Bubbles and Bankruptcy: Financial Crises in Britain Since 1700

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Bank Levy, 2011 Ink And Watercolour © Steve Bell 2011
Bubbles and Bankruptcy: Financial Crises in Britain Since 1700

Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG
United Kingdom
November 29th, 2012 - May 5th, 2013

holborn, covent garden
Sat-Thu 10-5:30; Fri 10-8:30
Free Room 69a


This display looks at the story of bubbles, manias, and crashes in Britain from the 1700s until the present.

The current financial crisis is not the first to have affected Britain, and it is unlikely to be the last. In this display you can find out more about the extraordinary stories of mismanagement, speculative frenzy, fraud and failure which permeate the history of finance. From the nation’s first major speculative bubble, caused by the South Sea Company in 1720, to the UK banking crisis in 2008–2012, the display uses original share certificates, prospectuses, banknotes and other fascinating objects to explain how, why and when financial crises have happened.

As well as identifying its causes, the display shows how society has responded to crisis. Prints, contemporary cartoons, protest badges and modern works of art all reflect the potential for social, political and satirical commentary. From the story of the man who sold land in a country that didn’t actually exist, to the scandal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer who was sent to prison for financial corruption, find out how three centuries of bubbles and bankruptcies are still highly relevant to the British financial system today.