Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Poll results - Collecting motives

Do you prefer Beauty or are you more satisfied with A Good Bargain? When it comes to collecting what do you prefer? 

On the occasion of this blog's 10th anniversary, I launched in May 2020 an online poll about five collecting motives :  
  • Scarcity
  • Beauty
  • A Good Bargain
  • Collection Completeness
  • and Historical Significance. 
These resulted in ten possible combinations: scarcity-beauty, scarcity-a good bargain, etc. For each combination the participant was asked to choose between one or both, in other words, which one he or she preferred.

I leave it up to you to decide to which collecting motive the above share corresponds. The Ford Motor Company of Canada gained all Ford patent rights and selling privileges to all parts of the British Empire other than Great Britain and Ireland. Its share shows the company's sales markets in the British Empire on both hemispheres. It was issued in 1932. That year Adolf Hitler obtained German citizenship, the Kreuger & Toll business empire collapsed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its lowest level of the Great Depression and Gandhi, in jail, began his first anti-untouchability fast. 

I believed that the poll questions asked were relevant for banknote, coin, and stamp collectors as well. Thus, I promoted my poll also through the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS) and on a number of numismatic online audiences as well, such as CoinsWeekly, Numismatic Bibliomania Society’s E-Sylum newsletter, a IBNS discussion group, and several scripophily Facebook groups.

It took a few months, but all together 123 people cast their votes. In addition to questions on collecting motives, I started the poll with some general questions to have a better idea of the participants. 

Though poll participation was anonymous, I asked about the participant's country. People responded from at least 20 countries. Top 3 locations were USA, 29%, Germany, 16% and UK, 11%. See the Poll Participants table for the details. 

On the question Are you a member of a scripophily society? 41% replied they were not. But all 8 Belgian participants were members of a scripophily society, wonderful.

The next question queried the participants for their IBSS membership
  • 56% confirmed they were members. 
  • 28% said they were not and “didn’t care”.
  • The remainder, 15% or 19 participants, replied they were not IBSS members but “wanted to find out more about IBSS”. In this category we find 2 Belgians, 3 Germans, 1 Indonesian, 1 Dutchman, 1 Filipino, 2 Poles, 1 UK citizen and 6 Americans.

On the question How long have you been a collector of scripophily? 
  • 82% said ‘5 years or more’.  I'll call these group "the experienced" ones. 
  • 6% indicated they ‘did not collect scripophily’. 
  • 15 participants -12%- said ‘less than 5 years’. These are the "starters". Of the latter group, 5 were from the USA. Bravo!

Now what about the collecting motives? Which one is the absolute winner? Do we have the same results for the top 3 locations? Are there any differences between our "starters" and "the experienced" ? Let’s find out.

I used the following method to derive a ranking. For each one of the participants I counted how many times a motive was chosen in the participant’s comparisons. For example, if someone choose Beauty over Scarcity, then Beauty deserved one point, Scarcity zero. This led to 2460 scores : 123 participants * 10 pair comparisons * 2 motives.

And the winner is…
1 Collection Completeness, 332 points
2 Historical Significance, 323 pts
3 Scarcity, 260 pts
4 Beauty, 159 pts
5 A Good Bargain, 156 pts
The overall winner in the contest is Collection Completeness, closely followed by Historical Significance.  

But the numbers also revealed that there are a two nuances
  1. The group of the American respondents, 36 of them, however preferred Historical Significance above Collection Completeness
  2. When we analyze the results by the number of years a person is collecting, only one motive prevailed. All 15 participants collecting less than 5 years - our "starters" - strongly preferred Historical Significance above all the other preferences.

Who are the tailenders ? 
This might be a surprise but Beauty and A Good Bargain are apparently less important than the other ones when it comes to collecting motives. Even more, this finding applies to both our starters and the experienced. 

This Ford Canada share may trigger one or more collecting motives. There is a lot to tell about. As you can see in this vignette, the Indian subcontinent is marked. One of Ford Canada's subsidiaries was Ford India Private Ltd where production began in 1926. An extraordinary Ford model was used by Mahatma Gandhi after he settled in Sevagram in 1936. There was no road to Sevagram and during rains people had to walk in knee-deep mud to the place, or use an ox cart to get there. The industrialist Jamnalal Bajaj, a close associate of Gandhi, arranged for a special vehicle to transport VIPs to Sevagram. It consisted of a sawn-off rear half of an old Ford car, drawn by oxen. They called it the 'Oxford'. In 1941 automobile magnate Henry Ford would write Gandhi a letter to tell him how much he admired Gandhi. 

With this poll I did not reach collectors from South America, Africa and scripophily countries France, Russia, and China. It would be interesting to repeat the experiment on a future occasion and include a version in Spanish, French, Russian and Chinese.

