Saturday, October 27, 2018

Archives International Auctions goes for a Rat Trick

AIA presents over 500 lots of historical stocks and bonds in a double sesssion auction. The sale takes place at Fort Lee, New Jersey, on 1 November 2018. At stake are fascinating securities that will interest both international and US regional collectors. Some examples from the catalogue :

  • L(ot) 117 Chinese Government 23rd Year (1934)  6% Sterling Indemnity Loan £1000 bond (note £1000 -not £100 as mentioned in the catalogue)
  • L271 Durant Motor Company of California, 1920s
  • L371 The New York Times Company, 1985
  • L391 The Crusader Films Corporation of America, 1920!, pair of stock certificates
  • L433 Banco de Concepcion, Chile, 1880s, great vignettes
  • L450 City of Marseilles, France, 1919
  • L540 Neptune Mining Company, Connecticut, 1880
  • L582 Talladega and Coosa Valley Railroad Company, 1889
  • L614 Gary Street Railway Co, 1917
  • L739 City of Chicago, Cook County, 1933

Among the many certificates is an incredible stock from the Florida Panters Holdings, Inc.

Lot 734 in the auction : Florida Panthers Holdings, Inc.
1996, specimen stock from the American Bank Note Archives, uncirculated
facsimile signature of Harry Wayne Huizinga Sr  

It was Florida Panther player Scott Mellanby who made the first "Rat Trick". The term, a wordplay on "Hat Trick" (scoring three times in a game), was coined by goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck. Before the game against the Calgary Flames on Oct 8, 1995, Mellanby "one-timed" a rat, astray in the locker room, against the wall with his stick and killed it. That evening Mellanby scored two goals with the same stick, a "Rat Trick".
The Florida Panthers were formed in 1992 after the National Hockey League awarded entrepreneur Harry Wayne Huizinga Sr the franchise for a hockey team in the Miami metropolitan area. Huizinga took the Florida Panthers Holdings public in 1996 seeking funds to pay debts and cover losses. He fostered fan ownership and offered 4.6 million shares at $10 per share. Huizinga retained a 51% ownership but would later sell the team.
In the Panther's 1995-1996 season, fans picked up Mellanby's rat trick. Some started threwing rubber rats on the ice in celebration of a goal. The number of rats thrown went to over a few thousands per game during the 1996 playoffs. The Panthers made then their first-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Final against the winning Colorado Avalanche team. 
After that season the NHL amended its rules : if fans throw debris or rubber rats onto the ice, the referee can eventually issue a penalty to the home team. However, tossing hats onto the ice following a special occasion, e.g. a hat trick goal, was exempted from the rule.

Along with antique stocks and bonds AIA's Fall Sale 6 presents 
hundreds of US, Chinese & Worldwide banknotes and related financial ephemera 

Auction details
  • Location : Fort Lee, New Jersey
  • Date : 1 November 2018
  • Further info : see AIA , online catalogue here and PDF version there 


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Historic figures and Rumanians star in Boone's next auction of antique securities

Boone's 61th Auction of shares and bonds features more than 1600 lots covering about all fields of scripophily interest. The sale catalogue is available online and as an offline PDF document. Nearly all of its 200 pages include color images and background stories of the certificates to be sold. For easy retrieval purposes, search indexes help the collector on his quest for engravers, artists, security printers, Belgian provinces, more than 80 countries and an equal number of special interest themes. 

I noted several certificates signed by or issued to historic figures in the Autographs index. Here are some dazzling names. The Great Britain section begins with a royal series of financial documents : King Charles I, 1632, L(ot) 521, Queen Anne, 1713, L523, King George I, 1723, L524, King George II, 1745, L525 and King George III, 1790, L526. All, unique, representing the Early Modern Britain period, welcome bids from €2000.

Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez 
Dividend share, 1884, Paris, signed as Director by (Ferdinand) V(icomte ) de Lesseps 
Hercule Catenacci designed the share with pharaonic motifs and Egyptian street views. 
click image to enlarge 

Few personalities have made such an impact on global trade as Ferdinand de Lesseps. Right at the outset of the Second Industrial Revolution, de Lesseps' Suez Canal opened in 1869. Combined with the American transcontinental railroad, it allowed the world to be circled in record time. L182, a dividend share in the Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez, 1884, is the only known scripophily with an original autograph de Lesseps. Start price €2000. 

From 1839, a share in the Moulins à Vapeur de Sclessin, a steam-powered grain mill, L218, is issued to industrialist John Cockerill from Lancashire. Cockerill is considered the founder of the Belgian manufacturing industry. Surprisingly, bidding on this extremely rare and one of the most important Belgian scripophily objects can start as low as €800. 

Of course, the Americans are also part of the show. Bidding can start at €500 for an Oroya Leonesa Ltd gold mine share, L1133, signed by Herbert C. Hoover, 31st President of the US. You can find John Paul Getty and George F. Getty II on a duo lot, L1275, comprising a Mission Development stock and a pay roll check. A Northern Pacific Railroad Company share, L1195, signed on the back transfer note by John Pierpont Morgan may be acquired from €100.

Another stunning signature certificate from the Neamul Romanesc Societate Cooperativa, a company formed for the commerce and industry of printing, packaging and publishing. The company printed its own shares. This one, dated 1908, is signed by historian, playwright and Prime Minister of Rumania (1931-32) Nicolae IorgaA commando of the fascist Iron Guard party assassinated "the greatest-ever mind in Rumania" in 1940. Lot 1591 in the auction. 

