Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Exhibition : Sammeln, Sammeln, Sammeln

In the German Ruhr area lies the city of Bochum. The city's Kunstmuseum has set up an exhibition titled "Sammeln, Sammeln, Sammeln". The project was realized in cooperation with the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Rhineland-Westphalia-Lippe (Evangelische Hochschule Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe).

In the Bauhaus style (1920-1930s) "form followed function" :
tight lines and simple forms were the characteristic elements. 
The style concentrated on the new materials of glass, steel, concrete and bricks. 
Detail from one of the historic securities on display in the exhibition.
Courtesy J. Weritz

The German word sammeln means to collect. People collect objects for aesthetic reasons or because of cultural and historical glamor. Some are attracted to collecting on pure scientific grounds. Collections learn us, even as mere spectators, who we were and who we are now.

Earlier this year the Kunstmuseum called upon citizens from Bochum and surroundings to make their collections available. An announcement was placed in the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a leading German newspaper from Essen. In no time about fifty collectors applied for participating in the event. The result is a collection of collections. On display are Stephen King collectibles, Toothpicks, Snow globes, Toast makers, Death masks, Empress Sissi memorabilia, Pinball Machine Backglasses, and much more.

In 1927 the city of Frankfurt A.M. founded with the Preußischen Elektrizitäts AG (Prussian Electricity Co) the Braunkohlen-Schwel-Kraftwerk Hessen-Frankfurt AG (Hessen-Frankfurt Brown Coal Power and Refining Co). Its 1928 1000 Reichsmark share is designed in Bauhaus style. 
Courtesy J. Weritz

Is there any scripophily represented in the Kunstmuseum ? Sure. One of Bochum's citizens lended his collection of bonds and shares. About 40 artistically designed securities are our eye-catchers here. Themes included : Afrika, Jugendstil, Art Deco, Bauhaus, Germany, Automobiles, Greece, USA, Eastern Europe and Breweries from Bochum.

Sammeln, Sammeln, Sammeln lasts through 5 February 2017.
Click to enlarge the invitation.

Practical info :
  • Bochum's Kunstmuseum
  • The Sammeln, Sammeln, Sammeln exhibtion 
  • Duration : 25 November 2016 - 5 February 2017
  • Location : Kortumstraße 147, Bochum, GERMANY 
  • Opening hours : Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00, Wednesday from 10:00 to 20:00 , closed on public holidays 
  • Entrance : €5, free for children and students 
Related link

P.S. Thanks to Jürgen Weritz who brought the event under my attention. More about Mr. Weritz's project, see here .

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Archives International Auctions - Sale 37

AIA offers nearly 400 lots of historical stocks and bonds in a double sesssion auction held over two days. Among the many attractive certificates is a stunning bond trio from the San Fransisco International Airport (SFO).

This is one of three City and County of San Fransisco bonds offered as lot 296 in the auction. The $1000 Airport 1949 Loan bond was issued in 1950. The engraved vignette shows a four-engine propeller airliner, a Douglas DC-4. SFO's history starts in 1927 when the City and County of San Fransisco leases 150 acres from politician and business man Ogden L. Mills for use as an airport. The airport was initially called Mills Field Municipal Airport, but it was renamed into San Francisco Municipal Airport in 1931. SFO adopted its present name in 1955.

Archives International Auctions
US, Chinese & Worldwide Banknotes, Scripophily and Coins

Practical info
  • Session 1 : Dec 6, 2016 
  • Session 2 : Dec 13, 2016 
  • Location : AIA, Fort Lee, New Jersey
Further info : see here, for the catalog there


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Discover Palestine and Israeli securities in The Shekel journal

Those interested in historic stocks and bonds from Israel and Palestine should have a look at The Shekel, in particular Volume XIV, No. 4, July-August, 1981.

The Shekel, The Journal of Israel & Judaic History & Numismatics
The Shekel
Journal of Israel & Judaic History & Numismatics

In 1968 the American Israel Numismatic Association (AINA) started publishing its journal The Shekel. The magazine encourages the study and collection of Judaic numismatics in the broadest sense. Volume XIV, No. 4, July-August, 1981, contains a topic for us. 

In Scripophily: Judaic fiscal history, author Sidney L. Olson brings a ten page story on securities from Palestine and Israel. Twelve black-and-white images show stocks and bonds issued in British pound, Turkish lira, rubles, Egyptian pound, Palestine pound and lirot (Israeli pound).