My sincere thanks to all who participated and spread the word. I hope you found it as interesting as I did.

Happy New Year !


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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Puzzling scripophily - No. 4

Unleash your detective skills !

Puzzle No. 4 leads to a novel. The correct solution reveals the novel's title and, of course, the name of the author. 

The following two visual clues may help you solve the puzzle. These are details from antique securities. Click the images to enlarge.

  • How to take part ? Submit your reply in the comments section of this post, or in any other way.
  • What's in it for you ? The first correct answer yields eternal fame. 
  • When will the solution be revealed ? Check this particular blog post 

Good luck and have fun !


Friday, December 4, 2020

Crossing Latin America by rail with SPINK

SPINK's Bonds and Shares Department has put its last sale of 2020 online. The auctioneer offers over 600 antique securities including an impressive set of bonds and shares from Latin American railway companies.  This online auction ends at 11 AM GMT on Dec 15, 2020.

Several bonds and shares from South American railroads are ready to be hammered at Spink's scripophily auction. The Central Argentine Railway issued this share in 1911. Railway construction started in 1863 with the building of the terminus in Rosario. Nearly 100 years later the Juan Perón administration nationalized the British owned railways in 1948. L(ot) 394 in the auction was printed by Waterlow and Sons. 

Spink and Son Ltd specialises in the auctioning of stamps, coins, banknotes, medals, autographs, books, wines and more. This time antique stocks and bonds from many countries go on the block. 

The Mexican International Railroad Company was formed in 1882 to link the Southern Pacific to the Mexican Central Railway. In 1910 the business was acquired by the government controlled National Railways of Mexico. This £100 specimen bond from 1897 was printed by American Bank Note Co., L435 

Major sections in the auction include Africa, Asia, Europe, Great Britain, the Americas, and the United States. Special interest themes that can be discovered are : Russian oil, American mining, Norway, British automobile builders, and more. 

The British entertainment section includes some historical items from the theatre, film and television world. Let's take a look at lot 335, a group lot of two specimen bonds from the Alexander Korda Film Productions Ltd company. Film director and producer Alexander Korda (1893-1956) became one of the leading figures in the British film industry. He founded London Films and became owner of British Lion Films. World famous is The Third Man which he produced in 1949.  

Abyssinian Corporation share certificate with vignette of elephant

The auction features over 60 lots of scripophily from the African continent. This share in the Abyssinian Corporation was issued in 1918. The British company was involved in trading activities with the Ethiopian Empire, then ruled by Empress Zewditu. Frederick Lugard, then Governor-General of Nigeria, signed the share as Director. His wife, the journalist and writer Flora Shaw coined the country's name "Nigeria", derived from the Niger river. Vignette of elephant and lion head, rare, L12 

The sale also provides an interesting cross-section of British motor cars and cycles. Here are some of the highlights with lot numbers : 

  • British Motor Company Ltd, preference shares, 1898, signed as director by Harry Hewitt Griffin, cycling journalist, editor of Bicycling News, and director of the New Beeston Cycle Co, L302
  • Argylls, Ltd, 1909, Scotland's largest car manufacturer before World War I, motor car vignette, L289 
  • Clément, Gladiator and Humber (France) Ltd, £1 shares, 1897, company in 1903 divided to form Clement Talbot in England and Clement Gladiator in France, L310

The British Motor & Engineering Company was based in Caversham, Reading where they produced four models between 1905 and 1907. One of these was a 6.5 h.p. two-cylinder two-seated car that sold at £105.  L303 

There is a lot more to discover! So, here are the sale's details : 
  • Location : online auction only
  • Date : ends on 15 December, 2020 at 11:00 AM
  • Further info : see Spink's online catalogue with full color images here 


bond from the Great Northern Central Railway of Colombia

The Great Northern Central Railway of Colombia was founded in 1907 and planned a first rail section between Puerto Wilches and Bucaramanga. This rare 5.5% £20 Mortgage bond, 1909, one of the South American railway certificates in the sale, illustrates the coat of arms of Colombia and a locomotive. L432 

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Watermarks in Scripophily – part 1 Introduction

This article is an introduction into a lesser known aspect of securities : watermarks. If you don’t know what a watermark is then hold a banknote toward a light source. Against the light a design appears, at least this is the case on many banknotes. 

Watermarks can be seen on official documents, banknotes, stamps, cheques and also bonds and shares. When you investigate a new entry for your collection, you want to look for a watermark. 

