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 ?


Previous posts

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. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

SPINK's e-Auction of bonds and shares is up and running !

SPINK's Bonds and Share Certificates of the World e-Auction is at present open for bidding. It presents 329 lots of antique bond and share certificates.

The first major section in the sale, over 40 lots of Australian scripophily, starts with a rare share in The Kalgoorlie Electric Tramways, L(ot) 4. Even more rare is a 1891 founders' share from The Midland Railway Company of Western Australia, Ltd, modestly estimated at £120-150, L6. Furthermore, a collection of securities illustrating the Australian land speculation of the 1880’s and the inevitable collapse in 1893 is part of the offerings. 

share from the Federal Bank of Australia signed by James Munro, Premier of Victoria

The Scot James Munro emigrated to Victoria in 1858 where he set up a printing business. He expanded into banking and promoting building societies, became rich, entered politics and engaged in land speculation. In 1881 he founded the Federal Building Society and the Federal Bank of Australia. In 1890 Munro became Premier of Victoria. When the land boom collapsed, his bank was the first bank to fail in the subsequent banking crisis of 1893. Munro's  companies left debts of over ₤600,000. The Australasian newspaper of April 22, 1893, reported that he was attacked and beaten unconscious in a Melbourne street by a man who had been ruined in the crash. 
James Munro signed this 1883 share certificate, L19 in the sale.

The Great Britain and Ireland section counts nearly 70 lots. Some examples 
  • Neptune, a masterpiece vignette from the American Bank Note Company, presents a 1916 $5000 specimen bond from The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, L236.
  • L302 Vauxhall Bridge Company, 1872, with extraordinary copper seal
  • L271 The Greenock Steamship Company Ltd, vignettes of sailing ship and shipping flag, 1882.
There is also a unique group of about ten British Government SPECIMEN bonds, all of which are the only examples known and which should attract many bidders. Unique. As an example, there is L249, a 3% Conversion Loan 1948-1953 £100 specimen bearer bond, London, 1933, facsimile signature of N. K. Warren-Fisher as Treasury secretary, typed letter included.

One of the highlights in the sale is lot 253, a 1835 share from The Blaydon, Gateshead and Hebburn Railway Company.

share on vellum from the Blaydon, Gateshead and Hebburn Railway with engraving from William Collard

The Blaydon, Gateshead and Hebburn Railway Company Act 1834 authorized for the "making and maintaining a railway from Blaydon to Hebburn with six branches thereout, all within the county of Palatine of Durham". The railway was established in 1834, leaving the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway at Blaydon and running eastwards along the river Tyne on its south bank in order to provide an outlet for coal mined in the Tanfield area. With only a small portion of the intended 11 miles built, the Newcastle and Carlisle took over the line in 1836. This share was printed on vellum and issued in 1835 to John Lionel Hood, mayor of Newcastle in 1834-35. Newcastle's Hood street was named after him. 

T. Challoner made this drawing of a steam train with coal wagons, ship at dockside, mine buildings and a windmill in the distance. It was the talented William Collard who engraved this unusual large and detailed vignette. Collard specialized in map and landscape engraving. He engraved a map of Durham in 1834, and in 1841 he published his Architectural and Picturesque Views in Newcastle upon Tyne
Lot 253 in the auction, estimated at £3000-4000. Click image to enlarge

SPINK's e-Auction includes scripophily from countries around the globe, except from the USA which will have its own separate sale at the end of June, says specialist Mike Veissid.

Here are some more  fascinating examples of SPINK's current event  :
  • L153 Kingdom of Denmark, 34 Year 4.5% External Loan Gold Bond of $1000, 1928, facsimile signature of historian and former Prime Minister of Denmark Niels Neergaard, large vignette of the Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the Danish Parliament
  • L221 Schlusselbourg Calico Printing Company (Manufacture d'Indiènnes de la Compagnie de Schlusselbourg), 1000 Roubles share, text in Russian, English and French, St. Petersburg, 1869, see also L222 & L223
  • L323 From Colombia, Timbiqui Gold Mines Company Limited, £1 share, 1900, large vignette of gold panning on a riverbank
  • If you are into James Bond, then L78 might be something for you. This debenture from The Cathay Land Company, Limited, was issued to William Johnston Keswick in 1933. Keswick was Chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Council preceding the Pacific War and survived a murder attempt by the Japanese in Shanghai. He became head of the China Theatre of the Special Operations Executive, Britain's wartime secret service, known as "Churchill's Secret Army". After WW II a part of SOE's personnel became agents of MI6.

