Sunday, June 10, 2018

Original British automotive shares for sale at Spink London

SPINK's Bonds and Shares Department has scheduled its next ONLINE only sale for 21 June 2018. Specialist Mike Veissid and his team noticed that most of the buying in the market of antique securities happens online and decided to no longer produce any printed catalogues. Sales will be held entirely online at least four times a year and go live two to three weeks before the sale date. The June sale has 526 lots of world wide scripophily. Included are a unique series of British automotive shares.

Rolls-Royce needs no introduction. Founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce in 1904, the company developed and manufactured the "best car in the world". Did you know that RR was responsible for the cabinets of Ferranti's Pegasus, one the world's earliest (and British) computers. Apart from the modern issues, RR shares from earlier periods like the one offered in lot 333 are extremely rare. Issued in the middle of World War II, 1942, a very modest estimate of £140-180 will certainly attract the attention of many automobile enthousiasts.

More about these British automobile shares right away, but there are many other lots in the sale worth having a look at. The sale starts with a line of bonds and shares from New Zealand and Australia, lots 2 - 14, and includes a Lake Bathurst Australasian Gold Mining Company from the 1850s.

A large Chinese section of government loans counts many group lots, such as lot 34, a group of 9 5% Tientsin Pukow Railway Supplementary Loan 1910 £100 bonds, issued by the Chinese Central Railways in 1911, estimated around £275.

Chinese Government 5% Gold Loan of 1912 £1000, lot 44.
It is the highest denomination of the £10,000,000 loan. Nicknamed the ‘Crisp’ loan because it was floated by C. Burch, Crisp & Co. in London at 95% on behalf of the British & International Investment Trust, Ltd. 
Only 750 issued, it is estimated to fetch £1,400 - £1,800

Twenty-five lots of Chinese company securities are next. Amongst them a group lot of 5 different issues from the Banque Industrielle de Chine, including a blue founders share. These are true classics but are oh-so nice to look at, as you can see here. Estimated between £150-£200.  Lot 86 is a China Portland Cement Co. Ltd. 50,000 yuan share, high denomination, 1926. A group of 7 Manchuria Iron Company certificates from the 1920's and 30's deserves attention. This huge company at some time produced 50 per cent of Japan's wartime steel. Lot 104, £90 mid estimate.

Some other striking Asean certificates : two shares in the Borneo Rubber Company Ltd, 1917, map of Indonesia and Malaysia in underprint, lot 108 & 109, estimated around £55, and a very rare Ottoman 3½% Loan Secured by the Egyptian Tribute, 1894 £100 bond, lot 114 in the sale, is expected to fetch £600.

£60 May buy you lot 238, a stunning Tramways d'Astrakhan share from 1896. The share is designed by the artist Gossart, engraved by Malvaux and signed by the wealthy Belgian entrepreneur and amateur Egyptologist Édouard Empain.

Most countriest from Europe are represented. Some examples : 5000 Pesetas Spanish specimen bond from the Law of August 1899 - Royal Decree of June 1902 Loan, head of the King Alfonso XIII as a boy at top, rare, lot 249, £70 estimate. Lot 153 is a highly illustrated Serbian bond issued by Belgrado's Jewish community. A very large format Danish 5% Loan specimen bond £1000 from 1864, rarely seen, lot 161, is estimated between £80-100.

The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, lot 270 in the Spink sale. 
This specimen 5-Yr  $10,000 Gold Note from 1916 was printed by the American Bank Note Company shortly before the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921). A rare historic piece for any UK and Irish collector, with very attractive estimates between £250 and £300.

Not less than 105 lots are from Great Britain.  A parade of early British canal companies include several certificates from 18th century.  The Glocester and Berkeley Canal Company share, 1794, printed on vellum, yellow paper embossed seal, may be obtained for £300. An unissued bond from the Thames and Severn Canal Navigation, from the 1790s with brown-orange printed vignettes of canal tunnels, is an early example of color security printing (lot 279). From 1762, a £100 share in the River Nene Navigation Joint Stock features nine wax seals and a lead seal. Marvellous to see (here), this museum object, lot 277, can become a highlight in a collection from £600 onwards.

Poseidon with trident at a rough sea, detail from lot 270 (see image above)
Click the image to enlarge it, and see how curved engraving lines make Poseidon' s cloak fold gently. Poseidon sticks his left foot outside the oval frame surrounding the scene, a clever idea from the artist to create extra depth in the artwork. To print a wonderful vignette like this, you need  both a great artist and a top talented engraver. 

Spink's sale provides a remarkable cross-section of British car makers securities. Here are some of the highlights with lot numbers between parentheses : Rolls-Royce (333), Calcott Brothers Ltd (313), Minerva Motors (England) Ltd (327), Lea-Francis Cars Ltd (325), Humber Ltd - with the Humber logo (322 and 323) and Singer & Company Ltd (335). Even early electric automobile companies are not missing the stage, e.g. The London Electrical Cab Company (293, see image). A share from The Electromobile Company Ltd, a manufacturer, dates from as early as 1904 (319).