However, most certificates don’t show watermarks; no wonder that many collectors overlook this feature. Yet, now and then you will be surprised by what emerges from the dark side. 

image 1a. The shortlived Nira Valley Sugar Co had a factory at Malegaon in Maharashtra, India. It operated a narrow gauge railway at its sugar cane mill. This share was issued to Maharaja Ganshyamsinhji Ajitsinhji of Dhrangadhra, Bombay, 1920.  
image 1b. Viewed against a window on a sunny day, the share reveals in the lower border a watermark of the paper manufacturer "STANLEY". The four black dots in the corners of the ‘watermark’ image are the silhouettes of little magnets used to hold the certificate in place on a semi-transparant screen when photographed. Click image to enlarge

Watermarks were first developed as the paper manufacturer’s hallmark. Early Italian paper manufacturers from the 13th century started experimenting with this idea. Watermarks that were created by the paper makers themselves are a first category of watermarks in scripophily. See image 1a en 1b as an example. 

How are these things created ? Watermarks are drawings created in paper during the paper manufacturing process. They are produced by having a design raised on the rolls through which the paper pulp is passed during manufacture. 

The designs applied on the rolls cause density variations in the produced paper. In turn, these density variations make an image or a pattern appear in the paper in the form of various shades of lightness and darkness.

image 2a. The Tambracherry Estates & Wynaad Gold Mining Co Ltd had mining operations in the Indian state of Kerala but eventually purchased estates for the cultivation of coffee, tea, and the like. £1 shares, London, 1882.  

image 2b. Written upwards along the right border, a watermark shows “WATERLOW & SONS”, the printer of this certificate. The watermark image was taken on a cloudy day, hence the darker appearance.

Printers of banknotes realized that watermarks in notes could be used as an extra anticounterfeiting device. Halfway through 17th century Stockholms Banco was the first bank that applied a watermark in a banknote; it revealed the word ‘BANCO’. 

Later, security printers adopted the technique and occasionally applied tailor-made watermarks that identified the printing house. This type of watermarks forms a second category. See the Waterlow & Sons example, images 2a & 2b.

In addition to watermarks from paper manufacturers and printers, governments and companies have issued certificates that were produced with customized watermarks. In most cases these comprise the name of the issuer, or the latter’s coat of arms or logo. This is a third category of watermarks in scripophily. As an example, see images 3a en 3b. 

image 3a. Some issuers of securities ordered their own watermark. Here is a Reserve Bank of India certificate for Rs100 issued in 1935. 

image 3b. The entire watermark design almost forms a share on its own including the name ‘RESERVE BANK OF INDIA’ in front of large sun with rays, and a triple line border, all around the certificate. Click image to enlarge

There is little scripophily literature that addresses these features. I know of two books : World War II Remembered, by C Frederick Schwan & Joseph E Boling, and Alexander Kipfer’s Historische Wertpapiere der Spanischen Königlichen und privaten Handelsgesellschaften des 18. Jahrhunderts. 

The comprehensive Schwan/Boling volume describes numismatics, in the broadest sense, including bonds, issued by the WW II powers, and where applicable watermarks are described or illustrated. You can find more details on this work here.

Kipfer’s book describes the securities of the 18th century Spanish trading companies. Also here a handfull of these have been identified as bearing watermarks. 

images 4a and 4b. The Real Compañia de Filipinas took over the Real Compañia de Comercio Establecida en Barcelona in 1785. As a result the company obtained a trade monopoly with the Philippines. Depending on the paper that was used, some of its 250 pesos shares from 1785 display a watermark, others don’t. Alexander Kipfer spotted the stylishly elaborated letters 'AF' on some shares from this company. 
The Schweizer Finanz Museum provided the left image. The other one  was taken from the Alexander Kipfer's book with permission of the publisher Haag & Herchen GmbH.

I'm planning some follow-up articles for later to illustratie the variety that exists in these watermarks on bonds and shares : 
  • Watermarks by paper manufacturers
  • Watermarks by printers
  • Watermarks by companies & governments
  • Watermarks that really stand out

image 5a. and 5b. Examples from the third category, custom watermarks used by companies or governments, can be astonishing. 
This Indian Post Office 5-Year Cash Certificate for 20 Rupees, 1935, shows off its watermarks created in several shades of dark and light. You can detect a repeating pattern made up of the words GOVT of INDIA and the Star of India emblem. Joe Boling, co-author of WW II Remembered, identified the dark letters as the British royal cipher, GRI, which stands for Georgius Rex Imperator, or George, King (of Britain) and Emperor (of India). Click image to enlarge

If you have a certificate with a remarkable watermark, then you can email me an image. But be carefull while handling the certificate. You don't want to end up with a torn corner or a heavy fold.


This article was published in Scripophily magazine No. 113, August 2020.
You might be interested to read : Watermarks in Scripophily - part 2 Paper manufacturers 

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Book : Osakekirjat Kertovat

Pekka Kantanen and Kari J. Sillanpää introduce the readers into the world of scripophily. They compiled about 100 share certificates, mainly from Finland, in a charming A4-sized hard cover work. 

