Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Referenskatalog Svenska Aktiebrev

On the occasion of their 40th Anniversary the Swedish scripophily society, SFHV, published its third edition of the Referenskatalog Svenska Aktiebrev. This reference work in the Swedish language lists over 8000 Swedish stocks and bonds.

front cover of the Referenskatalog Svenska Aktiebrev

Members of the Svenska Föreningen för Historiska Värdepapper (SFHV) produced a third up-to-date catalog. In 1998 SFHV published a first reference catalogue on Swedish shares (5651 entries). A second, updated catalogue from 2010 added 2000 “new” shares. In this new book editors Marita Strandberg, Bo Niklasson and John Örtengren included 8500 certificates.

Several small chapters enclose the main catalog section: 

  • Förord/Preface
  • Att samla på gamla aktiebrev är också att göra utflykter i ekonomisk historia (Collecting old share certificates is also making excursions into economic history) 
  • När började aktiebrev anvaändas i Sverige ? (When were share certificates used in Sweden?) 
  • Starten på SFHV (The start of SFHV) 
  • Det internationella aktiebrevsamlandet började för hundra år sedan (International stockbroking [in Sweden] - began a hundred years ago) 
  • Internationale föreningar (International [scripophily] associations) 
  • Värdering av gamla aktiebrev är en sammanvägning av olika faktorer (Valuation of old share certificates is the result of various factors) 
  • Hur man hittar i katalogen (How to use the catalog) 
  • Förkortningar i textkatalogen (Abbreviations in the text catalog) 
  • Main catalog section 
  • Stadgar Svenska Föreningen för Historiska Värdepapper (Statutes SFHV) 
  • Litteraturförteckning ([interesting] Bibliography [on Swedish scripophily]) 

share certificate from the Rosenbad AB from Stockholm

This AB Rosenbad share illustrates the Rosenbad building that was designed by Art Nouveau architect Gustaf Ferdinand Boberg. The share is adorned all around with roses. Completed in 1902 on the site where there used to be a rose spa, the building features several rose ornaments on its facades. When you walk all the way through Stockholm’s Drottninggatan shopping street towards Gamla stan, the old town district, you’ll find the Rosenbad building on the right corner before you cross the bridge that leads to the Parliament House. It now houses the Swedish government chancellery. Catalog entry 5578, 5 shares of 1000 Kronor, 1900 

The catalog section counts over 8000 entries of Swedish stocks and bonds which are classified by company name. Each entry is characterized by

  • name of the company or organization
  • type of activity
  • county
  • municipality
  • denomination
  • year
  • remarks

NOTE : Apart from the basic twenty-six letters, A–Z, the Swedish alphabet includes Å, Ä, and Ö. These are distinct letters, and are sorted after Z. So you'll find the entry for a share in the Östra Centralbanans Jernvägs AB, see image here, at the end of the catalog.

share in Telefonaktiebolaget L. M. Ericsson

Lars Magnus Ericsson started in 1876 his telegraph repair shop which became Telefonaktiebolaget L. M. Ericsson in 1925. After WWII the company specialized in computerized telephone exchanges. In the late 1960s Ericsson developed a military computer and got involved in personal computers in the 1980s. Bluetooth technology was invented at the company's Lund office in 1989. Catalog entry 7149 : 1 "A" share of 35 Kronor, 1951 

More information about the book
  • Title: Referenskatalog Svenska Aktiebrev
  • Editors : Marita Strandberg, Bo Niklasson, John Örtengren
  • ID : 978-91-89330-69-6, published 2019 by Svenska Föreningen För Historiska Värdepapper
  • Languages : Swedish
  • Number of pages : 215
  • Images : more than 750 small color images (ca 3cm x 3.5cm)
  • Index : no index, certificates are classified by company name in the main catalog section

Are you into Swedish scripophily ? Then, no doubt, this would be a nice Christmas present. You can order the catalog from the Swedish Association for Historical Securities, or you can check your favorite scripophily dealer.


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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Antique securities up for sale at SPINK's Autumn 2020 Bonds and Shares auction

Spink and Son Ltd specialises in the auctioning of stamps, coins, banknotes, medals, autographs, books, wines, bonds and shares. Their latest sale went online earlier this week and ends at 11 AM, Sep 22. Over 650 lots of antique securities will go on the block. 

share certificate from a Utah mine company with vignette of a bluebird

The auction features many historic and decorative share certificates. This one, L(ot) 564 in the auction, is from The Bluebird Copper-Gold Mining Company Ltd. The print features a great vignette of a mountain bluebird which lives in open country across western North America. Click the image to enlarge. 
P. H. Franklin from Salt Lake City founded The Bluebird Copper-Gold Mining Company Ltd in 1901. He signed this 1902 share as president. Other co-founders were M. J. True, Jos. Kittinger and F.A. Fox, all three from Buffalo, NY, and C.S. Hutchinson from Syracuse, NY, the location of the principal office. Operations took place at Milford, Beaver County, Utah. 

At stake in this sale are historic and vintage stocks and bonds from many countries. Main sections include British canals, civil engineering, docks & harbours, piers, bridges and railways, as well as Irish railway scripophily and stocks and bonds from American mining and railroad companies. 

share certificate of the Monmouthshire Railway and Canal company with canal vignette

The Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company operated a canal and a network of railways in south-east Wales. It started as the Monmouthshire Canal Navigation and opened canals from Newport to Pontypool and to Crumlin from 1796. The vignette on this 1852 share certificate shows a train and a horse-drawn barge nearing a canal bridge. L120 in the auction. 