Agrobank (Agriculture & Building Bank for Palestine, Ltd) debenture issued in Tel-Aviv 1939
The full name for Agrobank is Agriculture & Building Bank for Palestine, Ltd.
This 3% debenture for 2 Palestine pounds was issued in Tel-Aviv, 1939.

This is one of the certificates illustrating the SL Olsen article.
Courtesy by

There is good news. You can read the article online for free. All Shekel journals were digitized from 1968 up to 2010 by the Internet Archive. Here are the links :

After opening an online version of the journal, you'll find a link for a downloadable PDF version.
Likely other issues also contain scripophily material. I'd be happy to know about that.


The Shekel is also the name for ancient Israeli coins.
This is a silver Jerusalem shekel (AD 68) from the First Jewish Revolt against Roman rule.
The name Shekel was also chosen for the new currency that replaced the Israeli pound in 1980
Attribution: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. 

Already considered using the Want List ?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Scripophily magazine reports on one million pound treasury note

Scripophily, No. 101, published by the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)brings plenty of articles on historic stocks and bonds :
  • 36 pages
  • 82 images of bond and share certificates
  • 23 auction reports
  • 17 authors and reporters
Among the magazine's news items, was an entry about lot 296 in Spink London’s April auction. The lot featured a £1,000,000 UK Treasury Note from 1948. This one million pound intermediate-term bond was issued in connection with the Marshall Aid plan after World War II. It is not interest-bearing and not negotiable: not paper money but a remarkable scripophily object. The same piece was once sold for £68,000 at Spink London's Oct 2008 auction. Now, it was hammered at £82,000. More information in issue 101 of Scripophily magazine.

£1,000,000 UK Treasury Note (debt obligation issued by the Treasury)
Cancelled, 6 October 1948, Bank of England
printed signature of E.E. Bridges, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury

In the July publication the IBSS further announces the society's new website: it has many sections, just see for yourself at www.scripophily.org. Webmaster Tim Welo did a fine job and aims for even more content. He can be reached at webmaster@scripophily.org. Development of the site was made possible by the financial generosity of Scott Winslow.

What's else in the magazine ? Here's, an overview of the other stories in Scripophily's last issue :
  • While the election year rages on, some bull is never forgotten , about Rudolph Jr, a 3-year-old steer
  • Advertising securities
  • French slave trading company
  • Heading for Saudi Arabia on a warship , a story on Arabian gold mining
  • Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interocéanique de Panama
  • The palaces of the railroads : major US railroad stations on securities
  • Grafton Tyler Brown and the flowering of lithographed mining stocks in the 1870s West
  • Cox's Corner : Abandon the "Race to the bottom"
Other periodical topics : society matters, news, bourse reviews, auction reviews, events calendar, member classifieds, book reviews, interviews, letters to the editor and lots of pictures of collector friends and scripophily. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mario Boone - Auction 57

Boone's upcoming sale of historic bonds and shares will take place in Brussels. It includes two auction sessions followed by a collectors bourse. One of the lots featured is this tennis forerunner share certificate issued as early as 1840

share certificate from the Société du Jeu de Paume, dated  1840, a tennis precursor
Société du Jeu De Paume
stock certificate for 1000 Francs shares
Paris, 1840

The event starts on Friday evening 28 Oct 2016. As good as 100 collections and investor lots will then be offered. For instance, lot 7 is a group of 118 bonds and shares from Belgian automobile companies. According to the auctioneer, the seller took almost 30 years to build this collection. The lot's start price is €1,500 which comes down to €13 per certificate. Other collections awaiting a new owner involve themes like horse-racing, Algeria, Belgian beer, Canadian gold mines, Egypt, French wine and many more.

Mario Boone's 57th auction catalogue depicts lot 1056, 
a rare 1920 Fiat share discovered in 2001 in the US.
Click image to enlarge.

The share illustrated at the top is one of 1500 lots auctioned on the next Saturday. The Société du Jeu de Paume was founded in 1839 for the promotion of the Jeu de Paume sport. Do you know the movie The French Lieutenant's Woman ? Then you might remember the scene in which Jeremy Irons plays this precursor of the tennis game. Modern lawn-tennis developed from the sport in the second half of the 19th century. At the same time Jeu de Paume remained popular. In 1908 the American Jay Gould II, grandson of railway tycoon Jay Gould, won the Summer Olympics Gold medal for Jeu de Paume. (source Wikipedia)

Société du Jeu de Paume
detail from the certificate at the top
The stamped company seal shows two rackets.

