Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Reference Book : Stocks and bonds from the Corinth Canal

Not so long ago the Greek mainland was still connected to the Peloponnesus peninsula by a land bridge, 6.4 km wide, named the Isthmus of Corinth. When you sail, let's say, from Patras, in the northern Peloponnesus, all the way around the peninsula, to Piraeus, Athens' ancient navy base, you cover a distance of about 420 nautical miles, or 780 km. The same trip over land takes only 220 km. 

Roman emperor Nero was the first who started the construction of a canal through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth. He must have thought that transporting goods and troops from the Ionian coast cities to the ports on the Aegean Sea could go faster. It's hard to imagine now, but before, labourers, slaves, rolled boats on logs across the land to bridge the gap, so to speak. Nero's project started in 67 AD and employed thousands of slaves. When he died the next year, so did the project.

Cover of the book "Der Kanal von Korinth" by author Hans-Georg Glasemann

In Der Kanal von Korint, author Hans-Georg Glasemann brings the story of the Corinth Canal from both a historical and a financial angle. The shares and bonds issued by the three companies that built and operated the Corinth Canal are featured in the book's catalog section. The book, written in German, is aimed at the collector of old securities, and anyone who is interested in the historical background of this interesting canal project.

detail from a vignette on a Canal Maritime de Corinthe share certificate showing sea routes around Greece

This is a detail from a vignette on a share from the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe. You can recognize the boot of Italy on the left, Greece in the middle and the Asian part of Turkey on the right. Dashed lines show the ancient sea routes around Greece. New routes running through a canal near the city of Corinth are marked by full lines. Note, when this share was issued in 1882, large parts of the Balkans, including the northern part of Greece, belonged to "Turquie", the Ottoman Empire. 

Here is an overview of the book's chapters :
  • Historische Betrachtung
    • Träume vom Korinther Kanal in der Antike
    • Internationale Gesellschaft des Seekanals von Korinth 1882
    • Griechische Gesellschaft des Kanals von Korinth 1890
    • Neue Gesellschaft des Kanals von Korinth 1907
    • Kanal von Korinth - heute
    • Biografien
      • István Türr (1825-1908), ungarischer Freiheitsheld
      • Béla Gerster (1850-1923), ungarischer Ingenieur
      • Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805-1894), französischer Diplomat und Kanalbauer
  • Katalogteil
    • Erläuterungen zu den Wertpapieren
    • Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe 1882-1890
    • Société Hellénique du Canal de Corinthe 1890-1907
    • Nouvelle Société Anonyme du Canal de Corinthe 1907-1980
  • Literaturhinweise

Freely translated, these are the chapters in English :
  • Historical consideration
    • Dreams of the Corinthian channel in Antiquity
    • International Company of the Sea Canal of Corinth 1882
    • Greek Corinth Canal Company 1890
    • New Corinth Canal Company 1907
    • Channel of Corinth - today
  • Biographies
    • István Türr (1825-1908), Hungarian freedom fighter
    • Béla Gerster (1850-1923), Hungarian engineer
    • Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805-1894), French diplomat and canal builder
  • Catalog section
    • Explanations on the securities catalogued
    • Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinth 1882-1890
    • Société Hellénique du Canal de Corinth 1890-1907
    • Nouvelle Société Anonyme du Canal de Corinth 1907-1980
  • References

vignette showing cross section of the proposed Corinth Canal project

Another vignette on the Canal Maritime de Corinthe share shows a cross section of the proposed project. The canal would be excavated at sea level requiring no locks. 

In the first part of the book, the author pilotes the reader through the canal's history. It starts more than 1800 years after emperor Nero's attempt, in 1882, when the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe initiated the excavation of the Corinth Canal. At the head of the company stood the hungarian István Türr (1825-1908). He appointed Gerster Béla (1850-1923), also a hungarian, as the project's chief engineer. The expenses grew bigger than planned and the company went bankrupt in 1890.

But the digging was continued by a new Greek company, the Société Hellénique du Canal de Corinthe, with success. The official opening of the canal took place in 1893 in the presence of King George I. In 1907 the Nouvelle Société Anonyme du Canal de Corinthe took over the canal exploitation until 1980. The canal's depth turned out to be insufficient for the large cargo ships of today. The canal is now a leisure attraction.

500 French francs share in the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe, 1882

500 French francs share in the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe, 1882 
Catalog number KK-010, part of an issue of 60000 bearer shares of 500 francs 
image : eWertpapiermuseum EDHAC 

The book's catalog section groups the Corinth Canal securities by company and by issue. Entries include a catalog number, a value indication, an image, circulation and other details on the particular issue. Some more details about the book :
  • Title : Der Kanal von Korinth - Historische Wertpapiere 1882-1977, in English : The Corinth Canal - Securities 1882-1977
  • Author : Hans-Georg Glasemann
  • ID : ISBN 978-3-74945-231-6, published by BoD - Books on Demand, Norderstedt, 2019 
  • Languages : German
  • Number of pages : 60
  • Images : over 40 color images, mostly from securities, including some black and white pictures
  • Index : no index, but companies and securities are organized in the catalog section by company and issue

The 500 French francs share in the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe, 1882, is illustrated with both faces of a Corinth Stater.