The auction features over 250 bonds and shares from British railways, canals, docks & harbours, and pier and bridge companies. Some examples :
  • Historic is L119, a share in the company 'for making the rivers Mercy and Irwell navigable from Liverpool to Manchester, in the County Palatine of Lancaster', dated 1724 ! Ten years later small boats were able to sail from the centre of Manchester through to the Irish Sea. Printed on vellum, extraordinary lettering, red wax seal with sailing ship and paper revenue stamps, genuine signatures, in other words lots to enjoy. 
  • A red paper seal depicting a bridge adorns The Hoarwithy Bridge Company share from 1855. L333
  • Two shares from the Vauxhall Bridge company, L362 and L363, parade a stunning copper seal. The first iron bridge over the Thames river opened in 1816.
  • L283 St. Helen's and Runcorn Gap Railway, early share from 1830 
  • Train watchers can be spotted on The Leeds and Thirsk Railway Company share from 1846, L227 

A series of 23 Irish lots follow, most of these consisting of scarce railway securities. The following Newry Navigation Company share offers a splendid vignette and a great story.

share certificate from the Newry Navigation Company issued to the Earl of Kilmorey

Francis Jack Needham, Earl of Kilmorey (1787-1880), purchased this share in 1834. Lord Kilmorey had married Jane Gun-Cuninghame in 1814. He became High Sheriff of Down. Over fifty years old  Francis Jack became the legal guardian of the twenty year old Priscilla Anne Hoste. She was the daughter of the late Admiral Sir William Hoste and Lady Harriet Walpole. The Earl and Priscilla quickly became lovers and ran off together. A year later, in July 1844, they had a son, Charles. The Earl acknowledged his son and gave him his surname. He housed his wife and his beloved Priscilla in adjoining houses connected with a tunnel. L392, Newry Navigation Company 1834, £50 share issued to Francis Jack Needham, Earl of Kilmorey. 

The second half of the sale counts over 250 lots from North, Central & South America.  A selection from the catalog :
  • Atrato Mining Company, Colombia, 1880, unique vignette of river dredging activity, detailed map of South America in embossed seal, and more to see, L428 
  • L415, Bolivia Trading Company, 100 shares of $10, 1902, large llama vignette 
  • L433 is a rare Consolidated External Debt of Costa Rica £100 bond from 1886 
  • Puget Sound, Chelan and Spoke Railway Company, share certificate from 1910 with triple pane vignette 
  • Stock ticker vignettes are seldomly seen, but here is one on the Electric Reporting Company share from 1884, L624 

vignette depicting cowboy and Christian church

The Guayabillas Mining Company operated near Yuscaran, Honduras, where the Spaniards found gold and silver in its foothills in 1746. L439 in the sale

Make sure you check out online more of these wonderful securities. Here are the details :

  • Location : this is an Internet only auction
  • Date : Sep 2 15:00 - Sep 22 11:00.
  • Further info and online catalog: see here 


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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Scripophily Puzzle No. 3 - solution

Scripophily Puzzle No. 3 was about a sensational art theft that happend in Belgium during the night of 10 April 1934. As a matter of speaking, you could say that, back then, the news of the robbery went viral.

On Thursday, April 12, 1934, The New York Times reported  :

Thief Steals Panel by van Eycks That Treaty Restored to Belgium
Wrenches It From Altarpiece, 'Adoration of the Lamb,' in Ghent Cathedral During Night — Most Sensational Art Theft Since That of 'Mona Lisa' Is Laid to an Eccentric. Thief Steals Panel by van Eycks That Treaty Restored to Belgium
-- Wireless to The New York Times ---
BRUSSELS, April 11. — One of the panels from the polyptych, "The Adoration of the Lamb," by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, one of the masterpieces of Flemish art, was stolen last night from the Cathedral of St. Bavon in Ghent. ... The panel stolen is the panel of St. John the Baptist and includes the figures of virtuous judges. It is about 54 inches long and 22 inches wide. The theft was discovered early this morning when the beadle of the cathedral was making his rounds. The thief had evidently hidden in the cathedral last night and had allowed himself to be locked in. ... The polyptych had been complete only since the conclusion of the World War, when Germany was ordered to return two panels, one of them that [was] stolen last night. The theft of a panel of the Ghent altarpiece is the most sensational event in the art world since a thief walked out of the Louvre in Paris with Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" in August, 1911. ...

source:, accessed 2 Sep 2020

The three towers of Ghent in a vignette

The three towers in the old Ghent city center, from left to right :
A) Saint Nicholas Church, B) Belfry of Ghent, C) Saint Bavo Cathedral

Puzzle No. 3 was a multiple-choice question in which you had to indicate one of three towers in a vignette. I also gave you two visual clues that lead to the solution : images of share certificates in these two companies :
  1. La Victoire des Flandres SA - Vlaanderens Zege NV
  2. Société de Plantation & d'Exportation de l'Elaeis au Kasaï, dite "Plantexel"

share from La Victoire des Flandres - Vlaanderens Zegeshare certificate from Plantexel

Obviously the vignette with the three towers was taken from the former share in a Flemish insurance company. After enlarging the image - by clicking it - you could see that the company was based in the city of Ghent. Searching online for images of towers in Ghent would confirm your first clue: Ghent. 

Registered office in Ghent 
in French : siège social Gand 
in Dutch : maatschappelijke zetel Gent 

The second clue showed a share from Plantexel, dated 1928. This Belgian company cultivated palm oil, aka elaeis, in Belgian Congo. You'll be surprised knowing how this company fits in this story.