  • Title : Osakekirjat Kertovat - Aktiebreven Berättar - Share Certificates, Past and Present
  • Authors : Pekka Kantanen, Kari J. Sillanpää
  • ID : ISBN 951-9417-06-0, published by Kustannusosakeyhtiö, 1988
  • Languages : Finnish, Swedish, English
  • Number of pages : 184
  • Images : about 100 page wide images, one third in color
  • Indexes : no index

The book is trilingual. Every share discussed has a paragraph in Finnish, Swedish and English which is very interesting to learn the Finnish scripophily jargon. Besides a company background, the authors address various topics such as evolutions in Finnish corporate law, signatures of noteable persons, designs and printing aspects. 

Most of the shares featured are from Finland, or were issued under the Grand Duchy of Finland. The publication can interest also already advanced collectors because the book includes several remarkable shares that are rarely seen at auction, e.g. a Nokia share from 1886, a Suomen Kultaseppä Osakeyhtiö share printed with gold and silver, etc. The book can be found on e-commerce platforms.


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Friday, October 23, 2020

King of the Netherlands owned the Belgian economy : spectacular royal share in the Société Générale de Belgique auctioned in Antwerp

Mario Boone's 65th auction is set for Saturday 31 October and takes place live on the internet. Over 1,300 lots of antique stocks and bonds from all over the world span four centuries of financial history. Part of an extraordinary collection and highlight in the auction is a unique share in the Société Générale des Pays-Bas pour favoriser l'Industrie Nationale that once belonged to Willem I, King of the Netherlands. 

With the help of bankers from Brussels, Willem Frederik (1772-1843), King of the Netherlands, created in 1822 an investment bank, the Société Générale des Pays-Bas pour favoriser l'Industrie Nationale. Belgium was still under Dutch rule at that time. In 1830, when Belgium became an independent state, the Société Générale des Pays-Bas took the name Société Générale de Belgique. 

The Société Générale de Belgique played a major role in the industrial development of the country and its former colony Belgian Congo. After the independence of Belgium the company became the official banker of the kingdom until the National Bank of Belgium was formed in 1850. Under Leopold II, the investment bank financed industries in China, South America, Egypt and Russia. The Société Générale is now a part of the French multinational Suez. This certificat d'inscription was issued in 1841 for 4300 shares of 500 Dutch Florins to Willem I, King of the Netherlands. Lot 332 in the sale is expected to realize at least €12,000. 

The 'Willem I' share offered here is part of a set of rare and early Société Générale items, lots 329 - 347 in the auction. Each one of these are opportunities to enrich any serious Belgium scripophily collection. Included are the 1822 company statutes from the Alg. Ned. Mij. ter Begunstiging van de Volksvlijt (the company's Dutch name), a provisional share from 1837, a 500 Ned. Guldens share dated 1847, a Bradbury Wilkinson specimen, parts de reserve, and the like. 

The Compagnie du Chemin de Fer du Bas-Congo au Katanga was registered in Elisabethville, today known as Lubumbashi. This specimen share from 1949 is part of the Belgian Congo railway collection. Lot 204 

The sale includes more noteworthy collections. The Belgian Congo section counts about 80 lots, more than half of these come from a railway collection. The Dutch Indies consists of 40 lots, some of them group lots, and will interest collectors of sugar, tobacco, spices and rubber scripophily.

Northern Steamship Company Kotlas-Archangel-Murmask 
200 Roubels share, 1916, lot 1062, click the image to enlarge 

A large Russian section counts over 90 lots. Many of these antique securities were issued during the reign of tsars Alexander III and Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov. Some of the highlights :
  • Northern Steamship Company Kotlas-Archangel-Murmask, gorgeous vignette, see image above, L(ot)1062 
  • City of Arkhangelsk, 5000 Rbls bond, 1916, large denomination, L1064
  • Baku-Tiflis Oil Industry and Commerce Company, company operated in today's Azerbaijan and Georgia, temporary share for 1000 shares amounting to 1 million roubles, serial number 1, extremely rare, L1060
  • L1061, share from the Chinabad-Andijane Feeding Railroad Line, Uzbekistan, 1916
  • Kursk-Charkov-Azov Railway, £500 bond, 1888, L1002

The French city of Reims hosted in 1909 the Grande Semaine d'Aviation de la Champagne, the first international aviation meet. Aviation pioneers such as Glenn Curtiss, Louis Blériot, Louis Paulhan and Henri Farman participated. This share in the Aérodrome de la Champagne - Terrain d'Aviation de Reims-Bétheny was issued in 1910.  The artist Gournay may have attended the event and added different types of early aircraft to the design of the share. L643 

The catalog's comprehensive country index lists about 100 countries. In particular large sections are Dutch East Indies, Belgian Congo, Belgium, France, Germany, Russia, Spain and the USA. Scripophily from less obvious, often exotic places, like Papua New Guinea, Burma, Ethiopia, Monaco and El Salvador is present as well.

