Trial Of The First Shellackers Opens

Monday 10th February 1936

A high profile fraud trial opened at the Old Bailey. The Attorney-General himself, Sir Thomas Inskip, led the prosecution of the promoters of a commodity broking firm, which was deeply involved in huge speculative trading in pepper and shellac. The shellac market was rigged by a syndicate which almost doubled the price before it collapsed back to near its starting point. Many private investors lost money heavily and the term shellacking went down as a short-hand for heavy losses in financial markets, which was in use long after the episode itself was forgotten. President Obama applied the term to an electoral defeat of the Democrats in 2010 but by then the origin of the term had vanished so deep into the mists of history that even the BBC could not retrieve it It has nothing to do with nail varnish. The chief defendant rejoiced in the name Garabed Bishirgian.


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