Thursday, May 13, 2021

Reference catalogue : Bulgarian bonds

Scripophily literature about Bulgaria is sparse, but that is changing. 

Author Pitt Alan has compiled the first edition of a two-part volume on Bulgarian state securities. The two works are digital publications. I will tell you more about that immediately, but let us first have a closer look at the content.

Part I Long Term Bonds 

The first volume gives an overview of known long term bonds issued by the Bulgarian governments. It consists of 185 pages in which about 180 bonds are described. Part I counts 150 color illustrations in medium resolution. This volume is written in English.

Each entry addresses the following characteristics : catalogue number, title, face value, maturity, coupons, description, watermark, printer, mintage, rarity and price indication (where possible). Here's an overview of the chapters :
  • A. Government and Bank Loans (the largest chapter)
    • Principality of Bulgaria 16 April 1879 - 22 September 1908
    • Kingdom of Bulgaria 22 September 1908 - 15 September 1946
    • People's Republic of Bulgaria 15 September 1946 - 15 November 1990
    • Republic of Bulgaria 15 Nov 1990 - present day
  • B. Municipal Loans
  • C. Loans of Commercial Enterprises
  • D. Loans of Political Organizations
  • E. Loans of Various Entities

After the Russo-Turkish War, 1878, the Bulgarian state was reestablished as the Principality of Bulgaria. Officially, a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, the principality was de facto independent. This £20 = 500 Francs = 500 Leva specimen bond was printed in London by Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. It was part of the State Redeemable 6% Loan of 1888. Cat. Nr. A.1

Part II Treasury Bills 

Volume II discusses treasury bills, short term bonds, issued by the successive Bulgarian governments. This volume counts 107 pages illustrated with 250 color illustrations (obverse and reverse) in medium resolution. Here, the author added more in depth information to each treasury bill issue. This volume is written in both English and Bulgarian. 

An overview of the chapters of the 2nd volume :
  • A. 1st period - Pre World War I State Treasury Bills for guarantee of external state loans
  • B. 2nd period - World War I State Treasury Bills for covering budget deficit, issued 1917-1920, representing internal state loans
  • C. 3rd period - Between the two World Wars, State Treasury Bills for covering reparations and for new military expenses
  • D. 4th period - World War II State Treasury Bills representing internal loans
  • E. 5th period - State Treasury Bills issued after the democratic changes of 1989

At the end of World War II the USSR invaded Bulgaria. In 1946 a communist one-party people's republic was instituted. Bulgaria became one of the founding members of the Comecon in 1949. This Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, under leadership of the Soviet Union, enabled Bulgaria to strengthen its economic relationships with other Eastern Bloc countries and socialist states. This 20 leva interest-free bond from the State Loan for Development of National Economy was issued in 1952. Cat. A.30 

This is a digital password protected publication. How does it work ?

The two volumes appeared only in a digital and password protected format, namely PDF. They are available from eBay seller BC43L currently at the price of $25,94 each. See here

After purchasing one of these items on eBay, the buyer receives by email a download link and a password. Once downloaded, you can open the PDF file after providing the password. Each volume is also 'custom-generated' : the name of the buyer is printed at the bottom of each page next to the page number. 

One last thing to know, unlike the images shown in this article, the images in the volumes have a subtle digital watermark.

This 5% 12-month treasury bill of 5000 Leva was issued in 1918. Cat. B.106 
After World War I there was a shortage of paper money. The Kingdom of Bulgaria started using treasury bills as paper money by having them overprinted and verified with the handwritten signatures of three government officials (inspector, controller and cashier). The text in blue overprint shown on the example says (source : Bulgarian bonds, Part II, Pitt Alan)
The bill has the power of banknote, just for the interior of the Kingdom. 
With term until 31 December 1922 and up to the value of the principal amount. 
Leva 5,000 five thousand 5,000 Leva. 
Bulgarian National Bank

Peter Anguelov wrote these two volumes under the pseudonym Pitt Alan. No doubt collectors of Bulgarian and even Ottoman and Soviet scripophily, as well banknotes, will be interested. 