Printed by Imprenta Casa Misericordia this Minas de Cala share was issued in 1901, Bilbao. Its ingenious design of a carving incorporates all the important headings of a share certificate (company name, share capital, ..) as well as the arms of Huelva and Bilbao. L1108 starts at €50 

There is much more to discover in the auction. Here are the auction details :
  • Location : Internet only
  • Date : 31 October 2020
  • Further info : 


The share from the Compañia de Seguros Maritimos de la Habana, dated 1857, features this stunning vignette. Click to enlarge. L1210, see the Cuban section of the auction

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Monday, October 12, 2020

Taxonomy of a certificate : Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company


Taxonomy : the practice of describing, identifying, naming, and classifying things on the basis of characteristics

Suppose you collect LP records. You could describe each one of these with characteristics such as the name of the album, name of the performer, release date, etc. Using a predefined list of characteristics makes it easy to register your collectibles in a document, a spreadsheet, or any other database application. 

As far as antique securities are concerned, you can define as many characteristics as you need. I usually consider two groups of characteristics : 
  • those that you derive from the certificate's appearance: physical characteristics
  • and those that you get after more research: researched characteristics.
As an example I use a stock certificate from the Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company

Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company 
share certificate, 1883 

Physical characteristics
  • Issuer : Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company
  • Type :  share 
  • Denomination : $100 shares 
  • Capital/Principal : not mentioned 
  • Issue date : 20th July, 1883
  • Place of issue : Davenport, Iowa
  • Registered or bearer : registered 
  • Lifecycle status : issued and uncancelled
  • Printer : Egbert, Fidlar & Chambers 
  • Colors : black, gold 
  • Design & vignettes : gold underprint of wall-mounted telephone, border with flowers in corners, horseshoe under title
  • Engraver : none mentioned
  • Artist : none mentioned
  • Language : English
  • Security features 
    • seal : embossed seal with company name (lower left  corner)
    • watermark : none
  • Notable person (signed by, issued to, transferred to) : none
  • Format : horizontal
  • Medium carrier : paper
  • Special remarks :  inscription in telephone vignette mentioning Ezra Gilliland

Researched characteristics  
  • Country of issuance  : USA 
  • Place of operations : Davenport, Iowa
  • Country of operations : USA
  • Type of operations : telephone business, telegraph business
  • Era : Gilded Age

Once you have specified a certificate's characteristics, you can use that information to find out more about the certificate, its issuer or the notable persons involved. Here's what I found.

A pioneering telephone company 
The first commercial telephone exchange started operating in the late 1870s at New Haven. This share was issued by another one of the early telephone companies:  the Iowa Union Telephone and Telegraph Company (IUTTC). The company was established in 1883. 

In 1885 IUTTC, connecting nearly 2000 miles of poles with over 2600 miles of wire, operated 45 exchanges and 247 toll stations - what we would call "pay phones" today. 

The Bell Telephone Company owned $1,000,000, one third, of the company's capital stock in 1886. IUTTC merged with the Iowa and Minnesota Telephone Company into the Iowa Union Telephone Company on 31 January, 1887. 

This successor company was consolidated in 1896 together with the Central Union Telephone Company of Chicago, into a new company, the Iowa Telephone Company. In 1920 it became the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company

Inventor and entrepreneur Ezra Torrence Gilliland (1845-1903)
It is a good idea to check out vignettes on historic stock certificates in detail. In this case the share tells us also the story of Ezra T. Gilliland. The telephone, printed in gold underprint, bears a plate. I scanned that part of the image at 1200 DPI. The plate says: 

Gillilands Patent
Western Electric Co.
Indianapolis, Ind.

Ezra Gilliland started his career first as a telegraph operator and became interested in telephone equipment. He invented an improved telephone switchboard and the magneto bell. In 1879 he organized his Indianapolis Telephone Company

Western Electric obtained a majority control in Gilliland's company in 1881, the same year when Bell acquired Western Electric. WE supplied Bell of telephones and telephone equipment. Gilliland's switchboards were used in several European countries too. WE's plant in Indianapolis would become the largest telephone maker in the world in the 1960s. 

After working for Bell, Gilliland became a business partner of his close friend Thomas Edison. 


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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Buckle up! Scripophily magazine brings you into the world of antique stocks and bonds

Compelling tales, business plot twists and memorable personalities keep you spellbound. Scripophily magazine uncovers the stories of historic and artistic securities. In addition, reports from the auction markets help you to stay up-to-date. This periodical is the flagship of The International Bond and Share Society (IBSS) and appears three times a year.

In Scripophily magazine you'll find out about the latest discoveries. This rare share certificate realized £160 at SPINK's May 2020 auction. The most famous restaurant not only in Paris but also in the world, Maxim's was in 1926 owned by this British company. 