The share certificate bears the stamped seal of the company. The seal pictures a pair of rackets, certainly the earliest ones seen in scripophily. Funny, the rackets look a bit distorted. Click the image to have a closer look. Could someone win Roland Garros with a bent racket like that ? Yet, the picture is not the result of an inaccurate stamp design. In those days, rackets were not built as symmetrically as today.

Rackets were often built asymmetrically.
Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences,
 des arts et des métiers
 Vol. 7
p.103 Paumier, Pl. I. Paulmerie, Jeu de Paulme et Construction de la Raquette
Denis Diderot & Jean le Rond d'Alembert, Paris, 1772
Source : Wikipedia

Practical info on the event :
  • Auction date: 28 and 29 October 2016
  • Bourse : 30 October 2016
  • Place: Brussels, Belgium
  • Further info, see here 


PS: You might want to read this too, if you are interested in US railroads.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Archives International Auctions - Sale 36

AIA presents nearly 700 historical stocks and bonds in a triple session auction. The sale kicks off in New York City at the Museum of American Finance on Sat 22 Oct 2016 and in conjunction with the 6th Annual Wall Street Bourse. One of the many attractive lots in the auction is lot 255. It concerns a 1907 share certificate in the Paris-France company designed by the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha.

Paris-France a luxury department store had its shares designed by Alphonse Mucha
500 Francs share, 1907
designed by Alphonse Mucha
click image to enlarge

Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) moved to Paris in 1887. There he became successful after producing a lithographed poster for a play featuring Sarah Bernhardt (1). Mucha's commercial work became known as Art Nouveau in France. His advertisements, posters, labels and the like typically featured women, in flowing robes, surrounded by flowers and plants forming halos behind their heads. 

The certificate here depicts young women with a beehive, a scythe, a caduceus, a book and a pen, a gear and a hammer. These objects represent the allegories Industry, Time, Commerce, the Arts and Labor. Before, artists illustrated countless bonds and shares with these allegories drawn as strong but unrealistic figures. But Mucha brings a new story. His allegories are women of flesh and blood with ordinary traits. The girls look tired to me. One has bags under her eyes. Another one seems to be crying over her lover or maybe she has a Champagne hangover. After a night out they are not interested in their gadgets. It is also remarkable how the artist created sense of depth in the scene with the figurants placed so close together. One can almost guess the size of the room. 

detail from the share above
lot 255 in AIA's 36th auction at $130 start price

The Paris-France department store was founded in 1898 to sell high quality clothing, Parisian specialities, luxury and travel goods (2)The company opened many branches in provincial cities throughout France and lasted almost a hundred years. Its stock and bond certificates are one of the few securities designed by Alphonse Mucha

In the late 1920s Mucha delivered an artistic masterpiece The Slav Epic, a series of twenty huge paintings illustrating the history of the Czech and Slavic people. The Nazi's mistrusted the nationalism in Mucha's work and arrested him in 1939. After his release Alphonse Mucha died in Prague due to lung infection. 

One of the largest collections of Mucha's work is in the possession of former world champion tennis Ivan Lendl. I wonder if the Lendl collection contains a Paris-France bond or share.

(1) Alphonse Mucha, Wikipedia
(2) Max Hensley, Mucha Do About Securities, Scripophily magazine, Apr 2015

Archives International Auctions - Fall Auction 2016
US & Worldwide Scripophily, Banknotes and Printing Ephemera

  • Dates and locations
    • Session 1 : Oct 22, 2016 - Museum of American Finance, NYC
    • Session 2 : Oct 25, 2016 - AIA, Fort Lee, New Jersey
    • Session 3 : Oct 25, 2016 (internet only)
  • Further info : see here , for the catalog there 


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

HWPH - Auction 43 and 44

HWPH's upcoming double auction offers more than 1800 lots of scripophily. Included is an impressive set of 70 bonds and shares from brewery companies. One of these is an 1871 share in the Mauth Brewery Company from Bohemia.

