1920's

A look back 100 years ago.

A DIGITAL EXHIBITION OF THE SWISS FINANCE MUSEUM ON THE ECONOMY OF THE 1920's.

DANCING, EASINESS AND A SPIRIT OF OPTIMISM

Marlene Dietrich: The blue Angel. Picture: Wikicommons

Marlene Dietrich: The blue Angel. Picture: Wikicommons

All night long people dance to the sounds of the piano, until the early hours of the morning. Charleston is invented, Jazz flourishes. At the tables in the nightclubs one gambles for money. The smoke of nicotine and opium fills the air. In the sophisticated metropolises of the Western world like Paris, Berlin, London or New York, at least the elite of avant-gardists, beautiful and rich enjoy the euphoric mood of the 1920s.  

 

Marlene Dietrich sings in the movie «The Blue Angel»:

Here it on Youtube - with one click on the picture.

Here it on Youtube - with one click on the picture.

FREEDOM AND LOVE OF LIFE ARE THE FLAVOR OF THE MONTH. MODERNITY AND AWAKENING.

Especially for women: Since almost an entire generation of men is missing due to World War I, old values and conventional structures break down. Women, who replaced men's missing labor during the war, find economic independence for the first time. Likewise, countries such as the USA (1920) and Germany (1918) introduce women's suffrage. In Switzerland, by contrast, women's suffrage celebrates its 50th anniversary this year; it was introduced in 1971.

Picture: Wikicommons

Picture: Wikicommons

TECHNIcAL aCHIEvEMENTS pave the way

IMPORTANT TECHNICAL INVENTIONS

Share of the Ford Motor Company of Canada, 28.03.1907, with the Signature of Henry Ford

Share of the Ford Motor Company of Canada, 28.03.1907, with the Signature of Henry Ford

THE ASSEMBLY LINE

Henry Ford turns the automobile into a mass product. Through standardization, simplification of production processes - which he breaks down into individual work steps - and the introduction of assembly line work in his Ford Motor Company, he reduces the manufacturing costs of a car enormously. As early as 1913, the "Model T," rolled off the assembly line in his workshops. It is the first car affordable to broad sections of the population. To encourage consumption, he also paid his workers higher wages. This boosted the stock markets.

Share of the De Forest Radio Company, 07.06.1929

Share of the De Forest Radio Company, 07.06.1929

THE RADIO

Canadian Reginald Fessenden transmits the first radio program on Christmas Eve 1906 from Brant Rock near Boston in the USA. A Largo by Handel and the Bible text "Glory to God in the highest" are broadcast. The First World War delays the spread of radio, but the medium begins its triumphant advance in the 1920s. Several thousand radio stations broadcast throughout the world to an audience of millions. In the USA, Lee De Forest is regarded as the "father of American radio". In the 1920s, radio shares were among the most popular speculative objects for stockbrokers.

Share of the Tobis Tonbild-Syndikat, 08.1931

Share of the Tobis Tonbild-Syndikat, 08.1931

THE SOUND FILM

As early as 1918, three German sound engineers, Joseph Engl, Joseph Masolle and Hans Vogt, invent a process called Tri-Ergon, which combines a running film strip with a sound wheel track to be scanned by a light beam. In August 1928, various European sound film patent holders and their financiers unite in Berlin under the Ton-Bild-Syndikat AG (Tobis). Their goal: to standardize sound film technology in order to defy the American sound film industry, above all Warner Bros. which was using a patent from Western Electric.

Share of the Baird Television, Ltd. London, 16.12.1931

Share of the Baird Television, Ltd. London, 16.12.1931

THE TELEVISOR

In 1924, John Logie Baird transmits the first black-and-white images over a distance of a full three meters with his "Televisor." After demonstrating it for the first time to an astonished audience in a London department store, he founded the Baird Television Company in 1925. Three years later, he succeeded in transmitting television pictures from London to New York for the first time.

Share of the Aircraft Manufacturing Company, 30.04.19XX (the year is missing)

Share of the Aircraft Manufacturing Company, 30.04.19XX (the year is missing)

THE AVIATICS

Two impressive examples of the progress made in aviation, which also increasingly paved the way for civil aviation: In 1927, Charles Lindbergh succeeds in flying nonstop and solo from New York to Paris. In 1930, Amy Johnson became the first woman to make a solo flight from England to Australia and has since become the most famous British female pilot. Her plane, by the way, is a single-engine Gypsy Moth by de Havilland. The aircraft designer De Havilland built his first successful machines for the Aircraft Manufacturing Company - the share to the text.

BOOM IN THE GOLDEN DECADE

THE ECONOMY IS BOOMING.

As products become cheaper thanks to more efficient manufacturing methods, demand for the cheaper goods increases. Thus, the level of employment also increases. Many people have jobs, earn money and spend it.

Dow Jones from1920 - 1930: If the DJ counted around 100 points at the beginning of 1920, it was over 380 points at times in 1929. Source: Samuel H. Williamson, 'Daily Closing Value of the Dow Jones Average, 1885 to Present,' MeasuringWorth

Dow Jones from1920 - 1930: If the DJ counted around 100 points at the beginning of 1920, it was over 380 points at times in 1929. Source: Samuel H. Williamson, 'Daily Closing Value of the Dow Jones Average, 1885 to Present,' MeasuringWorth

Stock index of the Statistisches Reichsamt in gold marks 1920-1928. After the hyperinflation in 1922 with only 2.75 points, it rises to over 57 points by 1927. Source: Wikipedia

Stock index of the Statistisches Reichsamt in gold marks 1920-1928. After the hyperinflation in 1922 with only 2.75 points, it rises to over 57 points by 1927. Source: Wikipedia

... AND THE ABRUPT END.

