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Tontine -- clear definitionn -- Freemasons’ Tontine of 1775
The Tontine Cafe & Exchange The Tontine Cafe & Exchange
Richmond, VA
Sunday, December 3, 2023



A tontine is an annuity contingent on the survival of a nominated life. The

relationship between the issuer of, and investors and nominees in, a tontine allows

for consideration of investment decisions made by a defined group, including an

evaluation of attitudes to risk, alongside an enquiry into the monitoring of identities,

and communications, within that group. Tontines were used by the British

government and were adopted in the later eighteenth century by non-state entities to

finance buildings and infrastructure. English freemasons used a tontine in 1775 to

finance the building of the first Freemasons' Hall in London. The survival of records

for this tontine until its maturity in 1862 has facilitated this innovative examination

of investors and their decisions over its life. Tontine investors were drawn from the

property-owning, commercial and professional classes, largely male but with a

significant part played by widows and spinsters. Investment in a tontine could be a

rational choice rather than a gamble and there was a consistent pattern of investment

to benefit both the individual investor and extended family. Contemporary concern

about fraud required the issuer to monitor the identities of investors who, in turn, had

to find ways of asserting their legal personality to justify claims. Identification and

communication drew on investors' self-interest, newspaper advertising and amenable

third-party witnesses. This dissertation provides the first comprehensive study of the

motivations for, and dynamics of, a non-state tontine from creation to conclusion and

from the multiple perspectives of its initiator, investors and beneficiaries

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Name: Mitchell Davis
Group: The Tontine Cafe & Exchange
Dateline: Richmond, VA United States
Direct Phone: 202-333-5000
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