First, let us have a look at the painting. It looks like this when all panels are open. The panels have paintings on both sides.

the Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert van Eyck and Jan van Eyck

The brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck painted the Ghent Altarpiece, or the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, in Dutch: Het Lam Gods, in the 15th-century. The polyptych altarpiece measures with all panels open 11 ft × 15 ft (3.4 m × 4.6 m). This masterpiece of European art is located in the St Bavo Cathedral, Ghent.

In our story, the stolen panel is the one in the lower left corner. The painting on its front side is called The Just Judges or The Righteous Judges, in Dutch: De rechtvaardige rechters. A notice from the public prosecutor's office, dated 12 April 1934, shows one of the last pictures taken from the paintings on the front and the back of the panel. 

public prosecutor's office notice about the theft of the Ghent Altarpiece

The public prosecutor's office distributed two days after the theft a notice with a description of the panel.
Left : front side painting The Just Judges 
Right : rear side painting St John the Baptist 
attribution : Vdkdaan / CC BY-SA, Wikipedia

At the end of April 1934 the thief demanded from the Bishop of Ghent a ransom of one million Belgian francs in return for the panel. The Belgian government intervened and refused to meet the demand.

The authorities started negociations after receiving a second letter from the thief in May 1934. More letters led to the return of the rear side painting. There was no further trace of the thief.

At this point our main suspect comes in to the story.  On 25 November 1934, stockbroker Arsène Goedertier, once a sacristan of the Bishopric of Ghent, suffered a heart attack. He was dying in the sole company of his lawyer to whom Goedertier declared that he knew the repository of the painting. Goedertier however was not able to disclose it but, so told the lawyer, he referred to documents hidden in the house.

signature of Arsène Goedertier

signature Arsène Goedertier 

The documents found were incriminating and included carbon copies of the ransom notes. The  lawyer notified the police only a month later.  The latter concluded that Goedertier had been the thief.

After a while doubts arose whether Goedertier had been the thief, or the brain behind it. Some suggested that somebody else may have put the incriminating documents in Goedertier's home office after the latter's death. Several researchers have tried to prove Goedertier's guilt or innocence or tried to find the painting.

Today the original painting The Just Judges is still missing. What you see today, and also in the picture above, is a copy made in 1945 by Jef Van der Veken. A Ghent police detective is still assigned to the case of the missing painting.

Arsène Goedertier was one of the directors of "Plantexel". He signed many of the company's founder shares (the 2nd clue in this puzzle).

Searching the word 'Plantexel' in Google yields links to the story of the famous theft. The answer for this puzzle is C: Saint Bavo Cathedral, the location of the Ghent Altarpiece by the van Eyck brothers.
I received one correct reply. Well done reader-detective DB ! Why don't they assign you the Goedertier case ! 


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Friday, August 28, 2020

2400 scripophily lots coming up at HWPH's home base

Matthias Schmitt has scheduled its next double-session sale for 12 and 13 September 2020. With his team he brought together over 2400 lots of scripophily and related documents.

The first sale is a live auction held this time at Zorneding-Pöring, HWPH's home base. The next day an online auction takes place. Both sales offer historic and beautiful antique stocks and bonds from all continents.  

La Bourse - Journal et Banque Édouard Blée et Cie.
Édouard Blée and Pierre Nicolai founded this company in 1883 to operate a bank. The company also published a financial journal "La Bourse". The share's underprint shows a large crowded scene in front of the Paris stock exchange. This rare 2 Parts d'Intérêt certificate dates from 1884. Lot 153 in the auction welcomes bids from €250 onwards.

The emergence of the stock exchanges made a great impact on modern life. No doubt, historic shares and bonds related to bourses are fascinating. HWPH's upcoming sale includes several of these : 
  • L65, Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc., common shares certificate, specimen, 2001
  • L90, Bourse Khédiviale du Caire, Lstg. 10 share, 1903, at the time the most important bourse in the Middle East and Africa
  • L195 / L196,  £100 / £1000 debenture, The Stock Exchange, London, 1899
  • L153 La Bourse, with large vignette of the bourse de Paris, see image above

The South Sea Company was founded in 1711 as The Governor and Company of Merchants of Great Britain Trading to the South Seas and other Parts of America, and for the encouragement of the Fishery. It obtained a monopoly to trade slaves from Africa in the Spanish colonies across the Atlantic. This share was issued in 1720 at the peak of the South-Sea-Bubble when for the first time in history many small and large investors lost everything in a speculative rush at the stock market. L626 is expected to realize €3,000. 

The sale features a significant number of securities from the earliest joint-stock companies. Some examples : 
  • Sparking the Industrial Revolution the Iron Bridge Company "for building a Bridge across the River Severn" was founded in 1777. Its share is signed by ironmaster Abraham Darby III who played a crucial role in the Industrial Revolution. A rare and top scripophily item, L628 starts at €18,000.
  • L631 consists of one of the oldest German shares, a share in the Compagnie Royale Prussienne de Bengale, 1759. It is one of the earliest shares related to the Indian subcontinent as well.  
  • An amazing copper print with vignettes of ships at sea and a view on the city of Sevilla is presented as L632. This share from the Real Compañia de San Fernando de Sevilla dates from 1748.

