New York Stock Exchange: 224 Years and Counting

On May 17, 1792, outside 68 Wall Street, twenty-four stockbrokers signed an document that established the New York Stock & Exchange Board. Since a buttonwood tree stood outside the building, the document is nicknamed “The Buttonwood Agreement.” And here it is:

"Buttonwood Agreement" forming the New York Stock Exchange, signed May 17, 1792. Image from the Museum of American Finance

“Buttonwood Agreement” forming the New York Stock Exchange, signed May 17, 1792. Image from the Museum of American Finance. The original is at the New York Stock Exchange Archive (not open to the public).

The text reads:

We the Subscribers, Brokers for the Purchase and Sale of the Public Stock, do hereby solemnly promise and pledge ourselves to each other, that we will not buy or sell from this day for any person whatsoever, any kind of Public Stock, at a less rate than one quarter percent Commission on the Specie value and that we will give preference to each other in our Negotiations. In Testimony whereof we have set our hands this 17th day of May at New York, 1792

The list of original signers (see the Wikipedia article on the Buttonwood Agreement) is remarkable for its diversity.

The actual document (don’t you just love actual documents?!) is at the New York Stock Exchange Archive, which is not open to the public.

More

  • This image of the Buttonwood Agreement is by Samuel Gottscho, a brilliant photographer (see the exhibition catalogue The Mythic City) – a photo of a diorama at the Museum of the City of New York.
Signing of the Buttonwood Agreement forming what became the New York Stock Exchange, 1792. Photo: Samuel H. Gottscho, from a diorama at the Museum of the City of New York.

Signing of the Buttonwood Agreement forming what became the New York Stock Exchange, 1792. Photo: Samuel H. Gottscho, from a diorama at the Museum of the City of New York.

  • As far as I can tell without walking down there (which I don’t have time to do before posting this), 68 Wall Street would have been on the south side of Wall Street, where that huge Postmodern Neo-Greco-Egyptian-&c. building is, at 60 Wall Street.
  • On the sculpture of the New York Stock Exchange’s headquarters, see my essay on ForgottenDelights. I don’t know of anyone else who has done an analysis of this (preens). Hint: producers.
New York Stock Exchange pediment, left side. Photo copyright (c) Dianne L. Durante 2016.

New York Stock Exchange pediment, left side. Photo copyright (c) Dianne L. Durante 2016.

New York Stock Exchange pediment, center. Photo copyright (c) Dianne L. Durante 2016.

New York Stock Exchange pediment, center. Photo copyright (c) Dianne L. Durante 2016.

New York Stock Exchange pediment, right side. Photo copyright (c) Dianne L. Durante 2016.

New York Stock Exchange pediment, right side. Photo copyright (c) Dianne L. Durante 2016.

  • My 2-hour tour of sculptures in the Financial District includes the NYSE pediment, Washington at Wall Street, two media moguls, the image of defiance, and America the most beautiful. To arrange a tour, email DuranteDianne@gmail.com.

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