The inscriptions read: Wie op Uytrecht of nieuw Amsterdam (Who wants to speculate on Utrecht or New Amsterdam); 50 per cent op Delft gewonnen (50 per cent profit on Delft); De Actie-mars op de tang (The march of the share values played on the tuning fork); Pardie al mijn Actien Kwijt (By God I lost all my shares); Shyt Actien en windhandel (Shares and swindle); and Weg Gekke Actionisten (Away foolish shareholders).
This series of plates was 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, in order to warn Dutch speculators not to set up a similar company in Holland. Three other series with slight variations are known, two of which, in iron-red and gilt, can be dated to between 1725 - 1735. The series is also frequently known as 'Commedia dell'Arte' plates, although not all the figures depicted can be identified. Some people refer to the series as 'The Great Scene of Folly' and believe it ridiculed the shareholders of the Dutch East India Company. 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. See D. Howard and J. Ayers, op.cit., vol.1, pp.234 and 235 for a discussion of the background to these plates, and pl.230 and figs.230a and 230b for a series of six plates in the Mottahedeh Collection. Cf. also a similar set of plates illustrated by F. et N. Hervouët and Y. Bruneau, op.cit., pls.9.55-9.60 and fig.9.54; a set of three illustrated by D. F. Lunsingh Scheurleer, op.cit., figs.254,256 and 258; and a set of five included in the Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels, 1989-90 Exhibition, Catalogue, no.34, pp.116 and 117.
A similar series of six plates was sold in Christie's Amsterdam, 23 October 1986, lots 130 -135; and another series in Christie's Amsterdam, 15 October 1990, lot 142