10 candareens share in the Semambu Rubber Estates signed by Kadoorie

Several certificates in the sale are issued to or signed by Jewish entrepreneur Eleazor Silas Kadoorie who, together with his brother, made fortune in the banking, rubber, real estate and electric power business.  This share from The Semambu Rubber Estates, Ld., was issued in 1932 and signed by Kadoorie. The company incorporated in Hong Kong and its capital was divided in shares of 10 candareens each. In imperial China, 10 candareens equaled 1 mace which was ​one tenth of a tael. Eleazor Silas Kadoorie imprisoned in 1942 by the Japanese died 2 years later in prison. L97 in the auction.

Make sure you check out more appealing scripophily online. Here are the details :
  • Location : this is an Internet only sale
  • Date : Apr 16 15:00 - May 05 11:00.
  • Further info : see here 


Monday, April 20, 2020

Star of India

When you inspect an antique share certificate then there is a good chance that you discover a seal on the document. Here's an example of a dry seal, also known as an embossed seal, hardly noticeable but surprising at a closer look.

Seals are security features used to enhance protection against counterfeiting. There are many ways by which seals can be produced, e.g. as a dry seal like the one in the example, as a stamp imprent with ink, or as an impressed relief in wax. Even holograms are used on modern certificates. 

embossed seal with the Star of India

Dry seal with in the circumference the text THE SCINDIA STEAM NAVIGATION CO. LD. - BOMBAY 

Dry seals are created on the document by means of an embossing press. An embossing press consists of two plates, one bearing the image in relief and the other one bearing the mirror image. By pressing the document between the plates, the seal image is produced forming a raised image in the paper. 

Seals on certificates can show the name of the issuer, an emblem or a coat of arms, an incorporation date, or a picture of the kind of activity that was involved.

Our seal was embossed on a share from The Scindia Steam Navigation Company, Limited. It shows a star surrounded first by some lettering and then by sun rays. Not all letters are readable but you can recognize ..EAVEN'S LIGHT OUR G..

share certificate from The Scindia Steam Navigation Company

The Scindia Steam Navigation Company, Limited was founded in 1919 by Walchand Hirachand, Narottam Morarjee, Kilachand Devchand and Lallubhai Samaldas. Back then the sea routes in the British Empire were controlled by British companies. In April of 1919, the company's ship SS Loyalty sailed to the United Kingdom. Much against the will of the British, it was the first Indian ship to do so. The vignette on this share from 1920 depicts the company's flag ship, the SS Loyalty. 

All-wise Google tells me that the star and the lettering in the dry seal matches the emblem of the Order of the Star of India. It was Queen Victoria who created in 1861 this order of knighthood to honour (loyal) Indian Princes and Chiefs, as well as British officers and administrators who served in India.

The order's motto was HEAVEN'S LIGHT OUR GUIDE and can now be recognized on the seal above. With HEAVEN referring to the stars, this neutral motto had to appeal to people of different faiths. The star did not have Christian connotations, and was so accepted by the Indian Princes.

Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia of Gwalior with the Star of India

In  1886 Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia of Gwalior succeeded his father Jivaji Rao Scindia and ruled until his death in 1925.  Note the Star of India on the chest. image (clipped) : Internet Archive Book Images / No restrictions via Wikimedia Commons

At first it was unclear to me why we see the Star of India in the seal from the Scindia Steam Navigation Company. However my friend David had an interesting theory. What he came up with can also explain why the name of the company, despite being founded in Bombay by Gujarati businessmen, includes the word Scindia, the name of a dynasty that ruled the State of Gwalior

David pointed out that the company's first ship, the SS Loyalty, was purchased from Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia of Gwalior. Madho Rao became Commander in the Order of the Star of India in 1895. The Maharaja in turn had bought the ship, then known as the RMS Empress of India, from the Canadian Pacific Line in 1914. According to The New York Times of Dec 20, 1914, he was the richest Prince of the Indian Empire.

Royal Bombay Yacht Club debenture with company seal

Royal Bombay Yacht Club, 6% Rs.100 debenture, 1898 
Note the Star of India in the emblem's lower right quarter, click image to enlarge 
image: Barry Collection, via 

Are there more scripophily items illustrated with a Star of India ? Almost none, but there is a bond from the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, see imageThis exclusive membership club, founded in 1846, was awarded its blue flag with a Star of India surmounted by the Imperial Crown of India.