The Nicolae Iorga share, L1591, is one of an exciting group of about 360 rare, historic and superbly designed bonds and shares from Rumania. In pole position here is a bond of 100 Austrian Ducats issued by the Principality of Wallachia in 1834. Twenty-five years later, Wallachia would form together with Moldavia the State of Romania in 1859. The certificate, L1281, can find a new owner from €1400.

The Banca "Oborul" is named after the Obor district in Bucharest. Its 50 Lei  share, Art Nouveau style, starts at €200. L1403  

Art Nouveau became also in Rumania a popular style around the 1900s. Decorative elements, inspired by natural forms and the curved lines of plants, found its way on many gorgious security designs like those of the Creditul International, L1410, Banca Grivita, L1406 and Bukowinaer Landesbank, L1390.

This share in the Allgemeine Versicherungsbank Transsylvania A.G. was issued on Jun 21, 1918, only a few months before Transylvania, also known as Siebenbürgen, became a part of Rumania Dec 1, 1918. Illustrated are the arms of the seven provinces of Transylvania. L1420, €100 

The Rumanian sales section consists of the following subsections, between parentheses the number of lots is mentioned to illustrate the extraordinary range of scripophily : State & City Bonds (36), Railroads (27), Oil (23), Banking (138), Various Industries (135).

Soviet related scripophily can often be fascinating. At the end of WW II, the country was occupied by Soviet troops. In Feb 1946, the Uzinelle Metallurgice "Vulcan" issued new shares. In the same year the Communists organized and "won" the elections in Rumania. The company recovered from the war and already at the end of the decade production increased quickly. L1639 contains a duo of these 1946 issued "Soviet" shares and starts at €60.

The Romania Carbonifera certificate for 10 shares of 500 Lei was issued in 1920. Click the image to enlarge and admire the drawing of coalminers at work. L1556, €100 

On top of what has been discussed so far, another 1200 scripophily lots, 1639 in total, will be part of the sale. A few of the many worth looking at :

  • L118 Kathiawar Industries, India
  • L132 Manufactures Indochinoises de Cigarettes, Indochina
  • L150 Nanyo Yashi KK, Southern Coco-Nut Estate & Trading Co, Japan
  • L240 Expedition Antarctique Belge, Belgium
  • L472 Baden-Baden Co Ltd, Germany
  • L580 Agricultural and Commercial Bank of Ireland
  • L793 First Society of Silkworm Breeders in Kutaisi Government, Russia
  • L861 Stora Kopparbergs Läns Och Bergslags Enskilde Bank-Bolag, Sweden
  • L902 Ottoman National Economic Joint Stock Company of Konya, Turkey
  • L1075 Cardenas Sabanilla Petroleum, Cuba

One of the French top pieces in the sale, this 100 Francs share in the Société de Constructions de Levallois-Perret, a successor to the Compagnie des Etablissements Eiffel, was issued in 1939 but printed in the 1890s. Only a handful known, this historic piece may be acquired from €1200. L456 in the auction. 

There is lots more to discover from other countries and all kinds of collecting themes in this auction. The day after the sale, Mario Boone organizes his regular scripophily bourse internationally attended by dealers and visitors.

Auction details

  • Location : Antwerpen, Belgium
  • Date : auction 27 October 2018, bourse 28 October 2018
  • Further info : online catalogue  here, and PDF version there 


PS : You can find out more about the Americal railroads in the auction in this preview from Coxrail

Thursday, October 18, 2018

French scripophily terms 2.0

Do you agree that France is the nation that has left us the most decorative bond and share certificates  ? If you know a little French, it is often possible to derive from the lettering on those certificates what the issuing companies were all about. 

Actually, we can find bonds and shares from all over the world with text written in French. Besides France, some of the better known examples of French speaking countries are Canada, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. 

Let's spin a globe and pick a spot. There is a good chance we know "French" scripophily from a country marked by our finger, such as : Madagascar, Vietnam, New Caledonia and Guadeloupe. In fact, every continent has some states with bonds and shares written in French. Then there are also the many French language certificates issued by companies operating abroad, many of these were Belgian. We find actions de capital and parts de fondateur in Russia, Egypt, China, Ottoman Empire, Spain, Brazil, and again, much more. 

One of the readers of the blog, came across the 100 French Scripophily terms on this site and suggested some extra entries for it. Wonderful, thank you for that. You can check out the enhanced list here.

Here is a little test to help you sharpen your French skills. Try to find the meaning of following terms printed on the illustrated share below :
  • magasin
  • bois
  • scieries
  • société anonyme
  • capital social
  • part de fondateur
  • sans désignation de valeur
  • administrateur
Of course, you can use the 100 French Scripophily terms cheat sheet.

Click the image of this Belgian share to enlarge. 
Can you locate the French terms from the little test ? 

Test passed ? You will see that exercising your French scripophily skills will not only keep your mind sharp, but it will also prove to be useful soon :
  • the upcoming Boone auction features hundreds of French scripophily certificates, and, 
  • rumor has it that a new, free scripophily newsletter, in French, is born, but more on that in the next issue of Scripophily magazine and in a later blog post. 