Pioneering with electric automobiles, this company's cabs had two sets of accumulators suitable for forty miles on one charge. Lot 293, estimates £50-60

The last chapter contains more than 150 lots from North and South America. Almost all countries from this part of the world make an appearance. Some noteworthy items are : Canada Company, 1842 (377), a group of five bonds from The Brazil Great Soutern Railway Company Ltd, 1891 (395) , Saint Helena Whale Fishery Company, 1837 (417), County of Lee-Fort Madison, West Point, Keosauqua & Bloomfield Rail Road Company, 1857 (454)  and Lykens Valley Coal Company, 1837, superb vignette of forge and printed by Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty (488).

City of Rosario 4% Sterling Conversion Loan for £2,000,000 
£500 Sterling bearer bond, series "B", specimen, 1908 
lot 391, estimated £80 to £100

Here are the sale's details, so you can discover much more for yourself :
  • Location : online auction only
  • Date : 21 June 2018
  • Further info : see Spink's online catalogue with full color images, here, and PDF version there 


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Italian State securities on the menu

Last year, the scripophily public welcomed a new edition of Alex Witula’s reference catalogue on Italian state securities. Titoli di Stato will be a delight to anyone interested in the collection, valuation and study of bonds and securities issued by the Italian government and the pre-Italian unification states as early as the 16th century. More than reason enough to have a talk with one of the most prolific authors in our field !

The volume starts with several chapters on the aspects of collecting antique securities. The actual cataloguing part is divided into the following chronological sections : Italian preunification states (pre-1861), Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946), Italian Republic (1946 – present). Each one of these is in turn subdivided into categorizing chapters. Titles are ordered by their authorizing law date and then by issue date. Each issue is described with name, denominations, place, vignette, color, possible variations, etc and also a value indication. The bulky compendium features about 700 images and historical paragraphs including maps.

Titoli di Stato – Italian State Bonds
Author: Alex Witula
Published by : Portafoglio Storico

FL Mr. Alex Witula, welcome in my virtual studio. Please tell me, what is your new book about?
ALEX The 5th edition of the catalogue of the “Italian public debt” is now available under its new name: “State bonds”. The change of the title of this book has a psychological reason: the collective consciousness in Italy considers the public debt as something negative. In this way I hope to get more readers not only from the collector’s side but also from the general public.

Repubblica Italiana 
Certificate for 20 Treasury bonds of 5,000 Lire, 1962 
Vignette : Nettuno offre doni a Venezia, by Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770) 

FL Why did you decide for another, 5th, edition ?
ALEX The result of this catalogue is a teamwork of several dozens of collectors with contributions of colleagues and friends. The previous, 4th, issue is dated 2012 and it took 5 years to get the new catalogue as near as complete, at least in its structure. The listing of all principalities and small states in the Italian peninsula before the unification of 1861 is now complete. For example, we’ve included certificates that have not even appeared yet on the market, for example, those from the Republic of Genoa. Many new certificates were added in the new issue. We increased the number of pages from 558 to 736. Last but not least: for the collectors it is important that they know new valuations of their bonds.

Monte di Pietà della Cità di Firenze
Nuovo Monte non vacabile, a loan for 4 luoghi of 100 Scudi, 1700, 
illustrated with two vignettes of Jesus and the coat of arms of the Medici in the middle

FL Alex, the book also covers scripophily from the Italian pre-unification states. I was surprised to see that the chapter for Granducato di Toscana, counting 74 pages with securities from 1591-1860, is the biggest part. Why is that?
ALEX Under the dynasty of the House of Medici (1494 – 1737) the Grand Duchy of Tuscany became a wealthy state. Their bank, the Medici bank, was the most important financial institution in Europe. The Medici’s introduced a system of irredeemable loans with strong written rules. For each loan the statutes were published in a form of a booklet called “provvisione” and each loan was guaranteed by income from taxes. For example, at the front page of the “Nuovo Monte del Sale”, page 40 in the catalogue, its guaranty is included in the name of the loan sale which means by taxes on salt.
ALEX Each loan was divided into certificates called luoghi with a unit value of 100 Scudi. A fraction of one luogo, not less than one-quarter, was offered in order to facilitate purchase by the less well-of. Once the bonds were placed, a new booklet was printed with the names of the holders and the number of certificates purchased. Printed on vellum the luoghi represent the origin of issues of state bonds.

The Monte di Pietà, founded in the 15th century, was the first church-run lending institution. It became a model for many charity institutions, called “Monte’s” which obtained their funds by means of bonds called “Luoghi di Monte”. These organisations evolved into banks and lending institutions. The bonds were registered, and guaranteed the investor a type of annuity. Some of these securities were transferable and redeemable but most were not until the death of the creditor.
In scripophily the term Monte can refer to the bond or to the issuer. This Monte Pubblico, a 4% 1000 Lire annuity bond from the Duchy of Milan, dates from 1770. 