The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra gave its first concert in 1781 in the Gewandhaus. The ensemble would welcome performers such as Mozart and Liszt. From 1835 to 1847 Felix Mendelssohn was the orchestra's music director. This share from the Neues Gewandhaus in Leipzig was issued in 1884 to finance the building of a new concert hall.  It was designed by architect Martin Gropius, a friend of Mendelssohn. The new premises are illustrated in the vignette. A memorial for Mendelssohn was unveiled in front of the concert hall in 1892. Because Mendelssohn came from a Jewish family the Nazi regime ordered the removal of the statue. A bombing destroyed in 1944 the New Gewandhaus. The city of Leipzig opened again a new Gewandhaus in 1981. A bronze replica of the original Mendelssohn statue was presented in 2008. L452, a multicolor printing feat by Giesecke & Devrient, starts at €400. 

Both auctions include together more than 900 German scripophily lots  :
  • Interested in German automobile history ? What about Porsche, see lots 284, 285, 286, 358 and 1856. A rare Megola-Motoren-AG share from the 1920s, L341, may find a new owner at €270.
  • The Königlich Bayerisch privilegirte Krystallglas-Fabrik Theresienthal was the first joint-stock company in Niederbayern. Theresienthal was, and still is, famous for its luxury glass. Founded in 1836 the company counted among its customers King Ludwig II. Its share, issued in 1841, is one of the earliest known glass scripophily objects. Extremely rare, bids invited at €3,500. L637
  • There are many flags to see in the auction catalog. The share from the Ruder-Gesellschaft Sparta e.V. Berlin-Tegel is calling with the rowing club's flag. L1753
  • A map of West Germany adorns a modern specimen stock certificate, L1900, from the HCA Hypotheken-Computer-Analyse AG

The two auctions count four bonds from the McDonald's Corporation : L58, L59, L2164 and L2165. The vignette shown here is different from what we usually see on McDonald's scripophily. It is a nice example of McDonald's image building capacities. In 2011 the company held a mega job fair in the USA. Business Insider, Apr 28, 2011, wrote "It's Harder To Get A Job At McDonald's Than It Is To Get Into Harvard". McDonald's was looking then for 50,000 new workers. They hired about 62,000 people after receiving a million applications for those positions - an acceptance rate of 6.2%. Enjoy your meal ! 

There is a lot more to discover in HWPH's auction catalogs. The live auction concludes with meeting for EDHAC members. Here are the details of the event:
  • Dates
    • 12 September 2020, Zorneding, Germany, public auction
    • 13 September 2020, online auction
  • Further info and catalogs, see here on HWPH
  • Live bidding is possible through, see here, where you can find high quality images of the lots.


HWPH includes 270 lots of Russian scripophily. A dedicated PDF catalog, in Russian, is available here.  The vignette shown is a detail from L843, a 1902 share in the AG für Walfang und Fischerei im Stillen Ocean Graf H. H. Keyserling & Cie.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The spectacular collapse of the South Sea Company shares

Satire is a form of art that mocks wrongs, stupidities and faults in society thereby embarrassing individuals, organizations or society as a whole. Meant to be funny, satire creates useful social criticism.

In A Lesson in Greed: The South See Company Ursula Kampmann tells the story that is unfolded by a three-hundred-year-old Dutch engraving. 

A Lesson in Greed: The South Sea Company
by Dr. Ursula Kampmann, Bookophile, Curator of the MoneyMuseum’s book collection
translated by Maike Meßmann
copyright Dr. Jürg Conzett of the MoneyMuseum 

At the beginning of April, the Sunflower Foundation was able to purchase a satirical work for the MoneyMuseum’s book collection. The depiction of this copper engraving must be quite mysterious for anyone unfamiliar with the topic. It features a man with horns and cloven hoofs in front of a cartouche with a detailed drawing. In the centre of it there’s a tomb with a Dutch inscription: “Posterity will think of it as a fable and build a tomb in honour of Aesop.”

satirical engraving on the South Sea Bubble

Satirical copper engraving on the financial crisis of 1720. Netherlands, 1720. 
Cover page of a series of satirical engravings on the “South Sea Bubble”.

Contemporaries knew immediately what this was about: the spectacular collapse of the price of shares in the South Sea Company. And indeed, the South Sea bubble is still one of the financial crises that are referred to today when it comes to explaining how human greed and the government’s indifference can lead to high losses, and even to bankruptcy. Let’s take a look at what was happening, and let’s do it from the perspective of the caricature.

To the right of the tomb there’s a rich man wearing a curly wig signing a paper on the back of a hunchbacked, who is selling those papers from his vendor’s tray. The hunchbacked is identified as stock trader Bombario.

But what are these shares that Bombario is selling? Well, of course the most popular stocks of 1718, share certificates of the South Sea Company.

Sovereign Bonds, Shares or Lottery Tickets?
Actually, this South Sea Company was nothing but a variant of the Bank of England: first of all it raised an enormous amount of money that the country needed desperately. In return for the loan, the company was promised annual interest payments and the privilege of trading in South America. Hence its name, the oceans around South America were called the South Sea back then.

However, the plan didn’t work out. Attempts to stimulate trade failed; the government didn’t pay interest; and when a new war broke out in 1718, the experiment seemed to have failed for good.

But instead of giving up, the company lent the country money once more. In a complicated contract it was stipulated when which funds had to flow into the Treasury and when the government had to repay which sums. A good mathematician would have already been able to see back then that the company got less money back than it lent the government, but who pays attention to calculations when he’s hoping for a speculative profit?

This is what the artist wants to express by depicting hunchbacked Bombario: whoever touched a hunchback’s hump expected to get lucky. Signing a share certificate on the back of a hunchback was almost a guarantee for luck. And indeed, luck was needed even for getting back what one had paid for the certificate, as shares in the South Sea Company were actually nothing but lottery tickets or rather betting slips. Only those who got out of gambling in time were able make huge profits.

