Spice was once the very spice of life. To bring this precious commodity to the table, on March 20, 1602, the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (NYSE:VOC), or Dutch East India Company, was chartered with its government’s blessing. To this pioneer conglomerate of commercial entities from Holland and Zeeland, the Dutch government gifted the VOC a first-mover advantage — a 21-year monopoly to trade spices between Asia and Europe. Before too long, spices were but a line item on the balance sheet for stakeholders to consider (the VOC also carries the minor distinction of being the first company to issue bonds and stocks to the general public). By way of its maritime prowess, the VOC expanded into a vast array of industrial and trade-related industries, including shipbuilding and wine to complement those spicy dishes its origins facilitated. As such, the Dutch guilder was the world’s first true anchor currency.
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