Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Watermarks in Scripophily – part 1 Introduction

This article is an introduction into a lesser known aspect of securities : watermarks. If you don’t know what a watermark is then hold a banknote toward a light source. Against the light a design appears, at least this is the case on many banknotes. 

Watermarks can be seen on official documents, banknotes, stamps, cheques and also bonds and shares. When you investigate a new entry for your collection, you want to look for a watermark. 

However, most certificates don’t show watermarks; no wonder that many collectors overlook this feature. Yet, now and then you will be surprised by what emerges from the dark side. 

image 1a. The shortlived Nira Valley Sugar Co had a factory at Malegaon in Maharashtra, India. It operated a narrow gauge railway at its sugar cane mill. This share was issued to Maharaja Ganshyamsinhji Ajitsinhji of Dhrangadhra, Bombay, 1920.  
image 1b. Viewed against a window on a sunny day, the share reveals in the lower border a watermark of the paper manufacturer "STANLEY". The four black dots in the corners of the ‘watermark’ image are the silhouettes of little magnets used to hold the certificate in place on a semi-transparant screen when photographed. Click image to enlarge

Watermarks were first developed as the paper manufacturer’s hallmark. Early Italian paper manufacturers from the 13th century started experimenting with this idea. Watermarks that were created by the paper makers themselves are a first category of watermarks in scripophily. See image 1a en 1b as an example. 

How are these things created ? Watermarks are drawings created in paper during the paper manufacturing process. They are produced by having a design raised on the rolls through which the paper pulp is passed during manufacture. 

The designs applied on the rolls cause density variations in the produced paper. In turn, these density variations make an image or a pattern appear in the paper in the form of various shades of lightness and darkness.

image 2a. The Tambracherry Estates & Wynaad Gold Mining Co Ltd had mining operations in the Indian state of Kerala but eventually purchased estates for the cultivation of coffee, tea, and the like. £1 shares, London, 1882.  

image 2b. Written upwards along the right border, a watermark shows “WATERLOW & SONS”, the printer of this certificate. The watermark image was taken on a cloudy day, hence the darker appearance.

Printers of banknotes realized that watermarks in notes could be used as an extra anticounterfeiting device. Halfway through 17th century Stockholms Banco was the first bank that applied a watermark in a banknote; it revealed the word ‘BANCO’. 

Later, security printers adopted the technique and occasionally applied tailor-made watermarks that identified the printing house. This type of watermarks forms a second category. See the Waterlow & Sons example, images 2a & 2b.

In addition to watermarks from paper manufacturers and printers, governments and companies have issued certificates that were produced with customized watermarks. In most cases these comprise the name of the issuer, or the latter’s coat of arms or logo. This is a third category of watermarks in scripophily. As an example, see images 3a en 3b. 

image 3a. Some issuers of securities ordered their own watermark. Here is a Reserve Bank of India certificate for Rs100 issued in 1935. 

image 3b. The entire watermark design almost forms a share on its own including the name ‘RESERVE BANK OF INDIA’ in front of large sun with rays, and a triple line border, all around the certificate. Click image to enlarge

There is little scripophily literature that addresses these features. I know of two books : World War II Remembered, by C Frederick Schwan & Joseph E Boling, and Alexander Kipfer’s Historische Wertpapiere der Spanischen Königlichen und privaten Handelsgesellschaften des 18. Jahrhunderts. 

The comprehensive Schwan/Boling volume describes numismatics, in the broadest sense, including bonds, issued by the WW II powers, and where applicable watermarks are described or illustrated. You can find more details on this work here.

Kipfer’s book describes the securities of the 18th century Spanish trading companies. Also here a handfull of these have been identified as bearing watermarks. 

images 4a and 4b. The Real Compañia de Filipinas took over the Real Compañia de Comercio Establecida en Barcelona in 1785. As a result the company obtained a trade monopoly with the Philippines. Depending on the paper that was used, some of its 250 pesos shares from 1785 display a watermark, others don’t. Alexander Kipfer spotted the stylishly elaborated letters 'AF' on some shares from this company. 
The Schweizer Finanz Museum provided the left image. The other one  was taken from the Alexander Kipfer's book with permission of the publisher Haag & Herchen GmbH.