The Master of Whisperers
What those responsible for the South Sea Company did was a masterpiece of psychology and PR. The directors deliberately spread rumours about the company’s potential on the speculative market. They made sure that all magazines reported on the huge profits individual speculators had made with these shares. At the same time, they granted potential buyers instalments and loans in order to finance purchasing shares.

High members of the government were bribed with shares at special conditions that they could sell immediately for a high price – by the way, many of them didn’t do this, which is why they were among the losers, too.

Of course, everybody wanted to be part of this great business. Not only those who knew enough about economics to decide whether an investment was profitable or not bought participating certificates. No, also rich widows, ambitious students and solid businessmen, in short, everyone who had a few pounds left or was at least creditworthy invested. And they invested not only in shares in the South Sea Company.

At that time, there were many companies that messed with people’s greed. A colourful brochure, overblown promises, a rumour whispered in someone’s ear, and prices exploded. It didn’t matter whether a company was realistic, what mattered was whether there was someone to buy your share for a higher price. Not the project but speculation was the reason for profits. Obviously, there was a loser at the end of the chain. And because insiders were aware of this, they called this business model “bubble”: a beautifully shimmering appearance with no substance at all.

To protect consumers from such bubble companies, the government passed the Bubble Act in 1720. It determined that any new public company needed to be approved by royal charter. It was hoped that this would curtail at least the wildest excesses of bubble companies.

The South Sea Company had such a royal charter, which meant that every speculator expected that now – after so many other companies had disappeared from the market – the speculative frenzy would focus on the shares of the South Sea Company. And indeed, people bought and bought, and in the August of 1720, only a few month before this engraving was created, a share certificate of the South Sea Company reached with £1,000 about ten times its nominal value.

And that was it. Obviously the shares weren’t worth that much. If you wanted to be honest, they weren’t even worth the £150 one still had to pay for them at the end of September. The speculators had pushed up the share price with their greed and were now complaining that many of them had ruined themselves financially because the stock had fallen back to a reasonable price.

Our copper engraving comments on this by depicting Greek poet Aesop. Aesop was known for his fables, which used animals as protagonists to illustrate human weaknesses. It’s no surprise that there’s a parrot on Aesop’s shoulder. Such an animal parrots everything without thinking or evaluating the message. What a splendid picture for all the deceived shareholders who thought that the purchase of shares alone was a guarantee of profit.

Obviously, the damaged shareholders weren’t that reasonable. They demanded the government to punish the swindlers who had fooled them. And that’s why many of those who until recently had been considered clever men of honour had to stand trial: the directors of the South Sea Company were removed, many of their possessions were seized and share buyers were compensated. High politicians were deposed because they were found guilty of corruption.

Well, human stupidity could hardly be brought before the court. And only very few people understood the lesson of the South Sea bubble, namely that the real value of a share originates in the company and not in a potential speculative profit that can be made with it.

Ursula Kampmann

Related links
  • The original article can be found here on Bookophile. 
  • Bookophile was conceived by Jürg Conzett and Ursula Kampmann. You can subscribe here to its newsletter.


1 The full name of the South Sea Company was The Governor and Company of the merchants of Great Britain, trading to the South Seas and other parts of America, and for the encouragement of the Fishery.  

2 The South Sea Company was founded in 1711 as a public-private partnership to buy state debt. It obtained a monopoly (Asiento) to trade slaves from Africa in the Spanish colonies across the Atlantic. After the South Sea Bubble debacle, the company survived after recapitalization measures by the government and continued until 1853. In its last years it ended its trading activities and only served government debt.

Scripophily from the South Sea company is known. Now and then "New South-Sea Annuities" certificates appear at auctions. You can see several of these, including an Exchequer Bill from 1720, and some coins as well, at the online collections of the British Museum, see here.  

4 Scripophily magazine, issue June 2000, features a full article, by Geoffrey L Grant, on the company showing a stock transfer certificate from 1715.

5 American auction house University Archives sold in their 6th May 2020 event a document for subscribing to shares in the South Sea Company, dated 1720. Signed by Isaac Newton himself, the lot realized $85,000 without premium.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Puzzling scripophily - No. 3

Unleash your detective skills !

Here is a vignette showing three towers in a row. Have a good look at it. In this puzzle, I want you to solve the following question : Is it A, B or C ? Now, that's simple, isn't it !

Of course, you need some more inputs to find the solution unless you are a clairvoyant. Here is hint one. The vignette was used on a share from the insurance company La Victoire des Flandres SA - Vlaanderens Zege NV.

And here is hint no. 2, a share from a Belgian Congo company. This is also the last hint that I can give you.

The question is simple. Look at the vignette on top of this post. Choose your answer A, B or C, and tell me briefly why your choice is the solution of this puzzle.

  • How to take part ? Submit your reply in the comments section of this post, or in any other way.
  • What's in it for you ? The first correct answer yields eternal fame. 
  • When will the solution be revealed ? Check this particular blog post a few weeks from now.

Good luck !


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

American scripophily in London 2

Last Thursday SPINK specialist Mike Veissid launched a sequel on his recent American scripophily in London e-Auction. At stake are 310 lots of captivating antique bonds and shares. This sale covers many themes such as railroads, mining, automobiles, banking and insurance, and more. 