1871 share certificate in the Aktienbierbrauerei Mauth from Mýto
lot 68 in the auction
Akcionářský pivovar v Mýtě
Aktienbierbrauerei Mauth
Share of 100 Österreichische Gulden, 1871
The brewery was founded in 1871. At that time the Czech town Mýto, Mauth in German, was part of the Austrian monarchy hence the Austrian currency. The brewery activity ceased in 1897. The maltery continued to export its products till the end of the 20th century, especially to Switzerland. The share's vignettes show brewery scenes, the factory and a king enjoying his beer. The design also includes the coat of arms of Bohemia (upper left)  and Mýto (upper right).
double-click image to enlarge

HWPH Public Auction Nr 43
cover: lot 72
Association Phonique des Grands Artistes
100 Francs share, 1906, Paris

HWPH Online Auction Nr 44
cover: lot 1039
Sociedad Anonima Astilleros de Tarragona
registered share of 1000 Pesetas, 1918, Barcelona

  • Dates : 15 October 2016 - public Auction 43 ; 17 October - Auction 44, internet only
  • Place : Auction 43, Wiesbaden, GERMANY
  • Further info , see here 
  • Some more about the auction's US railway section, see there 


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Stocks are hip and shares are old school

Earlier, I explained that "share certificate" and "stock certificate" mean the same. I also believe different kinds of securities have evolved because of changing environments. Well, here is an example of adaptive evolution in scripophily. 

Check out the following two certificates :

  • double-click their images to enlarge them, 
  • and look for similarities and differences.

certificate No 1
Image courtesy : Geert Leemeijer 

certificate No 2
The "Shell" Transport and Trading Company Limited stock certificate
Image courtesy : Geert Leemeijer

This is an odd couple
Both look like standard certificates. They also resemble each other :
  • Both are issued by The "Shell" Transport & Trading Company, Ltd
  • Both are printed by Blades, East & Blades Ltd.  
  • And both state a capital of £43,000,000.
Yet, there is something strange about this pair. Did you notice that the first one is issued as a £1 ordinary share, and the second one as a £1 ordinary stock certificate ? You can verify this in these details.

detail from certificate No 1

detail from certificate No 2

Certificate No 1 was issued almost ten years earlier than certificate No 2. That raises the question why change the lettering from "share" to "stock" ? Why would a company want this : there is no change in the capital structure, and after all stock and share mean the same thing.

A matter of modern language ?
Geert Leemeijer aka Stockold Scripophily brought these two examples under attention in the Collectible Stocks & Bonds Facebook group. Geert suggested that over time the term stock certificate became more popular than share certificate. The different lettering on these securities was ".. a matter of modern language".

Here is an overview of the Shell examples provided by Geert with the date of issue and the stated capital :
  • shares
    • 1920 - £23,000,000 - 20 ordinary £1 bearer shares , blue
    • 1925 - £43,000,000 - 5 ordinary £1 bearer shares, brown
    • 1929 - £43,000,000 - ordinary £1 registered shares, blue
  • stocks
    • 1937 - £43,000,000 - ordinary £1 registered shares, blue
    • 1937 - £43,000,000 - 1 ordinary £1 bearer share, red
    • 1954 - £88,000,000 - ordinary £1 registered shares, blue
    • 1957 - £113,000,000 - ordinary £1 registered shares, blue

Two of these are displayed above, the others are grouped in the paste-up image below. The set illustrates the transition from share to stock for the Shell company.

share and stock certificates from the "Shell" Transport and Trading company
"Shares" in the upper row, "stocks" below.
The brothers Marcus and Sam Samuel founded The "Shell" Transport and Trading Company in 1897.
Their father imported and sold sea-shells and that's how the "Shell" company got its name. 
Image courtesy : Geert Leemeijer

Shell is not the only one
Other British companies also favoured stocks above shares. The UK section of Tabak-Peter shows the following examples :
  • British-American Tobacco Ltd
  • The Imperial Tobacco Company (of Great Britain and Ireland) Ltd. 
Earlier certificates from these companies are printed as shares and later ones as stocks.

Another example is the J. Lyons & Company Ltd.  J. Lyons started as a spin off from the Salmon & Gluckstein tobacco company at the end of the 19th century. The company expanded into a chain of teashops, ran high class restaurants and started to manufacture biscuits and later ice cream.

J. Lyons and Company Limited preference shares certificate overstamped as stock certificate

J. Lyons & Company, Limited
7% Preference "shares" of £1, 1923
The red stamp on the certificate, see below, tells us that 
The Shares referred to herein were converted into stock on the 24th June, 1940

J. Lyons developed original ideas about what the future of business could be like. After World War II they supported the EDSAC computing project at the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory. In 1959 J. Lyons built their own computer, called Lyons Electronic Office I. Based on the EDSAC design, LEO I handled the company's accounts and logistics.

