Description

    Rare Early 18th-Century Breechloading Deck Cannon of the French Compagnie d'Occident c. 1717.
    The small, historic bronze swivel deck cannon with 2 3/4-inch bore and measuring 37 1/4-inches long, with shaped muzzle and molded bands. 1 7/8-inch trunnions. 8 3/4-inch long breech with 1 X 2-inch wedge key on left side. Accompanied by 8-inch long removable tapered bronze breechblock. Top of rear breech marked: 121 lbs. Cascabel missing with 1 1/2-inch opening at back of breech. Sold together with extensive research file on John Law, the history of the French Compagnie d'Occident and other related information.

    According to the consignor, a 70 year old gentleman from Carlsbad, California, these two cannons were found near Honduras in the Gulf of Mexico. They were discovered by divers looking for lobster. A lobster was found in the barrel of this cannon and the remains of many muskets were located nearby. Upon their discovery, the captain called the consignor and eventually sold the cannons to him. The two guns have received over a year of desalination and conservation and are ready for display.

    The French Compagnie d'Occident was founded in 1717 and was at the time, the largest of the French trading companies in the New World. It was founded by John Law, a Scotsman who had a background in finance and had once made a proposal to the Scottish government to establish a national bank but was turned down. After killing a man in a duel, he escaped abroad, eventually settling in France where he came to the attention of the Duc d'Orleans, regent for the king of France. Through this connection Law was granted a license to establish a Banque Generale which was successful and gave Law much credibility and allowed him the opportunity to prosper. The bank was very successful in regulating currency and attracted many investors and land speculators. In August, 1717, Law founded the Compagnie d la Louisiane ou d'Occident which absorbed two other major trading companies, all were interested in the potential of the Mississippi river valley in America as a huge area for land speculation. These companies, interested in controlling trade for France, promised gold mines, an attractive climate and other amenities. The stock took off and led to what was known at the time as the "Mississippi Scheme" which, like many oversold investment ventures, eventually turned into the "Mississippi Bubble" and failed, leading to the firm's bankruptcy. Law, while undoubtedly a financial genius, was eventually a victim of his own greed and success. Left finally in financial ruin, he fled France for Italy and died penniless in Venice in 1729. The records of the French trading companies were stored near U-boat pens in France and were destroyed by Allied bombing raids during WWII. These two guns are rare historic relics from French attempts to establish a trading hegemony in the American midwest and are probably the only examples of their kind in existence.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    18th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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