Books and Culture

This is the first known book about the stock market — and it's worth $300,000

Source: Sotheby's

Sotheby's Fine Books and Manuscripts Online is auctioning Joseph de la Vega's "Confusion de Confusiones," the first known book written about a stock exchange, and it's estimated to go for between $200,000 to $300,000.

The book was written in 1688, according to Sotheby's. The main text, Sotheby's says, is penned as a dialogue between characters including a philosopher, merchant and shareholder, and it describes the Amsterdam stock exchange, which was the first stock exchange in the world.

The book also discusses four main principles of the market, many of which sound familiar: "never give anyone the advice to buy or sell shares" (even if it's well-intended advice, the book notes, it could turn out badly); "take every gain without showing remorse about missed profits" (as Kevin O'Leary says, "Never cry when the market goes down, because it's not crying for you"); "profits on the exchange are the treasures of goblins" (also akin to O'Leary's advice, "You'll see the markets go up and down.... Get over it. It's normal"); and "whoever wishes to win in this game must have patience and money" (the stock market is a long game, and you need money to play).

Source: Sotheby's 

Author Vega, who was born in Spain around 1650 but lived in Amsterdam until his death in 1692, writes in the preface that he published the book for his own enjoyment, to champion the exchange as a fundamentally honest and useful enterprise and to warn of the deceitful practices that nevertheless flourished there, according to Sotheby's.

The version of "Confusion de Confusiones" being auctioned off by Sotheby's is a first edition; Sotheby's says there are likely only 10 copies left. Bidding for the book closes Dec. 17.

If you don't happen to have $300,000 to shell out on a book, as Bloomberg points out there's a much cheaper version for sale: A 2006 edition is currently available on Amazon for about $28. The Amazon description says it's "full of sound advice and highly accurate observations that are still of the greatest relevance today" and as the "perfect gift for anyone involved in investment banking."

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