E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
South-Sea Scheme or Bubble.
A stock-jobbing scheme devised by Sir John Blunt, a lawyer. The object of the company was to buy up the National Debt, and to be allowed the sole privilege of trading in the South Seas. The £100 shares soon realised ten times that sum, but the whole bubble burst in 1720
and ruined thousands. (17101720.) The term is applied to any hollow scheme which has a splendid promise, but whose collapse will be sudden and ruinous. (See MISSISSIPPI BUBBLE.)