Monday, September 24, 2018

Archives International Auctions Fall Sale #5 presents nearly 700 antique stocks and bonds

Archives International Auctions offers about 1,000 lots of banknotes, scripophily and security printing ephemera at its sale this Thursday, 27th Sep 2018. This public and online event takes place at Fort Lee, New Jersey, and includes about 700 lots of antique stocks and bonds.

Lot 628 : Swiftsure Oil Transport, Incorporated 
7% Gold Serial Bond, Ninth Series, $1000, 1920, specimen 
start price $55 

Lot 839 : Eagles Mere Railroad Company 
1912, $100, specimen 5% First Mortgage $100 Bond 
Starting at $65 

Practical info :


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Saved at the last minute

Do you think that shares certificates have a life of their own ?  Yes, I think so. Shares are born, find a companion and even get a career. And they retire, and some of them face a horrible end.

Share certificates are born in a split second the moment they are printed. Some of them can be quite large, others are small. Many shares look rather plain, and believe me, there are some real uglies out there. But there also a lot of beauties you can't keep your eyes off. Pretty soon they get their serial number and the signatures of the company officers they represent.

share in the Tôt-Lam tea company from Indochina, dated 1912

A real knockout, this Tôt-Lam tea share from 1912 sold for €800 in Mario Boone's Apr 2018 auction. 
courtesy Mario Boone 

Already from birth, share certificates speak their mother tongue. Some can speak two languages, and a few of them are real polyglots. In fact, they need to talk, some can be really mouthy, in order to attract a companion, a human companion. People are fond of shares, because of their looks and their gossip, and especially because shares support the ambitions of people. You can find out more about that in this short introduction later.

Share from the Société Financière d'Égypte with text in four languages

This share from the Société Financière d'Égypte was issued in 1863. The construction of the Suez Canal, which was still in progress, made Egypt, then part of the Ottoman Empire, commercially and strategically important to foreign powers. The share is a true "polyglot" and speaks French, English, Arabic and Italian. 

A share starts its career as soon as it is issued. Then it has been purchased by its companion, the owner of the share. The latter's name is often written on the front. The share keeps talking on and on. 
"Please keep me, I'm still in a top shape"
"Hey, can't you give me a nice coupon cut ?"
"Sorry, I'm not feeling well this quarter"
"Did you see that? That bully stamped me on the forehead !"
The certificate is whining all the time, but as lang as things go well, share and owner stay together.

Some share certificates are born under a lucky star. They are issued to or signed by a pioneering entrepreneur, a Nobel Prize winner, a President of a nation, or even a rockstar. In that case, these shares can see the world, experience adventures or witness important events. Of course, they brag about it. Can you imagine the jealousy that is between them ?

Scindia Steam Navigation share certificate with signature of Sumati Moraree

Sumati S. Morarjee signed this share in the Scindia Steam Navigation Company (SSNC). Sumati Morarjee was married to Shanti Kumar, son of Narottam Morarjee, the founder of the SSNC. A close friend of Mahatma Gandhi, she took care of Gandhi at her home while he was recovering from appendicitis (1924) and after his release from prison in Poona (1944). Sumati became in full charge of the SSNC by 1946. She was the first female ship magnate and the first woman in the world to head an organisation of ship owners - the Indian National Steamship Owners Association. 

During their career shares incur creases, tear and receive ink stamps. They can look weary, but all that is an illusion. These physical characteristics point to hardened veterans that have been on a mission all the time. Make no mistake. The ink stamps received are service ribbons awarded for heroic action in stressful financial operations such as capital increases, currency conversions and par value reductions.

When share certificates retire they are appointed Commander in the Order of the Grand Cancellation and proudly wear the ultimate medal : a String of Cancellation Holes, a Cancelling Pen Stroke, a Cancellation Stamp or any of those combinations.

share in the London and North Eastern Railway Company (LNER)

The London and North Eastern Railway Company (LNER) was one of the "Big Four" in the Interwar Period. The company also operated several ships. Many of these were lost in World War II. The SS Archangel was bomded and sunk off the East coast of Scotland (1941). The SS Malines was torpedoed off Port Said (1942), and the SS Amsterdam struck a mine off Normandy, France (1944). This LNER share started its career in 1927 and wears now with great satisfaction its medal, the String of Cancellation Holes.

And they lived happily ever after! Well, only a few do. The other day I saw this McLeod and Company share. McLeod built and owned several railways in and around Calcutta. 

ordinary shares certificate from McLeod and Company, Limited

McLeod's railways, managed by McLeod Light Railways, were organized as separate companies, e.g. Kalighat Falta Railway, Ahmedpur-Katwa Light Railway, Burdwan-Katwa Light Railway and Bankura Damodar Railway. McLeod also operated textile mills in India. 

Born with serial number 3829, the McLeod share started its career in 1948. McLeod-3829 was decorated with tax stamps and pen stroke cancellations. All of a sudden I felt disturbed because of a conspicuous ink stamp that was put upside down on the document. I turned the paper for a better look.

ink stamp with text  Surrendered for dematerialisation

My goodness ! SURRENDERED FOR DEMATERIALISATION. Just like banknotes, at the end of their life cycle, share certificates are shredded and sent to the incinerator. I knew that, but still, I was shocked. 

Then I saw the smile on McLeod-3829 that told me that a kind person had saved it from the worst. Phew. I winked at it, "You are safe with me now", and I gave the poor share a big hug. Oops !  


NB: Thank you for signing the Guest book

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Worldwide scripophily touch down in Würzburg

HWPH Historisches Wertpapierhaus AG has something to celebrate ! The company conducts its 50th auction anniversary on Saturday 15 September, a week from today.  Over 900 lots of bonds and shares will then go on the block at public auction. And more than 1,200 lots are offered in the accompanying online auction ending 2 PM Monday 17 September. Here is a quick tour.