I'm planning some follow-up articles for later to illustratie the variety that exists in these watermarks on bonds and shares : 
  • Watermarks by paper manufacturers
  • Watermarks by printers
  • Watermarks by companies & governments
  • Watermarks that really stand out

image 5a. and 5b. Examples from the third category, custom watermarks used by companies or governments, can be astonishing. 
This Indian Post Office 5-Year Cash Certificate for 20 Rupees, 1935, shows off its watermarks created in several shades of dark and light. You can detect a repeating pattern made up of the words GOVT of INDIA and the Star of India emblem. Joe Boling, co-author of WW II Remembered, identified the dark letters as the British royal cipher, GRI, which stands for Georgius Rex Imperator, or George, King (of Britain) and Emperor (of India). Click image to enlarge

If you have a certificate with a remarkable watermark, then you can email me an image. But be carefull while handling the certificate. You don't want to end up with a torn corner or a heavy fold.


PS This article was published in Scripophily magazine No. 113, August 2020 

Previous posts

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Book : Osakekirjat Kertovat

Pekka Kantanen and Kari J. Sillanpää introduce the readers into the world of scripophily. They compiled about 100 share certificates, mainly from Finland, in a charming A4-sized hard cover work. 

  • Title : Osakekirjat Kertovat - Aktiebreven Berättar - Share Certificates, Past and Present
  • Authors : Pekka Kantanen, Kari J. Sillanpää
  • ID : ISBN 951-9417-06-0, published by Kustannusosakeyhtiö, 1988
  • Languages : Finnish, Swedish, English
  • Number of pages : 184
  • Images : about 100 page wide images, one third in color
  • Indexes : no index

The book is trilingual. Every share discussed has a paragraph in Finnish, Swedish and English which is very interesting to learn the Finnish scripophily jargon. Besides a company background, the authors address various topics such as evolutions in Finnish corporate law, signatures of noteable persons, designs and printing aspects. 

Most of the shares featured are from Finland, or were issued under the Grand Duchy of Finland. The publication can interest also already advanced collectors because the book includes several remarkable shares that are rarely seen at auction, e.g. a Nokia share from 1886, a Suomen Kultaseppä Osakeyhtiö share printed with gold and silver, etc. The book can be found on e-commerce platforms.


Previous post

Friday, October 23, 2020

King of the Netherlands owned the Belgian economy : spectacular royal share in the Société Générale de Belgique auctioned in Antwerp

Mario Boone's 65th auction is set for Saturday 31 October and takes place live on the internet. Over 1,300 lots of antique stocks and bonds from all over the world span four centuries of financial history. Part of an extraordinary collection and highlight in the auction is a unique share in the Société Générale des Pays-Bas pour favoriser l'Industrie Nationale that once belonged to Willem I, King of the Netherlands. 

With the help of bankers from Brussels, Willem Frederik (1772-1843), King of the Netherlands, created in 1822 an investment bank, the Société Générale des Pays-Bas pour favoriser l'Industrie Nationale. Belgium was still under Dutch rule at that time. In 1830, when Belgium became an independent state, the Société Générale des Pays-Bas took the name Société Générale de Belgique. 

The Société Générale de Belgique played a major role in the industrial development of the country and its former colony Belgian Congo. After the independence of Belgium the company became the official banker of the kingdom until the National Bank of Belgium was formed in 1850. Under Leopold II, the investment bank financed industries in China, South America, Egypt and Russia. The Société Générale is now a part of the French multinational Suez. This certificat d'inscription was issued in 1841 for 4300 shares of 500 Dutch Florins to Willem I, King of the Netherlands. Lot 332 in the sale is expected to realize at least €12,000. 

The 'Willem I' share offered here is part of a set of rare and early Société Générale items, lots 329 - 347 in the auction. Each one of these are opportunities to enrich any serious Belgium scripophily collection. Included are the 1822 company statutes from the Alg. Ned. Mij. ter Begunstiging van de Volksvlijt (the company's Dutch name), a provisional share from 1837, a 500 Ned. Guldens share dated 1847, a Bradbury Wilkinson specimen, parts de reserve, and the like. 

