17 May: The Coffee Shop Stock Exchange

The Buttonwood Agreement, as it came to be known, effectively launched the New York Stock Exchange. Signed by 24 stockbrokers on 17th May, 1792, it promised two things – that they would trade exclusively and directly with each other, and that they wouldn’t undercut each other’s commission.

But they had no permanent building, and only a tiny number of companies to trade. So, until 1817, traders met at Tontine Coffee House at 82 Wall Street – a riotous and dynamic backdrop against which to do business.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly learn what a Buttonwood is; reveal which sitting U.S. President was the first to step foot in the NYSE; and explain what (presumably) happens in the complicated second act of ‘Hamilton’… 

Further Reading:

• ‘8 March 1817: the New York Stock Exchange is formed’ (MoneyWeek, 2020): https://moneyweek.com/429720/8-march-1817-the-new-york-stock-exchange-is-formed

• ‘The Tontine Coffee House’ (Narratively, 2013): https://narratively.com/the-tontine-coffee-house/

• ‘Hidden History: Wall Street’ (HISTORY):