Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Chennai Museum displays historic stocks and bonds from India

The Chennai Government Museum started in 1851. It holds many archeological and numismatic objects including one of the largest collections of Roman antiquities outside Europe. Its founder, Edward Balfour, a Scottish surgeon, orientalist and pioneering environmentalist, housed once the first zoo of Madras on the museum's grounds. At this very moment visitors can admire antique bond and share certificates in a special exhibition through 17 March 2017.

Telegraph To India Company, 1862 share certificates
Telegraph to India Company
£2 share certificate, 1862

The company had the extremely difficult task to restore
the undersea telegraph cables between Egypt and India.
Image courtesy Sayeed Cassim

"Scripophily" is a temporary exhibition organized by the Government Museum in Chennai. The exhibtion counts 83 historical Indian stocks and bonds from the collection of Sayeed Cassim and his family. The show, well received in the local press, was inaugurated in the presence of British Deputy High Commissioner Bharat Joshi, Dewan to the Prince of Arcot Mohammed Asif Ali and Museum Director Dr. D. Jagannathan.

detail from a share in The Malabar Forest and Rubber Company
In the 19th century the creation of securities, mostly for British companies,
was done in England and followed a British design tradition.
Since the 1900s Indian printers developed their own lettering styles and ornaments,
resulting in a unique range of bond and share certificates.

The collection includes securities issued during India's pre-independence era from companies like the Imperial Bank of India and the Madras Railway Company. Some of the early certificates are printed on vellum and linen. Other scrip on display are full of artwork illustrating the activity of the issuer. Good examples are the shares from The Malabar Forests and Rubber Company Ltd and The Jaipur Bus Service Ltd. Sayeed Cassim, resident from Chennai, explains that this exhibition helps the younger generation to understand how shares and bonds were sold in the past. Visitors not oriented towards business history will be attracted to the artwork.


visitors of the Scripophily exhibition in Chennai Government Museum
Visiting the Scripophily exhibition
Edward Green Balfour, founder and first officer in charge of the museum,
had much enthusiasm for collection and education, especially for women.
He introduced special days to encourage women visitors.
No doubt, he would have been very pleased with this initiative.
Image courtesy Sayeed Casseem

Practical info 
  • Location : Government Museum, Egmore, Chennai 
  • Duration : 3 March - 17 March 2017 
  • Opening hours : Monday-Sunday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • Entrance fee : the special Scripophily exhibition is free

The Cassim collection can be seen in Chennai through 17 March 2017, so don't hesitate to visit the event if you have some time to spend in Chennai.
F.L. 

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