Thursday, December 23, 2010

This was 2010

Almost a year ago, I wondered if starting a blog on antique stocks and bonds was a good idea. Some unanswered questions kept me yo-yo-ing between a go for it and a don't do it :
  • Could I produce enough postings on a regular basis ?
  • Would anyone show any interest in scripophily postings ?
  • Would there be enough time to do this ?
  • Would I master the Blogger tools ?
Nevertheless, in April I decided to go for it. Here we are now, 35 articles later and looking at a few blog statistics will help me to evaluate this past year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Knights of Honor

This amazing red seal is a beautiful and early example of a printed seal on certificates.  It has  a diameter of almost 6 cm. The seal appears on a benefit certificate of the Supreme Lodge Knights of Honor and depicts a knight shielding a widow and her children against further misfortune.  The Latin motto of this masonic organisation says Spectemur Agendo, meaning Let us be judged by our acts.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sensation at 5 Centimes in Le Petit Journal

The 1896 share certificate of the newspaper Le Petit Journal shows a sou in the lower border. France counted about 40 million people around that time. In that single year more than 6 million pieces of this 5 Centimes coin were minted.  Being in circulation all over France for decades and representing a little value, this sou just seemed to be an unimportant and common coin. However, the French people used it buy a newspaper that brought the world into their lives.

The sou, or 5 Centimes coin

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mahd adh Dhahab, King Solomon's Cradle of Gold

The Mahd adh Dhahab is a leading gold mining area in the Arabian Peninsula. It is located in the Al Madina province of the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia.

1948 stock certificate of the Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate
incorporated in the Bahamas

In 1931, King Abdul Aziz assigned the American geologist K.S. Twitchell the task to investigate the presence of oil and minerals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Twitchell found oil in the Eastern Province, but also gold in the Hijaz Region in 1932. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book : The Emergence of the Railway in Britain

  • Title : The Emergence of the Railway in Britain, Scripophily Library Nr. 2
  • Authors : Udo Hielscher
  • ID: ISBN 0-9511250-4-4, published by International Bond & Share Society, 2001
  • Languages : English
  • Number of pages : 32
  • Images : black and white, almost on every page and often more than 1 per page
  • Indexes : 1. bibliography, 2. index on company names

This booklet describes the early railway history of Great Britain. Illustrated with early certificates from railway, canal and even turnpike companies.


  1. The technical, demographic and financial background
  2. Developments in antiquity
  3. Britain's transport before the railways
  4. The technological revolution
  5. The role of the Stockton and Darlington railway
  6. The Liverpool and Manchester railway
  7. The growth of the nationwide railway system
  8. British railway scripophily
I will occasionally briefly describe a reference book or catalogue in my postings.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ilha Formosa

With more than 165 mountains over 3000 metres above sea level, Taiwan is one of the most mountainous islands. In the 16th century, the Portuguese named the island "Ilha Formosa", meaning "Beautiful Island". Most of Taiwan's population lives in the plains in the west.

share certificate of the Taiwan Industries company
Red seals on the left, a Japanese style embossed seal at right upper corner
click image for details

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fencing in Soerabaya

Fencing is a very uncommon topic in scripophily. This share was issued in 1897 for the establishment of a gymnastics and fencing school in Soerabaya, now the capital of the province of East Java. Under Dutch colonial government, Soerabaya became a major trading center, competing with Singapore, and hosted the largest naval base in the Dutch East Indies.
Share of the Gijmnastiek en Schermschool in Soerabay
Maatschappij tot exploitatie van een gebouw ingericht voor gijmnastiek en schermschool
English: Company for the exploitation of a building fitted for a gymnastics and fencing school

Modern fencing evolved from the methods taught at the Ecole Française d'Escrime, founded in 1567. This explains also the origins of the french fencing terminology still in use. Fencing has been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games since 1896. The organization of world cup competitions and Olympic fencing is the responsability of the french Fédération Internationale d'Escrime, founded in 1913.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Uncharted - American engraver Wallace

Who can provide me some information about the American engraver Wallace ?
Any kind of information is fine (date of birth, other engravings, ...).