Scripophily magazine is the world’s most comprehensive and insightful publication for passionate collectors and researchers of antique securities. Its 2020 August issue brings 50 pages of scripophily news, in depth articles, pictures of collector friends, auction reports and quality images of stunning, historic and rare stocks and bonds. 

Here is a summary on the topics brought in the latest issue :
  • The History of Worldwide Scripophily Auctions, a review of Tim Welo's book 
  • Buying on Time, Was this share certificate bought on margin?, about the Lake Superior Iron and Chemical Company (NY)
  • Western Union Telegraph Company, letter to the editor about Gandhi and India's independence struggle 
  • Collectors Clearinghouse, learn about the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company
  • Nothing New about FaceTime or Zoom, the American Televue Company
  • Dow Jones, a History of Dow Jones Averages Since 1884, review of Dr. Peter Jones' book  
  • Large Scale Snubbing went on in Cleveland in the 1920s, brings the story on The Gabriel Snubber Manufacturing Company
  • Misadventures in Mining : Dutch Investors and R. G. Dun at the Caribou Mine 
  • A Visit to the New York Stock Exchange Archives
  • (Kaiser) Ferdinand's Nordbahn
  • Watermarks in Scripophily, part 1 introduction
  • The Dow Jones Company and its Averages, extract from Dr Peter Jones' book
  • Pacific Mail Steamship, idem
  • Johan Colenbrander and Colenbranders Matabeleland Development Company
  • My British Railway Treasure, a testimony on collecting early British railway scripophily

Scripophily magazine, August 2020, features on its front cover a Isaac Newton signed document subscribing to shares in the South Sea Company. This unique and historic document from 1720 recently emerged at an American auction. 

Subscribing to Scripophily magazine brings you valuable free extras :
  1. The IBSS Directory brings you in contact with fellow collectors. Many of those are experts in their field, often share common interests with you, and possibly live nearby. The Directory contains members from more than 40 countries.
  2. The Newsletter, so you may keep up with what is going on.
  3. Access to all content on the IBSS website, including digital versions of previous issues of Scripophily magazine, the online forum, special theme galleries, and the like.
  4. Newsflashes on the website focus on hot topics that can't wait for the next issue of the magazine.
  5. Get extra credibility : being listed as a member is a good reference in any deals made remotely with parties previously unknown.

A 1-year subscription only costs £20 or $32 or €25. The magazine is published by IBSS. More info :


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Monday, September 21, 2020

FHW sells Chinese scripophily collection

Freunde Historischer Wertpapiere has scheduled its 118th auction for October 3rd 2020. This time more than 1,500 lots of antique securities will go under the hammer including the China collection of former Volkswagen CFO Dr. Werner P. Schmidt.

This scripophily event starts off with more than 300 American lots with the emphasis on US railway stocks and bonds.

A stunning print, this share from the Alaska Central Railway Company was issued in 1903. Engraved by the Seattle Engraving Company and printed by Yerkes Printing Company, it shows a full map of Alaska with the proposed route of the railroad and where timber, coal, gold, copper and quartz were to be found. Click the image to enlarge and note the area on top of the map designated as 'UNEXPLORED'. Lot 3 in the auction 

China collectors and investors will be interested in the collection of Dr. Werner P. Schmidt, recently deceased, and former CFO of Volkswagen AG. The series starts with lot 325, a share from the Aka-Dine Wood Production Company, and features several more shares from Taiwan. 

The Schmidt collection also counts several external loans from China. A £1000 bond from The Chinese Central Government Loan aka Arnold Karberg Loan III, only 300 issued, very rare, is one of the highlights and is expected to realize €5000. Lot 334 in the sale.

Chinese Government 23rd Year (1934) 6% Sterling Indemnity Loan for £1,500,000 
The Republic of China (ROC) was based in mainland China between 1912 and 1949, before the relocation of its government to the island of Taiwan. This £1000 bond shows the portrait of Sun Yat-Sen, Provisional President of the ROC. It was issued to finance the completion of the Canton-Hankow Railway. Part of the Dr. Werner P. Schmidt Collection and lot 338 in the auction.

Detail from lot 411, a share from the Kuangtun Canton-Hankow Railway Company (Kwong-Tung Yueh-Han), from the Dr. Werner P. Schmidt Collection. 

Germany gets the "lion's share" of the auction. Nearly 900 lots are divided over two sections, Deutschland (pre Deutsche Mark) and DM (from 1945 onwards). Note that both contain a subsection with 20 highlight picks from the auctioneer.

Offered as lot 1005 this 25 Reichsthaler Gold share in the Aper Canal-Gesellschaft was issued in 1849, Westerstede. The vignette is drawn by the artist A. Gordes. 

