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Lot 1467: POYAISIAN LAND GRANT
29 October 2016
Brussels, BelgiumLive Auction
Description: 28 April 1834 POYAIS. LONDON. Grant of 250 Acres. Serie E. black. No 1505. Folds with small splits and a little brown foxing. Very large format, with text in English and French, and the Poyais coat of arms (also on the reverse). The Land Grant is in the form of a copy of an 'original grant' from the 'King of the Mosquito Shoreand Nation' (now the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua). Gregor K. MacGregor established the fictitious state of Poyais in 1820, and declared himself 'Sovereign Prince of the Independent State of Poyais, Cazique of the Poyer Nation'. The state, 8 million acres, had been 'given' to him by the native chief King. It was supposed to be on the Caribbean coast from the Bay of Honduras to the Nicaragua River. MacGregor told a story of fertile land, industrial potential, gold- and silver-mines, and a democratic system of government. All this was in MacGregor's imagination, but it was enough to allow him to raise a loan on the London markets. Immigrants to 'Poyais' found nothing but disease-ridden jungle, and most died. MacGregor was arrested for fraud in London in 1827, but was able to put the blame on somebody else. Despite having lost his contacts in high life, he continued selling bonds, and, from 1828 onwards, offering land grants from Poyais at 5 shillings per acre. They had little success, and when older investors demanded their interest, he could only pay with more certificates to the value of the interest owned. In 1834 he was living in Scotland and had to issue a new series of land certificates as payment for unredeemed securities. The last record of any Poyais scheme is in 1837, when he tried to sell some land certificates. MacGregor ended his days in Venezuela, living on his pension from his pre-Poyais days as a general with Simon Bolivar. Signed by Gregor MacGregor himself.
Condition Report: VF