This beautiful vignette, engraved by Wallace, is one of two vignettes on a share certificate from the Richardson's Centennial Farm Gate company (patented Sep 5th, 1876).  The share was issued in 1883 and is signed by Richardson.
Click images for more detail.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A better alternative for emailing large images

Société Minière Intercoloniale
1945, Berberati, French Equatorial Africa
rough diamond in underprint
(click image for details)
Suppose you want to email someone a high resolution scan of this certificate. Creating high resolution images of your beautiful certificates can result in large files.
However, emailing these files to others may result in the following problems : 
  1. Once the image is sent, your email program stores a copy in the Sent folder which becomes larger and larger.
  2. The receiver may experience long download times when receiving his e-mails just at a moment where he or she probably quickly wants to get his emails. 
  3. The receiver might be out of the office for a few days. In that case, your images could fill up his emailbox, preventing him from not receiving any further emails.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reference catalogue : China's Foreign Debt 1865-1982


front cover of the Kuhlmann catalogue on foreign bonds for China
  • Title : China's Foreign Debt 1865-1982 (Excluding the debt of the ROC Taiwan)
  • Authors : Wilhelm Kuhlmann
  • ID: ISBN 0-9610400-0-9, published by Wilhelm Kuhlmann, 1983
  • Languages : English
  • Number of pages : 131
  • Images : mostly in black and white, a few in color, almost on every page and often more than 1 per page
  • Indexes : no index, but certificates of bonds are ordered by date of issue
This catalogue describes bonds issued for financing China's debt, including development loans, debt reorganization and many railway construction loans.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The railway, its Duke and his Queen

There are 3 reasons why this share certificate of the Ferro-Carril de Barcelona á Sarriá railway company is so appealing to collectors.

share of the Ferro-Carril de Barcelona à Sarriá issued to the Duque of Rianzares
una acción de 100 Pesos Fuertes
1859, reissued 22th May 1866
printed by Imprenta de Narciso Ramirez in Barcelona

Early Spanish railroad
First of all, this is an early railway share for Spain, 150 years old. Railways appeared rather late in a politically instable and less economically developed Spain. The first line in Spain, opened in 1848, was a short line from Barcelona to Mataró. In the 1850s, after new laws were passed, foreign capital found its way to railway investment. In these times, Spanish railways had to be built on an unusual broad track gauge making the network incompatible with that of France and therefore hindering any French invasion. The Ferrocarril de Barcelona a Sarrià was formed in 1859. With an initial track of 4,75 km, connecting Barcelona with the communities of Gràcia, Sant Gervasi and Sarrià, the company was succesful. Some of the remarkable shareholders were the Duque of Rianzares and the playwright and diplomat Juan de Grimaldi. Due to financial difficulties , the company was absorbed in 1874 by a new company called Ferrocarrill de Sarrià a Barcelona.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Financing the reconstruction of Ypres

view on Ypres, engraving from ca. 1600

In addition to the multiple sieges and occupations in the 17th and 18th century by Spanish, Dutch, Austrian and French troops, Napoleon further decided to abolish the episcopal office in the city of Ypres. Ypres became a small town with locally operating businesses. Even a connection to the railway system in the 1850s could not boost its economy. The great 13th century Cloth Hall was only a reminder of the town's important role it once played in the Middle Ages.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ypres on the map

Frequently, a map is shown in the underprint design or as part of a vignette of a share certificate. My home town Ypres, Ieper in Dutch, is now a relative small municipality. So, it was a big surprise to find it on a map of this certificate of the French Compagnie de Navigation Fluviale Du Nord , founded at Dunkerque, 1892.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wrong about the Trasatlantica flag