The catalog's table of contents reveals that scripophily from other countries is there as well. Nearly 100 lots represent the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Indexes on collecting themes, such as Art Nouveau, and German regions, may help you find what you are looking for.

Szeged is now one of the largest cities in Hungary. This share in the Szeged-Alsótanyai Népbank , or People's Bank of Szeged-Alsótanyai, was issued in 1906 when Szeged was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A great example of Szecesszió, the Hungarian Art Nouveau variant. Lot 569 

There is a lot to discover in the sale, so here are the details :
  • Location : The event takes place at Wolfenbüttel, however, at the time of writing, due to the covid-19 situation personal presence is likely not possible. Check out whether a visit is possible with the auction house. 
  • Date : 3 October, 2020
  • Further info, see here; PDF catalog see there; live bidding is possible through 

"You will find happiness and joie de vivre while sleeping in a Steiner Paradies bed"
Now that's what we call maintaining a successful house-style. The Vienna subsidiary of the Paradiesbettenfabrik Steiner reused the photovignette from an earlier advertising campaign on its 1924 share. The Paradies brand still exists today. Lot 557 in the sale. 


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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Referenskatalog Svenska Aktiebrev

On the occasion of their 40th Anniversary the Swedish scripophily society, SFHV, published its third edition of the Referenskatalog Svenska Aktiebrev. This reference work in the Swedish language lists over 8000 Swedish stocks and bonds.

front cover of the Referenskatalog Svenska Aktiebrev

Members of the Svenska Föreningen för Historiska Värdepapper (SFHV) produced a third up-to-date catalog. In 1998 SFHV published a first reference catalogue on Swedish shares (5651 entries). A second, updated catalogue from 2010 added 2000 “new” shares. In this new book editors Marita Strandberg, Bo Niklasson and John Örtengren included 8500 certificates.

Several small chapters enclose the main catalog section: 

  • Förord/Preface
  • Att samla på gamla aktiebrev är också att göra utflykter i ekonomisk historia (Collecting old share certificates is also making excursions into economic history) 
  • När började aktiebrev anvaändas i Sverige ? (When were share certificates used in Sweden?) 
  • Starten på SFHV (The start of SFHV) 
  • Det internationella aktiebrevsamlandet började för hundra år sedan (International stockbroking [in Sweden] - began a hundred years ago) 
  • Internationale föreningar (International [scripophily] associations) 
  • Värdering av gamla aktiebrev är en sammanvägning av olika faktorer (Valuation of old share certificates is the result of various factors) 
  • Hur man hittar i katalogen (How to use the catalog) 
  • Förkortningar i textkatalogen (Abbreviations in the text catalog) 
  • Main catalog section 
  • Stadgar Svenska Föreningen för Historiska Värdepapper (Statutes SFHV) 
  • Litteraturförteckning ([interesting] Bibliography [on Swedish scripophily]) 

share certificate from the Rosenbad AB from Stockholm

This AB Rosenbad share illustrates the Rosenbad building that was designed by Art Nouveau architect Gustaf Ferdinand Boberg. The share is adorned all around with roses. Completed in 1902 on the site where there used to be a rose spa, the building features several rose ornaments on its facades. When you walk all the way through Stockholm’s Drottninggatan shopping street towards Gamla stan, the old town district, you’ll find the Rosenbad building on the right corner before you cross the bridge that leads to the Parliament House. It now houses the Swedish government chancellery. Catalog entry 5578, 5 shares of 1000 Kronor, 1900 

The catalog section counts over 8000 entries of Swedish stocks and bonds which are classified by company name. Each entry is characterized by

  • name of the company or organization
  • type of activity
  • county
  • municipality
  • denomination
  • year
  • remarks

NOTE : Apart from the basic twenty-six letters, A–Z, the Swedish alphabet includes Å, Ä, and Ö. These are distinct letters, and are sorted after Z. So you'll find the entry for a share in the Östra Centralbanans Jernvägs AB, see image here, at the end of the catalog.

share in Telefonaktiebolaget L. M. Ericsson

Lars Magnus Ericsson started in 1876 his telegraph repair shop which became Telefonaktiebolaget L. M. Ericsson in 1925. After WWII the company specialized in computerized telephone exchanges. In the late 1960s Ericsson developed a military computer and got involved in personal computers in the 1980s. Bluetooth technology was invented at the company's Lund office in 1989. Catalog entry 7149 : 1 "A" share of 35 Kronor, 1951 

More information about the book
  • Title: Referenskatalog Svenska Aktiebrev
  • Editors : Marita Strandberg, Bo Niklasson, John Örtengren
  • ID : 978-91-89330-69-6, published 2019 by Svenska Föreningen För Historiska Värdepapper
  • Languages : Swedish
  • Number of pages : 215
  • Images : more than 750 small color images (ca 3cm x 3.5cm)
  • Index : no index, certificates are classified by company name in the main catalog section

Are you into Swedish scripophily ? Then, no doubt, this would be a nice Christmas present. You can order the catalog from the Swedish Association for Historical Securities, or you can check your favorite scripophily dealer.


