This plate is part of a series of six plates made for the Dutch market called 'Bubble' plates, since they were quite likely to have been made to satirize the South Sea Bubble 'mania' which burst in 1720. With these plates Dutch speculators were warned not to set up riskful companies in Holland. The series is also frequently known as Commedia dell'Arte plates, although not all the figures depicted can be identified. However, it is generally agreed that the series was created as a satirical attack on the financial world of the first quarter of the 18th century. The inscription on this particular plate originally reads "Wie op Uÿtrecht of nieuw Amsterdam".
See Howard and Ayers, China for the West, London, 1978, vol. I, p. 234 and 235 for a discussion of the background to these plates. A similar set of plates is illustrated by Hervouët and Bruneau, La Porcelaine des Compagnies des Indes; Décor Occidental, Paris, 1986, fig. 9.54-9.60.
A series of six 'Bubble' plates was sold at Christie's, Amsterdam, 23 October 1986, lots 130 -135; another series at Christie's, Amsterdam, 15 October 1990, lot 142; one at Christie's, London, 7 April 1997, lot 89; and a series of six at The Dr Anton C.R. Dreesmann sale, Christie's, Amsterdam, 10 April 2002, lot 1308.