The designer of the Canal Maritime de Corinthe share clearly invested some time in researching the ancient city-state of Corinth. The columns drawn on both sides of the print are typical Corinthian with capitals decorated with acanthus leaves. The coins placed on both columns are actually both sides of a Corinth Stater, ca 345-307 BC. The obverse shows a flying Pegasus with a Koppa sign Ϙ below its belly. The Ϙ is used in the archaich spelling of the city name Ϙόρινθος (Korinthos). The reverse shows the goddess Athena with an upward tipped Corinthian helmet.  
image : via Wikipedia, Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

Hans-Georg Glasemann's work can be ordered from BoD in print and as an E-book, here. The book is part of a trilogy on historic canals. The second book, about the Panama Canal, appeared just recently. The third one will cover the Suez Canal. 

F. L. 

PS : 
Hans-Georg Glasemann maintains his own blog about antique securities. 
Please check his Nonvaleurs Blog 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

River Edge, New Jersey, sees over 1000 numismatic lots going over the block

Archives International Auctions offers more than 1,000 lots of banknotes, coins, scripophily and security printing ephemera at its sale this Tuesday, 14th May 2019. This public and online event takes place at AIA's new offices in River Edge, New Jersey.

Interesting, the auction includes over 600 lots of stunning, antique stocks and bonds. One of the many highlights is this ultra rare production specimen IPO stock certificate from the McDonald's Corporation

Richard and Maurice McDonald founded McDonald's in 1940 as a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. It was Ray Kroc, who joined McDonald's in 1954, that set the stage for national and global expansion. 

In 1961, Kroc had McDonald's file for a trademark on a new logo, an overlapping, double-arched "M" symbol. The logo was used from 1960 until 1968, and appears on this stock certificate. 

Under Kroc McDonald's initiated its first public stock offering at $22.50 per share on April 21, 1965. If you'd have purchased 100 common McDonald's shares during that initial public offering, your investment would now be worth over $12 million (source
Coming from the original archives of the American Bank Note Company, this certificate represents a milestone in MacDonald's history and forms a crucial asset for collector's of historic marketing artefacts. Bids for Lot 683 are invited from $525. 

Besides American scripophily, the sale includes antiques securities from China, Mexico, Israel, Russia, and much more states. The US railroad section is unusual weighty.

This antique share from the Wildwood and Delaware Bay Short Line Railroad Company was issued in 1915.  Its designers gave it a superb vignette showing "the 1995 passing a signal bridge". The railroad was opened for traffic Dec. 12, 1912 . Indeed, this was a "short" line. Its 4.20 miles long line ran from Wildwood to Wildwood Junction, New Jersey. There, it connected with the Atlantic City Rail Road. Lot 931 in the sale. 

Much more wonderful antique securities can be seen in the auctioneer's catalog. Practical info :
  • Date : May 14, 2019
  • Location : River Edge, New Jersey
  • More info : see here, live and absentee bidding there
  • PDF auction catalog : here 


Monday, May 6, 2019

Denver exhibition shows New York Stamp Taxes on Bonds

" Bonds bearing New York’s Mortgage Endorsement, Secured Debt and Tax on Investments stamps are arguably the most visually stunning items ever to bear stamps. "

Secured Debt 25¢, 75¢, $3.75 and $7.50 issued in 1916 to enable payment of the 75¢ per $100 tax rate 
courtesy Michael Mahler

Author Michael Mahler is an expert in American fiscal philately : "For a century the stunning bonds and the stamps they bore were unknown to philatelists. Only now, one hundred years later, these stamps and the bonds that bear them, have emerged as a significant subfield of fiscal philately."  

Each type of stamp discovered tells its own chapter in the fiscal history of the State of New York. With a unique exhibit of bonds bearing these stamps, Michael Mahler will participate in the 2019 George Brett Cup Competition

This $50,000 bond from the United States Steel Corporation was issued in 1901 to Andrew Carnegie. The bond is stamped with Secured Debt $100 (x2) and $50 (upper right corner). The stamps were canceled July 23, 1912, but the bond was canceled only a year later. 
courtesy Michael Mahler

The George Brett Cup competition, for best 20th century philatelic exhibit, is organized at the annual ROMPEX show in Denver May 24-26. 

The New York State Stamp Taxes on Bonds, 1910-1920 exhibit features 40 display panels of about 18x24 inch, each one having one to four bonds. Probably about 120 bonds will be on display. 

New York Stamp Taxes on Bonds, 1910-1920 
book by Michael Mahler 

Michael Mahler wrote also a book on this topic. New York Stamp Taxes on Bonds 1910-1920 counts more than 200 pages and is illustrated with hundreds of color images of bonds and stamps. 

The book can be ordered from Amazon here. But, if you know the International Bond & Share Society, you should check out the IBSS site. For Michael Mahler has provided a PDF version of his latest book there.

Good luck to Michael with the exhibit competition !


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