The Compagnie du Chemin de Fer du Bas-Congo au Katanga was registered in Elisabethville, today known as Lubumbashi. This specimen share from 1949 is part of the Belgian Congo railway collection. Lot 204 

The sale includes more noteworthy collections. The Belgian Congo section counts about 80 lots, more than half of these come from a railway collection. The Dutch Indies consists of 40 lots, some of them group lots, and will interest collectors of sugar, tobacco, spices and rubber scripophily.

Northern Steamship Company Kotlas-Archangel-Murmask 
200 Roubels share, 1916, lot 1062, click the image to enlarge 

A large Russian section counts over 90 lots. Many of these antique securities were issued during the reign of tsars Alexander III and Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov. Some of the highlights :
  • Northern Steamship Company Kotlas-Archangel-Murmask, gorgeous vignette, see image above, L(ot)1062 
  • City of Arkhangelsk, 5000 Rbls bond, 1916, large denomination, L1064
  • Baku-Tiflis Oil Industry and Commerce Company, company operated in today's Azerbaijan and Georgia, temporary share for 1000 shares amounting to 1 million roubles, serial number 1, extremely rare, L1060
  • L1061, share from the Chinabad-Andijane Feeding Railroad Line, Uzbekistan, 1916
  • Kursk-Charkov-Azov Railway, £500 bond, 1888, L1002

The French city of Reims hosted in 1909 the Grande Semaine d'Aviation de la Champagne, the first international aviation meet. Aviation pioneers such as Glenn Curtiss, Louis Blériot, Louis Paulhan and Henri Farman participated. This share in the Aérodrome de la Champagne - Terrain d'Aviation de Reims-Bétheny was issued in 1910.  The artist Gournay may have attended the event and added different types of early aircraft to the design of the share. L643 

The catalog's comprehensive country index lists about 100 countries. In particular large sections are Dutch East Indies, Belgian Congo, Belgium, France, Germany, Russia, Spain and the USA. Scripophily from less obvious, often exotic places, like Papua New Guinea, Burma, Ethiopia, Monaco and El Salvador is present as well.

Printed by Imprenta Casa Misericordia this Minas de Cala share was issued in 1901, Bilbao. Its ingenious design of a carving incorporates all the important headings of a share certificate (company name, share capital, ..) as well as the arms of Huelva and Bilbao. L1108 starts at €50 

There is much more to discover in the auction. Here are the auction details :
  • Location : Internet only
  • Date : 31 October 2020
  • Further info : 


The share from the Compañia de Seguros Maritimos de la Habana, dated 1857, features this stunning vignette. Click to enlarge. L1210, see the Cuban section of the auction

PS : Did you like this post ? Thank you for sharing it on you favorite social media channel !

Monday, October 12, 2020

Taxonomy of a certificate : Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company


Taxonomy : the practice of describing, identifying, naming, and classifying things on the basis of characteristics

Suppose you collect LP records. You could describe each one of these with characteristics such as the name of the album, name of the performer, release date, etc. Using a predefined list of characteristics makes it easy to register your collectibles in a document, a spreadsheet, or any other database application. 

As far as antique securities are concerned, you can define as many characteristics as you need. I usually consider two groups of characteristics : 
  • those that you derive from the certificate's appearance: physical characteristics
  • and those that you get after more research: researched characteristics.
As an example I use a stock certificate from the Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company

Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company 
share certificate, 1883 

Physical characteristics
  • Issuer : Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company
  • Type :  share 
  • Denomination : $100 shares 
  • Capital/Principal : not mentioned 
  • Issue date : 20th July, 1883
  • Place of issue : Davenport, Iowa
  • Registered or bearer : registered 
  • Lifecycle status : issued and uncancelled
  • Printer : Egbert, Fidlar & Chambers 
  • Colors : black, gold 
  • Design & vignettes : gold underprint of wall-mounted telephone, border with flowers in corners, horseshoe under title
  • Engraver : none mentioned
  • Artist : none mentioned
  • Language : English
  • Security features 
    • seal : embossed seal with company name (lower left  corner)
    • watermark : none
  • Notable person (signed by, issued to, transferred to) : none
  • Format : horizontal
  • Medium carrier : paper
  • Special remarks :  inscription in telephone vignette mentioning Ezra Gilliland

Researched characteristics  
  • Country of issuance  : USA 
  • Place of operations : Davenport, Iowa
  • Country of operations : USA
  • Type of operations : telephone business, telegraph business
  • Era : Gilded Age

Once you have specified a certificate's characteristics, you can use that information to find out more about the certificate, its issuer or the notable persons involved. Here's what I found.

