Monday, December 24, 2012

This was 2012

Scripophily in 2012
If I would summarize 2012 for scripophily, then these four words come up in my mind :
  • Asia
  • speculation
  • exhibitions
  • USA

detail from a share of the Brazil Railway Company
double-click image to enlarge

Interest in antique securities related to Asia continues to grow. True, there is a lot of speculative demand in Chinese foreign bonds, but also the demand in "true" scripophily material from China is strong. An evolution seen in antiques in general, as you can read here. Other regions are becoming more popular as well : Indochina, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan and, in my opinion to a lesser degree, also India, Malaysia and Indonesia. At least two major auctioneers of stocks and bonds are now organizing auctions in Hong Kong offering Asian scripophily. 

Speculation existed long before scripophily
In 2012 speculation in uncancelled antique securities was omnipresent at auctions and online platforms like eBay. I believe there was not one copy of Scripophily magazine, or der aktiensammler, that was not addressing this topic. Such speculation is not a new thing, but existed even before people introduced the term scripophily. A more recent example was the speculation in the 1872 bonds of the Compañia Nacional del Ferrocarril Mineral de Pasco. Before, these bonds were available at 30 to 100 Euro as collectibles. In 2010 and 2011 speculators started paying up to 1000 Euro in auctions. This year, the price for a 'Pasco' fell to about 200 Euro, a price just acceptable for these beautiful and uncommon certificates. We see a similar story this year with the much more common shares of the Banco Central Mexicano. For dealers and collectors it is possible to benefit from these speculation waves, often by pure chance. The phenomenon brings stirring in the hobby. It is an interesting topic to debate on, but it's nothing more than a result of rumors in a very thin market. Don't let it carry you away.

This year I have counted at least seven exhibitions featuring scripophily. Some of these exhibitions lasted a whole year, others only 1 day. Such events introduce our hobby to the general public and are great opportunities to see uncommon material. I can only say, more of this please.

On a regular basis, I see rare and historically interesting American certificates fetching good prices on eBay  ($100-$500). These sales are often driven by ten or more bidders. Common stocks and bonds will always stay common, but with regard to those special items, I see an interesting evolution on eBay USA. Is it just me who feels this way ?

Blog statistics of 2012
As usual I round up the year with the statistics of this blog. I used Google Analytics, a web tool for analyzing the web traffic on a site, to review the period 1 Jan 2012 - 20 Dec 2012. Between brackets you'll see the corresponding numbers for 2011, see also here.

This year, the threshold of 50,000 page views was exceeded. 

In the considered period 9779 absolute unique visitors were visiting this blog (2011: 4792, + 104% ). The chart below indicates roughly a more or less stable range between 140 and 270 unique visitors per week (2011: between 60 and 220 per week), a level that was already reached at the end of last year.

double-click image to enlarge

The number of returning visitors to this blog make out 24%. This comes down to about 2300 returning visitors in 2012 (about 1400 in 2011). This doesn't mean all of the visitors are collectors.

What about the geographical distribution ? 
In absolute figures, all sub continent regions show significant increases. However, the relative parts are shifting more pronounced. Just as previous year, more than half of the visits come from Northern America and Western Europe, but also similar as last year, we see a further relative decline : both regions aggregate to about 53% (-10%) of this blog's visits in 2012. 

The regions with increasing parts are to be found in Asia. The number 3 is still South-Eastern Asia, and number 4 of 2011, Northern Europe, is now overtaken by Southern Asia. Western Asia, number 8, is now skipping South America. Together, these three Asian regions make up more than 21% of the total (+7%).  

The only region in Europe that increases its part is Eastern Europe which includes Russia.

Locations visiting this blog in the period 1 Jan 2012 - 20 Dec 2012

Thank you for the many visits, and I hope to see you back in 2013.
Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year !


The detailed sceneries shown above are 600 dpi scans taken from the vignette of the share below. With the naked eye, you can barely distinguish the smaller twigs of the trees. Notice also how the  usage of subtle color differences, dark and light,  give you an impression of depth. More on this topic, see here
A wonderful piece printed by Waterlow & Sons. I found this particular certificate, which is one of the most known certificates in scripophily, in Paris at one of the "bouquinistes" along the banks of the Seine river, about 20 years ago. 

share of the Brazil Railway Company, printed by Waterlow and Sons
1 Preferred share of 100 Dollars, 1912
Brazil Railway Company
Printed by Waterlow & Sons, London
double-click image to enlarge

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Uncharted - Gopuram from India

The share certificate of the Sri Brahmavidyambal Electric Supply Corporation Limited depicts a gopuram, a temple gateway. The vignette shows that the gopuram is located at a riverside or a lake.

