 (21 institutions); Goldsmiths' 5477; Hanson 2402; Sperling 73. With contemporary correction to pp. 24 and 26, correcting the date of publication of a previous treatise from April to May 1717. The second edition is also present as number iii in this volume. "A detailed critique of the management of the national debt" (Dale, p. 83).
xv) HUTCHESON, Archibald. Computations Relating to the Publick Debts, Taken from the Abstract Deliver'd into Parliament The 14th of March, 1716. With some Considerations in relation to the same. London: Printed for H. Clements, 1717. ESTC T107237 (8 institutions); Hanson 2302; Goldsmiths' 5378; Sperling 60. A second edition was published in 1720. This copy has the two folded tables conforming to the British Library and other copies, and a third printed table entitled "The South-Sea and Bank Schemes, As they were Delivered to the Honourable the House of Commons, Stated and Compared", which, with a docket title, appears to have been issued separately, although no record of it could be traced.
xvi) HUTCHESON, Archibald. A Declaration signed by Archibald Hutcheson Esq; and given To several of his Acquaintance, Soon after he had Perus'd the Examination of Christopher Layer, in the Appendix to the report of the Secret Committee... London: Printed in the Year 1723. ESTC T63849 (9 institutions); Goldsmiths' 6256; not in Sperling. Hutcheson irately responds to a charge against him that he was a member of a secret club.
xvii) The Schemes of the South-Sea Company and the Bank of England, As Propos'd to the Parliament For the Reducing of the National Debts. London: Printed for W. Castle, 1720. ESTC T12335 (13 institutions); Goldsmiths' 5867; Hanson 2803; Sperling 238. The Company's proposal to absorb the national debt, which was accepted. A second edition was published later that year.
xviii) The Right of the Subscribers to Receipts for the Money Pay'd by them to the South-Sea Company, upon the Third and Fourth Money Subscriptions, Fully Stated and Proved. London?, 1720?. ESTC N5772, Sperling 235. A rare survival of this 3-page publication - copies are known only in Trinity College, two in the New York Public Library, Columbia University, the Seligman collection, and Yale.
xix) Proceedings of the House of Lords In Relation to the late Directors of the South-Sea Company, and Others: With The Report of their Lordships on the said Proceedings... With a Supplement, containing the Five Last Protests Enter'd on the Journals of the House of Lords, not before Published. The Second Edition. London: Printed for E. Morphew, 1722. ESTC N20133 (12 institutions); Goldsmiths' 6126; Hanson 2997; Sperling 435. The first edition was published the previous year.
xx) The Report of the Committee Appointed to Inspect and Examine The Several Accompts of the South-Sea Company, Laid before the General Court of the said Company the 16th of June, 1732; And added to The Special Committee for Law-Suits, for the Prosecution of Mr. James Dolliffe, and Captain William Cleland. Made to a General Court held the 9th of May, 1733. London: Printed by W. Wilkins, 1733. ESTC T44714 (19 institutions); Goldsmiths' 7150; Hanson 4536; Sperling 531.
20 works in 1 volume, folio (302 x 196 mm). Contemporary sprinkled calf, red morocco label, edges sprinkled red.
With 5 printed folding tables.
Restoration to joints, spine ends, and tips, but not constituting a complete reback or major structural work. A few instances of misbinding: sigs. H-I of item number xii (see below) bound after item iv; sig. D of item viii bound after item xii; sig. A2 of item v bound after item viii. Some earlier pencilled collation notes. Light wear to extremities, slight rubbing to joints, front and rear free endpapers loosening at head and foot, a few leaves with light soiling and faint foxing but contents generally clean and crisp, folding tables without tears, in a few instances cut close, with minor loss to text, light damp staining at fore edges of final few leaves. Overall in very desirable condition.
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