Enjoyed reading this post, why not share it ?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

SPINK to sell New Zealand stock at online auction

SPINK's next scripophily auction is set for October 17, 2018. This online sale counts about 500 lots of antique bonds and shares from the UK, Russia, China, Mexico, Egypt, USA and many more states. The auction starts with an important range of New Zealand scripophily.

share from the Land and Loan Company of New Zealand, 1884

The Land & Loan Company of New Zealand Limited provided credit for farmers and traders in wool and frozen sheep meat. Meat and dairy exports to Britain would form the basis for economic growth in New Zealand. Bids for this rare 1884 share, lot 15 in the auction, can start at £60. 

detail from a share in the Land & Loan Company of New Zealand comparing vignettte and embossed company seal

Detail from the Land & Loan Company of New Zealand certificate above. 
The vignette illustrates the company seal showing a ship and sheep. The vignette's design is skillfully repeated in the company's embossed seal. 
Click image to enlarge. 

Bonds and shares from New Zealand are hardly seen at auctions. SPINK included this time more than sixty lots. Among the highlights you can find a share from the Dunedin Stock Exchange, L(ot) 13. The New Zealand Times Company share, L18 in the auction, issued in Wellington, 1900, may be purchased from £120. Some certificates show a Māori vignette, such as L39 and L40, two different types from The London & New Zealand Exploration Company, but also on a Taitapu Gold Estates certificate from 1899, L54.

early share in the Timaru Landing and Shipping Company, 1868

From Timaru, located on New Zealand's South Island, this £10 share in the Timaru Landing and Shipping (Limited), L57, was issued in 1868. Equally rare and early, it is estimated at £120-150. 

The Far East section contains mainly lots from China. An uncancelled Shanghai Power Company share, L139, printed by American Bank Note Co, with text in Chinese and English, starts from £180. L141 is a 200 silver dollar share in the Tai Seng Opium Firm from Macau, dated 1918. £400 may buy you this extraordinary topic in scripophily. The section counts many Chinese government loans offered either in group lots or as a single item such as a 1912 5% Gold 'Crisp' Loan, bond for £1000, L99.

share certificate from The Shanghai Land Investment Company with Chinese drawing

L137, two shares from the Shanghai Land Investment Company, incorporated in Hong Kong, show a Chinese workman painting a house at the top of a ladder. Both certificates, signed by philantropist Sir Horace Kadoorie, can be acquired from £80. 

Some twenty lots of African company securities are next, often richly decorated, e.g. L170 Compagnie Impériale des Chemins de Fer Éthiopiens,  L172 Compagnie Générale de l'Afrique Française, French Congo, L174 Charterland Goldfields Limited, Rhodesia.

share from The Ottoman Company Limited with vignette of Ottoman merchant and dromedary

The Ottoman Company Limited, formed in 1865 to finance the Bank of Turkey, failed the following year as a result of the Panic of 1866. Its £20 share, 1865, printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co, has one of the finest engravings in scripophily. L159, in the auction, estimated at £50-60.

Great Britain contains over 50 lots including several pre-Irish independence ones. L253, The Derby Canal Company share, printed on vellum, with waxed paper seal and rare, was issued in 1793.  L269, a trio, contains a share in The Atlantic Royal Mail Steam Navigation Co Ltd, 1860, wonderful vignette of a paddle steamer and issued to "The Most Honorable The Marquis of Clanricarde of Portumna Castle County Galway" (sic). Another share, from The Boy Messengers and Electric Call Company, L273, is signed by Patrick Bowes-Lyon, uncle of Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who won the mens doubles Wimbledon championship in 1887. Modestly estimated at £40-50.

share from The Navan & Kingscourt Railway Company

The Navan and Kingscourt Railway Company opened the section that connected the Irish towns of Kingscourt and Navan in 1875, at that time still part of Great Britain. This £10 share, issued 1871, Dublin, is part of a trio, L297 in the auction. 

The sale covers many other European countries. E.g. collectors of 18th century securities will be impressed by the caligraphy and the fine printing of the company seal on a Canal de Richelieu share from 1753, L206, bids welcomed from £200 onwards. Lots of Art Nouveau, Jugendstil and Belle Époque material ready for the block, such as a Théatre-Concert du Moulin-Rouge share from 1904, with the famous windmill logo's inclusive, £80, L220.

vignette of sailing ship on Confederate States of America Treasury Note

The SPINK auction features scripophily from the Confederate States of America as well. This $100,000 5% treasury note, was issued in the last months of the American Civil War on February 1, 1864, Richmond. Click the image and see the enlarged sailing ship vignette. L381, estimated £120 to £150. 

Matching time zones, scripophily from The Americas tops off the sale with over 150 lots. Bidding can start at £140 for an extremely early Peruvian Treasury Loan issued during the Peru's fight for independence from Spain, L368. A specimen share from the Canadian Western Lumber Company, with felled timber in the vignette, was printed circa 1910 by Waterlow & Sons, L358. Catalogued on as LAC-360-B-30, the only one known, L422, a $1000 bond in the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Rail-Road Company, 1855, can possibly be snapped up for £80.

Banco de Buenos Aires share with large underprint scene

Banco de Buenos Aires, share of 10 Pesos, 1911, with a nowadays controversial but mega underprint scene of natives listening to a conquistador with priest. L346 in the auction. 