Old share certificates from shipping and fishing companies often depict their company flag. This 1913 share  from the Compañia Trasatlantica is not an exception thereon.  The company’s flag in the upper border is an eye-catcher as the company’s monogram is embossed upon the same blue-printed monogram in the center of the flag. As a result you see the flag in some kind of relief. 

share of the Compañia Trasatlanticadetail from share showing shipping flag of the Cia. Trasatlantica
 Acción Preferente 500 Pesetas, Barcelona 1913
notice the flag in underprint on the certificate's image
large format certificate: upper & lower half digitally pasted

There is also a flag printed in the right border below, and one in the underprint.  Oddly, the latter two flags are missing the monogram and that is why I initially felt that the design was somehow incomplete : why is the monogram missing in the other flags ? Later on, it turned out that I was wrong about that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reference catalogue : Zoological garden companies - Development and Finance History

I will occasionally briefly describe a reference book or catalogue in my postings.

front cover of the Schmitz Metzger catalogue on securities of Zoo companies

  • Title : Zoologische Gärten als Kapitalgesellschaften - Geschichtliche Entwicklung und Finanziering
  • Authors : Armin Schmitz und Arne Metzger
  • ID: ISBN 3-9806401-2-4, published by Verlag der Antik Effekten GMBH, 2000
  • Languages : German, English
  • Number of pages : 192
  • Images : mostly in color, about 100 illustrations
  • Indexes : by location
This great work contains images of certificates and descriptions, both in German and English, of zoos in :
Germany, USA, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Poland, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Portugal, UK, Luxembourg, Italy, Austria

Friday, September 17, 2010

Frans Van Leemputten's Ikelemba river

detail from share designed by Frans van Leemputten
Villagers under the palm-trees watching a steamer on the Ikelemba river.
Frans Van Leemputten

As a child, Frans van Leemputten (1850-1914), initially living on the countryside, had to move to a suburb in Bruxelles. In Brussels, he studied at the Académie Royale de Beaux-Arts, and became a well-known landscape and animal painter.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Discover the world's oldest share

The antique share certificate, dated 9 September 1606, was issued by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The recent finding was done in the Westfries Archive in Hoorn by Ruben Schalk, a Dutch history student. Its value is estimated by the Boone auction house at 600,000 Euro.

In 1602, the Dutch East India Company (in Dutch : Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) was established for the purpose of trade, exploration and colonization. It became one of the first worldwide operating corporations, determining the path of our history.

The shipyard of the Dutch East India Company in Amsterdam, circa 1750.
Image: Amsterdam Municipal Department for the
Preservation and Restoration of Historic Buildings and Sites

From 10 September and until 21 November, this historical share will be the master show piece at the VOC exhibition in the West Frisian Museum. But for those who can't make it, you can discover it on the website, developed for the event. Some pretty interactive features allow you to
  • view a short instruction video
  • browse through and zoom into the 4 page document
  • go through individual passages to discover the meaning of the transcriptions

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Goble Aviation from Texas

The state of Texas, the 2nd-largest in the country, counts the most airports of all states in the USA and therefore hosts many airlines and aviation related companies.

Goble Aviation, Inc. 1963
This scarce stock certificate for 100 "A" shares of the Goble Aviation company depicts the Lone Star of Texas.  It is issued to and signed by James S. Vecchio as secretary and signed by M.T. Goble as president.

In particular, the share bears an emboss inaccurately made on a pre-printed gold seal.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Seal stories

When examining a new certificate I always look for the presence of a seal. I hope a remarkable scenery will be present on it. Some of these seals are so striking that they can not possibly be overlooked at. Others, the embossed ones, are hardly noticeable but can just be as surprising as well.
(tip: double-click the images for more details)

Gold paper seal, embossed after being attached to the document
Texas Short Line Railway Company, 1902

In the Middle Ages, seals were made on bee wax. They were used for guaranteeing authenticity of documents and for sealing closed documents. On shares and bonds, seals are also used for authentication. More, the presence of a beautifull gold paper seal, serving as a quality label, helped issuers to attract potential buyers. Seals were also meant to make it more difficult to counterfeit a certificate. Sometimes, they were also used as proof that obligatory taxes were paid.
Seals on certificates can show the name of the issuer, a pictorial emblem representing the issuer such as a coat of arms, an incorporation date, or a picture of the kind of activity that was involved.
Seal integrated in the print design
RCA Corporation (specimen) 1977

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reference catalogue : Spanish Royal and Private Trading Companies from Spain in the 18th Century

I will occasionally briefly describe a reference book or catalogue in my postings.