A regular customer of the RBYC was politician Freeman-Thomas, aka Lord Willingdon (1866-1941). As Governor of Bombay he ruled from 17 Feb 1913 through 16 Dec 1918 over the Bombay Presidency. This administrative subdivision of British India, more or less the size of today's Germany, counted then nearly 30 million people.

While in office Willingdon maintained good relations with the Indian Princes and important business men. He met Narottam Morarjee, one of the founders of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company, to discuss the shipping business. Another founder of that company was Lalubhai Samaldas who had served as an Executive Councillor to the Governor.

statue of Lord Willingdon in Delhi

Lord Willingdon's statue in Coronation Park, Delhi, India. Note the Star of India 
image (clipped) : Nvvchar / CC BY-SA ( via Wikimedia Commons 

On the 3rd of June, 1918, Lord Willingdon was appointed by King George V as a Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India.  He often visited the Royal Bombay Yacht Club with important British officials and officers.

One one occasion in 1918 Willingdon invited some Maharaja's, possibly including the Maharaja of Gwalior, to the club. The Governor and his Indian guests were denied access. The RBYC only accepted European members. Willingdon then founded his own Willingdon Sports Club with membership open to both Indians and British.

coat of arms of the British Empire

detail from the Post Office Cash certificate, see below, showing the coat-of-arms of the British Empire

There was one celebrity that Willingdon did not get along with. That person was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. When Gandhi returned in Jan 1915 to India from South Africa, both met at Gandhi's welcome reception in Bombay. They would later meet each other again under different circumstances.

In 1917 a famine broke out in the Kheda region of the Bombay Presidency ruining the local economy. Peasants were not able to pay their taxes anymore. Under Gandhi's influence the people sent a petition to Willingdon, asking that he cancel the taxes for that year. Property confiscation and arrests was the government's answer.

Gandhi with the help of his followers organized the people to start a non-violent resistance, with success. Taxes were cancelled, property was returned and prisoners released.

Here's another "Star of India" certificate, a [India] Post Office 5-Year Cash Certificate, issued in 1935 while Lord Willingdon was India's Viceroy. However, the star is not immediately visible.

Indian Post Office 5-Year Cash certificate issued 1935

During the British rule of India several acts were approved to expand and regulate the Indian Posts and Telegraphs service. After the Government Savings Bank Act 1873 was ratified in 1881, Post Office Savings Banks opened throughout India. The reverse of this certificate explains that the holder, after his initial investment of 18 Rupees and 13 annas, would cash in 20 Rs after five years. The average per capita income in 1931-32 was Rs 65 (Towards Freedom 1945, Bimal Prasad)

On 18 Apr 1931 Lord Willingdon became Viceroy of India for five years. During his reign Gandhi and the Indian National Congress party organized a mass Civil Disobedience Movement. Willingdon imprisoned Gandhi, the INC members and tens of thousands of Indian activists.

As Viceroy, Willingdon was also supreme commander of the British Indian Army. The Government of India Act 1919 gave him also direct control over foreign affairs and communications, including the post service in India.

The viceroy served also as the grand master of the two principal order of chivalry of British India: the Order of the Star of India and the Order of the Indian Empire.

watermarks showing the Star of India

When viewed against a light source, the Post Office Cash certificate shows off its watermarks including several Star of India emblems. The four black dots (three of them in the corners) are the silhouettes of little magnets used to hold the certificate in place when photographed. Click image to enlarge 

The Post Office 5-Year Cash certificate is revealing when it comes to watermarks. Besides the initials of the paper maker, you can see a repeating pattern of the words GOVT of INDIA and the Star of India.

Gandhi must have been the Indian Postal Services' top customer. At some point he received hundreds of letters on a daily basis. These were answered by several close friends acting as his secretaries. Tens of thousands of letters written by Gandhi survived, 31,000 of them were compiled in the Collected Works of Gandhi.

microprinting in the underprint

Microprinting is rarely seen in Indian scripophily but this Post Office Cash certificate has it in the underprint:  'POST OFFICE FIVE YEAR CASH CERTIFICATE'. Image scanned at a resolution of 1200 dpi 

Was Gandhi ever awarded a Star of India ? Well, he was close to the founders of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company who publicly supported him, morally and financially. Did Gandhi encounter the Maharaja of Gwalior ? Yes, on one of these occasions Gandhi addressed Madho Rao Scindia in public and asked him for contributing to the funds of the new Benares Hindu University.  However Gandhi did not receive a Star of India, that was about the last of his concerns.