You can find more of these fascinating stocks and bonds in the SPINK online catalogue. Here are the auction details :

  • date : 17 October 2018, 11:00 AM
  • location : online auction
  • online catalogue and further info, see here  


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Gold mining and lots more at Gallica

Gallica is the digital, online library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). Users can query over 4 million documents, about 2 million newspapers and magazines, half a million books, and a tremendous amount of other digitized objects. You are correct, Gallica provides access to interesting material for scripophily detectives like you.

For instance, pay attention gold mine collectors, here is a link to a digital version of the Annuaire des mines d'or, Afrique du Sud, Australie, Amérique, Europe. This investment manual was published in 1896 by Annuaire de la finance (Paris). The book counts more than 200 pages and briefly describes hundreds of gold mining companies operating all over the world.

One of the companies mentioned in the book is The New Chimes Gold Mining Company, Limited. The book tells us that this company was registered in 1890, Natal, South Africa. The purpose of the company was the exploitation of 27 mining claims at Benoni Farm, Heidelberg districht, Witwatersrand.

share in The New Chimes Gold Mining Company (South Africa)

The New Chimes Gold Mining Company, Limited 
Shares of £1, issued London, 1895 
click to enlarge image 

Melanie de Bussière Comtesse Edmond de Pourtalès (1836-1914), one of the most famed salonniéres during the Second French Empire, subscribed to the illustrated share in the New Chimes Gold Mining Company on 30 Oct 1895. She was appointed lady-in-waiting to empress Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III. From her father, Melanie inherited the Château de Pourtalès where she received important guests like George V King of the United Kingdom and Albert Schweitzer.

Our Gallica book reports that The New Chimes Gold Mining Company was successful and paid out a 55% dividend in 1895. No doubt, Melanie invested wisely, but back then there were no social media that unveiled the poor working conditions of the miners.

Besides reference books, you can search Gallica for other objects such as letters, patents, and maps. Let's try if we can find a map of the area where the New Chimes Gold Mining claims were located. I used the French terms "mines d'or afrique du sud" (gold mines South Africa). There it was, a nice map of the region from that period.

Map of the gold mines of Witwatersrand from 1895

Map of the gold mines of Witwatersrand in the districts of Pretoria, Heidelberg, Potchefstroom (Transvaal) 
with indication of the orientation and position of the gold veins, 1895.
click image to enlarge
source: / Bibliothèque nationale de France

That's nice. Over 130,000 maps can be viewed on Gallica. What about our shareholder ? The magic key words for Gallica's search engine here are : Melanie de Bussière Comtesse Edmond de Pourtalès ..  et voilà !

portrait Melanie de Bussière Comtesse Edmond de Pourtalès

Melanie de Bussière Comtesse Edmond de Pourtalès 
source Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire de Strasbourg 

As you see, Gallica is a great place for your scripophily research, e.g. the keyword Siemens or Hispano-Suiza yield hundreds of results. And in case you need some French key words,  here is a reference list of 100 French scripophily terms.


Monday, September 24, 2018

Archives International Auctions Fall Sale #5 presents nearly 700 antique stocks and bonds

Archives International Auctions offers about 1,000 lots of banknotes, scripophily and security printing ephemera at its sale this Thursday, 27th Sep 2018. This public and online event takes place at Fort Lee, New Jersey, and includes about 700 lots of antique stocks and bonds.

Lot 628 : Swiftsure Oil Transport, Incorporated 
7% Gold Serial Bond, Ninth Series, $1000, 1920, specimen 
start price $55 

Lot 839 : Eagles Mere Railroad Company 
1912, $100, specimen 5% First Mortgage $100 Bond 
Starting at $65 

Practical info :


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Saved at the last minute

Do you think that shares certificates have a life of their own ?  Yes, I think so. Shares are born, find a companion and even get a career. And they retire, and some of them face a horrible end.

Share certificates are born in a split second the moment they are printed. Some of them can be quite large, others are small. Many shares look rather plain, and believe me, there are some real uglies out there. But there also a lot of beauties you can't keep your eyes off. Pretty soon they get their serial number and the signatures of the company officers they represent.

share in the Tôt-Lam tea company from Indochina, dated 1912

A real knockout, this Tôt-Lam tea share from 1912 sold for €800 in Mario Boone's Apr 2018 auction. 
courtesy Mario Boone 

Already from birth, share certificates speak their mother tongue. Some can speak two languages, and a few of them are real polyglots. In fact, they need to talk, some can be really mouthy, in order to attract a companion, a human companion. People are fond of shares, because of their looks and their gossip, and especially because shares support the ambitions of people. You can find out more about that in this short introduction later.

Share from the Société Financière d'Égypte with text in four languages

This share from the Société Financière d'Égypte was issued in 1863. The construction of the Suez Canal, which was still in progress, made Egypt, then part of the Ottoman Empire, commercially and strategically important to foreign powers. The share is a true "polyglot" and speaks French, English, Arabic and Italian. 

A share starts its career as soon as it is issued. Then it has been purchased by its companion, the owner of the share. The latter's name is often written on the front. The share keeps talking on and on. 
"Please keep me, I'm still in a top shape"
"Hey, can't you give me a nice coupon cut ?"
"Sorry, I'm not feeling well this quarter"
"Did you see that? That bully stamped me on the forehead !"
The certificate is whining all the time, but as lang as things go well, share and owner stay together.