FL When Italy becomes a kingdom, I see that the securities get more standardized in terms of layout, text, border and vignette design. What were the main printers of the Italian state bonds ?
ALEX Bonds issued before Italy’s unification have no indication of the printer. After 1861 a government printing office was established. On all state certificates there is a small indication of this printer: Officina Governativa delle Carte Valori Torino. Since 1928 its name changed to Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato – Officina Carte Valori.
FL Were there particular artists and designers involved in the production of state bonds?
ALEX During the Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946) the portraits of the Kings were designed by employees of the printing office, but only Lodovico Bigola became famous at the national level. Many treasury bonds issued after 1958, display parts of famous works from artists like Antonello da Messina, Tiepolo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello and even Rubens.

With the unification of Italy, the government set up the Gran Libro - 'Great Ledger of the public debt of the Kingdom of Italy' - in which all debts of pre-unitary states were collected. This 3% bond from 1871 depicts Victor Emmanuel II (1820-1878), King of Sardinia from 1849 until 17 March 1861 when he became King of Italy. The portrait was designed by artist Lodovico Bigola, designer and engraver of Italian state bonds and stamps.

FL Alex, the catalogue also features Austro-Hungarian loans from the period 1868-1918. Can you tell us why these are included in your book?
ALEX In that chapter’s preliminary notes you will read that after WWI citizens who were resident in zones occupied by Italy, and accepted Italian citizenship, could exchange their Austrian and Hungarian State bonds for the Italian 5% Consolidated Loan. To prove this on the exchanged certificates you can find different fiscal stamps like those documented on pages 532-533. By the way, the two Corone stamp, page 534, is very rare and its value is about €150. Unfortunately, I’ve had only few of them.

The red revenue stamp with ‘ITALIAN TESORO’ annulation stamp, cancelled this 5.5% 7th Austrian war loan from 1917, indicating that it was exchanged for an Italian state bond.

FL Over the past decade have you seen any trends in collecting Italian government securities?
ALEX Rare items are available usually at auctions, while the price of commonly seen certificates has dropped down. Since Udo Hielscher’s book “Die Florentinischen Monti” was published by Verlag HWPH AG, there is interest especially on bonds issued by different Monti.
FL What is the item in your catalogue that realized the highest price so far at auction?
ALEX That was a Monte San Giovanni Battista – page 124 of the catalogue. It sold at €3,500 plus 20% auction fee at our 27th auction in 2012.
FL Alex, a catalogue like this stands for a lifework, something I have a lot of admiration and respect for. What was for you the most difficult step in producing the catalog? And do you have any tips for potential authors?
ALEX The catalogue is the result of team work. Sincerely it was not so difficult for me because of the enthusiastic cooperation of collectors specialized in state bonds. A tip for a potential author: just start and create synergies!

5% Regno D’Italia Prestito Redimibile, redeemable loan of the Kingdom of Italy, 1937 
Illustrated is Victor Emmanuel III, flanked by two fasces. He ruled Italy from 1900 to 1946, Ethiopia from 1936 to 1941 and Albania from 1939 to 1943. During his reign Italian Fascism rose and perished.

FL What is your most pleasant anecdote when producing the catalogue?
ALEX The co-author of the first and second edition of the catalogue was Mario Cecchi, who unfortunately has passed away. At that time he was a well-known certified public accountant in Siena and his office was located in the historical town center, on Piazza del Campo. We finished both editions exactly during the day of the Palio of Siena – the traditional world-famous horse race run since the thirteen century. After we terminated the work we watched the horse racing from his balcony: a great experience, specially seeing the event from the sixth floor and not from the ground!
FL Alex, did you use any particular sources, books, manuals and the like, for researching Italian securities? Are there stock exchange year-books available for Italy, comparable to Moody’s (USA), Saling (Germany) and Van Oss (the Netherlands)?
ALEX Yes, of course. The catalogue has a bibliography. The Manuale Hoepli “Il Debito Pubblico Italiano” is a kind of a handbook of Italian state bonds. But in my opinion the most important and interesting book, especially for the pre-unification period, is professor’s Felloni “Gli investimenti finanziari genovesi in Europa tra il Seicento e la Restaurazione”. Prof. Giuseppe Felloni, a professor emeritus of the University of Genoa, having access to the archive of the Banco di San Giorgio, could publish interesting statistics, for example, on the investments in different Monti bonds of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany by the Banco di San Giorgio and the Papal State and on investments of many European rulers in the Banco di San Giorgio.

Yearly income bond from the Papal States, issued in 1832.
Usually, the emblem of the Pope shows a tiara, but, as in this case when the certificate was printed, 
the version with an umbrella is put in place after the death or a resignation of a pope.

FL Do you collect yourself?
ALEX Yes, since many years I collect State bonds. A collection definitely helps to organize a catalogue.
FL Dear Alex, now I have to ask you a last but very serious question. Suppose you were convicted for excessive scripophily and exiled to a deserted island. What is your most favorite Italian government security that you would take with you?
ALEX I love to visit islands, but believe me, on a deserted island instead of a bond I’d prefer a survival kit!
FL Alex, I want to thank you for this interview and wish you a lot of success with the book.