J. Lyons and  Company Limited stock certificate. A computer pioneer.
J. Lyons & Company Limited
7% Cumulative Preference "stocks" of £1, 1958
PS : Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher worked 
as a food research chemist for the company around the 1950s.

UK stocks and shares in the Turbulent Thirties
Google's Ngram viewer displays charts that show how often terms, or phrases, occur in a corpus of books over a preselected number of years. The Y-axis shows the percentages of references to each term from all terms Google has indexed for a year (X-axis) in the entire corpus.

Google Ngram viewer chart shows a decline for the word share certificate in the British English corpus
Google Ngram viewer shows a decline for the term
share certificate from the 1930s till the early 1940s.
double-click image to enlarge

The corpus used in the chart is British English. It consists of books in the English language published in Great Britain. The chart illustrates a decline for the term share certificate over a period from the 1930s till the early 1940s (blue line). Meanwhile stock certificate saw an increase at the end of the 1930s. You can also check the same with the American English corpus, but the share certificate pattern is not repeated in that graph. According to Google Ngram's data, the term share certificate became more popular again from the 1960s.

Apparently during the 1930s it was trendy to speak of stock certificates in the UK. In this period a number of British companies preferred to market their securities as stock certificates instead of share certificates. Possibly this can be explained by the increase of intercontinental (American) aviation, radio, and film. A matter of adapting modern language.


Related links

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Archives International Auctions - Sale 35

Crédito Y Ahorro Ponceño Sociedad Anonima
English: Ponce Credit and Savings Bank
specimen bond for Veinte Pesos Moneda Corriente, 1895
Lot 608 in the auction
double-click to enlarge

Puerto Rico was still a colony of Spain when the Banco Crédito y Ahorro Ponceño was founded in 1895. One of the bank's first directors was Ulpiano Colóm y Ferrer (1861 - ca1920). In July 1898, because of the Spanish–American War, the city of Ponce was occupied by the Americans. At that time Ulpiano Colóm, then sitting mayor of the city, wanted to resign, but that was not accepted by the American Major General James H. Wilson who extended Colóm's jurisdiction to neighbouring towns. Is Ulpiano the man on the engraved portrait ? No, I don't think so.

Crédito y Ahorro Ponceño rear side of the specimen bond showing lion on bridge
Crédito y Ahorro Ponceño
rear side of the certificate above

A hint is shown on the certificate's rear which shows a lion standing on a bridge. This lion is the central feature on Ponce's coat of arms and flag, and refers to the last name of Juan Ponce de León, conqueror and first governor of Puerto Rico. The lion on the bridge is based on the official seal adopted by Salvador de Vives Rodó (1784 – 1845) who was Ponce's Mayor from 1840 to 1842 and then again from 1844 to 1845. I believe Salvador de Vives is portrayed on this bond certificate. 

AIA's sale 35 contains a section of Chinese scripophily
Archives International Auctions' sale 35
Chinese, Asian & Worldwide Banknotes,
Chinese Scripophily & Coins

The certificate described in this post is lot 608 in AIA's upcoming auction which contains 45 lots of scripophily.

  • Dates : Sep 26, 2016 
  • Place : Fort Lee, NJ 
  • Further info : see here , for the catalog there


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Walker's Manual of Unlisted Stocks

Some stock certificates are not listed on an official stock exchange, but can still be publicly traded. These are called Unlisted Stocks. These stock certificates are traded off-exchange or over-the-counter (OTC) between two parties without any supervision of an exchange. In the US, OTC trading is carried out by brokers using an electronic service like the OTC Bulletin Board.

The movie The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) is based on the true story of stock-broker Jordan Belfort. In one of the first scenes, we see Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, working in a small office at a mini-shopping center. The low value stocks, he sells there impressively over the phone, are unlisted stocks.

Walker's Manual of Unlisted Stocks, book cover of the third 1998 edition

Walker's Manuals
Since the early 1900s Walker's manuals have been published for Pacific Coast Securities, California Securities and later also for Western Corporations. The first Walker's Manual of Unlisted Stocks was published in 1996. The book contains profiles of 500 unlisted companies and investment partnerships (funds), traded at or over $5 per share. A similar manual for companies traded under $5 is brought out as the Walker's Manual of Penny Stocks and a special manual exists for unlisted community banks. 

