Bubbles and bankruptcy
financial crises
in Britain
since 1700

29 November 2012 – 5 May 2013

Recommend this exhibition

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.

Steve Bell (b. 1951), Bank Levy. Ink and watercolour, 2011. 
© Steve Bell 2011.