Some share certificates are born under a lucky star. They are issued to or signed by a pioneering entrepreneur, a Nobel Prize winner, a President of a nation, or even a rockstar. In that case, these shares can see the world, experience adventures or witness important events. Of course, they brag about it. Can you imagine the jealousy that is between them ?

Scindia Steam Navigation share certificate with signature of Sumati Moraree

Sumati S. Morarjee signed this share in the Scindia Steam Navigation Company (SSNC). Sumati Morarjee was married to Shanti Kumar Narottam Morarjee, son of Narottam Morarjee, the founder of the SSNC. She was a very close friend of Mahatma Gandhi. At her home, she took care of Gandhi while he was recovering from appendicitis (1924) and after his release from prison in Poona (1944). Sumati became in full charge of the SSNC by 1946. She was the first female ship magnate and the first woman in the world to head an organisation of ship owners - the Indian National Steamship Owners Association. 

During their career shares incur creases, tear and receive ink stamps. They can look weary, but all that is an illusion. These physical characteristics point to hardened veterans that have been on a mission all the time. Make no mistake. The ink stamps received are service ribbons awarded for heroic action in stressful financial operations such as capital increases, currency conversions and par value reductions.

When share certificates retire they are appointed Commander in the Order of the Grand Cancellation and proudly wear the ultimate medal : a String of Cancellation Holes, a Cancelling Pen Stroke, a Cancellation Stamp or any of those combinations.

share in the London and North Eastern Railway Company (LNER)

The London and North Eastern Railway Company (LNER) was one of the "Big Four" in the Interwar Period. The company also operated several ships. Many of these were lost in World War II. The SS Archangel was bomded and sunk off the East coast of Scotland (1941). The SS Malines was torpedoed off Port Said (1942), and the SS Amsterdam struck a mine off Normandy, France (1944). This LNER share started its career in 1927 and wears now with great satisfaction its medal, the String of Cancellation Holes.

And they lived happily ever after! Well, only a few do. The other day I saw this McLeod and Company share. McLeod built and owned several railways in and around Calcutta. 

ordinary shares certificate from McLeod and Company, Limited

McLeod's railways, managed by McLeod Light Railways, were organized as separate companies, e.g. Kalighat Falta Railway, Ahmedpur-Katwa Light Railway, Burdwan-Katwa Light Railway and Bankura Damodar Railway. McLeod also operated textile mills in India. 

Born with serial number 3829, the McLeod share started its career in 1948. McLeod-3829 was decorated with tax stamps and pen stroke cancellations. All of a sudden I felt disturbed because of a conspicuous ink stamp that was put upside down on the document. I turned the paper for a better look.

ink stamp with text  Surrendered for dematerialisation

My goodness ! SURRENDERED FOR DEMATERIALISATION. Just like banknotes, at the end of their life cycle, share certificates are shredded and sent to the incinerator. I knew that, but still, I was shocked. 

Then I saw the smile on McLeod-3829 that told me that a kind person had saved it from the worst. Phew. I winked at it, "You are safe with me now", and I gave the poor share a big hug. Oops !  


NB: Thank you for signing the Guest book

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Worldwide scripophily touch down in Würzburg

HWPH Historisches Wertpapierhaus AG has something to celebrate ! The company conducts its 50th auction anniversary on Saturday 15 September, a week from today.  Over 900 lots of bonds and shares will then go on the block at public auction. And more than 1,200 lots are offered in the accompanying online auction ending 2 PM Monday 17 September. Here is a quick tour.

The Asia and the Middle-East section starts the ball rolling in both sales. Here are a few observations. Issued in Shanghai, 1939, a share from the Russian-Chinese Credit Society,  L(ot) 685, extremely rare, starts at €2,500. The Holy Land is well represented with certificates like The Palestine Corporation Limited, 1949, L973. A share from The Palestine Land Development Company dates from as early as 1909, L974. The Japanese Meigo Steel Corporation and Naigai Steel Corporation may be acquired from €1. From Turkey, there is the Drumm Collection, historic in Scripophily, but more about that see there.

The Premier Automobiles Ltd., India 
Lot 977 in the auction, the share is signed by the industrialist, philanthropist and cricketer Lalchand Hirachand as Director, and starts at €120. 

Almost 300 lots represent The Americas. An early Puerto-Rican share, L23, Compañia del Vapor de Catañio starts at €130. From New Orleans, a 1840 Mexican Gulf Rail-Way Company bond, L37,  invites bidding from €450. Nearly 50 Confederate States of America are offered in both auctions. The advanced CSA expert will recognize the CSA 8% Montgomery, 1861, $500 and $1000 bonds, L24 & L25, vignettes of J. C. Calhoun and J. Davis, respectively. Lot range 48-52 is all about Thomas Alva Edison scripophily, including signatures.

William Steinway, who made the Steinway & Sons piano company world famous, developed his own company town Steinway Village in Astoria, New York. This is the serial number 1 share from the Astoria Electrical Manufacturing Company, issued to its Director William Steinway, 1891. The company manufactured electrical motors. Lot 18 in the auction, €150 start price. 

HWPH, known for its Russian offerings, included this time nearly 250 lots from Russia and the former USSR. Formed in London, the New Central Siberia Ltd, L703, was active in gold mining around Yeniseysk. From Saratov, a rare 1000 Roubel bond from 1898, L782, is set at €1,600. Vignettes of a tramcar, a map of the region and a dynamo illustrate an extremely rare share from the Donbass Electric Company, L691.