Alex Witula's book Titoli di Stato, written in Italian, is published by Portafoglio Storico.
Price €65, IBSS members receive a 25% discount.
More info: or


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Friday, May 11, 2018

Rarities and historic securities for sale at Archives International Auctions

Archives International Auctions, Fort Lee, New Jersey, will conduct its 48th auction on May 23, 2018. The auction offers a rich mix of U.S., China & Worldwide banknotes, scripophily and coins. The sale features more than 300 antique stocks and bonds.

A section of Chinese bonds, starting with lot 177, will be hammered in the event's first session. Included are several group lots of China loans, e.g. a trio of £100 Chinese Government 5% Gold Loan of 1912 bonds, estimate from $230.
One of the first highlights is an issued and uncancelled Republic of China 1937 $1000 loan. Scarce, printed by American Bank Note Co and illustrated with a great Chinese pagoda vignette, it is estimated between $600-900.

Republic of China 1937 bond
Republic of China, 1937, $1000 bond 
printed by American Bank Note Co 
lot 183 in the auction 
click image to enlarge 

American federal loans are put on the block in the sale's second session (lot range 627-651). Included are a series of Liberty Loan, War Savings and US Savings bond certificates. Lot 630 is a historic US Department of the Interior 1894 specimen bond for the purchase of Cherokee lands, extremely rare, illustrated with vignettes of a Cherokee Indian and a bank building, start price $900.
Top scripophily item is a Three Per Cent Loan of 1898 $20 bond, lot 638, issued for financing the Spanish American War. Bids are invited from $4,000, the bond is expected to fetch $6,000 to $10,000.

American loan of 1898 for financing the Spanish American war
Lot 638 : Three Per Cent Loan of 1898, $20 bond, all coupons attached 
The Guerra Hispano-Americana was a conflict fought between Spain and the United States in 1898. Officially at stake were the Cuban and Filipino struggles for independence from Spain. The US wanted to protect their economic interests (sugar trade) and saw an opportunity to increase their military naval presence overseas. The ten-week war was fought primarily in Cuba and the Philippines. After Spain's defeat, both parties signed the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. As a result Spain gave up sovereignty over Cuba, ceded Puerto Rico and Guam to the US, and sold the Philippine Islands to the United States for twenty million dollars.

Lot 697, a 1924 bond from the Murray Body Corporation, a Michigan registered car maker, kicks off a contiguous section of hundreds of American, Cuban, Israeli, Mexican and other international scripophily items. Noted are: Ford Motor Company of Canada, American Express, Columbus Zoological Company, Upshur Guano Company, Hershey Chocolate Company and San Juan Light and Transit Company.

Titanic owner International Mercantile Marine Company bond
International Mercantile Marine Company, $1000 specimen bond 1902
The shipping trust company was the owner of the RMS Titanic through one of its subsidiaries. 
Lot 832 in the auction, starts at $475.

A keen collector will browse around the non-scripophily sections in the auction catalogue and be surprised to find more of these treasures, e.g. Banco Agricola, Chile (lot 78), State of Massachusetts Bay 1780 (lot 544), Confederate States of America Criswell 4/Ball 16 (lot 609) and Orinoco Steam Navigation Company, Venezuela (lot 678).

extremely rare bond from the Cincinnati, Jackson and Mackinaw Railroad
AIA's sales always include great railway securities from the American Bank Note Archives. This rare Cincinnati, Jackson & Mackinaw Railroad certificate dates from 1887. Described as "the only one found", bids are welcomed from $300. Lot 927 in the auction.

Auction details
  • Location : Fort Lee, New Jersey
  • Date : 23 May 2018
  • Further info : see AIA , online catalogue here and PDF version there 


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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Numismatics teams up with Scripophily in Leuven

Interested in antique stocks and bonds from Belgium and Belgian Congo ? Looking for Russian bonds, French railway shares, and lots of other scripophily items ? Then there is a good chance to find what you want at the 52nd International Numismatic Collector's Bourse in the Brabanthal, Leuven, Belgium.

1899 share from Les Produits du Mayombe
This 1899 share from Les Produits du Mayombe,
designed in art nouveau style by the artist F. Wylands,
can still be found at a reasonable price.

The event takes place on 1 May, 2018 and is an initiative from Numismatica Leuven in cooperation with the Belgische Vereniging voor Scriptofilie (Belgian Association for Scripophily). The bourse attracts hundreds of table holders from nearly 20 countries and will feature up to 40 tables of scripophily dealers and/or collectors.

Grand Bazar de la Place Saint-Lambert, Liège, share from 1924
Many antique securities were illustrated with nice vignettes.
This share from Le Grand Bazar de la Place Saint-Lambert, Liège,
was issued in 1924 and printed by Lith. La Cote Libre from Brussels.
Click-image to enlarge

More details : 


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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Antwerp puts treasures from Egypt on the block

The 60th auction of Mario Boone takes place on 14 April with an exceptional large range of high quality collectibles from all over the world. The sale offers about 8,900 antique stocks and bonds spread over 1,939 various sized lots. The items to be sold represent nearly 100 countries and span 800 years of financial history (13th -21th century). 