PS You've seen other shares with a Star of India ? Send me a picture, I'd be happy to include it here, or post it on Facebook's Ancient indian stocks & bonds - scripophily group.


More on Seals

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Here is an addition from 30th April, 2020. Thank you for the tip Sanjay ! 

The Eastern Electric Light & Power Company Limited, £5 shares certificate, 1882
vignette of Star of India, repeated in the embossed seal 
source: Spink Auction 9014, May 2019

Friday, March 27, 2020

Connoisseurs of British railway securities will be thrilled at Boone's next scripophily auction

The 64th auction of Mario Boone takes place online with an exceptional range of high quality collectibles. Nearly 1,700 antique stocks and bonds spanning 4 centuries of financial history represent about 100 countries.

Boone's next auction is set for 4 April 2020. Included are many genuine founder shares from famous companies. This is one from the Assicurazioni Generali Austro-Italiche. 

The very first share from the world famous Generali insurance company

Following the Napoleonic Wars, Trieste became the main trading port and shipbuilding centre of the Austrian Empire. There insurance expert Joseph Lazarus Morpurgo founded the Assicurazioni Generali Austro-Italiche in 1831. His company provided insurances against risks of marine and land transport, flood, fire, and much more, hence the name GENERALI.  One of its notable employees was writer Franz Kafka who worked for Generali in Prague in 1907 and 1908. This is Generali's share number 1, issued in Trieste, 1832, and signed by Morpurgo. Lot 943 in the auction is a top item for any scripophily collector of insurance companies or Italian/Austrian finance history. 

Connoisseurs of British railway securities will be thrilled. More than 120 lots come from an old collection that illustrates the rich and pioneering history of British railways. Even if you are not into railway scripophily, this is an exceptional opportunity to check out this series (lot range 789 through 914). Let me mention here a few of these gems :
  • L793 Blaydon, Gateshead & Hebburn Railway, stunning vignette; 
  • from Ireland, L804 River Line, Cork Blackrock and Passage Railway
  • L803 Clarence Railway, 1828!; 
  • L809 Durham and Sunderland Railway, rare, wax seal;
  • Another stunning vignette can be seen on a Liverpool and Manchester Railway certificate, 1826!, L845. 
  • L877 comprises a share from as early as 1804 - eighteen hundred and four !!! - issued by the horse-operated Oystermouth Rail-Way or Tram-Road. This company commenced to carry passengers in 1807. 

Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company share transfer certificate with large vignette of train and barge approaching bridge

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 unusual large vignette on this 1854 share transfer certificate shows a train and a horse-drawn barge nearing a canal bridge. Click to enlarge image, L869 in the auction. 

Auctioneer Boone provides an extensive catalog for this sale with every lot described in detail (download link see below). Among the nearly 1,700 antique securities you'll find hundreds of little masterpieces. Their designs reflects the art style in vogue and often include vignettes from illustrators. Some examples :
  • L422 Comptoir de la Bourse de Bruxelles, illustrated by Charles Posch
  • Constand Montald's work can be seen on L443, Grands Magasins à l'Innovation, Bruxelles 
  • Oriental elements are abundant on L384 Société Foncière de Syrie
  • L691 Gewerkschaft "Deutsche Nickel-Gesellschaft" displays a super mining vignette
  • My favorite Art Deco share is the 100 Gulden share from the Nederlandsche Bakkerij-Centrale, Amsterdam, 1917, a work by Johan Rudolf Bonnet created before he went to live in Bali, L972

multicolor printed share in the Anatolian Rug Manufactoring Company from Greece

A little masterpiece is this 25 shares certificate from The Anatolian Rug Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Athens, dated 1924. Printed in multicolor by Aspiotis Brothers, banknote printers from Corfu, the share is adorned with oriental elements and shows carpet knotters at work. Despite their obvious activities, the scene is filled with silence. Click the image to enlarge, one of them noticed your attention. L924 in the sale

The catalog's comprehensive country index lists nearly 100 countries. In particular large sections (each containing between 40 and 250 lots) are Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Australia, Netherlands Indies and the USA. Scripophily from less obvious, often exotic places, like British North Borneo, Iraq, Djibouti and Suriname is present as well.

Chile's Government Junta proclaimed Chile as an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy in 1810. Eight years later Chile declared its independency in 1818 which would only be recognized in 1844. The Anglo Chilian Mining Association, formed in London, 1825, is one of the earliest companies formed in the new state. L1519 in the auction.

