Sunday, January 19, 2014

IBSS - Mail bid auction January 2014

The International Bond and Share Society, sets its next (members only) auction date to 24 January 2014. This auctions counts more than 200 lots.

The Bard Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited
Ordinary shares of 1 Pound, 1897
Scrollwork at left, vignette and embossed seal of bard with harp
double-click image to enlarge

  • Date : January 24, 2014
  • Place : not applicable, this is a mail bid auction only
  • Practical info, see here 
  • Auction catalogue can be downloaded here, and images of the lots are listed there 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spink China - Auction January 2014

Spink Hong Kong
Bonds, Share Certificates and Coins of 
China, Hong Kong and The East

5% Imperial Chinese Gold Loan for the Hankow-Canton Railway
Bond for $1000, Washington 1900
double-click image to enlarge

  • Date: January 19, 2014
  • Place: Hong Kong, China
  • More info, see here 


Saturday, January 4, 2014

10 Years Wertpapierwelt

The town of Olten is only an hour's drive away from Zürich, Bern and Basel. Last summer it's Wertpapierwelt museum celebrated its tenth anniversary and surprised us with a threefold exhibition:
  • The first section, Shares & Co - How financial instruments work, displays the multifaceted nature of financial instruments and their workings.
  • The Story of capitalism – How shares changed the world is devoted to the origin and spread of the joint stock company throughout the last 400 years.
  • The special exhibition, The networked business world – Globalization and shares, provides an impression of just how globally interconnected the economy is with the most varied areas of our lives.

Dagmar Schönig is the curator at the Wertpapierwelt museum since the very beginning. Here is an interview with her.

Images by courtesy of Wertpapierwelt

Sociedad Mineralogica de la Ciudad de Arequipa engraved by Joseph Vazquez
Detail from the certificate, see below, of the 
Sociedad Mineralogica de la Ciudad de Arequipa company
Engraved by Joseph Vazquez
Vazquez, an engraver from the 18th and 19th century,
was also known for his map engravings as you can see

Dagmar, you are the curator of the Wertpapierwelt museum. This sounds like a dream job to some of us. 
I can imagine that the job as a curator in a museum of historical bonds and shares sounds like a dream job for any collector. However, you would run pretty quickly into a conflict of interests. That’s why the “code of ethics” of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) – which our museum is a member of – does not allow that employees of a museum are private collectors or professional dealers of objects that form the museum collection they have to work with.
Can you tell us something more about your work as a museum curator ?
As the museum Wertpapierwelt is not “heavily staffed”, my job description covers a lot of different tasks:
1. I am in charge of  all aspects regarding the collection, i.e. inventory and all conservatory aspects (in case of old paper in exhibitions, mainly the light is a problem), I research historical backgrounds, make acquisitions according to the collection policy (within a given budget), and everything in between…
2. I plan exhibitions, develop the according concept, write all the texts, decide on the scenography with external exhibition builders, supervise the buildup and the production of the accompanying publications, control the costs, etc.
3. I have to run the day to day business of the museum, including providing guided tours for visitors, running marketing activities, making surveys and statistics, reporting to public authorities and  the board of the museum, etc. You see, it doesn’t get boring! 

share certificate of the Sociedad Mineralogica de la Ciudad de Arequipa
Sociedad Mineralogica de la Ciudad de Arequipa
Share certificate, Peru 1792
part of the The Story of Capitalism exhibition section

double-click image to enlarge

Does your earlier education somehow help you in being a scripophily curator ? 
In my “previous life” I have worked for several international banks. This professional background in the banking industry certainly helps me when it comes to explain the complexity of the finance business to the broad public. You have to understand that Wertpapierwelt does not just show historical securities and says “Look! What a nice old share”, but puts them into a wider context. We have a lot of school classes and visitors who have only a very vague idea about the differences between a share and bond for example. 
Originally I studied languages and economics – but that is a very long time ago. When I got the chance to take over the project of transforming an extensive collection of historical bonds and shares into a museum, I was thrilled! History, especially economic (and technical) history, had always interested me. And the beauty of most of the papers certainly helped my inspiration. Of course, I had to learn a lot in terms of “museum work” ! But we wanted from the beginning that Wertpapierwelt was run in a professional manner, therefore I started my further education and acquired my knowledge through professional training in classes provided by the Swiss Association of Museums and others. Now, I am additionally studying for a master degree in “Applied History” at the University of Zurich.
In your opinion, what key values are essential to a curator ?
As a curator of a museum you obviously have to have a profound knowledge of your objects”! You need to be curious about every aspect of their background and be a persistent researcher. Wikipedia is not enough!
In case of acquisitions, you must also have a good judgment of what fits your collection strategy and – often more difficult – what does not. It can be hard to let a certain piece go if you personally like it, but it just doesn’t fit.
You also have to really care for your objects and do everything for their good preservation, even if it means that you cannot show them as often or in a certain way, as you actually would like to do. Especially paper is very sensitive.
For setting up exhibitions you need a certain amount of creativity, the ability to tell an interesting story (which also means that you have fun researching it first and then putting your results into easily readable writing!), and – of course – you need project management skills (which means: stay cool!). 
Chen Feng Spinning and Weaving Company share certificate
Chen Feng Spinning and Weaving Company
pre-communist era

part of the "special" exhibition
double-click image to enlarge