Networks of information
The previous chapter emphasised that while printed information might have been abundant, its utility for the active investor was questionable. The slow speed at which newspapers were printed and circulated meant that many investors would have found it necessary to seek their information from more direct sources and the price list could offer little to the active investor who would have understood that price was meaningless unless it was considered in the context of a company’s past history, current performance and prospects for the future. Consequently, to be well-informed the investor had to gain access to a complex information network, which may have included newspapers and price currents, but was also created through letters between acquaintances and business contacts, and in face-to-face meetings, most notably via conversations conducted, or overheard, in the Royal Exchange or the coffee houses of London. The aim of this chapter is to investigate how those networks operated to supply financial information to early modern investors. First, it will examine the nature of the physical space in which information circulated. The second section will investigate the extent to which full information was available to early modern investors. The final part of the chapter will concentrate on those who created networks of information and will ask how information spread from the City to all interested parties.