It is impossible to mention all items in this sale, but there is a way to find out more about them. Here are the auction details :
  • Location : Internet only
  • Date : 4 April 2020
  • Further info : 


PS This auction also includes the first part of a unique collection of Indonesian scripophily (ca. 250 lots! ). Find out more about this here .

Boone's 64th auction catalog includes also an index of collecting themes (besides countries). The sports entry refers to more than 20 shares, including this French 1911 share in the Olympic Tennis Club de Wimereux, Boulogne-sur-Mer. Lot 610 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Selamat pagi ! Boone auctions Indonesian scripophily

Mario Boone's 64th auction takes place on 4 April. The sale offers about 1,700 lots of antique stocks and bonds from all corners of the world. I'll come back to these in a follow up post but now I want to discuss a unique scripophily collection that is part of the sale. 

aandeel uit 1895 van de Kediri-Stoomtrammaatschappij, Kediri Steam Tramway Company share from 1895

Boone's upcoming sale features the first part of a unique collection of Indonesian scripophily. This is a 1895 share from the Kediri-Stoomtrammaatschappij. The company, founded in the same year, ran a steam operated tramway service connecting Kediri with Pare and Jombang, East Java. Tens of sugar factories from the surrounding area used the line to deliver their produce in Kedira, a sugar trading hub. Lot 245 in the auction

Boone's upcoming sale includes the first part of an extraordinary collection of bonds and shares related to Indonesia's colonial history. This time almost 250 lots will be auctioned from many economic themes like mining, oil extraction, tobacco, agriculture, coffee, tea, sugar, rubber, forestry, construction & building, banking, insurance, shipping, railroads & tramways, transport, trading, shops, electric-water-lighting utilities, and more.

The Maatschappij tot Exploitatie van de Suikeronderneming Koning Willem II was founded in 1891 with a capital of 492,000 Gulden divided into 984 shares. Its sugar factory was located in Sidoardjo. L117 

Indonesia is a quite impressive country. Its name origins from the Greek words Indos (Ἰνδός) and nesos (νῆσος), meaning "Indian" and "islands". More than 17,000 islands are home to about 270 million people (2018), more or less 1/3rd of the population in Europe. Indonesians use about 540,000 kilometers of roads. The country occupies an area of 1.9 million km2, that is roughly 1/5th of Europe. Unlike Europe, the islands count 400 volcanoes, around 130 are active. Their eruptions in the distant past produced fertile lands, ideally suited for farming and coffee and tea estates. 

Lot 292 consists of a 1949 share and this preference share, 1937, both specimens, from Heineken's Nederlandsch-Indische Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij, Surabaya. The brewery company makes one of Indonesia's most popular beers, Bintang.

The collection covers dozens of locations from different islands, e.g. Java: Jogjakarta, Magelang, Besuki, Japara, Sidoarjo, Surabaya, Madoera, Probolinggo; Borneo: Benkajang, Balangan; Sulawesi: Pagoeat, Belang; and Sumatra: Tjenako, Langkat, Medan, Tamiang. Many more places and districts can be found in the catalog's lot descriptions.

NV "Prauwenveer Kalimas" from Surabaya operated a ferry service with Indonesian proas, L263

Auction details

  • Location : Internet only
  • Date : 4 April 2020
  • Further info : 
    • online catalog & bidding here, or via the Invaluable platform
    • PDF version of the catalog there 

From the Indonesia collection : a 1912, Art Nouveau style, share from Les Huileries de Sumatra, a palm oil producer. Lot 212 in the sale.

NB : The latter image is for a short period available as an online jigsaw puzzle, check that out here.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Belgian Association for Scripophily exists 40 years

The Belgian Association for Scripophily, in French: Association Belge de Scriptophilie (ABS), in Dutch : Belgische Vereniging van Scriptophilie (BVS), is a non-profit society that was founded 40 years ago in 1980. Ever since, the society's members gather once a month, to share news and discuss findings in our field of collection.

Two years ago member Denis Sagaert took the initiative to publish a free scripophily newsletter. More than reason enough to have a talk with him ! For the occassion, Denis choose the images for this post.

Alfred Van Neste (1874-1969) created the design for the founders share in the Société Anversoise de Cartonnages & Biseautages. The company, founded in 1899, was a book producer and publishing company from Antwerp. Van Neste, a landscape painter, illustrator and engraver, became one of Antwerp's most known poster designers. Click the image to enlarge and discover several illustrations from stages in early book production. The drawings are so prominent that the Art Nouveau elements in the border nearly escape our attention. Just below the rooster in the upper left corner you'll find 'SACB', the company's cypher (an interlacing or placing together of letters).