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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Feuerwerk at HSK's May auction! Over 1400 antique stocks and bonds from Germany, USA and other states, go on the block

Hanseatisches Sammlerkontor für Historische Wertpapiere, HSK, has scheduled its next auction for 29 May 2021. Michael Weingarten and his team goes online with more than 1400 lots of historic bonds and share certificates. The sale features scripophily from Germany, USA, Russia and more. One of the highlights is a stunning and rare share in the Rochlitz coal mining association.

The Gründerzeit starts halfway the 19th century. During this period Germany's rail and transport network took off, and in its wake, the other industrial activities. However, government rules allowed only very few companies to be organized.  
The short-lived Steinkohlenbau-Verein zu Rochlitz was formed in 1855. Its interim share, a wonderful lithograph, shows at the top the city of Rochlitz and mining scenes on the left and the right. At the bottom we see gnomes at work and an explosion in their mine. Seldom seen in early prints you detect mined rock with imprints of fossilized plants. L(ot) 1168 in the auction is expected to realize at least €12,000 

Starting with this auction, HSK's 40th, the auctioneer decided to change its schedule. HSK auctions will now take place in the early summer period of the year. Also, participants have now the opportunity to follow the auctions live on the Internet via the Invaluable online platform. 

The Alaska Gold Syndicate Company was formed in 1896 under the laws of the Territory of Arizona. Its office was located in "the end of the road " Homer,  Kachemak Bay, Alaska. This 1898 stock certificate, with large hydraulic mining vignette, was printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. L15 in the auction.

The first major section in the event includes 330 lots of American scripophily. Noteworthy are several certificates from Alaska, as well as stocks from several shipping companies, such as L313, Union Navigation Company, L314, The United States and Azorean Steam Packet Company, and L318, The United States Mail Steamship Company. And there is a lot to go through for US railroad collectors as well, a few examples :
  • L67 Chester and Eddystone Street Railway, elk vignette
  • L199 The Natchitoches and Red River Valley Railway, rare
  • L329 The Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad Company, three vignettes, rare

Merchants from Bremen formed in 1856 Norddeutscher Lloyd, a precursor of the multinational TUI Group. This rare 100 Reichsmark share from 1929 illustrates the printing mastership of Giesecke & Devrient. Note how Norddeutscher Lloyd's logo, a crossed anchor and key with an oak leaf wreath, is included in both the left corner guilloches. The anchor represents the sea and the wreath stands for a united Germany. The key is the key of the Freie Hansestadt Bremen. L603 starts from €300 

HSK specializes in scripophily from North Germany. The sale counts about 200 lots from Bremen and Niedersachsen, over 100 lots related to Hamburg and more than 40 lots from Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The Norddeutscher Lloyd share shown here is one example. Some others are :
  • L461 Aper Canal-Gesellschaft, 1849, what a shipping vignette! 
  • L478 Bremerhavener Strassenbahn, rare
  • L638 Uelzener Bierbrauerei-Gesellschaft, bond printed by Hofbuchdruckerei der Gebrüder Jänecke from Hannover 
  • Due to the spartan equipment of its ships and the notoriously poor catering, the Deutsch-Australische Dampfschiffs-Gesellschaft earned the nickname "the German-Austerity-Line". Its rare share from 1888 is one of the highlights in the auction, L671 

After World War I the Nürnberg area counted several competing brands of motorcycles such as Ardie, Mars and Zündapp.  Apparatebau AG Kracker & Co. produced in the early 1920s several lightweight motorcycles under the Abako brand. This specimen share, with hundreds of gears in the design, was produced in a striking Art Deco style by Graphische Kunstanstalt Zerreiss & Co. L828

The European section, lot range 365 through 452, includes historic items like a 1918 share in the Det-Østasiatiske Kompagni, L365, and, L409, Kaiser Ferdinands Nordbahn, 1856. And here is a representative of modern scripophily, Austrian Airlines.