A pioneering telephone company 
The first commercial telephone exchange started operating in the late 1870s at New Haven. This share was issued by another one of the early telephone companies:  the Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company (IUTTC). The company was established in 1883. 

In 1885 IUTTC, connecting nearly 2000 miles of poles with over 2600 miles of wire, operated 45 exchanges and 247 toll stations - what we would call "pay phones" today. 

The Bell Telephone Company owned $1,000,000, one third, of the company's capital stock in 1886. IUTTC merged with the Iowa and Minnesota Telephone Company into the Iowa Union Telephone Company on 31 January, 1887. 

This successor company was consolidated in 1896 together with the Central Union Telephone Company of Chicago, into a new company, the Iowa Telephone Company. In 1920 it became the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company

Inventor and entrepreneur Ezra Torrence Gilliland (1845-1903)
It is a good idea to check out vignettes on historic stock certificates in detail. In this case the share tells us also the story of Ezra T. Gilliland. The telephone, printed in gold underprint, bears a plate. I scanned that part of the image at 1200 DPI. The plate says: 

Gillilands Patent
Western Electric Co.
Indianapolis, Ind.

Ezra Gilliland started his career first as a telegraph operator and became interested in telephone equipment. He invented an improved telephone switchboard and the magneto bell. In 1879 he organized his Indianapolis Telephone Company

Western Electric obtained a majority control in Gilliland's company in 1881, the same year when Bell acquired Western Electric. WE supplied Bell of telephones and telephone equipment. Gilliland's switchboards were used in several European countries too. WE's plant in Indianapolis would become the largest telephone maker in the world in the 1960s. 

After working for Bell, Gilliland became a business partner of his close friend Thomas Edison. 


Related links

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Buckle up! Scripophily magazine brings you into the world of antique stocks and bonds

Compelling tales, business plot twists and memorable personalities keep you spellbound. Scripophily magazine uncovers the stories of historic and artistic securities. In addition, reports from the auction markets help you to stay up-to-date. This periodical is the flagship of The International Bond and Share Society (IBSS) and appears three times a year.

In Scripophily magazine you'll find out about the latest discoveries. This rare share certificate realized £160 at SPINK's May 2020 auction. The most famous restaurant not only in Paris but also in the world, Maxim's was in 1926 owned by this British company. 

Scripophily magazine is the world’s most comprehensive and insightful publication for passionate collectors and researchers of antique securities. Its 2020 August issue brings 50 pages of scripophily news, in depth articles, pictures of collector friends, auction reports and quality images of stunning, historic and rare stocks and bonds. 

Here is a summary on the topics brought in the latest issue :
  • The History of Worldwide Scripophily Auctions, a review of Tim Welo's book 
  • Buying on Time, Was this share certificate bought on margin?, about the Lake Superior Iron and Chemical Company (NY)
  • Western Union Telegraph Company, letter to the editor about Gandhi and India's independence struggle 
  • Collectors Clearinghouse, learn about the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company
  • Nothing New about FaceTime or Zoom, the American Televue Company
  • Dow Jones, a History of Dow Jones Averages Since 1884, review of Dr. Peter Jones' book  
  • Large Scale Snubbing went on in Cleveland in the 1920s, brings the story on The Gabriel Snubber Manufacturing Company
  • Misadventures in Mining : Dutch Investors and R. G. Dun at the Caribou Mine 
  • A Visit to the New York Stock Exchange Archives
  • (Kaiser) Ferdinand's Nordbahn
  • Watermarks in Scripophily, part 1 introduction
  • The Dow Jones Company and its Averages, extract from Dr Peter Jones' book
  • Pacific Mail Steamship, idem
  • Johan Colenbrander and Colenbranders Matabeleland Development Company
  • My British Railway Treasure, a testimony on collecting early British railway scripophily

Scripophily magazine, August 2020, features on its front cover a Isaac Newton signed document subscribing to shares in the South Sea Company. This unique and historic document from 1720 recently emerged at an American auction. 