An economic downturn brings the turnaround: Price gains fail to materialize. Warnings from financial experts predicting a bursting of the speculative bubble are ignored. Due to the lack of demand, prices begin to fall from mid-October 1929. This quickly leads to a panic among investors, who want to sell their securities quickly in order to be able to repay the loans. Finally, on Thursday, October 24, 1929, prices collapse - the abrupt end of the upswing. This also hits the European stock exchanges. What follows is the world economic crisis of 1929 to 1933.

SECURITIES FROM THE 1920'S

The collection of historical securities contains over 500 securities from the 1920s, by no means all of which are founders' shares. Here is a small selection that, in our view, fit particularly well into the golden twenties - after all, they deal with consumer pleasures, leisure and health.

Aux Galeries Lafayette

Aux Galeries Lafayette, 15.12.1922

Founded in 1895 as a fashion store and transformed in 1899 into the joint-stock company
"Aux Galeries Lafayette"
the department store soon became one of the grands magasins of Paris. In 1912, the magnificent building with the colored glass dome of the Art Nouveau palace opens. Ten years later, in 1922, the department store opened the "La Maîtrise" arts and crafts workshops under the artistic direction of Maurice Dufrêne. The aim of these workshops is to produce works such as furniture, fabrics, carpets, wallpapers or pottery, accessible to large and small budgets. 

HOTEL WALDORF-ASTORIA CORPORATION

Hotel Waldorf-Astoria Corporation, 01.09.1929

All the big names stay at the Waldorf-Astoria on Park Avenue in New York. Originally, the Waldorf and the Astoria Hotel - both founded in the 1890s by members of the wealthy Astor family - stood on the site where the Empire State Building now stands. In 1929, they had to make way for the construction project. To finance the new building, the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria Corporation also issued a mortgage bond. Since 1972, the hotel has belonged to the Hilton chain.

Madame Tussaud's (1926) Limited

MADAME TUSSAUD'S (1926) LIMITED, 05.09.1928

Madame Tussauds - the world-famous tourist attraction still bears the name of its founder. Growing up in the Bern household of Dr. Curtius, Marie Grosholtz follows the wax sculptor to Paris, who trains her and later leaves her his collection of wax figures. After the turmoil of the French Revolution, the artist now known as "Marie Tussaud" leaves her husband and a son behind in Paris to earn money in England with a traveling exhibition. From 1802 to 1835, she toured Great Britain until she opened her first permanent exhibition in London. In 1926, her descendants convert the wax museum into a joint-stock company.

Parfums Marcel Guerlain

PARFUMS MARCEL GUERLAIN, 22.12.1924

For generations, the name "Guerlain" has stood for the most exclusive perfumes in the world. From 1828 to 1994, the descendants of Pierre François Pascal Guerlain create a true universe of fragrances. When, in 1923, a competitor unrelated to the family opened his own company in Paris under the name "Parfums Marcel Guerlain," a legal battle ensued that lasted for years. "We have no first name," advertises the long-established original, which today belongs to the luxury goods group LVMH.

Société Internationale des Écoles Berlitz

Société Internationale des Écoles Berlitz, 05.10.1928

Today, mastering different languages and constant further education are prerequisites for a successful career. A pioneer of international language schools is Maximilian Berlitz, who emigrates from the Black Forest to America in 1870. In 1878 he founded his first school, which soon established branches in Europe and later throughout the world. The Société Internationale des Écoles Berlitz in France has existed since 1895. Berlitz died in 1921, bequeathing the language school to his grandson Charles Berlitz, who later became a successful writer.

Gesellschaft für Chemische Industrie in Basel

Gesellschaft für Chemische Industrie in Basel, 20.05.1920

In Switzerland, Alexander Clavel was the first and most important producer of tar dyes (fuchsine). In 1884, he sold his dye factory, founded in 1859, to Bindschelder & Busch, who transformed it into the AG "Gesellschaft für Chem. Industrie in Basel" (Ciba for short - but not in use as an official company name until 1945). In 1900, Ciba produces its first active pharmaceutical ingredients: Vioform, an antiseptic, and Salen, an antirheumatic. In the 1920s, pharmaceuticals are profitable and grow rapidly, so Ciba invests in building up its scientific-pharmaceutical department. Ciba launches several hormone preparations in the 1920s, for example for menstrual and menopausal complaints.

1920'S IN ART AND CULTURE

  • Babylon Berlin

    Babylon Berlin is a German crime series set in the 1920s. With a budget of almost Euro 40 million, it is the most expensive German television production to date and the most expensive non-English-language series. For Season 3, the series sought advice from the Swiss Museum of Finance.

  • "The Great Gatsby" is an American film drama released in 2013. It is one of the literary adaptations of the 1925 novel of the same name by Francis Scott Fitzgerald.

    "The Great Gatsby" is an American film drama released in 2013. It is one of the literary adaptations of the 1925 novel of the same name by Francis Scott Fitzgerald.

  • "Smoke and mirrors" - the Kunsthaus Zurich dedicated the 1920’s an exhibition. Picture: Félix Vallotton, La poudreuse, 1921, Privatbesitz

    "Smoke and mirrors" - the Kunsthaus Zurich dedicated the 1920’s an exhibition. Picture: Félix Vallotton, La poudreuse, 1921, Privatbesitz