  • Title : Historische Wertpapiere der Spanischen Königlichen und privaten Handelsgesellschaften des 18. Jahrhunderts
  • Authors : Alexander Kipfer
  • ID: ISBN 3-89228-533-0, published by Haag und Herchen, 1991
  • Languages : German
  • Number of pages : 192
  • Images : black & white, about 100 illustrations
  • Indexes : alphabetic register on page 39 , but companies ordered in section 2 by date of incorporation

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reference catalogue : Ottoman Empire and Turkey, Share certificates and Bonds, 1854-1938

  • Title : Historische Wertpapiere, Band V, Ottomanisches Kaiserreich und Türkei - Aktien und Anleihen, 1854-1938
  • Authors : Drumm, Henseler, Glasemann
  • ID: without publication number, published by Freunde Historischer Wertpapiere, 1983
  • Languages : German, introductions also in English and French
  • Number of pages : 237
  • Images : black & white, on average 1 per 2 pages
  • Indexes : alphabetic, but main ordering consists of 2 sections : 1. shares (by date), 2. bonds (by date)
This catalogue includes certificates from private companies and issued by the Ottoman state.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Lesbos coins

Lesbos, also known as Emerald Island, counts 320 kilometers of coastline. It is quite forested, has 2 mountain peaks and 2 large gulfs. Separated by the Mytilini Strait, Turkey is less than 10 miles away. Modern tourism in Greece only started to take off in the 1950s. The Lesbos Tourism Company, T.E.L., was incorporated in 1956 with its head office in Mytilene. The Greek coins in the design of the shares, suggests the company wanted to promote the rich ancient inheritance of the island. Having collected coins as a child, this share certificate immediately drew my attention. Were these ancient Greek coins genuine or not ?

Mytilene, the capital of the island since the Greek classical period, was famous for its production of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid 4th centuries BC. Electrum is a natural alloy of gold, silver and other metals (a good conductor of electricity), but it was also produced artificially. For coinage electrum was preferred above gold because it was harder and more durable, and because techniques for refining gold were not known every where in the ancient world. The city of Mytilene used electrum with a gold composition of about 43%.

Further research on the depicted coins did not yield a quick result. So, I asked the help of some numismatic experts. Mrs Dane Kurth,, and Mr Doug Smith,

Monday, July 26, 2010

60 % at 10 o'clock, or how can you name your scanned detail images ?

This detail map (click to enlarge) shows the railway line of the Kristianstad-Hessleholms railway company. It is a vignette on a 1906 share of the Kristianstad-Hessleholms Järnvägsaktiebolag. The railway company was founded in 1863 and nationalized in 1944.

I often scan details of certificates, but how do I name these images ? The scanned image of a whole certificate gets the same filename as the ID - identification number - of the certificate in my database. In this case, the certificate has an ID of 1405.  So, the image has 1405.jpg as its filename being the name of the certificates ID and the file type "jpg" in this case.  

Scanned image files of details on certificates also need a filename. This is how I do it. Just take a look at the example of the Swedish railway certificate.

  1. First, we need to position the vignette from a reference point.  I use the center of the certificate, which is at the crossing of the bisector lines. Now, imagine a clock in the center of the certificate.

  2. We position the vignette as a combination of a direction (an hour on the clock) and a distance of the center of the vignette from the center of the clock (0%) to the border (100%).
So, our detail image can be "positioned" at 10 o'clock - 60% . The filename of the resulting scan will be 1405_10_60.jpg, which is the outcome of the certificate ID, the hour position and the distance % and the file extension jpg.