Before getting into more details on the numerous rarities and remarkable certificates, I have to talk first about the unprecedented, top-notch scripophily from Egypt that is at stake in this auction. Boone's sale includes 1,171 bond and shares certificate from Egyptian companies and governments. Collectors and investors interested in such an unparalleled variety of Egyptian scripophily have several auction sections to look into.

Chemin de Fer Keneh-Assouan 3.5% bond of £20 Cairo, 1925 part of the "Pharaonic Collection" lot 1877

Chemin de Fer Keneh-Assouan 
3.5% bond of £20, Cairo, 1925 
part of the "Pharaonic Collection" lot 1877
click image to enlarge

The regular Egypt section, lots 248 through 261, contains a Canal Maritime de Suez, starting at a modest €200, and a Ciments d'Egypte Massarah (Caire) share, €500, equally rare and stunning. 

Another series of Egyptian rarities can be found in the Simar Empain collection which also comes under the hammer. For many decades the late Jacques Simar built up a scripophily collection related to Baron Edouard Empain. Simar published a book on the subject, see here. Edouard Empain, Belgian captain of industry, is known for building the Paris Métro and the district of Heliopolis in Cairo. You can find the Empain Egypt items in lot range 549-576 which includes several sought-after certificates like specimen bonds from the Tramways du Caire, from €200, and the Heliopolis Palace Hotel du Caire, starting at €100.

The sale of Egyptian scripophily peaks with the most complete collection ever brought together. The "Pharaonic" collection includes 1,096 bonds and shares representing Egypt's financial history from the 19th and 20th century. Included are numerous interesting, decorative and historic securities, to name a few : Soufrière d'Égypte, Egyptian Guaranteed 3% Loan, Canal Maritime de Suez, City of Alexandria, Bank of Abyssinia, Banque Egyptienne de Commerce, Marconi Radio Telegraph Co of Egypt, Kodak (Egypt), Investment Bank of Egypt, Nationalization-Loan of the United Arabic Republic and many more. The collection is offered as one lot (1877) and may be acquired from €79,000.

Another, much smaller collection, to be sold in a single lot consists of 134 classic Egyptian certificates. Bids for this lot (1892) are invited from €1,400.

Apart from all those pyramids, sphinxes, scarabs, cobras and hieroglyphs, the sale offers more than 7,500 bonds and shares from other countries as well. And as is the case with Egypt, countries are presented either by their own regular section, as a part of the Simar Empain collection, or may be found as a collection or group lot. Let me discuss some of the highlights.

Banque Hypothécaire Franco-Egyptienne, 1910, share certifcate

Banque Hypothécaire Franco-Egyptienne 
F500 shares, Paris, 1910 
 part of the "Pharaonic Collection" lot 1877

As you can expect from a Boone auction, the Belgian section is substantial (lot range 328-456) and opens with a medieval loan on vellum from 1469. Written in Latin, the document, lot 328, is one of the oldest financial documents related to the region of Kortrijk and is expected to fetch at least €2,000. A rare and decorative highlight will certainly interest collectors of zoo scripophily. The share in Société d'Histoire Naturelle à Gand, dated 1852, illustrated with vignettes of a lion, tiger, ostrich, peacocks, crocodiles and many more animals, can be obtained from €2,000.

More remarkable Belgium scripophily can be found in the Empain collection, lot range 457-511. Here, Banque Industrielle Belge (Ancienne Banque E.-L.-J. Empain) is historical to Belgium's financial history. The bank was Edouard Empain's major investment vehicle. The number 1 certificate offered in the sale, represents 76% of all shares, is issued to Empain and starts at €500.

In the Austro-Hungarian Empire section, an extremely rare Thiergarten-Gesellschaft in Wien from 1862 can be fetched from €800. The Grandhotel Pupp, a location for movies Last Holiday (Queen Latifah) and Casino Royale (James Bond Daniel Craig), can be acquired from €50. Hey, movie locations, wouldn't that be an interesting theme to collect.

Denmark scripophily is not often seen. The sale includes 11 certificates (lots 692-702) including a Kjobenhavns Sommer-Tivoli share from 1918. The Tivoli amusement park opened its doors in 1843. Start price €500.

Thé Tôt-Lam, F100 share, 1912, Indochina lot 134 in the auction, start price €600

Thé Tôt-Lam 
F100 share, 1912, Indochina
lot 134 in the auction, start price €600

The Compagnie Royale de l'Assiente, one of the earliest French companies, was active in slave trading. Only one other share is known, bids are welcome from €10,000 (lot 709) for its 3000 Livres share, issued 1704. France has left us so many decorative bond and share certificates and this occasion is not an exception to that. Great work of art can be admired on a share from the L'Union des Mines, start price €60. Further, you should check out how Bacchus is having the time of his life on Cave des Affaires, €200.

Probably the most fascinating, lot 1433, is a Spanish financial loan document from the year 1279! Latin script on parchment, this notary act of a bank deposit of 500 solds to a Catalonian banker is the earliest known privately owned banking document.  €15,000 start price.

