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Loans business

Loans business of the London banking house

Throughout the 19th century, the primary 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 banking house was organised, and material relating to loans was kept by several departments. In the early days of the London business, there were no departments as such, and clerks undertook a variety of tasks. The business of administering loans later fell to other departments such as the Stock Department, Dividend Department and Cashiers Department. It may be that a ‘Loans Department’ was created in the 1920s, around the time the ‘Old Catalogue’ of business papers in the Bank’s archive was created, suggesting that these series of ‘Loans Department’ papers were collated many years after the loans were first issued. 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. Loan prospectuses, loan contracts, and examples of bonds and scrip will be found collected in discrete series. Supporting papers and correspondence will be found in a number of series. 

For convenience, information about loans issued to a particular country is noted on the left here, noting where relevant papers may be found for a particular loan. 

Researchers should note that information on individual loans can be found in many series, but the quality of the information varies tremendously; for some loans no documentation survives.

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 »