The Asia and the Middle-East section starts the ball rolling in both sales. Here are a few observations. Issued in Shanghai, 1939, a share from the Russian-Chinese Credit Society,  L(ot) 685, extremely rare, starts at €2,500. The Holy Land is well represented with certificates like The Palestine Corporation Limited, 1949, L973. A share from The Palestine Land Development Company dates from as early as 1909, L974. The Japanese Meigo Steel Corporation and Naigai Steel Corporation may be acquired from €1. From Turkey, there is the Drumm Collection, historic in Scripophily, but more about that see there.

The Premier Automobiles Ltd., India 
Lot 977 in the auction, the share is signed by the industrialist, philanthropist and cricketer Lalchand Hirachand as Director, and starts at €120. 

Almost 300 lots represent The Americas. An early Puerto-Rican share, L23, Compañia del Vapor de Catañio starts at €130. From New Orleans, a 1840 Mexican Gulf Rail-Way Company bond, L37,  invites bidding from €450. Nearly 50 Confederate States of America are offered in both auctions. The advanced CSA expert will recognize the CSA 8% Montgomery, 1861, $500 and $1000 bonds, L24 & L25, vignettes of J. C. Calhoun and J. Davis, respectively. Lot range 48-52 is all about Thomas Alva Edison scripophily, including signatures.

William Steinway, who made the Steinway & Sons piano company world famous, developed his own company town Steinway Village in Astoria, New York. This is the serial number 1 share from the Astoria Electrical Manufacturing Company, issued to its Director William Steinway, 1891. The company manufactured electrical motors. Lot 18 in the auction, €150 start price. 

HWPH, known for its Russian offerings, included this time nearly 250 lots from Russia and the former USSR. Formed in London, the New Central Siberia Ltd, L703, was active in gold mining around Yeniseysk. From Saratov, a rare 1000 Roubel bond from 1898, L782, is set at €1,600. Vignettes of a tramcar, a map of the region and a dynamo illustrate an extremely rare share from the Donbass Electric Company, L691.

A great example of Soviet artistic design, click the image to enlarge. This lottery bond was part of an internal loan issued for Stalin's second five-year plan, 1933. Lot 888, in the auction, may be bought from €100. 

Excluding Russian and German material, HWPH included over 500 European lots, representing nearly every country. Here are some interesting items. You'll find their chocolate in almost any airport, from Switzerland, €70 can buy you a Chocolat Tobler share, L1020. Art Nouveau and Art Deco artists created wonderful angels on these beauties : Banco Regional de Cataluña, L69, La  Protectrice, L99 and Exposition Religieuse Internationale de 1900, L120.  The sales 50 Highlights section includes a spectacular share from The Baltic Salvage Association. What words can not describe, a high quality image reveals in detail. So here is a link.

Zoo collectors will love seeing these : Thiergarten-Gesellschaft in Wien, L155, Actien-Verein des zoologischen Gartens zu Berlin, L333 , Neue Zoologische Gesellschaft, Frankfurt, L457, Société Royale de Zoologie d'Anvers, L1333 and my personal favorite, Koninklijk Zoologisch Genootschap Natura Artis Magistra, Amsterdam, L669.

Koninklijk Zoologisch Genootschap Natura Artis Magistra
500 Gulden share, unissued, 1853, Amsterdam 
Natura Artis Magistra, or "Nature is the teacher of the arts", is one the oldest zoos built on mainland Europe. The zoo had three gates with the words 'Natura', 'Artis' and 'Magistra'. The Artis gate was the main one, and that's how the zoo is usually called. Only a handful of certificates like this one,  L669, are known. Bids are invited from €2,000. 

Over 900 German lots are spread over several sections in both auctions :
  • 16th - 18th century
  • Germany pre 1948
  • German currency history
  • Deutsch Mark (DM) certificates
  • Southern Germany 
  • 50 Highlights
From the pre 1948 section, I noted Stadt Magdeburg 8% 100,000 Mark bond, 1923, text in German and, unusual, also in English, with striking colors and great harbour vignette, L1667.
Some German bonds and shares have survived several currency periods. During their circulation these certificates have received several currency conversion stamps, and therefore form an interesting collecting theme 'German currency history'.  The William Janssen AG share, L1722, lived through four currency periods : issued in Mark, stamped consecutively in Gold Mark and Reichsmark and was still negotiable in the early DM period.  
The DM section contains several early computer manufacturers : Anker-Werke, L1731, Nixdorf Computer, L602, Walther Electronic, L1856, and Siemens, L304.
The auctioneer produced a dedicated catalogue for The 50 Highlights section with extra large images and background information. Among the German lots, you'll find a collection of 192 Hamburg city related loans, some of them from the 18th and even the 17th century, L653. Historic is a J. W. von Goethe share from 1793, see the following image. 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe signed this Ilmenauer Kupfer- und Silber Bergwerk share, issued in 1793. Goethe, mainly known as a poet, novelist, playwright (Faust), philosopher, diplomat and politician, was also a mineralogist. The mineral goethite (iron oxide) is named after him. One of highlights in Matthias Schmitt's 50th auction, lot 650, it is expected to realize €20,000. 

Of course, there is much more to tell, but the best way is to see for yourself. Here are the auction details :

  • dates & locations
    • HWPH Auction 50 (lots 1-912): 15 September 2018, Würzburg, including Award Journalistenpreis Historische Wertpapiere und Finanzgeschichte around 3 PM as part of the auction event
    • Ersten Deutschen Historic-Actien-Club e.V (EDHAC) members meeting:  16 September, same location of the public auction, Würzburg
    • HWPH Auction 51 (lots 913-2180): 17 September, Internet only
  • More info