Who can tell me something more about this particular monument ?
Where is it located ?

gopuram depicted on share certificate from India

A gopuram is a pyramidal tower gate in Hindu temple complexes. People in Southern India and Sri Lanka started building them since the 10th century. Some of these towers reach a height up to 75 meters. The kings, who have been building these temple complexes, often installed huge water tanks to the sanctuary. So, my earlier remark about the riverside in the vignette is likely misleading. It is possible that the vignette shows such a holy water tank.

share of Sri Brahmavidyambal Electric Supply Corporation, Limited
The Sri Brahmavidyambal Electric Supply Corporation, Limited
Certificate for 3 shares of 200 Rupees
Ramachandrapuram, 1927
double-click to enlarge image

I have no further information about the gopuram except for what can be derived from the share certificate :
  • company name : The Sri Brahmavidyambal Electric Supply Corporation Limited
  • location : Ramachandrapuram
  • registered : princely state of Pudukkottai (Pudukottah)
  • issued : 26 Nov 1927
  • capital : 400000 Rupees
  • printer : Solden and Company, Madras

Near the upper right corner of the certificate you can see a revenue stamp, issued by the princely state of Pudukkottai (Pudukottah) which is located in the Indian state Tamil Nadu. It shows a portrait of a boy, who will become the last ruler of Pudukkottai.

Rajagopala Tondaiman was born in 1922. One year after this share was issued, at the age of six, he was appointed to succeed Martanda Bhairava in 1928 as the Raja of Pudukkottai. Till 1929, the latter's brother Raghunatha Pallavarayar served as regent until February 1929. Thereafter, the state was governed by a council of regency appointed by the British and this situation lasted till January 1944. Rajagopala then took over the administration. Four years later, Rajagopala acceded to the dominion of India. As a sportsman, he will serve as the president of several sports clubs, including the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA). Surprisingly, or not, the logo of the TNCA shows a gopuram.

Image by Aravind Sivaraj


Who can tell me more about this particular monument on the certificate? Where is it located ? 
Can someone provide further information on the Sri Brahmavidyambal Electric Supply Corporation ?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Exhibition : Capital - Merchants in Venice and Amsterdam

Venice from the 13th century and Amsterdam in the 17th century, both played a significant role in the economic and social development of the West.

The origins of capitalism
In the exhibition Capital - Merchants in Venice and Amsterdam, the Landesmuseum Zürich, in English: National Museum Zürich, introduces us to the origins of our economic system. "The exhibition focuses on the emergence of capitalization and financial instruments between the late Middle Ages and the early modern age. The exhibition looks at the merchants and traders who invented these instruments."  

Capital - Merchants in Venice and Amsterdam
14 Sep 2012 - 17 Feb 2013
Zürich, Switzerland

On display are: model ships, nautical instruments, rare sea charts, handbooks for merchants, architectural models, sumptuous gold and silver objects, magnificently illustrated folios, et cetera. Films, especially produced for this exhibition, can be seen as well. 

Significant for us, there is scripophily exhibited too: one share unlike anything else. 
If your schedule allows it and you are in the neighbourhood of Zürich, this could be your only chance to see the oldest known share of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) : unique and of the highest importance for scripophily. 

Practical info
  • location : Landesmuseum Zürich, Museumstrasse 2, 8021 Zürich
  • duration : 14 Sep 2012 - 17 Feb 2013
  • opening hours : Tue - Sun 10:00 – 17:00, on Thu open until 19:00
  • closed : on Mondays but open on holidays, check opening hours here 
  • entrance fee: adults CHF 10.–, reduc. CHF 8.–, children up to 16 years free of charge

Further reference
  • The exhibition site, see here 
  • Der Kapitalismus - wie alles begann, in English: Capitalism - how it all started, online article by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, including a video report on the exhibition, see here .
  • The National Museum Zürich 
  • Further press information on the exhibition, see there .
  • The oldest VOC share is just a recent discovery, see here.


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