Subscribing to Scripophily magazine brings you valuable free extras :
  1. 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.
  2. The Newsletter, so you may keep up with what is going on.
  3. 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.
  4. Newsflashes on the website focus on hot topics that can't wait for the next issue of the magazine.
  5. Get extra credibility : being listed as a member is a good reference in any deals made remotely with parties previously unknown.

A 1-year subscription only costs £20 or $32 or €25. The magazine is published by IBSS. More info :


Related links

Monday, September 21, 2020

FHW sells Chinese scripophily collection

Freunde Historischer Wertpapiere has scheduled its 118th auction for October 3rd 2020. This time more than 1,500 lots of antique securities will go under the hammer including the China collection of former Volkswagen CFO Dr. Werner P. Schmidt.

This scripophily event starts off with more than 300 American lots with the emphasis on US railway stocks and bonds.

A stunning print, this share from the Alaska Central Railway Company was issued in 1903. Engraved by the Seattle Engraving Company and printed by Yerkes Printing Company, it shows a full map of Alaska with the proposed route of the railroad and where timber, coal, gold, copper and quartz were to be found. Click the image to enlarge and note the area on top of the map designated as 'UNEXPLORED'. Lot 3 in the auction 

China collectors and investors will be interested in the collection of Dr. Werner P. Schmidt, recently deceased, and former CFO of Volkswagen AG. The series starts with lot 325, a share from the Aka-Dine Wood Production Company, and features several more shares from Taiwan. 

The Schmidt collection also counts several external loans from China. A £1000 bond from The Chinese Central Government Loan aka Arnold Karberg Loan III, only 300 issued, very rare, is one of the highlights and is expected to realize €5000. Lot 334 in the sale.

Chinese Government 23rd Year (1934) 6% Sterling Indemnity Loan for £1,500,000 
The Republic of China (ROC) was based in mainland China between 1912 and 1949, before the relocation of its government to the island of Taiwan. This £1000 bond shows the portrait of Sun Yat-Sen, Provisional President of the ROC. It was issued to finance the completion of the Canton-Hankow Railway. Part of the Dr. Werner P. Schmidt Collection and lot 338 in the auction.

Detail from lot 411, a share from the Kuangtun Canton-Hankow Railway Company (Kwong-Tung Yueh-Han), from the Dr. Werner P. Schmidt Collection. 

Germany gets the "lion's share" of the auction. Nearly 900 lots are divided over two sections, Deutschland (pre Deutsche Mark) and DM (from 1945 onwards). Note that both contain a subsection with 20 highlight picks from the auctioneer.

Offered as lot 1005 this 25 Reichsthaler Gold share in the Aper Canal-Gesellschaft was issued in 1849, Westerstede. The vignette is drawn by the artist A. Gordes. 

The catalog's table of contents reveals that scripophily from other countries is there as well. Nearly 100 lots represent the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Indexes on collecting themes, such as Art Nouveau, and German regions, may help you find what you are looking for.

Szeged is now one of the largest cities in Hungary. This share in the Szeged-Alsótanyai Népbank , or People's Bank of Szeged-Alsótanyai, was issued in 1906 when Szeged was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A great example of Szecesszió, the Hungarian Art Nouveau variant. Lot 569 

There is a lot to discover in the sale, so here are the details :
  • Location : The event takes place at Wolfenbüttel, however, at the time of writing, due to the covid-19 situation personal presence is likely not possible. Check out whether a visit is possible with the auction house. 
  • Date : 3 October, 2020
  • Further info, see here; PDF catalog see there; live bidding is possible through 

"You will find happiness and joie de vivre while sleeping in a Steiner Paradies bed"
Now that's what we call maintaining a successful house-style. The Vienna subsidiary of the Paradiesbettenfabrik Steiner reused the photovignette from an earlier advertising campaign on its 1924 share. The Paradies brand still exists today. Lot 557 in the sale. 


PS : Did you like this post ? Thank you for sharing it on you favorite social media channel !

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.


Related link

Previous posts

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 


PS : Did you like this post ? Thank you for sharing it on you favorite social media channel !

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 ! 


Previous posts

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.