Viet Nam Ngan Hang - Banque du Vietnam
first bank in Vietnam founded and managed by Vietnamese 
share of 15.000$, Saigon, 1973
lot 177 in the auction, start price €1,400

Some highlights from the big scripophily countries China, Russia, USA and Germany :

  • A $1000 Republic of China 6% Secured Gold Loan Treasure Note from 1919, with pagoda vignette, should have been redeemed by a 1937 bond issue. A rarity like this starts at €1,000.  
  • The Bukharan People's Soviet Republic was a short-lived city state from 1920 to 1925 located in today's Uzbekistan. The sale includes a rare, Bukharan bond from 1923 and can be obtained from  €200.
  • In the US section, you can't miss a Proprietors of the New Theatre share. Issued 1791, with a huge vignette of the Philadelphia theatre to be constructed, this is the oldest theatre scripophily seen yet. Bids are invited from €5,000. You can find out more about the American railway section here on the Coxrail blog.
  • The German section starts with two bonds, dated 1808, from Napoleon's Kingdom of Westphalia. Bids can start at €400 and €300.

There is lots more to discover from other countries and all kinds of collecting themes in this sale. Dig through the auction catalogue, 263 pages, and/or use the indexes on countries, themes, Belgian provinces, autographs, artists & engravers and printer companies to find your treasures.

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 14 April 2018, bourse 15 April 2018
  • Further info : online catalogue  here, and PDF version there 
  • The "Pharaonic Collection" can be viewed in detail here 


Saturday, March 31, 2018

India Textile Industry Directories

The first steam powered cotton mill in India was founded in 1818 near Howrah, Kolkata as the Fort Gloster Mills. It was later renamed into the Bowreah Cotton Mills. The Oriental Hosiery Ltd, 1833, and the Wellington Jute Mills, 1855, were also set up in the Kolkata region. The first cotton mill that became operational in Mumbai, 1856, was the Bombay Spinning and Weaving Company. Demand for Indian cotton became heavy due to the American Civil War (1861-1865). By the 20th century hundreds of factories were set up in "mill village" Girangaon, Bombay, which became the Lancashire of India.

1926 share certificate from The Gold Mohur Mills, Bombay

The Gold Mohur Mills Limited, 100 Rupees share certificate, 1926 
Registered in 1926, the company's mills were situated at Dadar, Bombay 
and were equipped with 40,540 spindles and 1,020 looms. 
Capital: Rs.25,000,000 in 25,000 shares of Rs.100 each, fully paid. 
source : Handbook of  Textile Industry 1948, Bureau of Economic Research

When it comes to Indian scripophily, you can't miss the many, often charming, textile securities. Researching the companies and people behind these certificates is not always easy. Luckily, the Internet Archive, a non-profit library of millions of free resources, made available two interesting works for that purpose : 
Both digitized books contain lots of historic information and statistics on the cotton, woolen, worsted, jute, rayon and hosiery industries and the like. Each book has directories of the companies involved with a short description and their directors. Both can be downloaded as a large PDF file, but only the online versions are searchable.

The Gold Mohur Mill's share shows a mohur in the underprint. (click to enlarge ) 
The mohur is a 26 mm diam. gold coin, hence 'Gold Mohur'. 
Several types were minted in British India and the local princely states allied with it. 
obverse: head of Queen Victoria, 'VICTORIA QUEEN 1841
reverse: lion and palm tree, 'EAST INDIA COMPANY ONE MOHUR
The lion represents the British Crown and the palm tree the East. 


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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Spink UK presents hundreds of antique securities in upcoming April auction

SPINK's Bonds & Shares Department was created in London in 2008 when specialist Mike Veissid joined Spink. It's upcoming, online sale on 4 April, 2018, features about 400 lots of antique bonds and shares representing all continents. 

Art lovers can find securities designed by artists like L. Blombed, G. Bonnet, A. Mucha and the exceptionally Alfredo Roque Gameiro who illustrated this Adamastor share from 1918.

Companhia de Seguros Luso-Sul Americana, Adamastor
1 share of Esc 200$00, 1918
design by Alfredo Roque Gameiro
lot 241 in the auction, estimated at £200-250

The Companhia de Seguros Luso-Sul Americana, Adamastor, in English: Portuguese-South American Insurance Company, Adamastor, was a marine insurance company founded in 1918. The company operated both in Portugal and Brazil.
The design of the company's share, printed as a litho, was made by the Portuguese artist Alfredo Roque Gameiro (1864-1935). Roque Gameiro, painter and illustrator, specialized in water color painting. He studied fine arts in Lissabon and lithography in Leipzig. 
The company's name and its choice of artist is not coincidental. Adamastor is a Greek mythological character representing the dangers at sea. Adamas (ἀδάμας) is Greek meaning "untameable". Luís de Camões uses the character Adamastor in his epic Os Lusíadas (1572). Adamastor symbolizes the forces of nature Portuguese navigators had to overcome during their discoveries. In 1900 Camões' work is printed again by the Empreza da História da Portugal as the Os Lusíadas, Grande Edição Illustrada. It is co-illustrated by Roque Gameiro. One of his illustrations from that work is displayed below.