In 1988 Austrian Airlines underwent an IPO upon the Vienna Stock Exchange. Yet the majority of shares in the company stayed with the Austrian government. L375, Austrian Airlines Österreichische Luftverkehrs-AG, Wien, 1000 Schilling share, 1988, starts at €100 

There is a lot more to discover in the sale, so here are the details :


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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Book : Dow Jones by Peter Jones

Dr. Peter D. Jones brings the stories behind the companies that formed the Dow Jones average in 1884, as well as the ones that were included in the DJIA as the index grew over the decades. The book deserves a place in any scripophily library. Let's have a closer look.


  • Title : Dow Jones by Peter Jones - A History of Dow Jones Stock Averages since 1884
  • Author : Peter D Jones
  • ID : ISBN 978-1-09830-506-2, published by BookBaby, 2020
  • Language : English
  • Number of pages : 350
  • Images : almost on every page, in color except for vintage photos, page wide images of stock certificates
  • Indexes : large index section spanning 11 pages each with 4 columns of keywords 

Peter Jones introduces the reader into the world of scripophily and the history of the Dow Jones stock market index. The book continues with the stories of companies that were included in the Dow Jones index.

The United States Steel Corporation entered the DJIA in 1907 after it bought the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, one of the initial index components. This $100,000 bond once belonged to industrialist Andrew Carnegie. He sold his share in US Steel to banker J. P. Morgan for $225 million. Carnegie was paid in 50-year gold bonds like the one shown here. The buyout was the largest industrial takeover in United States history. It made Carnegie the richest American.  Image courtesy : Peter Jones  

The publication consists of the following chapters :
  1. Scripophily - what is it ?
  2. Dow Jones Company and its averages
  3. First Transport average 1884 - 11 stocks
    • Chicago and Northwestern Railway, Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad, Lake Shore and Michigan Southern RW, Louisville and Nashville RR, Missoure Pacific, New York Central RR, Northern Pacific RR, Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul RR, Union Pacific RR, Pacific Mail Steamship, Western Union Telegraph 
  4. First Industrial average 1896 - 12 stocks : 
    • American Cotton Oil, American Sugar Refining, American Tobacco, Chicago Gas, Distilling and Cattle Feeding, Laclede Gas Light, National Lead, North American Co, Tennessee Coal Iron and RR, US Leather, US Rubber, General Electric 
  5. Second DJIA 1916 - 20 stocks, including :
    • American Beet Sugar, American Can, American Car and Foundry, American Locomotive, American Smelting and Refining, AT&T, Anaconda Copper, Baldwin Locomotive, Central Leather, BF Goodrich, Republic Iron and Steel, Studebaker, Texaco, Utah Copper, Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing 
  6. Third DJIA 1928 - 30 stocks, including : 
    • Allied Chemical, Atlantic Refining, Betlehem Steel, Chrysler, General Motors, General Railway Signal, International Harvester, International Nickel, Mack Truck, Paramount Publix, Postum (General Foods), Radio Corporation of America, Sears Roebuck, Standard Oil (EXXON), Texas Gulf Sulfur, Union Carbide, Victor Talking Machine, Woolworth, Wright Aeronautical 
  7. 30 longest surviving DJIA stocks, including :
    • Procter and Gamble, Honeywell, United Aircraft, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, Chevron, Goodyear, ALCOA, Johns-Manville, International Paper, Owens-Illinois Glass 
  8. Ten largest US companies
    • Apple, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart, Pfizer, Facebook 
  9. Appendices
    • Corporate structures
    • Richest people in US
    • How DJIA is calculated
    • 1884 DJTA railroad locations

The Nash Motors Company was in the DJIA30 from 1928 to 1930 and from 1932 to 1936. The company, founded by former General Motors president Charles W. Nash, pioneered with car heating and ventilation systems, unibody construction and seat belts. Nash Motors became American Motors Corporation (AMC). Image courtesy : Peter Jones

By bringing the story of America's large industrial companies in easy digestible chapters, the author also tells us the history of modern industrial America. Besides writing about successful entrepreneurs, inventions, technological advances and progress in society, Peter Jones also discusses union disputes, dishonest business practises, environmental abuse, etc. Yes, lots to be amused about.