A great example of Soviet artistic design, click the image to enlarge. This lottery bond was part of an internal loan issued for Stalin's second five-year plan, 1933. Lot 888, in the auction, may be bought from €100. 

Excluding Russian and German material, HWPH included over 500 European lots, representing nearly every country. Here are some interesting items. You'll find their chocolate in almost any airport, from Switzerland, €70 can buy you a Chocolat Tobler share, L1020. Art Nouveau and Art Deco artists created wonderful angels on these beauties : Banco Regional de Cataluña, L69, La  Protectrice, L99 and Exposition Religieuse Internationale de 1900, L120.  The sales 50 Highlights section includes a spectacular share from The Baltic Salvage Association. What words can not describe, a high quality image reveals in detail. So here is a link.

Zoo collectors will love seeing these : Thiergarten-Gesellschaft in Wien, L155, Actien-Verein des zoologischen Gartens zu Berlin, L333 , Neue Zoologische Gesellschaft, Frankfurt, L457, Société Royale de Zoologie d'Anvers, L1333 and my personal favorite, Koninklijk Zoologisch Genootschap Natura Artis Magistra, Amsterdam, L669.

Koninklijk Zoologisch Genootschap Natura Artis Magistra
500 Gulden share, unissued, 1853, Amsterdam 
Natura Artis Magistra, or "Nature is the teacher of the arts", is one the oldest zoos built on mainland Europe. The zoo had three gates with the words 'Natura', 'Artis' and 'Magistra'. The Artis gate was the main one, and that's how the zoo is usually called. Only a handful of certificates like this one,  L669, are known. Bids are invited from €2,000. 

Over 900 German lots are spread over several sections in both auctions :
  • 16th - 18th century
  • Germany pre 1948
  • German currency history
  • Deutsch Mark (DM) certificates
  • Southern Germany 
  • 50 Highlights
From the pre 1948 section, I noted Stadt Magdeburg 8% 100,000 Mark bond, 1923, text in German and, unusual, also in English, with striking colors and great harbour vignette, L1667.
Some German bonds and shares have survived several currency periods. During their circulation these certificates have received several currency conversion stamps, and therefore form an interesting collecting theme 'German currency history'.  The William Janssen AG share, L1722, lived through four currency periods : issued in Mark, stamped consecutively in Gold Mark and Reichsmark and was still negotiable in the early DM period.  
The DM section contains several early computer manufacturers : Anker-Werke, L1731, Nixdorf Computer, L602, Walther Electronic, L1856, and Siemens, L304.
The auctioneer produced a dedicated catalogue for The 50 Highlights section with extra large images and background information. Among the German lots, you'll find a collection of 192 Hamburg city related loans, some of them from the 18th and even the 17th century, L653. Historic is a J. W. von Goethe share from 1793, see the following image. 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe signed this Ilmenauer Kupfer- und Silber Bergwerk share, issued in 1793. Goethe, mainly known as a poet, novelist, playwright (Faust), philosopher, diplomat and politician, was also a mineralogist. The mineral goethite (iron oxide) is named after him. One of highlights in Matthias Schmitt's 50th auction, lot 650, it is expected to realize €20,000. 

Of course, there is much more to tell, but the best way is to see for yourself. Here are the auction details :

  • dates & locations
    • HWPH Auction 50 (lots 1-912): 15 September 2018, Würzburg, including Award Journalistenpreis Historische Wertpapiere und Finanzgeschichte around 3 PM as part of the auction event
    • Ersten Deutschen Historic-Actien-Club e.V (EDHAC) members meeting:  16 September, same location of the public auction, Würzburg
    • HWPH Auction 51 (lots 913-2180): 17 September, Internet only
  • More info


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Drumm Ottoman Collection comes up for sale

For the first time in its existence THE reference collection of Ottoman and Turkish scripophily is going to be auctioned. The event takes place on 15 September 2018 and is organized by HWPH Historisches Wertpapierhaus AG. Place to be is Würzburg, Germany. 

Smyrna Cassaba railway specimen bond from 1894

This 1894 specimen bond from the Smyrna Cassaba railway is one of the 274 certificates from the Drumm CollectionThe Ottoman Government sold the Smyrna Cassaba concession to Georges Nagelmackers, founder of Wagons-Lits, known for the Orient Express trains. 

Ulrich Drumm gathered over several decades the collection of 274 certificates from the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish State. It will be sold as a single group lot, lot 682 in HWPH's upcoming September auction. The collection formed the basis for the Drumm, Henseler, Glasemann catalogue Ottomanisches Kaiserreich und Türkei - Aktien und Anleihen, 1854-1938. The catalogue has been the standard work for Ottoman scripophily collectors since its year of publishing. 

Drumm founded Freunde Historischer Wertpapiere in 1974 with Alfons W. Henseler. This company specialized in auctions for antique stocks and bonds. FHW also started the publication of a magazine for collectors, the Zeitung für Historische Wertpapiere

Between 1975 and 1986 Drumm's company launched the Historische Wertpapiere series of reference catalogues. After publishing volumes on "Russian Railways", "Chinese Shares and Bonds", "Russian City Bonds" and "Austrian Railways", Vol 5 "Ottoman Empire and Turkey" appeared in 1983. The last volume in the series included "Italian Railways".