FL Denis, welcome to our virtual studio. How did you become a collector of antique securities ?
Denis I bought my first old shares in 2004 at a flea market in Brussels. As an  asset manager I was already very familiar with bonds and shares, but I had no clue about 'scripophily'. Two years later, I read a newspaper article written by the chairman of the Belgian society. I then became a member.

FL Do you collect certain themes ? 
Denis Yes, my main themes are Belgian-Russian shares, Belgian tramways and Belgian mining companies.

The Solvay company is a global player in the chemical and pharmaceutical business. The brothers Ernest Solvay and Alfred Solvay founded the company in 1863 to produce sodium carbonate by the Solvay proces. The vignette on the left is derived from the company's 50th anniverary medal made in 1913 by Belgian sculptor and medalist Victor Rousseau. In 1938 a similar, much larger bronze plaque made by Rousseau, was delivered for the Solvay memorial monument in Rebecq, the birthplace of the brothers. This bearer share dates from 1967, the year of Solvay's first public offering of shares to the public.

FL Denis, can you tell something about ABS/BVS ?
Denis Our association was founded in 1980 when scripophily was still a young hobby. ABS/BVS is a non-profit organization. Once a month we gather in Jezus-Eik, close to Brussels, and hold an auction for members. Occasionally, non-members are allowed to take part in a special auction either on-site or through submission of email bids. Also, people who still own some old cancelled bonds and shares, can contact our chairman for value estimations. They can also consign their 'non-valeurs' for sale at the club auction.

FL How many members does the society has ? 
Denis We have about 25 members.

FL I've seen that the newsletter is mainly written in French. Do most members speak French ?
Denis There are a little more French speakers. We have a small group of members from France! But there is no big difference with the number of Dutch speakers.

Banker André Langrand-Dumonceau founded in 1863 the Banque de Crédit Foncier et Industriel. From the 1850s through the 1860s Langrand-Dumonceau tried to build a major Catholic financial group in Europe to counterbalance the so-perceived Jewish dominance in the financial sector. He became manager of tens of financial companies. He founded Royale Belge, one of the largest Belgian insurance companies. Pope Pius IX, King Leopold of Belgium, Napoleon III of France, and other European notables supported Langrand-Dumonceau's activities. However, by 1870, his financial empire collapsed and he fled to the USA. Langrand-Dumonceau signed this 1863 certificate for 20 shares of 500 Francs. 

FL Denis, the society has an interesting website. What does it offer ?
Denis The site hosts a very extensive online database of antique securities (*). Of course, you can find information about our club and our hobby. In case of a 'special auction', we put the auction catalog online as well.
(*) Editor's note: you can search among more than 40,000 bonds and shares

FL You decided to publish a newsletter. What is it about ?
Denis We have a lots of resources on Belgian business histories, like the Moniteur and Recueil Financier year books. We bring topics on Belgian scripophily. In cases where a foreign company has a Belgian connection, eg. through its shareholders, then we might bring topics on foreign corporations too. In all cases, the content should be a combination of financial history and known bonds and shares.

FL Denis, was there a particular reason to start the newsletter ?
Denis Well, in the first place, we hope our members find it interesting, but publishing a newsletter is also a great way to give visibility to our association. The number of collectors in Belgium is diminishing. Hopefully, we can attract new members with this project.

L'Ikelemba was an agricultural and trading company, especially in rubber. The company's assets were located in the Ikelemba river bassin, in today's Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Lithographie du "Messager de Bruxelles" produced this share from 1898, a great example of a chromolithograph. Instead of using techniques like intaglio printing (e.g. engraving) or raised relief (wood-cut), this printing process was based on a flat surface printing method. The drawing was made on a special stone. By means of chemicals, ink was attracted by the drawing and repelled from the surrounding areas. In the case of multiple colors, separate stones were used for each color. A single print went through the press separately for each 'color' stone. The big challenge was to keep the resulting color prints aligned to form a unified image.  

FL I can't resist asking the next question, I'm a bad person, but what is your favorite certificate ? 
Denis Hm ... one of my favorites is a L'Ikelemba, action de dividende, from 1898 and extremely decorative.

FL Denis, I want to thank you for this interview and wish you success with the newsletter. 

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