A living artifact from the Dutch Golden Age
A 1648 Dutch water bond housed at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is unique among the tens of thousands of manuscripts that reside there. While most of the Beinecke’s archival holdings are by their nature dead — their original purpose being fulfilled — the water bond lives on. It still pays annual interest more than 367 years after it was issued.
Timothy Young, the library’s curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts, has travelled to Amsterdam this week to visit Stichtse Rijnlanden, a Dutch water authority, and collect 12 years of interest on the bond. Collecting the back interest maintains the bond’s status as a functioning artifact from the Golden Age of Dutch finance. The water authority paid Young 136.20 euros in interest, the equivalent of $153.
“This is a teaching moment because the financial industry changes so rapidly but here we have something very old and constant,” says Young, who curates the Beinecke’s Collection of Financial History in partnership with the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management.
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