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Year 70 – 1930: The Boston Stock Exchange

Published: Boston, 1930

When the Boston Stock Exchange was organized in 1834, the typical trading scene was a far cry from the chaotic, electronic scene of today. “In the old days,” we learn, “there were no telephones, no tickers, no wildly gesticulating crowds. A ‘seat’ was a literal fact at that time, for every member had a particular chair and desk and was forbidden to trade out of it.”

The text maintains this light and informative tone. At the same time, though, the Exchange exploits the opportunity presented by this publication to boldly endorse its own existence. It reminds readers, who surely hadn’t forgotten the events of the previous October, what it has done for the community.

As a privately printed book, this was likely distributed to members of the Exchange. Interestingly – and understandably, if the motive was to boost investor confidence – the book mentions nothing of the Great Crash of 1929. In fact, the author puts a positive spin on the month of October: “During 1929, the two largest months on the Exchange were June and October.” The author goes on to marvel at the sheer volume that was traded in Boston that month, noting that October 30 was “the largest single day’s clearing on the Exchange.”

Wall Street, too, saw a record number of shares traded on October 29, 1929 – a record that remained unbroken for forty years.  What our author fails to mention is that these records were set by investors desperate to get out of the market.

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