The SPINK sale includes shares and bonds from the UK, Russia, France, Australia, Austria, Mexico, USA and much more. Each section contains several group lots with sharp start prices that will interest both starting and advanced collectors. E.g. lot 19 comprises three Egyptian shares from the early 1900s and starts from £80. A noteworthy Chinese government and railway bond section includes for example a rare 1913 £1,000 bond from the 6% Arnhold Karberg Chinese Central Government Loan with a £2,500-3,000 estimate (lot 116). There is more to discover in the catalogue.

Auction details
  • Location : online auction only
  • Date : 4 April 2018
  • Further info : see Spink's online catalogue with full color images, here, and PDF version there 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Archives International Auctions sells Vigo Bay Treasure history

AIA offers nearly 300 lots of historical stocks and bonds in a double sesssion auction. Among the many attractive certificates is an incredible stock certificate from The Vigo Bay Treasure Company. 

The Vigo Bay Treasure Company of Camden, N.J. 
$100 shares certificate, 1886
lot 825 in the auction

The Philadelphia based Vigo Bay Treasure Company was founded in 1884 for finding the sunken Santa Cristo de Maracaibo. This ship, loaded with silver coins and gold from Cuba, was taken by the British after the Battle of Vigo Bay (Spain) in 1702. On its way to England, the ship collided with a rock and sank.
The Spanish government granted several concessions for the recuperation of the lost galleons and their cargo. All attempts remained fruitless. The New York Times (NYT), Apr 2, 1874, reports about the Spanish concessions and mentions a silver and gold treasure worth $37,000,000. 
John J. Boyle, General Manager of the Vigo Bay Treasure Company, is quoted in the NYT, Apr 30, 1885 : "The Vigo Bay Company has a contract with the Spanish Government to attempt to recover it, one-fourth of the proceeds to belong to the Government.". 
That same year the company lifts a galleon's hull, but the weight of the mud inside breaks it into pieces. No further results were achieved and on June 26, 1888, the company was declared insolvent. The following day, the NYT reports : Nearly $300,000 worth of the stock was subscribed for and about $60,000 was expended in endeavouring to find the sunken treasure. It is claimed that the assets of the company amount to but a few hundred dollars.

Along with antique stocks and bonds AIA's 47th sale presents hundreds of US, Chinese & Worldwide banknotes, coins, historic and security printing ephemera. 

Auction details
  • Location : Fort Lee, New Jersey
  • Date : 13 March 2018
  • Further info : see AIA , online catalogue here and PDF version there 


PS: You might want to read more about AIA's highlights on CoinsWeekly 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Did the Republic of Austria start as a communist state ?

The Russian Revolution in 1917 led to the rise of the Soviet Union. The First Austrian Republic was created in 1919. Was Austria a communist state ? A daring statement. Let us have a look at Austria's coat of arms illustrated on the following bond.

4% Austrian lottery bond of  200 Kronen, 1920  with detail of Austrian coat of arms
4% Austrian lottery bond of  200 Krone, 1920 

Now check the emblem of the Soviet Union. It is depicted on the following  government loan. Do you see the similarities ?

USSR internal loan of the second five-year plan, 25 Rouble, 1935 with soviet emblem
USSR internal loan of the second five-year plan, 25 Rouble, 1935
This rare bond was auctioned by HWPH on 15 Oct 2016
together with a similar looking certificate, for €4,000
courtesy HWPH 

That's right, the Austrian eagle holds in its claws a hammer and a sickle, the main attributes of the soviet shield. Austria introduced its new shield in 1919 when it became a republic. Before that, Austria's coat of arms looked different as you can see here.

200 Krone bond from the 8th Austrian War Loan, 1918 design by Alfred Offner in Vienna Secession style
200 Krone bond from the 8th Austrian War Loan, 1918
design by Alfred Offner in Vienna Secession style 

Till the end of World War I, Austria was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Dual Monarchy. That's why we see a double-headed eagle on the previous bond.

After WWI Austria decided to change the looks of its eagle. Its sword and scepter was replaced with a sickle, its orb with a hammer. Up to the present, the Republic of Austria has been using that shield  on government bonds but also on banknotes and coins. 

Austrian Shilling banknote and coin with hammer and sickle eagle
above : 20 Shilling banknote, 1986, shield in upper left corner
below : 10 Shilling coin, 1974, by Awmcphee (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

The key question remains why Austria started using a hammer and a sickle in its shield ? Was it about communism ? I found the answer in a newsletter from CoinsWeekly/MünzenWoche which referred to THIS INTRIGUING VIDEO (5 min.) from the MoneyMuseum. Enjoy watching!


Related links

Friday, January 19, 2018

Heading for Saudi Arabia on a warship

In Aug 2010, ebay listed an antique share certificate from the Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate. The company was incorporated in the Bahama Islands, and the certificate looked as if it was printed in the USA. Thus, three nations were represented in one certificate, and that made me curious.

Some research revealed that the company mined the Mahd adh Dhabab area where, during the reign of King Solomon (961-922 B.C.), gold, silver and copper were digged. The area is located in the Al Madina province of the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia. Mahd adh Dhabab means actually “Cradle of Gold”. Four months later, I wrote a small article for my blog about that fascinating operation.

Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate Ltd
stock certificate for shares of 5 Shillings, 1948

Now, blogging often brings surprises. I say this to you because once you have described a share certificate online, that certificate starts to live online, and it develops an elephant’s memory on its own. It will always remember what you did for it. Let me explain. It happens that people contact you for telling that they have a certificate like the one you described online, or they tell you that they have worked for the featured company. 

In this case, the surprise came six years after I wrote that blog article. That Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate (SAMS) share got me in contact with Ms. Laurel F. She sent me an email in which she explained that she was collecting info on her father’s background for genealogy purposes. Laurel also told me that her father, Joseph H. Schlobohm, was hired by the American Smelting and Refinery Company (ASRC) when he was 22 in 1938. He'd been the job foreman at the SAMS site when they were first going to go underground.

American Smelting and Refining Company
American Bank Note Co specimen 100 share preferred certificate
unknown issued,  allegedly due to a flood in the company's archives
courtesy Max Hensley, International Bond and Share Society 

Seven years earlier, back 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 Hejaz Region in 1932. The Arabian government and the ASRC formed in 1935 the Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate for the operation of the Mahd ad Dhahab gold mine. Activities began in 1936.

With her email, Laurel F also included a newspaper story about her father’s mission brought by the The Daily Argus, Mount Vernon, N.Y., Thursday, March 14, 1940. It goes like this.

Joseph H. Schlobohm leaves Saturday (March 16, 1940) aboard the SS Exochorda of the American Export Lines on the first lap of a 30-day trip. He will journey by boat, rail, automobile and camel to Hejaz, a small village 250 miles inland from the port of Jedda where the Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate Ltd, operates the mine which once produced priceless gifts for Cleopatra. Up until the present, the gold mine in Arabia has been worked on the surface. Now the owners have decided to mine underground and Schlobohm will be a foreman on the shaft sinking crew. "They tell me that the Arabs don't like to work under the surface," he says. "I guess part of my job will be to persuade them that there's really nothing to working six or seven thousand feet under."
The SS Exochorda will sail for Genoa from Pier P at Jersey City Saturday afternoon. Schlobohm will remain aboard the ship until it docks at Alexandria, Egypt. From that point he'll travel by rail to Suez where he is scheduled to board another steamer to Jedda. The trip to Hejaz from Jedda will be made on camels and will take four days.

22-year-old Joseph H. Schlobohm packs his bag 
for a long journey that will take him to Saudi Arabia, 
and a job as quarry foreman in the world's oldest mine. 
The Daily Argus, Mount Vernon, N.Y., Thursday, March 14, 1940

Joseph’s ship, the SS Exochorda was built in 1931 by the New York Shipbuilding Co, Camden, New Jersey. American Export Lines placed the ship in service between the US and the Mediterranean offering cargo transports and passenger cruises of up to 40 days. With a length of 475 ft 4 in (144.88 m) the ship operated at a maximum speed of 16 knots (about 18.4 mph, 29.6 kph).  

Eight months after Joseph embarked for Alexandria, the ship was acquired by the Navy 30 October 1940. The SS Exochorda was then converted to the USS Harry Lee. The Harry Lee was to transport troops to hostile shores in order to execute amphibious invasions. The vessel played an active role during World War II and participated in the invasion of  Sicily  (July 1943), Tarawa (Pacific, Nov 1943), the Marshall Islands (Jan 1944) and the Philippines (Jan 1945). Armed with 2 x 6" guns and 4 x 40 mm guns the ship had to protect itselves and its cargo of troops from submarine threats and heavy fighter aircraft attacks, including suicide planes.

Harry Lee (AP-17) at anchor, date and location unknown. 
US Navy photo from "US Amphibious Ships and Craft," by Norman Friedman, Wikipedia

The pre-war SS Exochorda was a member of a quartet of ships referred to as the (original) "4 Aces" of American Export Lines. All four vessels were taken over by the U.S. Navy, but the Exochorda was the only one that survived World War II. As the Harry Lee it received seven battle stars for World War II service.

When Joseph H. Schlobohm entered the ship that took him to Saudi Arabia for the first time, he could not know about the fate that awaited his ship. According to his newspaper interview, the only thing that worried Joseph about the whole business, was the fact that he's a rotten golfer. He concludes : "They tell me that the locals at Hejaz have laid out an 18-hole sand course," he explains. "And I never could get out of a sand trap!"

American Export Lines, Inc.
1961 US Government Insured Merchant Marine Bond

76 years later, Joseph’s daughter Laurel ends her e-mail sentimentally: I grew up hearing my father’s incredible stories of the trip overseas to the port of Jedda and then a few days by camel to the mine itself where he worked for a couple of years I believe. That job lead him onto to a fantastic career in mining. He travelled all over the world, spoke fluent arabic as well as a few other languages and I myself was fortunate enough to live overseas until I was about ten.  

And me, well, I feel like a time traveller.

written with permission from Ms. Laurel F.