This certificate is illustrated and identified in the Drumm catalogue under entry TR1265c. Issued in 1910, Constantinople, it is an extremely rare 10 shares certificate from the Banque de Turquie pour favoriser le Commerce et l'Industrie.  

In the 19th century the Ottoman Empire included for some time parts of the Balkan, Greece, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Algeria. The Société du Chemin de Fer Ottoman de Jaffa à Jérusalem et Prolongements issued this 500 Francs bond in 1894. This is one of the certificates that Drumm added to the collection after the catalogue appeared.

Auctioneer Matthias Schmitt has high expectations of this exceptional collection. Included are many rare and important securities from the Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish state. More, after the publication of the book, Drumm extended the collection. Schmitt adds :
Just take these three examples (illustrated in this post), the combined value of these three certificates alone already make up for 20% of the ask price.

A detailed list of the items (lot 682) is available on request from the auctioneer :

  • Further info : HWPH's 50th Public Auction, see here, the Drumm Collection, see there  
  • Location : Würzburg, Germany
  • Date : 15 September 2018 

F. L.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hieroglyphs in scripophily deciphered !

Antique securities from companies that operated in Egypt were typically illustrated with pharaonic themes and hieroglyphs. Standing on their own as true pieces of artwork, their mysterious designs made possible investors dream of promising outcomes. People bought these share certificates in the 19th and 20th century when the stock exchanges of Alexandria and Cairo flourished. But are the hieroglyphs on these certificates actually legible? 

Crédit Agricole d'Egypte 
1 Share of 4 Egyptian Pounds, 1951 
Are the hieroglyphs in the lower border genuine
Click image to enlarge 

In August 2016, the Belgian radio program #weetikveel (English: I Don't Know) featured an Egyptologist in a broadcast about the pharaohs of Egypt. I had been puzzled for quite a while by the hieroglyphs that were printed on Egyptian shares. I introduced myself by email to the guest speaker, researcher Marleen De Meyer, and she was amused by the pictures of these antique securities I had sent her. She agreed to have a look at them to see whether the texts were actually legible. 

Gibberish!, she said when I showed her this stunning share in the Crédit Agricole d'Egypte. De Meyer works as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Archaeology with a specialty in Egyptology at KU Leuven University. She is an experienced Egyptologist and can read and understand ancient Egyptian texts. 

The earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions are over 5000 years old. The knowledge of reading them was completely lost some 1500 years ago. The world had to wait until the time of Napoleon to regain that expertise. Under the pretext of protecting the French interests in Egypt, he sent his Armée d'Orient on expedition to Egypt in 1798. Pierre-François Bouchard, one of Napoleon's officers, found in 1799 near Rosetta, a city in the Nile Delta, a stone slab bearing inscriptions in three different scripts. The stone would lead to a breakthrough in deciphering hieroglyphics.

Fayoum Light Railways Company Société Anonyme 
4% £20 Sterling Bearer Bond, Cairo, 1899, printed by Charles Skipper & East
The symbols printed in the bond's upper and lower border look like hieroglyphs.

Also the hieroglyphs on the Fayoum Light Railways bond are total nonsense. But a share from the Electric Light and Power Supply Company was more interesting. Marleen De Meyer explains :
  • The inscriptions on the pylon, the temple gateway, are (also) nonsense. 
  • The inscriptions below both sphinxes are legible hieroghlyphs. They are derived from the titulature of Ramses II, though not without faults.
I am pleased. Finally, we're getting somewhere !

Electric Light and Power Supply Co. Société Anonyme
dividend share, Cairo, issued 1933
The inscriptions below both sphinxes are legible hieroghlyphs
but those on the pylon, the temple gateway, are not.

When Pierre-François Bouchard found the Rosetta Stone there was nobody who could translate the stone's inscriptions. The same text was written in three languages : Greek, Demotic, and Ancient Egyptian (hieroglyphs). At this time, no one had been able to decipher the latter two scripts, but Greek was of course known. Bouchard told his superiors and his commanding officer Nicolas-Jacques Conté, that he had found something of importance. Before they joined Napoleon's army in Egypt, Bouchard and Conté were already friends. Both had lost an eye during one of Conté's experiments with hydrogen gas.

The Rosetta Stone, measuring 112cm high, 75cm wide, 28cm thick, and weighing about 760 kilograms, was brought to Cairo. Napoleon's expedition in Egypt included many scientists who described and drew ancient monuments and antiquities. Eager to inform their colleagues in France, they tried to copy the Rosetta Stone’s texts by hand.

That proved to be an error-prone process. Nicolas-Jacques Conté suggested to use the Rosetta Stone itself as a printing block to reproduce the inscription. They applied ink to the surface, including the incisions, and then cleaned off the ink from the raised surface. The resulting print, in reverse text, could be read from the back side, or in a mirror. Copies of the stone's texts reached Paris in 1801.

Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez 
specimen dividend share, 1924
The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. It was constructed by Ferdinand de Lesseps' Suez Canal company between 1859 and 1869. The drawing of the share is made by James Pouchet, an engineer working for de Lesseps. Pouchet designed several buildings along the Suez Canal, including the Viceroy Palace at Ismailia. (L'Illustration: Journal Universel, 16 Oct 1869)
image courtesy : Mario Boone 

For many years now, Marleen De Meyer has been researching the field of funerary culture from Egypt's Old and Middle Kingdom. Since 2002 she is a permanent team member of the Dayr al-Barsha Project directed by the Egyptology research group at KU Leuven. Dayr al-Barsha is located in Middle Egypt, where in 2014, De Meyer discovered in the area of the Old Kingdom rock tombs (2300-2200 BC), an extraordinary and well preserved plaster funerary mask.