Purists, can question this example and argue that 1405_1030_55.jpg is more accurate. However, it is an approach that has worked well for many years now, and, when ordering the files by filename in your file folder list, detail images get sorted along with the images of the whole certificate.

So, that's how I do it. I'd happy to learn from other approaches. In case you'd wonder, here is the whole certificate's image.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reference catalogue : Belgische Scheepvaartaandelen 1721-1989

I will occasionally briefly describe a reference book or catalogue in my postings.

  • Title : Belgische Scheepvaartaandelen 1721-1989
  • Authors : A. Steppe
  • ID: without publication number, published by Centrum voor Scriptophilie BVBA
  • Languages : English, introductions in Dutch and French
  • Number of pages : 88
  • Images : color, mostly 3 per page
  • Indexes : no indexes, but main ordering by company name
This catalogue includes shipping lines, shipyards, fishing and canal companies.

Reference catalogue : Belgian Tramways around the World

I will occasionally briefly describe a reference book or catalogue in my postings.

  • Title : Belgian tramways around the world
  • Authors : J.-L. De Beir
  • ID: without publication number, published by the Belgian Association for Scripophily
  • Languages : English, introductions also in French
  • Number of pages : 288
  • Images : color, frequently multiple per page
  • Indexes : no indexes, but main ordering by country, additional lists by company name, by date of creation and a list of unseen shares

Reference catalogue : Railways and Tramways in Spain and Portugal


front cover of the catalogue on shares and bonds of railway and tramway companies from  Spain and Portugal
  • Title : Reference catalogue of the bonds & shares of railway & tramway companies in Spain & Portugal
  • Authors : E. Boone, H. Shakespeare
  • ID: ISBN 90-9008705-2
  • Languages : English, introductions also in Spanish & Portuguese
  • Number of pages : 293
  • Images : black & white, almost on every page
  • Indexes : 1. on titles - Spain, 2. on titles - Portugal

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Under the volcano

The smallest volcano in Mexico is the Cuexcomate, with an elevation of only 13 meters (43 feet).  This inactive volcano is regarded as the smallest one on Earth. As a tourist you can visit it and even descend into the 8 meter wide crater. The Pico de Orizaba, is the largest Mexican volcano with a height of 5636 meters (18490 feet). Its last eruption took place in 1687. After the African Kilimanjaro it is the 2nd most prominent volcanic peak in the world. Did you know that Mexico counts more than 40 volcanoes ?   In the last 25 years no less than 5 different volcanoes erupted :

1982 El Chichón
1986 Tacaná
1993 Socorro
2006 Popocatepetl
2009 Colima

For sure, volcanic eruptions are part of life in Mexico now and they were so in the past. The $100 share of the Compañia Guayulera Mexicano, dated 1906, shows a Guayule planter at rest on a hot windless afternoon. A large volcano dominates the setting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Netherland Line promoted business

The Netherlands Steamship Company, also known as the Nederland Line, was one of many companies showing off its kind of activities in the design of its shares .
The company was founded in 1870 to operate a passenger, freight and mail  service between Holland and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) via the Suez Canal (Egypt).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Delightful puppetry

More than 1000 years ago, old Indonesian inscriptions already spoke of wayang, which means "theatre".

