Friday, May 30, 2014

Reference book : Dictionnaire des Patrons en Belgique

  • Title : Dictionnaire des Patrons en Belgique, in English: Dictionary of Belgian Business Leaders
  • Author : Kurgan-van Hentenryk Ginette, Jaumain Serge, Montens Valérie
  • ID : ISBN 2-8041-1581-X; published 1996 by De Boeck Université
  • Languages : French
  • Number of pages : 729
  • Images : about 150 black and white images and 15 color images
  • Index : 1. alphabetical index on companies and persons

This comprehensive reference book describes more than 500 Belgian entrepreneurs and financers active between 1830 and 1980 regarding their family background, social status, education, business career, political functions, cultural activities, business networks and interests. Included are descriptions of notable business families. An example is the Solvay family, described in 6 pages including biographical entries of Ernest, Alfred and Armand Solvay.

In many cases these Belgian captains of industry founded companies all over the world. That makes this work a "not only for Belgians" book. The book concludes with a +40 page long mixed index on company and person name. The reverse lookup of a company name can be interesting as it yields one or more entries in the dictionary. Also here an example : the Tramways de Szegedin, which operated in Hungary, is mentioned with the entries of two bankers, namely Léon Cassel and David Van Buuren. 

The book contains many images, mostly portraits, but also ads, photographs and a handful of letterheads and share certifates as well.

A great book for the advanced researcher. 


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Reading Japanese dates on stock certificates

Japanese stock certificates are known for their elegant designs. Produced as colorful high quality prints, these securities often show little masterpieces. A tempting theme to collect. For classification purposes, besides the name of the paper's issuer you also need to know the certificate's issue date. Many of us however are not familiar with the Japanese language and writing system. In this post, I'll show you how you can recognize and read dates on your Japanese shares.

Share certificate of the Nippon Shoji Shintaku Kabushiki Kaisha, Osaka
Nippon Shoji Shintaku Kabushiki Kaisha
in English: The Japan Commercial Investment & Trust Co., Ltd.
10 Shares of 50 Yen, Osaka 1917

A minority of Japanese stock certificates are bilingual (Japanese-English). 
double-click image to enlarge
Source: HWPH

It requires only a few steps to learn how to read Japanese dates
That is correct. You need to :
  • recognize the year, month and day characters
  • know how Japanese numbers are composed
  • know about formal numbers
  • understand the date system
  • and read in the right direction.
The combination of each one of these skills seems to make the task tough. But each step is easy to learn. Stay with me all the way down. I'll guide you step by step through the process. At the end of this post I will congratulate you because you will have mastered a new skill : reading Japanese dates !

明 治 元 年
first year of the Meiji reign : 1868

The year, month and day characters in the common date format
The date 2014年04月30日 is written in the modern commonly used date format. It stands for April 30, 2014. The example shows that, together with Hindu-Arabic numerals, also Japanese characters are used. These characters stand for year, month and day, and it is important you can recognize them :
  • year :
  • month of year :
  • day of month :
In Japanese, the combination of this charachters form the word 年月日 'date'.

How to read Japanese numbers
You can write numbers in Japanese in two ways: with Hindu-Arabic numerals (1, 2, ..) , as in the date example above, or with Chinese numerals 一, 二 , ...). Guess what : old Japanese shares use the Chinese numerals for indicating the year, the month of the year and the day of the month. The table below shows the numbers 1 to 10. Look at the first two columns and for the moment just ignore the last two columns. 

double-click image to enlarge

As you notice, in Japanese, there is a special character for the number 10 (and also for 100, 1000, et cetera). Watch out now, to form a Japanese number larger than ten you need to apply the following rule :
If a number is followed by a smaller number, add both.

If a number is followed by a larger number, multiply them.

Some examples : 
  • 15 is written as  十五 ( 10 + 5 )
  • 36 is written as 三 十 六 ( 3 x 10 ) + 6
  • 23 is written as 二十 ( 2 x 10 ) + 3
  • 99 is written as  九十九 ( 9 x 10 ) + 9
This is fun, isn't it ? Now, you can already read Japanese numbers.

share certificate of Sony Corporation
Sony Kabushiki Kaisha - Sony Corporation
50 Shares of 50 Yen, specimen, 1970
Seal, Japanese (at left) and Western (at right)
 facsimile signatures of co-founder Masaru Ibuka

You too can understand the nengō date system
The common date format is not used on Japanese stocks and bonds, except for some recent certificates. In Japan, other date systems exist and the one we need is the nengō date system ( 'nen' or  means year)It is the official system for dating years used in virtually all government and private business.

Historically, Japanese dates were expressed as years of a named era called a nengō. The system was introduced from China around the 7th century. With the advent of modern Japan under the emperor Meiji, the eras have been tied to the reign of the current emperor since 1868. When emperor Hirohito ascended the throne on 25 Dec 1926, he chose the name Shōwa for his reign title. Therefore 1926 was the first year of Shōwa. Shōwa 2 represents 1927 and so on.  Here is an overview of the modern eras :
  • Meiji era, characters : 明 治 , first year of reign : 1868
  • Taishō era, characters :  大 正 , first year of reign : 1912
  • Shōwa era, characters :  昭 和 , first year of reign : 1926
  • Heisei era, characters :   平 成 , first year of reign : 1989
It is important that you can recognize these era names.

In Japanese writing, a specific nengō year starts with the emperor's era name followed by the year of the emperor's reign and ends with the year character . Two examples:
  • 昭 和 三 十 六 年  is Shōwa 36 (3x10+6), the 36th year in the Shōwa reign
  •  大 正 十 五 年 is Taishō 15 (10+5), the 15th year in the Taishō reign

For indicating the first year of reign, the "first" character is used.
So,  明 治 元 年 indicates the first year in the Meiji reign, which corresponds to 1868.

Sony Corporation logo used in 1970 on a share certificate.
Trinitron and Bravia televisions, Betamax videocassettes, Walkman and Discman, Handycam, Vaio laptops and Playstation consoles. Sony was founded as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Corporation (Totsuko) in 1946. In 1955 Sony was chosen as the new brand name derived from the Latin "Sonus" (sonic) and the American "Sonny", a term used to call a boy or young man in a familiar way. The first Sony-branded product, the TR-55 transistor radio, appeared in 1955. The name Sony was easy to pronounce everywhere in the world.  The company name was changed into Sony in 1958. At the time, it was rarely seen that a Japanese company used Roman letters to spell its name instead of the traditional Kanji characters.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Archives International Auctions Part XIX - May 2014

Archives International Auctions 
Part XIX - Spring Auction May 2014
US & worldwide banknotes, 
scripophily and security printing ephemera

stock certificate of the Canadian Gold and Silver Mining Company

Canadian Gold & Silver Mining Company
Gold Hill district, 1863
Shares of $500

This auction contains close to one hundred lots of scripophily.

  • Date : 20 May, 2014
  • Place : Fort Lee, New Jersey
  • Further info : see here 


Thursday, May 1, 2014

IBSS - Mail bid auction May 2014

The International Bond and Share Society, sets its next (members only) auction date to 23 May 2014. This auctions counts about 200 lots.

Astilleros Escandinavo Argentinos S.A.
freely translated in English: 
Skandinavian Argentine Shipyards Company
One share of 100 Pesos, 1919
vignette of Viking ship
double-click image to enlarge

  • Date : May 23, 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