SPINK's upcoming e-Auction features several rare and marvellous securities. This $10 shares certificate in the Boston Sub-Marine and Wrecking Company was issued in 1854. Lot 100 in the sale 

A series of 92 American railway securities forms the largest section in the sale. Some highlights here:
  • L(ot)89 Silver City, Deming and Pacific Railroad Company, great artwork and exceptional denomination counter along the lower border, 1896
  • L92-94 St. Joseph and Grand Island Railroad Company, 1885, three new discoveries
  • L84 Santa Fe, Liberal and Englewood Railroad Company, $1000 bond, 1906 
  • L86 Second Street Cable Railroad Company, see image below

The Second Street Cable Railroad Company was the first cable railroad operational in Los Angeles. The line ran the steepest cable gradient in North America, 27.7%. This share was issued in 1885 to Walter Scott Newhall who also signed it on the back. It is also signed by Edward A. Hall and Henry C. Witmer. 
These three formed the Los Angeles Improvement Co which became a major player in the city's development. After purchasing about 1000 acres on Crown Hill they set out 1,400 town lots. The cable railroad was organized to carry people there. All lots sold within 18 months. 
Newhall's share represented 4936 shares, almost half of the capital. The Newhall's constructed Queen Anne mansion, known in the 1960s as the spooky house of the Adams Family. Lot 86 in the auction 

The Mining section offers material from Colorado, Alaska, California, Dakota, Alabama, New York, Nevada and other states as well. Some nice examples :

  • L200 Albion Consolidated Mining Company, location Eureka District Nevada, 1882, miner vignette and great lettering
  • L226 Apothecaries Gold Mining Company, Colorado Springs, 1898, remarkable vignette of apothecary scales which is repeated in the design of the embossed seal
  • L236 Atwill Gold and Silver Mining Company, location Flowery Mining district, Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada, issued to and signed by Joseph F. Atwill, 1863!
  • L242 Great Cariboo Gold Company, South Dakota, 1907, printed with several mining sceneries including nuggets in gold print, probably the most spectacular American mining share, see for yourself in the online catalog.

L183 The Advance Gold-Dredging Company, share issued in 1900, printed by Denver Lith. Co.
Incorporated in Colorado Springs, the company's dredging properties were located in San Diego County, California.  The vignette shows a huge floating gold dredging machine. These steam driven dredges used steel buckets on a "continuous" line to extract gold from the riverbed. 

And there is more. The event includes more than 40 American automobile lots, nearly 100  "industrials", banking and insurance certificates, government bonds, and so on. In short, much to discover! Here are the sale's details : 

  • Location : online auction only
  • Date : ends on 30 June, 2020 at 11:00 AM
  • Further info : see Spink's online catalogue with full color images here 
  • Note: The sales takes place in London, bids are mentioned in USD.


Friday, June 12, 2020

Uncharted : The Buller Gold Mining Syndicate

Here is a share certificate about which I can not tell you much except from what can be seen in its design. 

It was issued by The Buller Gold Mining Syndicate Limited. The company was founded in the early 1900s with its head office in Johannesburg, then part of the Transvaal Colony. 

share from the Buller Gold Mining Syndicate

The Buller Gold Mining Syndicate Limited, £5 share, issued 1904, Johannesburg, Transvaal 

The vignette shows General Sir Redvers Henry Buller who apparently inspired the founders when chosing a name for the company. The British General Buller fought in the Second Boer War (11 Oct 1899 – 31 May 1902) against two independent Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and the Orange Free State.

That's about it. I have no idea whether the company obtained any mining concessions, where it operated, nor who the founders were. Hence, this "Uncharted" post.

Who can tell me more about this certificate ?


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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Experts in mondial automobile and American railroad securities, look out ! F.H.W. kicks off its first online auction

Freunde Historischer Wertpapier (FHW) has scheduled its next double day sale for June 26-27 2020. A milestone in its history, Jörg Benecke's auction team goes online for the first time with more than 2200 lots of historic bonds and share certificates.

This auctioneer offers a large cross-section of German scripophily, early and modern. On top of that the event features a voluminous American railway section and the wide-reaching automobile collection of Dr. Werner P. Schmidt.

FHW's 117th auction opens with a classic in scripophily, a share in the Compagnie Impériale des Chemins de Fer Éthiopiens. Every auction participant will be able to bid on this stunning print from 1899. Each bid will be accepted and guaranteed at the start price. All proceeds goes to the German Church School in Addis Abeba. The school is the first one in Ethiopia in which blind and seeing children are taught jointly. 
image courtesy F.H.W. 

The American railroad section is huge and counts more than 450 lots. Some of the highlights :
  • L(ot) 58, California Railway, Oakland, 1897, certificate for 850 shares of $100, representing over 15% of the initial share capital, in numismatic terms ultra-rare, bidding starts at €240.
  • L72 Chautauqua Lake Railway Company, 5% $1000 bond, 1887, only 800 issued, printed by the reknown Homer Lee Bank Note Company, N. Y., check the vignette and the artwork on the title.
  • George Jay Gould I, investor and railroad executive, eldest son of Jay Gould, purchased in 1895, L162, a share representing 25% of The Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad Co. of 1882. The certificate is signed by him on the reverse. After the death of his first wife, actress Edit M Kingdon, he married his mistress Guinevere J Sinclair and moved to England. Top American railway history, as such, unique.

An example of the many rarities in the US railway section, this $50 shares certificate was issued by the Miami Valley Railway Company in 1877. The company, incorporated in Ohio, 1874, had its shares printed by the Krebs Lithographing Company from Cincinnati. L239 in the auction. 
image courtesy F.H.W. 

