Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Archives International Auctions - Sale 36

AIA presents nearly 700 historical stocks and bonds in a triple session auction. The sale kicks off in New York City at the Museum of American Finance on Sat 22 Oct 2016 and in conjunction with the 6th Annual Wall Street Bourse. One of the many attractive lots in the auction is lot 255. It concerns a 1907 share certificate in the Paris-France company designed by the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha.

Paris-France a luxury department store had its shares designed by Alphonse Mucha
500 Francs share, 1907
designed by Alphonse Mucha
click image to enlarge

Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) moved to Paris in 1887. There he became successful after producing a lithographed poster for a play featuring Sarah Bernhardt (1). Mucha's commercial work became known as Art Nouveau in France. His advertisements, posters, labels and the like typically featured women, in flowing robes, surrounded by flowers and plants forming halos behind their heads. 

The certificate here depicts young women with a beehive, a scythe, a caduceus, a book and a pen, a gear and a hammer. These objects represent the allegories Industry, Time, Commerce, the Arts and Labor. Before, artists illustrated countless bonds and shares with these allegories drawn as strong but unrealistic figures. But Mucha brings a new story. His allegories are women of flesh and blood with ordinary traits. The girls look tired to me. One has bags under her eyes. Another one seems to be crying over her lover or maybe she has a Champagne hangover. After a night out they are not interested in their gadgets. It is also remarkable how the artist created sense of depth in the scene with the figurants placed so close together. One can almost guess the size of the room. 

detail from the share above
lot 255 in AIA's 36th auction at $130 start price

The Paris-France department store was founded in 1898 to sell high quality clothing, Parisian specialities, luxury and travel goods (2)The company opened many branches in provincial cities throughout France and lasted almost a hundred years. Its stock and bond certificates are one of the few securities designed by Alphonse Mucha

In the late 1920s Mucha delivered an artistic masterpiece The Slav Epic, a series of twenty huge paintings illustrating the history of the Czech and Slavic people. The Nazi's mistrusted the nationalism in Mucha's work and arrested him in 1939. After his release Alphonse Mucha died in Prague due to lung infection. 

One of the largest collections of Mucha's work is in the possession of former world champion tennis Ivan Lendl. I wonder if the Lendl collection contains a Paris-France bond or share.

(1) Alphonse Mucha, Wikipedia
(2) Max Hensley, Mucha Do About Securities, Scripophily magazine, Apr 2015

Archives International Auctions - Fall Auction 2016
US & Worldwide Scripophily, Banknotes and Printing Ephemera

  • Dates and locations
    • Session 1 : Oct 22, 2016 - Museum of American Finance, NYC
    • Session 2 : Oct 25, 2016 - AIA, Fort Lee, New Jersey
    • Session 3 : Oct 25, 2016 (internet only)
  • Further info : see here , for the catalog there 


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