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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