  • Title : Walker's Manual of Unlisted Stocks - 1998 3rd Edition
  • Author : H. K. Eisenberg
  • ID : 0-9652088-6-9, published 1998 by Walkers Manual, LLC
  • Languages : English
  • Number of pages : 526 excluding indexes
  • Images : no images
  • Index : 1. Company name, 2. Geographic area, 3. SIC code (theme). Additional indexes by a number of financial indicators such as total revenue, market capitalization, price/earnings ratio, etc. A separate index is provided for the section of the investment partnerships

Every company profile contains a single paragraph describing the company, a table with the financial indicators over the preceding four years, a comment on the company's evolution, and an overview of its officers. Both new and long existing businesses are included from all economic sectors. 

Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company
Stock certificate for common shares, issued 1985
This is one of the unlisted companies from this volume. 
The company mined bituminous steam coal in Pennsylvania since 1881. 
ROC-295 in the Coxrail database
image from eBay seller jpm8282

Is this large format book worth purchasing ?
The book was compiled for investors and in that context, absolutely. For scripophily research purposes, it depends. If you are into current American stocks, you might discover something of interest. However, the book contains only 500 profiles: a small chance to find out more about a particular type of companies you are curious about. 
TIP: Amazon.com regularly sells second-hand Walker's Manuals. 


Related link : Investopedia's Over-The-Counter

Signed the Guest book yet ?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

What is a share certificate, what is a stock certificate ?

Share certificates are no testimonies of charity, nor are stock certificates a special kind of inventory lists. But what are they? If you are not really into finance, you might not know what these objects stand for. 

Millar Loom share certificate issued to Lieutenant-Colonel Enrnest Richard Hope Torin
The Millar Loom Company Limited
Share certificate for 100 shares of £1, printed by Howard and Jones, London
double-click image to enlarge
The Millar Loom Co Ltd was formed to buy patents for a new type of loom.
This particular share issued in 1898 mentions that Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Richard Hope Torin
is the Registered Proprietor of the certificate. From 1874 to 1884 he served 
with the 13th Hussars cavalry (Baden-Powell) in India and Afghanistan . 
You can see Torin's picture here

Both terms, share certificate and stock certificate, mean the same. They are synonyms. The former is more widely used in Commonwealth of Nations countries (e.g. UK, Canada, Australia, India), the latter is preferred in the US. The word stock refers to the capital stock of a company.

Here are the terms in some other languages :
aandeel , action, actie, Aktie, részvény, azione, acción, ação, osake, acțiune, hlutabréf, hisse senedi, aktiebrev, АКЦИЯ, АКЦIA, μετοχή, תעודת מניה, शेयर, 股權證書, 株券, 주권 , شهادة الأسهم
Just like in English, probably every language has its own synonyms. In Germany we speak of Aktie and Anteilschein, in France of action, part or titre, in Swedish aktie and aktiebref, in Spain acción, parte and cédula.

Art Nouveau design in the acción al portador from the Minas de Carmenes company
Minas de Cármenes Sociedad Anonima
Share of 500 Pesetas, série A, Gijon, 1903
A bearer share certificate, in Spanish:acción al portador, 
is issued without mentioning the shareholder's name. 
The lower half of the certificate shows 32 dividend coupons.

Ownership in a company
In order to explain what these certificates are, I must tell you first about companies. Suppose you want to start a business. Then you will need an amount of money to get your business up and running. You likely will have to lease or invest in business assets, pay for work or services, buy consumer goods, and lots of other things.
But your financial resources may not be sufficient; or, you might want to share the investment risk with others. These are the main reasons why you form a joint-stock company. In that case, you allow others to participate when they co-invest in your company. In return they receive share certificates in your company in proportion to the amount invested. So, a share certificate represents ownership in a company.

Stichtersaandeel in  Ypersche Weverij - Le Textile Yprois uit Ieper
Ypersche Weverij Naamloze Vennootschap
Le Textile Yprois Société Anonyme
English : Ypres Textile Company
Registered founder's share, 1924
Registered shares mention the name of the shareholder,  
which is also recorded in the company's shareholders register.
It is an effective method for the company to stay informed 
about its shareholders.

Physical papers
A share certificate is a piece of paper that mentions the name of the company, the number of shares owned, the date of issue and an identification number. To avoid forgery, their designs contain a number of security features such as legal signatures of company officers, corporate seals, water marks, engine turned designs, etc.
Share certificates were created decades and even centuries ago. The lucky ones that have survived such a long, often remarkable journey through time are now residing comfortable with other companions in a collection or even a museum. Now, share certificates have mostly been replaced by electronic accounts in today's financial networks.