Collectors and investors will be interested in an exceptional variety of automobile scripophily. Over 450 lots from the W. P. Schmidt Collection will be offered. Dr. Werner P. Schmidt, recently deceased, was CFO of Volkswagen AG and succeeded in bringing together hundreds of bonds and shares from motorcar companies all over the world.

The collection includes scripophily from all top brands like FIAT, see image here, Benz L972, and Renault, L1239,  which is issued to Louis Renault himself, and many more.

One of the gems in the W. P. Schmidt collection is this 1920 5 x 200 Lire shares certificate from the world famous FIAT company. The name is an abbreviation for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino.  The company soon exported its first cars and in 1910 a plant was built in Poughkeepsie, NY, to produce costly, luxury cars. L1048 in the sale starts at €1500 
image courtesy F.H.W. 

Historic, you could say "archeological", is L1272, a share from the Société des Moteurs Lenoir, 1859, founded by Etienne Lenoir, father of the combustion engine. Even older is L1124, a share certificate, 1835, in the London and Birmingham Steam Carriage Company, which produced steam engine driven cars.

Some more remarkable car builders spotted in the catalog :
  • L896 Aachener Stahlwaarenfabrik Fafnir-Werke, 1000 Reichsmark share, 1912. This German company produced the Fafnir automobiles and motorcycles, and also the Omnimobil motor kits allowing others to start motor vehichle production. Rare, bids invited from €500. 
  • L1006 Deutsche Last-Automobilfabrik AG, "DAAG", Rating, 1920 
  • L1216 RiCHARD Auto Manufacturing Company, Cleveland, Ohio, 1917. This stock certificate is signed by its founder François Richard. Check out the image in the catalog. You'll note how the brand name was changed into to RiCHARD - with a lower case i - in an attempt to encourage the more correct French-like pronunciation 'ree-SHARd'. An example of small but great automobile history, with an early automobile vignette as well.

Besides the US railway section and the W.P. Schmidt Collection, the 270 pages auction catalog includes the following chapters :

  • Confederate States of America
  • Germany Pre-1945
  • Germany DM era
  • Austro-Hungarian Empire/Austria, Switzerland, Italy and several more.

Indexes on collecting themes and German regions may help you find what you are looking for.  I checked out the sports entries and bumped into bobsledding scripophily !

This rare 300 Mark bond from the Herzogliche Bobsleighclub zu Gotha (Ducal Bobsled Club from Gotha) shows the still existing clubhouse. Opened in 1913 its bobsled track was one of the longest in Central Europe at the time with a length of 3600 metres. L1601 in the sale 
image courtesy F.H.W. 

There is a lot to discover in the sale. Here are the details :

  • Location : The event takes place at Wolfenbüttel, however, at the time of writing this, due to the covid-19 situation personal presence is likely not possible. Check out whether a visit is possible with the auction house. 
  • Date : 26 and 27 June, 2020
  • Further info, see here; PDF catalog see there; live bidding is possible through 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Did you miss Scripophily magazine in 2019 ? On purpose ?

Scripophily is the world’s most comprehensive and insightful publication for passionate collectors and active researchers of antique securities. This three-yearly periodical, printed on high quality paper, is the flagship of The International Bond and Share Society (IBSS).

Scripophily magazine discusses hundreds of auction highlights. Issue 109, April 2019, mentioned this certificate in the report on Boone's October 2018 auction. It is a dividend share in The Compagnie Belge-Néerlandaise de Sambas (Borneo). This Belgian enterprise obtained concessions for mining, agricultural and forestry operations from the sultan of Sambas. Its 1899  share realized €180 in the auction. 
courtesy : 

If you don't know the magazine then here are 4 takeaways :
  1. Enjoy fascinating stories on the people and organizations that issued the old stock and bond certificates. 
  2. Read about the latest market and auction reports.
  3. Stay up-to-date on important news, and gossip. Scripophily magazine informs you about new discoveries, announcements by collector clubs and scripophily related exhibitions, publication of books, rumours and fait-divers about our hobby, events and bourses, and much more.
  4. Scripophily magazine is the only English language journal covering topics from all over the world about any theme thinkable.

The three 2019 issues of Scripophily magazine counted over 120 pages, reported on about 100 auctions, featured around 400 images, and were shipped to over three hundred members on all continents. 

On top of that, subscribing to Scripophily magazine brings you valuable free extras :
  • The IBSS Directory brings you in contact with fellow collectors. Many of those are experts in their field, often share common interests with you, and possibly live nearby. The Directory contains members from more than 40 countries.
  • The Newsletter, so you may keep up with what is going on
  • Access to all content on the IBSS website, including digital versions of previous issues of Scripophily magazine, the online forum, special theme galleries, and the like.
  • Newsflashes on the website focus on hot topics that can't wait for the next issue of the magazine. 
  • Get extra credibility : being listed as a member is a good reference in any deals made remotely with parties previously unknown. 

What's the catch ? 
Well, the subscription fee is ridiculous, that's all. Subscribing to IBSS's magazine costs you only £20 or $32 or €25, true ! I looked it up. The price is still the same as it was in 2013. How much longer will it stay like that. Now that you know it, don't miss this boat.


Related links

Monday, May 11, 2020

Franky's Scripophily BlogSpot exists 10 years !

A decade of scripophily blogging ! In 2010 I never thought I would write about these gorgious scripophily items for 10 years, but here we are now. 

Each time I write one of these little pieces I make a journey through time, all around the globe, and learn about amazing personalities. These old skillfully produced bonds and shares, surprise me over and over again. Do I succeed in taking you along the ride ?

