What is the oldest stock that is still actively traded in the market? If I invested $1 (or the equivalent foreign money) at the time the stock was first issued, how much would it be worth today?
The Hudson Bay Company, founded as a joint-stock company in 1670, is still a thing (though I see sadly they’ve since changed their name from the much cooler sounding “The Governor and Company of Adventurers”, which sounds as much like a D&D campaign then a corporation).
No idea how much a single share from 1670 would be worth now.
The problem is that the share certificate has a value far in excess of it’s trading value.
Another problem is that VOC, more commonly known as the Dutch East India Company, went bankrupt in 1799:
It is generally claimed that it was the first publically traded company, so their 1602 founding date gives us a lower bound.
In the US, a good candidate is Bank of New York Mellon, which through a long history of mergers and acquisitions dates back to 1784. You may remember their founder from his picture on the $10 bill.
Shareholder corporations were not especially common in the Americas before the mid-18th century. The various East India companies noted above were among the earliest to use the structure but they no longer exist.
Thought this might amuse:
Reservations are easily obtained, since they can be booked once the patron returns to his or her original time after their meal, and the restaurant’s bill can be paid by depositing a penny in any bank account of the present time: by the end of the universe, the compound interest on that penny over the course of time after 170 quintillion years (short scale) will be enough to pay the extremely high bill. Near-instant transportation to the restaurant can be achieved in certain rarefied circumstances, such as being next to an exploding hyperspatial field generator on the planet where Milliways will eventually be built several billion years after the explosion occurs.
From ‘The Restaurant at the end of the Universe’ by Douglas Adams.
Wikipedia has a list of the oldest companies in the world. The oldest dates to the sixth century and is a Japanese construction company. But it, along with most of the early companies, were owned by a single family and handed down from generation to generation.
Looking through the list, one contender for oldest such company might be Stora Enso; in 1288, one-eighth share was given to a bishop.
There are still some British instruments (in theory) tradeable that started out from about the mid eighteenth century - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consols. There’s a couple of billion pounds worth of WWI perpetual bonds around too