Friday, July 25, 2014

A Pharaonic Collection of Egyptian Scripophily

The Egypt Stock Exchange
In 1883, the Alexandria Stock Exchange, located at the Mohammed Ali Square, was officially established mainly for handling transactions in cotton. Until the 1950's most trading will be done with the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. Around the 1900's agricultural and real estate projects were in development all over Egypt triggering the corresponding infrastructure projects and vice versa. In 1903 the old premises of the Ottoman Bank on Maghraby Street were chosen for the temporarily headquarters of the Bourse and Banking Company of Egypt Ltd, also known as the Bourse Khediviale du Caire, the Cairo Stock Exchange.

With a booming economy, both exchanges rated quickly among the world's top five stock exchanges with over 200 companies traded on the Cairo Bourse alone. In 1996 the Cairo and Alexandria stock exchanges where unified into the Egypt Stock Exchange. Both have the same board of directors and share the same trading, clearing and settlement systems.
Source: History of the Egyptian Stock Exchange, see here .

Egyptian Guaranteed 3% Loan 1887 showing sfinx and crescent moon
Egyptian Guaranteed 3% Loan 1887
Bond of 1000 Pounds, specimen
double-click to enlarge image

A grandiose scripophily collection from Egypt
In April 2013 a collection of Egyptian securities was auctioned by the auctioneer Boone. Brought together by the seller over a time span of tens of years, the collection includes almost 1000 shares and bonds from almost 500 companies representing all major industries : from land development, sugar and textile industry, by railroads, shipping and canal building to metallurgical industry, consumer products, telecommunication and tourism. The collection also includes a wide variety of Egyptian government bonds. Spanning two centuries, the certificates also illustrate changes of cultural influences and economic power : for example, many securities have bilingual text, English-Arabic or French-Arabic, while others are only in English, French or Arabic.

Import and Production of Pharmaceuticals SAE Co.
10 Shares of 10 Egyptian Pounds, 1974
underprint of laboratory flasks surrounding the “Bowl of Hygeia”,
the pharmacist's symbol (a bowl with the serpent of wisdom)
double-click to enlarge image

The collection was not sold in the auction and is still available. The entire collection is on view on the auctioneer's ScripoCollections.Com site.


Friday, July 11, 2014

When rubber stamps set the records straight

"Every great mistake has a halfway moment, 
a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied."

Imagine that you ask a bank clerk on duty to transfer $100 to your mother's account. Today, a digital transaction like this is executed at the speed of light. Already the next second the amount has disappeared from your account. An everyday example of progress in our society. Then your bank clerk informs you that something went wrong : not $100 but $1000 was transferred by wire instead. Now your thoughts are swinging from "help" to "#@*&%!" . I'm sure that situation will be put right, but not at the speed of light.

Before the digital age, things worked more or less in the opposite way. It took a while to complete a transaction, and errors could be fixed, well almost, in a split second. Here are two examples to illustrate the point.

share certificate from  the Compagnie Du Chemin de Fer d'Intérêt Local D'Andelot a Levier
Compagnie du Chemin de Fer d'Intérêt Local d'Andelot a Levier
English : Andelot Levier Local Railway Company
Share of 500 Francs, 1899, Paris
double-click image to enlarge

Cancelled by mistake
After presenting this French railway share for the collection of a coupon dividend, its bearer must have been surprised when hearing that the share had been cancelled by mistake. Both signatures were hole-cancelled.

Compagnie du Chemin de Fer d'Intérêt Local d'Andelot a Levier
Detail from the share shown above, showing a hole-cancelled signature.

No need to worry. The clerk on duty solved the situation in an elegant way. Small pieces of paper were glued on the backside covering the cancellation holes, see the detail image below. A small rubber stamp reassured the owner :



And a signature on top of the stamp finalized the repair operation. All's well that ends well.

Drawn in error not issued
Not only stock certificates can be cancelled by mistake, but some of them are issued unintentionally. I'll use a certificate from the North American Rockwell Corporation as an illustration.

facsimilé signature of W. F. Rockwell Jr on stock certificate
North American Rockwell Corporation
More than 100 common shares of $1, 1972
facsimile W. F. Rockwell Jr.
Printed by Jeffries Banknote Co.

The certificate was issued to the NARC for 47,946 common shares but is stamped DRAWN IN ERROR NOT ISSUED. It is impossible to tell why this correction occurred, but as a result the stock certificate was invalidated. I can not remember seeing such stamps on non American certificates (yet). 

Drawn in error not issued stamp

What are the possible reasons for a DRAWN IN ERROR stamp ? I'm not sure. Some guesses : an incorrect spelling of the bearer's name, a wrong amount or quantity, or maybe an invalid date of issue. Anyway, a stamp set the record straight.

Detail from the NARC stock certificate (see above), 
double-click the image to enlarge.

There is a lot to see on this detail but you should pay attention to
the box containing the number of shares issued. In particular look at
the fine hash pattern of lines running in an upper left to lower right 

direction. In the pattern the word "SHARES" appears and the letters 
seem to be raised from the background. It is an illusion created by 
curves in the lines. In an attempt to count these lines, counted 
on average 5 lines per millimeter.

Rubber stamps were also applied with other 'changes of state' of securities, such as an increase of capital message. Today in our paperless offices rubber stamps have been replaced by virtual UNDO, REDO, CANCEL and DELETE application buttons.


P.S. Do you have other remarkable examples of rubber stamps used on scripophily ? Let me know, I'd be happy to include your example.

Related links