To illustrate this article I picked a share from The West Flanders Railway Company which is related to my birthplace, Ypres. British investors from London founded the company in 1845 with a capital of 21,000,000 francs or 840,000 pounds. This certificate is hand-signed by the company officers William Parry Richards, William Goodenough Hayter, John Peter Fearon and William Jesse. The railway's engineers are none other than George Stephenson and his son Robert Stephenson. The share is issued to Member of Parliament William Edward FitzMaurice.  

One thing's for sure. If you want to learn about scripophily then start writing about it. As a bonus you will improve personal skills like writing, editing, proofreading, publishing, scanning and presenting images, and doing research online. All the way you meet wonderful people! 

For this anniversary occasion I wish I could treat you to a piece of chocolate cake, but instead I have put together the following : 
  • a new poll about collecting habits in scripophily, see here  
    • Participate, your inputs matter ! Share the poll on your social media channel with your collector friends wherever they may live.
  • my personal top 10 favorite articles from the past 10 years, see there 
  • and a little jigsaw puzzle,  see there .

Thank you for listening to this radio! 


The West Flanders Railway Company share shows a stunning vignette of an early train circling the coat of arms of the West Flanders province. A first line ran from Bruges to Courtrai, then to Ypres, and Poperinge. A second line started in Veurne to Tielt and from there either to Deinze or Aalter. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

The most valuable scripophily item hammered in 2019

What was the highest priced scripophily sale at auction in 2019 ? Was it a previously unseen Chinese Imperial bond, a pioneering British railway share, or one of Apple's founders shares personally signed by Steve Jobs ? None of these. It was a Dutch bond from the 17th century, and it was sold in HWPH's 52nd Auction, at Würzburg on 4 May 2019.

Top sale in 2019, reported by the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS), was a 6.5% bond issued by the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, also known as the VOC (Dutch East India Company). The bond, unnumbered and pen cancelled, measures about 32 x 21 cm. It was printed on handmade paper and issued, with signatures, on 25 April 1623 for 500 Flemish Pounds. 

If you want to know why this VOC bond certificate achieved a top price at auction, then you need to know what kind of company the VOC was.

The VOC started as a Dutch trading company. A number of competing pre-companies from the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands formed in 1602 the VOC with a capital of 6,440,200 guilders. The new company paid 25,000 guilders for a 21-year monopoly to explore, colonize and trade with the East Indies. 

This map from around 1665 shows VOC's tradezone. The Indian subcontinent is marked as 'MOGOL'. In the lower right corner you'll recognize 'HOLLANDIA NOVA', Australia. Click the image to enlarge : the small dots along the coast lines with names in black are the company's establishments. 
source : © Nationaal Archief Ref. 4.VEL-312, via Wikipedia 

The VOC built its own ships in Amsterdam, Middelburg, Zaandam but also near Batavia (Jakarta). Tsar Peter I of Russia worked incognito as a ship's carpenter at the VOC's shipyards in the Netherlands.

The company was involved in the production and trade of East Indian spices, sugarcane from Formosa, wine from South Africa and lots more. The Shoguns of Japan allowed the VOC as the only European partner to conduct business with. Japanese porcelain, then much in demand, came to Europe on a VOC ship.

In its overseas colonies, the VOC had governmental powers, including the ability to wage war, imprison and execute convicts. In some parts of the world, the VOC produced its own gunpowder like in its refinery at Chhapra, West Bengal, where it processed saltpeter from Patna.

Original bond and share certificates from the VOC are extremely rare. These tangible objects mark a striking period in the history of the world. A similar VOC bond like this was auctioned by HWPH in April 2014 for €30,000. In the auctioneer's May 2019 auction our VOC bond started with that ask price.    

In order to maintain control in and maximize profits from its overseas destinations the VOC did not hesitate to suppress locals with or without the help of the local rulers. At some point in the 17th century the VOC controlled all harbors in Asia. The company commanded then over hundreds of ships, a quarter of them warships, tens of thousands of employees and led a private army of 10,000 soldiers.

The fourth war between England and The Netherlands (1780-1784) caused problems for the VOC. The English had captured many VOC trading posts, and the company's ships were unable to arrive safely at the company's European harbors. VOC ships, loaded with valuable merchandise, were hijacked. The company lost money.

When the French invaded The Netherlands in 1795, the VOC could no longer operate. Almost 200 years after its founding, the company was liquidated in 1798.  

Dutch coins were not in demand in the East Indies, so the VOC was permitted to strike its own coins. 
source: no machine-readable author provided. Svdmolen assumed (based on copyright claims). / CC BY-SA via wikipedia 

The Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie was one of the first globally operating corporations. Being the first company listed on a stock exchange it applied a business model that still exists today.

The VOC founded trading posts and production settlements in today's South Africa, Mauritius, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, China and Japan. Therefore, this VOC bond is one of the oldest known scripophily documents related to these countries.

Regardless its military operations, the company brought European ideas, technology and art to Asia, but equally the other way around. It opened up the world to the world.

Our bond certificate, lot 632 in the auction, was expected to realize at least €30,000. In fact, it turned out to be the best-selling item in the sale and the most expensive one sold at auction in 2019. Lot 632 was sold at €46,000, and that's withouth the buyer's premium.


Related links

Top auctions in the scripophily market are extensively covered in Scripophily magazine, a publication by IBSS. The magazine brings you in-depth articles, compelling stories, and memorable personalities. A substantial part of the magazine is dedicated to reports on auctions that took place all over the world. Three issues per year discuss remarkable sales from over 70 auctions in this field of collecting.