ID: 26013
Depredations; or, Overend, Gurney, & Co, and the Greek & Oriental Steam Navigation Company.

XENOS, Stefanos, Depredations; or, Overend, Gurney, & Co, and the Greek & Oriental Steam Navigation Company. London: published by the author, 1869.

8vo, viii + 377 + (1)pp, with a whole-page figure between pp.290 and 293, original blind-stamped maroon cloth, spine very faded and neatly repaired, a good copy with previous owners' signatures at head of title.

First and only edition?

A mid-19th century financial cause célèbre. The distinguished banking house of Overend, Gurney & Co. had been for the first half of the century the largest and most reputable private banking house in Britain. It provided huge broking services in the city of London and its discount and finance services were for many years without equal. Samuel Gurney, the bank's chairman, became known as the 'banker's banker'. Following the panic of 1825, many firms who had previously dealt with the Bank of England commenced depositing their surplus cash in his hands. In 1856 it was calculated that Overend, Gurney & Co. held deposits amounting to £8,000,000. Following Gurney's death, however, the firm was managed with gross incompetence and it was reorganised as a joint-stock company in August 1865. The firm's mismanagement was catastrophic, and the bank failed on 10 May 1866, when its liabilities amounted to some £11,000,000. Its failure precipitated a major financial panic. The case of the Greek & Oriental Steam Navigation Company is only part of the evidence of Overend Gurney's mismanagement. It is, however, of historic interest as it details the history of one particular scandal in the then relatively unregulated London finance market. Depradations "is an apologia/account of his (i.e. Xenos's) business affairs, consisting mainly of the history of the Greek & Oriental Steam Navigation Company. Xenos provides us with an interesting glimpse into the working of Greek business in London". [Blackmer]