Friday, March 13, 2020

Belgian Association for Scripophily exists 40 years

The Belgian Association for Scripophily, in French: Association Belge de Scriptophilie (ABS), in Dutch : Belgische Vereniging van Scriptophilie (BVS), is a non-profit society that was founded 40 years ago in 1980. Ever since, the society's members gather once a month, to share news and discuss findings in our field of collection.

Two years ago member Denis Sagaert took the initiative to publish a free scripophily newsletter. More than reason enough to have a talk with him ! For the occassion, Denis choose the images for this post.

Alfred Van Neste (1874-1969) created the design for the founders share in the Société Anversoise de Cartonnages & Biseautages. The company, founded in 1899, was a book producer and publishing company from Antwerp. Van Neste, a landscape painter, illustrator and engraver, became one of Antwerp's most known poster designers. Click the image to enlarge and discover several illustrations from stages in early book production. The drawings are so prominent that the Art Nouveau elements in the border nearly escape our attention. Just below the rooster in the upper left corner you'll find 'SACB', the company's cypher (an interlacing or placing together of letters).

FL Denis, welcome to our virtual studio. How did you become a collector of antique securities ?
Denis I bought my first old shares in 2004 at a flea market in Brussels. As an  asset manager I was already very familiar with bonds and shares, but I had no clue about 'scripophily'. Two years later, I read a newspaper article written by the chairman of the Belgian society. I then became a member.

FL Do you collect certain themes ? 
Denis Yes, my main themes are Belgian-Russian shares, Belgian tramways and Belgian mining companies.

The Solvay company is a global player in the chemical and pharmaceutical business. The brothers Ernest Solvay and Alfred Solvay founded the company in 1863 to produce sodium carbonate by the Solvay proces. The vignette on the left is derived from the company's 50th anniverary medal made in 1913 by Belgian sculptor and medalist Victor Rousseau. In 1938 a similar, much larger bronze plaque made by Rousseau, was delivered for the Solvay memorial monument in Rebecq, the birthplace of the brothers. This bearer share dates from 1967, the year of Solvay's first public offering of shares to the public.

FL Denis, can you tell something about ABS/BVS ?
Denis Our association was founded in 1980 when scripophily was still a young hobby. ABS/BVS is a non-profit organization. Once a month we gather in Jezus-Eik, close to Brussels, and hold an auction for members. Occasionally, non-members are allowed to take part in a special auction either on-site or through submission of email bids. Also, people who still own some old cancelled bonds and shares, can contact our chairman for value estimations. They can also consign their 'non-valeurs' for sale at the club auction.

FL How many members does the society has ? 
Denis We have about 25 members.

FL I've seen that the newsletter is mainly written in French. Do most members speak French ?
Denis There are a little more French speakers. We have a small group of members from France! But there is no big difference with the number of Dutch speakers.

Banker André Langrand-Dumonceau founded in 1863 the Banque de Crédit Foncier et Industriel. From the 1850s through the 1860s Langrand-Dumonceau tried to build a major Catholic financial group in Europe to counterbalance the so-perceived Jewish dominance in the financial sector. He became manager of tens of financial companies. He founded Royale Belge, one of the largest Belgian insurance companies. Pope Pius IX, King Leopold of Belgium, Napoleon III of France, and other European notables supported Langrand-Dumonceau's activities. However, by 1870, his financial empire collapsed and he fled to the USA. Langrand-Dumonceau signed this 1863 certificate for 20 shares of 500 Francs. 

FL Denis, the society has an interesting website. What does it offer ?
Denis The site hosts a very extensive online database of antique securities (*). Of course, you can find information about our club and our hobby. In case of a 'special auction', we put the auction catalog online as well.
(*) Editor's note: you can search among more than 40,000 bonds and shares

FL You decided to publish a newsletter. What is it about ?
Denis We have a lots of resources on Belgian business histories, like the Moniteur and Recueil Financier year books. We bring topics on Belgian scripophily. In cases where a foreign company has a Belgian connection, eg. through its shareholders, then we might bring topics on foreign corporations too. In all cases, the content should be a combination of financial history and known bonds and shares.

FL Denis, was there a particular reason to start the newsletter ?
Denis Well, in the first place, we hope our members find it interesting, but publishing a newsletter is also a great way to give visibility to our association. The number of collectors in Belgium is diminishing. Hopefully, we can attract new members with this project.

L'Ikelemba was an agricultural and trading company, especially in rubber. The company's assets were located in the Ikelemba river bassin, in today's Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Lithographie du "Messager de Bruxelles" produced this share from 1898, a great example of a chromolithograph. Instead of using techniques like intaglio printing (e.g. engraving) or raised relief (wood-cut), this printing process was based on a flat surface printing method. The drawing was made on a special stone. By means of chemicals, ink was attracted by the drawing and repelled from the surrounding areas. In the case of multiple colors, separate stones were used for each color. A single print went through the press separately for each 'color' stone. The big challenge was to keep the resulting color prints aligned to form a unified image.  

FL I can't resist asking the next question, I'm a bad person, but what is your favorite certificate ? 
Denis Hm ... one of my favorites is a L'Ikelemba, action de dividende, from 1898 and extremely decorative.

FL Denis, I want to thank you for this interview and wish you success with the newsletter. 

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