Wayang kulit, "shadow puppet theatre", is the oldest form of still existing puppet theatre in the world. The puppets are mounted on bamboo sticks and, held up between a cloth and a light source, cast their shadows on the white canvas. Kulit means "skin" and refers to the buffalo hide they are made from.
double-click to enlarge image
This rare specimen certificate, depicting Wayang puppets in the underprint, is a 4% bond for 1000 Dutch guilder, and made part of the Dutch East Indies Conversion Loan 1934 A. 
N.B. : Here is a great video, from UNESCO, on the Wayang puppet theatre.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In the Name of the Great Architect of the Universe.

detail from Masonic membership certificate showing embossed seal
Do masonic membership documents deserve a place in a scripophily collection ? Being intriguing, their ancient symbols and large embossed seals, stimulate our curiosity. MYJ7NTH9DPVE
Some sources estimate there are about 2-3 million freemasons spread all over the world. They are organised in Lodges and meet in regular meetings at fixed places. Freemasonry membership requires that a candidate believe in a Supreme Being, however the candidate can choose his own interpretation of this believe. So, Freemasonry accepts members from a wide range of faiths. Because their extensive use of symbols and rituals, lodges are often distrusted and associated with conspiracies.  Actually, their main preoccupations remain charitable work within a community in a morally responsable way conform their beliefs.
bond from the Masonic Hall Association

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Time to repair ?

Large tears or spots can significantly reduce the value of your certificate by up to 70%!  Do try out repairs on a spare less preserved certificate that even might go lost in the process. Don't use ordinary adhesive tape. In its most recent issue from April 2010, Scripophily magazine discusses quite in depth how and when to repair tears, remove dirt or dealer pencil markings and much more. The magazine is published by the International Bond & Share Society.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Searching through

I am a collector of early computer manufacturers, so when I go through a sales list or some albums of a dealer, I hope to expect the papers are classified by type of activity. Oops ... "Oh no, they are classified by country", is a common reaction.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A portrait of a socialist

This is an unissed share of 100 Leva from from the Bulgarian Co-operative Dimitar Blagoev. Period : 1940s.

Share of the Bulgarian Co-operative Dimitar Blagoev from the 1940s

Dimitar Blagoev was the founder of the Bulgarian socialism and of the Social-Democratic Workers' Party of Bulgaria, 1891. Much later he transformed his party into the Bulgarian Communist Party.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Enjoy tea from India

Share of the Kursiong and Darjeeling Tea Company from India
The origins of tea dates from more than 3000 years ago and are to be found in the northern part of Burma and the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China. From here the plant was introduced to other countries in the world. In India, tea has been cultivated for consumption and medicinal purposes. In our recent history, tea had been imported for a long time from China.

In 1826, the British East India Company took control of the region from the Burmese King who was defeated in the 1st Anglo-Burmese War. In the 1830s the company had lost its monopoly on trading tea from China. Even though the British had already (re)discovered tea plants in Sadiya in 1823, it took the East India Company several years to be convinced that these plants were genuine. After some years of experimental tea cultivation, the Assam Tea Company was formed in 1840.
 Share of the Dibru-Sadiya Tea Company from India (upper half)

Tea planting became popular. From the 1850s the tea industry rapidly expanded and several seed gardens were established. 1856, the Alubari tea garden was opened by the Kurseong and Darjeeling Tea Company. Another four gardens, at Ging, Ambutia, Takdah and Phubsering were established by the Darjeeling Tea Company between 1860 and 1864, and the gardens at Takvar and Badamtam by the Lebong Tea Company. Darjeeling, grown exclusively in India is one of the most renown teas in the world and often termed as “the Champagne of teas”.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Many-of-a-kind rare certificates"

In the Dutch language, the word “raar” has the following meanings : 1. unusual, 2. strange, and even 3. weird. For economists, goods are rare if these are low in numbers of abundance as opposed to common goods that are almost freely available like the air we breathe.

My first certificate, a plain coal-mining share found on a flea market, made a lot of impression on me and, needless to say, I regarded it as a rare item. And that was what I thought of the other many certificates obtained in this initial period. It was until my first visit at a specialised bourse, where I spotted a pile of certificates of that first share, that I realized that the concept of rarity was not that simple.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

About this blog

Scripophily is what this blog is about. I 'll discuss obsolete stocks and bonds.
Besides the collecting activity, I find myself often carried away when researching the history behind these beautiful certificates. If you want to learn more about the hobby, you should read this, and you can find out more about me there.