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Loans business

Loans business of the London banking house

Throughout the 19th century, the primary and best known area of business of NMR was the issuing of bonds as a means of raising loans, largely for sovereign governments.

Since, in the 19th century, governments could not generate such funds, bankers like the Rothschilds, with their considerable resources, stepped in and provided them by issuing government bonds. The breakthrough which marked out the Rothschilds as the leading European bank was the large government bond they placed in 1817-1818 on behalf of Prussia. This was the first government loan issued by the Rothschilds.

Archive sources

It is not clear how the 'Loans Department' of the London house was organised, and material relating to loans was kept by several departments or may have been collated when records were sent to the Archive Department of the bank. At some point in the 1970s the 'Loans Department' either ceased to be or merged into the Paying Agents' Department (the former Dividend Department).

Papers relating to loans business of the London house are described in this section of the Guide, including loan prospectuses, loan contracts and supporting papers and correspondence. Information on loans can be found in many series, but the quality of the information varies tremendously. 

Papers listed under Loans business: 'Foreign loans: sundry correspondence and papers and Loans business: Loans Department: Private Papers may also yield useful information about particular loans, as will papers in Loans business: contracts and Loans business: prospectuses although it should be noted that documentation for many loans issued by the London house is absent, suggesting that these series of papers were collated many years after the loans were first issued. See also the Special Subject Correspondence, XI/111 series, which begins in 1824; this series includes correspondence concerning loans to various governments. Many of the files contain information about loans which were finally rejected.

For incoming correspondence concerning loans business, the Correspondence Department series XI/109, XI/111 and the various Sundry series, XI/112-130 will be the most fruitful.

For outgoing correspondence concerning loans business, see Correspondence Department, Outgoing Correspondence, which includes, in addition to the General Letter Copy Books, a single Letter Copy Book of outgoing correspondence concerning Foreign Loans, 1823-1831.

Additional information about papers for loans issued to a particular country is noted on the left here. 

Bonds Online

Further information about loans of the London house, together with guides to sources, and a Digital Gallery of loan prospectuses, together with examples of bonds issued will be found on The Rothschild Archive microsite, 'Rothschild Bonds'.  A Rothschild Research Forum account is required to access this site. Go to Rothschild Bonds » or  Apply for a Rothschild Research Forum account here »