Peter Jones is also the author of these numismatic books : Colonial History in Your HandsCommemorative Coin TalesThe First Medals of AmericaThe First Coins of America and Notable Notes. A description of these can be found here

This Google Inc. share shows the facsimile signatures of founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Peter Jones' book is one of the few scripophily works that also highlights modern technology stocks such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Google. Google was not included in the Dow Jones. Why can be read in the last chapter. Image courtesy : Peter Jones

A hard cover, it measures 11 x 8.5 inches (28 x 21,6 cm). You can purchase the book from the author himself. Mail your address and a check for $79 (includes US mailing) to : Peter Jones, Box 1, Windham Center, CT 06280. International mail typically costs about $50 extra.

I especially liked the author's personal anecdotes in several chapters.


Monday, March 29, 2021

Collectibles from the undersea world and other rarities emerge in Boone's scripophily auction

The 66th auction of Mario Boone takes place online with an exceptional wide range of scripophily collectibles. More than 1,100 antique stocks and bonds span 4 centuries of financial history.

The sale includes several historic items and a number of old collections have been consigned for this occasion. Very special, and unseen before, is a scripophily collection of the undersea world. The companies represented here had goals that captured our imagination. Their shares often featured fantastic vignettes.

During the American Civil War hundreds of ships  were destroyed. This share from the Life Saving Raft Company, was issued in 1866 just after the war. The amazing vignette shows the company's life raft with shipwrecked sailors. Early lithograph produced by Henry Seibert and Brothers, New York, and part of the Diving/Submarines collection 

The Diving/Submarines collection consists of about 90 certificates from companies involved in diving operations, the ship wreck salvage business, underwater treasure hunting, production of submarines, insurance of maritime losses, diving and life saving equipment and maritime archaeology. The collection, L(ot) 1051, offered as a whole, starts at €4,000. In case no bid is received, it will be offered again in smaller lots. 

I'll come back to the other collections consigned for this sale but let me discuss first some of the top items in the sale.

One of the highlights in the auction is this previously unseen share from 1747. Formed in 1720 the Compañia Real de la Havana organized the trade between Spain and Cuba. The company controlled the export of tobacco, sugar, wood and other Cuban products but also slaves, as well as all import of European products needed in the colony. L771 in the auction starts at €5,000. Detailed image provided on the auctioneers portal, see link below.

Here are some more lovely items from the Spanish chapter in the sale :
  • L772, an early copper engraving on vellum, boundless vignette all over the design, is a share from the Real Compañia de Comercio Establicida en Barcelona, dated around 1748 but unissued which explains the moderate start price of €400! 
  • Printed with a "gold" vignette of a mining operation, the San Juan Bautista (Teruel) silvermine share, 1857, belonged to the Duke of Rianzares, second husband of Queen Maria Cristina de Borbon, L775 
  • A great example of Art Nouveau design, L782, a share in the Nueva Plaza de Toros, shows off the bullring of Barcelona

Let's jump to the present. Everyone knows how to download a PDF auction catalog and read it with the Acrobat Reader application. Both PDF and Acrobat Reader were developed by Adobe Systems. The company was founded in 1982 by ex-Xerox PARC employees John Warnock and Charles Geschke. This specimen stock certificate bears the facsimile of Charles M. Geschke. In 1992 he was kidnapped from Adobe's parking lot. Four days later the FBI found and saved Geschke. L1043, a very interesting collectible from the software industry, starts at €50 

Regarding American scripophily there is lots more to find. This auction chapter includes a top collection of ninety early USA (1816-1860) certificates, lot range 884 through 976. A few examples :
  • L886, Thomaston Coal and Mineral Company, 1819!, then part of Massachusetts, today Maine
  • L910, Philadelphia Museum Company, previously Peale's American Museum, share from 1840
  • L943, West End Land Association, 1854, vignettes of villa and native Americans
The American 'regular' section, lot range 977-1044, has some more surprises, so don't forget that part. 

The Russian chapter consists of nearly 100 lots and kicks off with another highlight :  L678, a share in the Warsaw-Vienna Railway Company. In 1814 Alexander I of Russia was made king of Poland at the Congress of Vienna. His succesor Nicholas I approved the construction of the Warsaw-Vienna Railway. Its 1839, unissued, share shows the vignette of the Russian imperial double-headed eagle. Besides tsarist era scripophily, the chapter includes several soviet certificates as well.

