Friday, July 11, 2014

When rubber stamps set the records straight

"Every great mistake has a halfway moment, 
a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied."

Imagine that you ask a bank clerk on duty to transfer $100 to your mother's account. Today, a digital transaction like this is executed at the speed of light. Already the next second the amount has disappeared from your account. An everyday example of progress in our society. Then your bank clerk informs you that something went wrong : not $100 but $1000 was transferred by wire instead. Now your thoughts are swinging from "help" to "#@*&%!" . I'm sure that situation will be put right, but not at the speed of light.

Before the digital age, things worked more or less in the opposite way. It took a while to complete a transaction, and errors could be fixed, well almost, in a split second. Here are two examples to illustrate the point.

share certificate from  the Compagnie Du Chemin de Fer d'Intérêt Local D'Andelot a Levier
Compagnie du Chemin de Fer d'Intérêt Local d'Andelot a Levier
English : Andelot Levier Local Railway Company
Share of 500 Francs, 1899, Paris
double-click image to enlarge

Cancelled by mistake
After presenting this French railway share for the collection of a coupon dividend, its bearer must have been surprised when hearing that the share had been cancelled by mistake. Both signatures were hole-cancelled.

Compagnie du Chemin de Fer d'Intérêt Local d'Andelot a Levier
Detail from the share shown above, showing a hole-cancelled signature.

No need to worry. The clerk on duty solved the situation in an elegant way. Small pieces of paper were glued on the backside covering the cancellation holes, see the detail image below. A small rubber stamp reassured the owner :



And a signature on top of the stamp finalized the repair operation. All's well that ends well.

Drawn in error not issued
Not only stock certificates can be cancelled by mistake, but some of them are issued unintentionally. I'll use a certificate from the North American Rockwell Corporation as an illustration.

facsimilé signature of W. F. Rockwell Jr on stock certificate
North American Rockwell Corporation
More than 100 common shares of $1, 1972
facsimile W. F. Rockwell Jr.
Printed by Jeffries Banknote Co.

The certificate was issued to the NARC for 47,946 common shares but is stamped DRAWN IN ERROR NOT ISSUED. It is impossible to tell why this correction occurred, but as a result the stock certificate was invalidated. I can not remember seeing such stamps on non American certificates (yet). 

Drawn in error not issued stamp

What are the possible reasons for a DRAWN IN ERROR stamp ? I'm not sure. Some guesses : an incorrect spelling of the bearer's name, a wrong amount or quantity, or maybe an invalid date of issue. Anyway, a stamp set the record straight.

Detail from the NARC stock certificate (see above), 
double-click the image to enlarge.

There is a lot to see on this detail but you should pay attention to
the box containing the number of shares issued. In particular look at
the fine hash pattern of lines running in an upper left to lower right 

direction. In the pattern the word "SHARES" appears and the letters 
seem to be raised from the background. It is an illusion created by 
curves in the lines. In an attempt to count these lines, counted 
on average 5 lines per millimeter.

Rubber stamps were also applied with other 'changes of state' of securities, such as an increase of capital message. Today in our paperless offices rubber stamps have been replaced by virtual UNDO, REDO, CANCEL and DELETE application buttons.


P.S. Do you have other remarkable examples of rubber stamps used on scripophily ? Let me know, I'd be happy to include your example.

Related links

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales home to Welsh-interest share certificates

Amgueddfa Cymru, the National Museum Wales, is today a Welsh Government sponsored body. Founded by royal charter in 1907, it consists of nine museums including the National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans National History Museum and the Big Pit National Coal Museum. Earlier this year, the Museum announced on its blog, see here, that it had received 16 very interesting share certificates, including a share certificate from the Royal Copper Mines of Cobre company founded in 1835.

share certificate in Royal Copper Mines of Cobre Cuba
Royal Copper Mines of Cobre
"We hereby certify that the holder is entitled to five shares of forty pounds each, 
in the Royal Copper Mines of the township of Cobre in the Islands of Cuba"
By permission of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

The Museum has been actively collecting certificates since the mid 1980s and holds by  far the largest and wide-ranging Welsh-interest share certificate collection held by any public museum, library or archive. The collection covers coal mining, metal mining (copper, gold, lead, silver, zinc), slate quarrying, metal smelting and processing, roads and bridges, canals, railways, shipping, public transport, public utilities (e.g. gas) and leisure (such as sporting and social clubs, cinemas). Currently more than 850 share certificates and related documents are preserved in the archives, says Mark Etheridge, Curator for the Industry & Transport Collections.

Share certificate in the Pontypridd Gas Light and Coke Company Wales
Pontypridd Gas Light and Coke Company
Share of 10 Pounds, 1852
By permission of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

The Welsh share certificates are used for temporary exhibitions whenever certificates are relevant to the subject matter of the exhibition. Two years ago, certificates from Welsh copper mining and copper smelting companies were displayed when an exhibition on the Welsh copper industry was mounted at the National Waterfront Museum at Swansea.

Paper objects deteriorate if exposed to high light levels or if displayed for long periods, clarifies Robert Protheroe Jones, Principal Curator Industry. For conservation reasons no paper objects, including certificates are displayed for long periods. That explains why certificates are not permanently on display.

Pontypridd Gas Light and Coke Company
detail from the certificate shown above
By permission of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

The Welsh-interest certificate collection is held in the first place for study and reference. The Museum's certificates have also been utilised by authors of industrial history books. The collection is stored at the Museum's Collections Centre near Cardiff. The Museum is always pleased to provide access to the collection prior by appointment Mondays to Fridays.

From my question whether there were any certificates in Welsh - I haven't seen any yet - I learned that despite Wales being a bilingual country, Welsh was rarely used on certificates because English was dominant in commerce. More, shares in Welsh companies were usually promoted to potential investors in all parts of the UK. But the Museum has one bilingual certificate of "Cymdeithas Telynau Cymru (The Welsh Harp Society) Ltd", dated 1964.

I want to thank Robert Protheroe Jones, Principal Curator Industry, and Mark Etheridge, Curator for the Industry & Transport Collections, for their enthusiastic feedback about the Welsh scripophily collection.


Related links

Friday, June 13, 2014

Uncharted - artist M. Petiet

detail from the bond designed by French artist M. PetietObligation de Crédit Foncier de France printed by Berger-Levrault
Crédit Foncier de France
freely translated : Mortgage Bank of France
6.25% Bond of 250 Francs, Paris, 1967 
Printed by Berger-Levrault

M. Petiet designed at least two certificates for the Crédit Foncier de France in the 1960s. Many other certificates of this bank are known from previous years. But, in contrast with their classic designs incorporating allegorical figures, scrollwork et cetera, the artist designed these modern pieces with skyrocketing buildings and tower cranes in strong perspectives.

Crédit Foncier de France, Paris, 1961
Registered subscription certificate for shares of 70 Nouveaux Francs.

Appartement blocks in the borders and tower cranes in the underprint.
double-click image to enlarge

Who can provide more information about the French artist M. Petiet ? Any kind of information is fine (date of birth, other designs, ...).