Silk Road in the News #3: Oldest Share Discovered

Oldest Share Certificate

A share of stock issued in 1606 by the sea trading firm Dutch East India Company has recently been discovered in the Netherlands.

Locked away in forgotten city archives, the share was made out to Pieter Harmensz, from the Dutch East India Company has recently been found in the northwestern city Hoorn.

As the Netherlands’ largest trading company in the 17th and 18 centuries, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was also the world’s first company to issue stock. Dutch research has shown the VOC faced early financial difficulties and shareholders were not initially paid dividends.

The company finally started paying dividends in 1610, partly in money and spices, following strong shareholder pressure. The share is on display at the Westfries Museum. (Words by Laura Kelley).

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