The Azoff Steam Ship Company, founded in 1871, serviced the harbors at the Sea of Azov and the River Don. In the Soviet period the company became an asset of the Ministry of the Maritime Fleet (Minmorflot). This 1895 specimen share was printed by Typography Brothers Schumacher. The printing house finds its origins in the 18th century print shop of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The shop was founded by Johann Daniel Schumacher, secretary of the academy and librarian to the Tsar, and his brother Johann-Jacob, professor of architecture at the St-Petersburg university. L691 

Here is an overview of the other collections that will go on the block in this auction : 
  • L5, Collection of 16 Red Cross certificates
  • L187, Collection of 46 Austrian World War I bonds 
  • L321, Collection of 84 royal loans of France under the form of life rentes (cfr. the catalogue France, The Royal Loans by Howard Shakespeare), period 1689-1787 
  • L322-333, Corsica collection
  • Lot 625-677: Rolf Büchsenschütz collection of Romania (part)
  • L1080-1117, Fire fighting collection

The printed catalog contains several indexes to help you find what you are looking for.  The online versions can be searched by keywords. 

At the start of the 20th century, Ghent, Ypres, Bruges and other Flemish cities still counted many female lace workers. During WWI, war lace was bought by soldiers as a gift for the home front in England or America. This handicraft would disappear, partly because in the Congo, then a Belgian colony, nuns taught lace-making techniques in the missions. The Congolese women and children produced large quantities of lace at very low wages. De Vrouwelijke Beroepsbonden, in English: The Women's Occupational Unions, was a cooperative from Ghent founded in 1914. This unissued share shows vignettes of a lace worker and two seamstresses. Printed by Litho. F. & R. Buyck Frères. L229 

It is impossible to mention all items in this sale, but there is a way to find out more about them. Here are the auction details :
  • Location : Internet only
  • Date : 10 April 2021
  • Further info : 


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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Google Translate and tiny printer names

Recently I compiled a list of the printing houses identified on the bonds and shares illustrated in the blog. Some of these printers have produced bonds and shares over many decades and in different styles. It shouldn't be a surprise that people start a collection of certificates made by their favorite printer, such as Waterlow & Sons, Richard or Cote Libre. But the quest is not always straightforward.

There is always a possibility that one can't detect a printer name on a certificate. The reason why may be simple. Sometimes the design did not include a printer name. Or, speaking for myself in this case, the name can not be identified because you don't know how to read the language.

This ¥25 million stock certificate for 500,000 Hitachi shares of ¥50 is an undated specimen (見 本) from the 1970s. Its vignettes show the company's logo, a power transformer and an electric locomotive.

As a kid I was mesmerized by the sparkling Hitachi modular Hi-Fi systems on display in a local shop. Hitachi, Ltd., a Japanese multinational conglomerate company, has been active in many fields of technology such as electric and nuclear power installations, electric engines and locomotives, military vehicles, supercomputers and communication technology. Today, Hitachi has about 300,000 employees.

The illustrated Hitachi share shows the name of its printer at the bottom. It's in Japanese. That's out of my depth but there is a work-around.

I once wrote about What you can do with Google Translate on your smartphone. In that article, I showed you how to deal with scripophily catalogs in an unknown language. I tried that same approach, this time on the printer name of the Hitachi share. It did not work.

The name of printer was too small, less than 2cm, about two grains of rice long. The characters, less than 1.5 mm wide, were too small for my camera to be recognized. If I could only provide a larger image. Now, that thought turned out to be a step in the right direction. 

high resolution scan of printer name, taken at 600 dpi

I put the certificate on the image scanner. I set the scanning properties to a high resolution of 600 dots per inch to get a large and clear image of that line of text. I narrowed the scan area to a rectangle surrounding the text. The resulting image, see above, was saved.

Next, I opened the saved image file on the PC screen, and started the Google Translate app on the smartphone. Language parameters were set : 
  • Text to translate from : Japanese
  • Text to translate into : English
I pointed the camera to the image on the PC screen and pressed the camera icon in the app.

