It is in seventeenth-century Europe that the earliest shares were issued and traded, and the first stock exchange was founded in Amsterdam. These shares were in the Vereinigte Oostindische Compagnie (VOC, the Dutch East India Company). The oldest VOC share still in existence (and only discovered in 2010) was issued on 9 September 1606 (see Figure 2.1). The second page records the payments of dividends.
Figure 2.1 World’s oldest surviving share certificate
Source: Westfries Archief, Hoorn
The opening of commercial routes to the East saw a huge surge in trading, with groups of merchants pooling ...