Tagalsch Prauwenveer stock certificate mentions ownership transfers on rear
NV Tagalsch  Prauwenveer
Registered share of 600 Gulden, Batavia (Jakarta), 1902
The company operated a proa ferry and ship unloading service
 at Tegal at the north coast of Central Java. 
The rear side (right image) tells us that the share 
was transferred to a new owner in 1920 and later in 1938. 
double-click image to enlarge

Being a shareholder
Shareholders are only liable for the company's debts to the value of their shares. This concept of limited liability is one of the success factors of this type of business organization. Shareholders have voting rights at the company's shareholder meetings. And they can expect to receive a proportional share in the company's profits. When the company dissolves, they receive a proportional share of the liquidation proceeds.

Bearer share (Inhaber) from the Walther Electronic Aktiengesellschaft, Germany
Walther Electronic Aktiengesellschaft
1 Share of 50 DM, issued Gerstetten 1979, with corresponding dividend coupon sheet
This company originates from 1886 when it started manufacturing tools and guns. 
In the 1970s Walther produced electronic calculators and text processors.
Many German shares are bearer shares stating that Der Inhaber dieser Aktie 
ist bei der Aktiengesellschaft nach Massgabe der Satzung als Aktionär beteiligt,
which means that the owner (Inhaber) of this share is a shareholder 
of the company in accordance with the company's rules. 

Registered versus Bearer 
When the name of the shareholder is registered in the company's share register, the issued certificate will state his/her name and therefore is called a registered certificate. When it is sold, the name of its owner will be replaced in the company's share register. Either a new share will be issued for the new owner and the old certificate will be cancelled, or the name of the previous owner will be overwritten on the certificate, and a statement of ownership transfer is written on the rear.
Bearer shares, on the other hand, do not mention the owner's name. These are owned by an anonymous "bearer". Such shares can be sold to another party without the knowledge of the company. Bearer certificates have been popular because they were easy to sell (without transfer taxes).

registered stock certificate from the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company, dated 1903
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company
Stock certificate for 100 shares issued in 1903 to Henry Clews & Co.
Almost all American stock certificates are "registered" and state that 
shares are transferable only on the books of the company in person or by attorney...

A company usually distributes a fraction of its profits among its shareholders. A certain amount for each share will then be allocated. The income received from the ownership of shares is called a dividend.

  • In case of a registered share certificate, only the officially registered shareholder receives dividend payments. Dividend payments were often written on the rear side of the certificate. 
  • Bearer certificates have a sheet of dividend coupons. In return for a clipped coupon, a shareholder receives a dividend payment. By counting the number of missing coupons, one can tell how many dividends have been paid out.

Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC)
In 2010 Ruben Schalk, history student at the Universiteit Utrecht, 
discovered the so far oldest share in the world in the Westfries Archief in Hoorn. 
The certificate dates from September 9th, 1606. 
The second page records the payments of dividend.
Source: Wikipedia.

Amazing, exotic and even weird species
The world of share certificates would certainly have interested Alexander von Humboldt whose work on botanical geography laid the foundation for the field of biogeography. As centuries passed, share certificates adapted to new political, economical and regional conditions and evolved into several types (founding shares, preference shares, et cetera) and local varieties. 
Do they teach scripogeography at Oxford ?

25 shares of 4 Egyptian pounds in the Stationery Industries company from Alexandria

Stationery Industries (Société Anonyme Egyptienne)
Titre Nominatif de 25 Actions de L.E.4
English: Registered certificate for 25 shares of 4 Egyptian Pounds
Alexandria, 1956
This "hybrid" share certificate has some bizarre characteristics. 
a) It is a registered certificate, yet there is a dividend coupon sheet attached 
(partly visible in the upper image). 
b) Although it is a registered certificate, the name of the registered shareholder is not mentioned.
Was this an error in the print design?
c) Even though the first owner is unmentioned,  we see on the rear side 
dates (date de la cession) and names of new owners for two share transfers (lower image).


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PS 😉 : Who is in 2016 the most known person in the world ? Tip: it is a shareholder.

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc.
This certificate looks like and is produced in the same way as a share certificate, but it isn't one. 
It is a specimen certificate. More about specimens in Euratom specimen or proof ?
Image courtesy : Scripophily.com