The Google Translate software tried to recognize the words that were captured by the camera. It was necessary to find the right distance between the camera and the computer screen by holding the phone closer to and further from the screen. Then the answer appeared on the phone : Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. Got it !

The text on the share actually shows two words 大日本印刷株式会社 and 印刷. The first part says  Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., the second part - which occurs also in the first part - means 'printing'. I guess the entire line means '(a) printing of the Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.'.

Here is another example of a Dai Nippon Printing certificate. Note that the name of the printer here is written from right to left.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. 
100 Shares of 50 Yen, specimen stock certificate, 1968 

The Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., (Dai Nippon Insatsu) was organized in 1935 as a merger between the Shueisha printing house and the Nisshin Printing Co., Ltd. After WWII the company began printing new banknotes for Japan. In 1949 its Enokicho plant started producing share certificates.

What I like about Dai Nippon Printing certificates are the fine patterns and guilloches produced in subtle color tints in the underprint. You can check this blog's printer page to find another Dai Nippon Printing share.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Cuban scripophily at Spink's upcoming "world bonds and shares" auction

More than 300 lots from the Andrew Kirk collection of bonds and shares are going on Spink's E-block. At stake are antique stocks and bonds from many countries. This online sale started last week on the 9th of March and the bidding window closes on March 23rd 11:00.

Rare and interesting scripophily objects represent themes like UK railways & shipping, British theatres, United States, China & Latin America.

The sale also presents an attractive section with Cuban scripophily. Here are some highlights from Cuba's pre-independence period :
  • L(ot) 223 is a rare 1853 share in the Compañia de Caminos de Hierro de la Habana, vignette of the railway station, incoming train and lots more, a feast for the eye, and early
  • L225, Compañia de Seguros Maritimos de la Habana, 1857, very fine vignette of steamship in trouble at sea near lighthouse
  • Issued ten years earlier is a 50 peso share from the Sociedad de Minas de la Habana, 1847, L234.

L224 is a share in the Compañia del Ferro-Carril de La Bahía de La Habana à Matanzas. Issued in 1859, the year when the company opened its first track, it shows the old Fesser railway station. The company was also a ship owner. Their side-wheel steamer, the Nuestra Señora de Regla, built in 1861 in New York was meant to run on a ferry between Havana and the railroad's terminus at Regla. On her way to Havana the ship entered Port Royal, South Carolina, then in rebellion against the United States during the American Civil War. The ship was seized by the Union fleet, it was searched and incriminating letters were found including an order from the Confederate Army for purchasing rifles, bayonets, cavalry sabers, cannon powder and the like from agents in London.
source: The Mystery of the Nuestra Señora de Regla : Underwater Archaeology in North Carolina, by Richard Triebe and Mark Wilde-Ramsing, Prologue - Quarterly of the National Archives, Spring 1992, Vol 24 No 1

Collectors of UK railway and shipping scripophily must have a look in the Great Britain section. Some examples :
  • L122, Poole Isle of Purbeck, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Steam Packet Company, 1845, beautiful vignette of paddle steamer in heavy seas, printed on vellum with green embossed seal depicting ship.
  • Two rare 1845 shares from the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) are offered, L120 and L121. The term Peninsular stood for the Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal. Soon the company offered round trips to Alexandria and Constantinople. Two years after these shares were issued, the company entered the opium trade in the East.
  • Another fine landscape with train vignette can be seen on a share in The Middlesbrough and Guisbrough Railway Company, L106, issued 1857

American scripophily forms a substantial part of the sale. This is L259, a $1000 City of Boston Water Scrip bond, issued in 1848 and signed by mayor Josiah Quincy Jr (IV). During his term the Cochituate Aqueduct was built to bring water from Lake Cochituate to the growing city of Boston. Both Quincy Jr's father and grandson were mayors of Boston.

There is much to discover in the sale! So, here are the sale's details : 
  • Location : online auction only
  • Date : ends on 23 March, 2021 at 11:00 AM
  • Further info : see Spink's online catalogue with full color images here 


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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A new page on this blog : Printers

Scripophily, the hobby of collecting and researching antique securities, is blessed with marvellous collectibles. These objects have been produced by all kinds of printing houses, some of them being top notch banknote printers. Others specialized in the printing of artistic posters, or were active as book and newspaper publishers.