A five hour drive from Dayr al-Barsha takes you to Suez, which brings us to the next item to discuss. Marleen could easily identify the meaning of the symbols on the Suez Canal share because these are genuine hieroglyphs. James Pouchet, a Suez Canal engineer who made the drawing for the Suez Canal share, had accurately copied the writings. Marleen clarifies :
  • The one on the left says : "Lord of The Two Lands, Cleopatra", dating to the Ptolemaic Period 
  • The column on the right reads : "King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of The Two Lands, Necho II", 26th Dynasty (610-595 BCE)

Details from the Suez Canal share, see above. 
The inscriptions have been identified by Egyptologist De Meyer. 
The hieroglyphs refer to Cleopatra and Necho II.

Earlier I told you that paper copies of the Rosetta stone's inscriptions arrived in Paris in 1801. All this time, the French army was frequently under attack from British and Ottoman troops. In August 1801, the French general Menou had to surrender. Together with Arabian manuscripts, ancient statues and other antiquities collected by the French, the Stone of Rosetta came into British possession. It was transported to London where it became a top attraction in the British Museum ever since.

Société Belge-Egyptienne de l'Ezbékieh  
500 Francs bond, Brussels, 1905 
Founded in 1899 with Belgian capital, the company was a real estate developer in and around Cairo. 
Hieroglyphs can be found on this certificate along all borders of the design.
Click image to enlarge 

A bond from 1905 issued by the Société Belge-Egyptiènne de l'Ezbékieh counts no less than 14 hieroglyphic inscriptions. This was "le plat principal" for Marleen De Meyer. In clockwise order and starting at the top, she identifies the names of several Egyptian rulers written in cartouches:

 1. Arsinoe II (Ptolemaic Period)
 2. Amenirdis I or II (25th Dyn.)
 3. Snefru (4th Dyn.) with an error
 4. not a legible name
 5. The designer was likely inspired by the titulature of Seti I  (19th Dyn.), but the writing shows several errors.
 6. Ramses II (19th Dyn.)
 7. Merneptah (19th Dyn.)
 8. Ramses II (19th Dyn.)
 9. Ptolemaios II Philadelphos (Ptolemaic Period)
10. Horemheb (18th Dyn.)
11. [mAa-xrw] “true of voice", the name of a pharaoh is missing
12. Amenemhat (12th Dyn.), with an error
13. Probably based on the titulature of Takelot (22nd Dyn.), but the writing has several errors.
14. Seti I (19th Dyn.)

To locate the hieroglyphs more easily on the certificate, I prepared a somewhat compressed version of the certificate's border.

Société Belge-Egyptiènne de l'Ezbékieh 
layout of the fourteen hieroglyphic inscriptions 

By the beard of the pharaoh, what an amazing find! Unfortunately, I have no idea which illustrator has so thoroughly copied these royal names into this work, as there is no author mentioned on the certificate. If you want more information, you can check the standard work of Jürgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der Ägyptischen Königsnamen, 1999

So far in my story of the Rosetta Stone, you learned that France lost the Rosetta Stone in Egypt to the British in 1801. However another race was on : who would be the first to decipher hieroglyphs? The British brought the stone to England aboard the captured French frigate HMS Egyptienne. The ship arrived in Portsmouth in February 1802. But the French had already sent from Egypt several printed copies of the stone's inscriptions to scholars in France the year before.

The deciphering of hieroglyphs did not came as a single achievement from one person. Several scientists have made their contribution. The two most important ones are Thomas Young (1773–1829) from Great Britain and the Frenchman Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832) and, like the political climate between their countries, both were each other's rival.

It was Champollion who was the first to understand that hieroglyphs were a combination of phonograms (such as letters in alphabet), logograms (similar to Chinese characters) and ideograms (symbols representing a concept). He also realized that the hieroglyphic text on the Rosetta Stone was translated from Greek, not the other way around. In 1822 Champollion presented the way in which he had cracked the code.

The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum 
The three fragments of writing on it say the same thing in three different languages : 
Demotic, Ancient Greek  and Ancient Egyptian (hieroglyphs).
The text is a royal decree from the Hellenistic Period about the taxes of temple priests.
image : Olaf Herrmann [Copyrighted free use], from Wikimedia Commons

During the last two hundred years, illustrators of bond and share certificates successfully used design elements like pyramids, sfinxes, and both pseudo-hieroglyphs and genuine hieroglyphs to attract potential investors.

There is still one question that remains unsolved in Egyptian scripophily. Has anyone of you seen a share certificate bearing a vignette of the Rosetta Stone ? The stone's discovery triggered a tremendous amount of interest all over the world for many decades. I have no doubt that a share certificate like that exists, and it is just waiting to be discovered by collectors like you.


I want to express my gratitude to Marleen De Meyer, KU Leuven, for helping me voluntarily to solve these Egyptian puzzles in scripophily. What a great job !

Related links

Did you enjoy this article ? Please share it.