When the London Financial Guide was first published in 1888, it could have equally have been called the World Financial Guide. For many commodities and services, the London market was the World market.
This “stockbrokers’ bible” eventually became the Financial Times, later merging with its arch-rival, the Financial News. Very early on, it turned salmon pink, so the city gents could easily find it on the newsstand.
Meanwhile, other financial centres grew up in Europe, America and around the World, and the FT kept ahead of the curve. Not only was the coverage extended well beyond the shores of this country, the paper was also published and printed around the globe. For the first time in the late 1990s, more copies were sold abroad than in the UK.
Easy to dismiss as just for finance nerds, the FT, its coverage and its own history provide a fascinating timeline of globalisation. Of course, the FT is still at it, in print, online, on handhelds and smart phones. But the broad picture is probably best appreciated by digging into the FT Archive, now available online (in full facsimile) from the first issue in 1888 until 2006. All you need is your library membership card to access it from anywhere.
The FT would probably suffer a corporate heart attack if I suggested that it was a scandal-rag, but it’s often been the first to uncover the juicy scams. In the 1880s it was Her Majesty’s Dockyards knocking out snuff boxes for the private market; much later we can read about Robert Maxwell and his unsavoury activities, It’s all there for the dedicated scumbag-collector. There are nearly 21,000 hits for “scandal” – lovely!