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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Antique securities up for sale at SPINK's Autumn 2020 Bonds and Shares auction

Spink and Son Ltd specialises in the auctioning of stamps, coins, banknotes, medals, autographs, books, wines, bonds and shares. Their latest sale went online earlier this week and ends at 11 AM, Sep 22. Over 650 lots of antique securities will go on the block. 

share certificate from a Utah mine company with vignette of a bluebird

The auction features many historic and decorative share certificates. This one, L(ot) 564 in the auction, is from The Bluebird Copper-Gold Mining Company Ltd. The print features a great vignette of a mountain bluebird which lives in open country across western North America. Click the image to enlarge. 
P. H. Franklin from Salt Lake City founded The Bluebird Copper-Gold Mining Company Ltd in 1901. He signed this 1902 share as president. Other co-founders were M. J. True, Jos. Kittinger and F.A. Fox, all three from Buffalo, NY, and C.S. Hutchinson from Syracuse, NY, the location of the principal office. Operations took place at Milford, Beaver County, Utah. 

At stake in this sale are historic and vintage stocks and bonds from many countries. Main sections include British canals, civil engineering, docks & harbours, piers, bridges and railways, as well as Irish railway scripophily and stocks and bonds from American mining and railroad companies. 

share certificate of the Monmouthshire Railway and Canal company with canal vignette

The Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company operated a canal and a network of railways in south-east Wales. It started as the Monmouthshire Canal Navigation and opened canals from Newport to Pontypool and to Crumlin from 1796. The vignette on this 1852 share certificate shows a train and a horse-drawn barge nearing a canal bridge. L120 in the auction. 

The auction features over 250 bonds and shares from British railways, canals, docks & harbours, and pier and bridge companies. Some examples :
  • Historic is L119, a share in the company 'for making the rivers Mercy and Irwell navigable from Liverpool to Manchester, in the County Palatine of Lancaster', dated 1724 ! Ten years later small boats were able to sail from the centre of Manchester through to the Irish Sea. Printed on vellum, extraordinary lettering, red wax seal with sailing ship and paper revenue stamps, genuine signatures, in other words lots to enjoy. 
  • A red paper seal depicting a bridge adorns The Hoarwithy Bridge Company share from 1855. L333
  • Two shares from the Vauxhall Bridge company, L362 and L363, parade a stunning copper seal. The first iron bridge over the Thames river opened in 1816.
  • L283 St. Helen's and Runcorn Gap Railway, early share from 1830 
  • Train watchers can be spotted on The Leeds and Thirsk Railway Company share from 1846, L227 

A series of 23 Irish lots follow, most of these consisting of scarce railway securities. The following Newry Navigation Company share offers a splendid vignette and a great story.

share certificate from the Newry Navigation Company issued to the Earl of Kilmorey

Francis Jack Needham, Earl of Kilmorey (1787-1880), purchased this share in 1834. Lord Kilmorey had married Jane Gun-Cuninghame in 1814. He became High Sheriff of Down. Over fifty years old  Francis Jack became the legal guardian of the twenty year old Priscilla Anne Hoste. She was the daughter of the late Admiral Sir William Hoste and Lady Harriet Walpole. The Earl and Priscilla quickly became lovers and ran off together. A year later, in July 1844, they had a son, Charles. The Earl acknowledged his son and gave him his surname. He housed his wife and his beloved Priscilla in adjoining houses connected with a tunnel. L392, Newry Navigation Company 1834, £50 share issued to Francis Jack Needham, Earl of Kilmorey. 

The second half of the sale counts over 250 lots from North, Central & South America.  A selection from the catalog :
  • Atrato Mining Company, Colombia, 1880, unique vignette of river dredging activity, detailed map of South America in embossed seal, and more to see, L428 
  • L415, Bolivia Trading Company, 100 shares of $10, 1902, large llama vignette 
  • L433 is a rare Consolidated External Debt of Costa Rica £100 bond from 1886 
  • Puget Sound, Chelan and Spoke Railway Company, share certificate from 1910 with triple pane vignette 
  • Stock ticker vignettes are seldomly seen, but here is one on the Electric Reporting Company share from 1884, L624 

vignette depicting cowboy and Christian church

The Guayabillas Mining Company operated near Yuscaran, Honduras, where the Spaniards found gold and silver in its foothills in 1746. L439 in the sale

Make sure you check out online more of these wonderful securities. Here are the details :

  • Location : this is an Internet only auction
  • Date : Sep 2 15:00 - Sep 22 11:00.
  • Further info and online catalog: see here 


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