Absolutely amazing are the bonds and shares from the B. Sirven company. The detail above is a part from their main vignette, a work made by the artist Luigi Loir. Click the image for more details. 

I went on a discovery tour and checked out the posts from this blog. I searched for printer names that could be recognized from the featured bonds and shares. Much to my surprise I counted over 150 of them.

The B. Sirven printing house originates from a business set up in 1834 by Jean Bernard Sirven in the French city of Toulouse. The company continued through several family generations and excelled in chromolithography. Collectors are after the Belle Époque postcards and posters made by the company. Different bond and shares issues from B. Sirven have similar designs but are produced in different color versions. This 500 francs bond dates from 1911.

You can see the list of the identified printing houses, and the certificates they printed, on the Printers page (hyperlink on top of the site). The world of security printers is a little planet on its own. The list represents only a microscopic fraction of it, but it gives you an idea what's out there. As you'll find out, some printers, like the American Bank Note Company, were extremely productive. 

In many cases scripophily collectors find a reference to a certificate's printing house at or below the bottom edge of the design. You can see an example here. However B. Sirven's certificates do not reveal a printer name. Yet, I believe these certificates were printed on B. Sirven's own presses. There is lots to see, for instance, along the vertical borders, you can spot these small circular elements holding the company's interlaced initials 'BS'. This mini-logo is repeated in all its magnificence in a subtle underprint of abundant scrollwork. Click image to enlarge

I don't recall seeing any other scripophily produced by B. Sirven, the printer who produced the bond illustrated here. Who does? 

Collecting bonds and shares printed by a certain printing house can be a great theme to pursue. You may want to start a side collection of certificates produced by your favorite printer.

Scripophily from the B. Sirven company shows two tiny portraits in the upper corners. Johannes Gutenberg (ca. 1400-1468), on the left, introduced the movable type printing press in Europe. Johann Alois Senefelder (1771-1834), on the right, who is also a German like Gutenberg, invented the printing technique of lithography. Founder Jean Bernard Sirven may have known or heard about Senefelder, a contemporary. By paying tribute to these pioneers, the company showed its investors that it was a legitimate successor in the evolution of printing. 

Do you think that a certificate from a particular printing house is missing in the Printers list ? If so, then email me a high resolution image of the certificate at issue. I'd be happy to include it with an accompanying article on the blog.

F. L. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Taxonomy of a certificate : Passoeroean Stoomtram-Maatschappij

Taxonomy is the practice of describing, identifying, naming, and classifying things on the basis of characteristics. 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 Dutch stock certificate from the Passoeroean Stoomtram-Maatschappij, Dutch for 'Pasuruan Steam Tram Company'.

Physical characteristics
  • Issuer : Naamloze Vennootschap Passoeroean Stoomtram-Maatschappij (PSM)
  • Type :  share 
  • Denomination : 100 gulden  
  • Capital/Principal : 500,000 gulden 
  • Issue date : 1st July, 1905
  • Place of issue : 's-Gravenhage, the "old" name for Den Haag
  • Registered or bearer : bearer 
  • Lifecycle status : issued and uncancelled
  • Printer : Zuid-Hollandsche Boek- en Handelsdrukkerij  
  • Colors : blue 
  • Design & vignettes : borders with scrollwork of leaves and flowers 
  • Engraver : none mentioned
  • Artist : none mentioned
  • Language : Dutch
  • Security features 
    • seal : none
    • watermark : none
    • handwritten signatures : yes
  • Notable person (signed by, issued to, transferred to) : none
  • Format : vertical
  • Medium carrier : paper
  • Special remarks : -

This Passoeroean Stoomtram-Maatschappij share from 1905 was printed by the Zuid-Hollandsche Boek- en Handelsdrukkerij. The latter company became part of the Elsevier publishing house in the late 1970s.

Researched characteristics  
  • Country of issuance : The Netherlands 
  • Place of operations : Pasuruan, East Java
  • Country of operations : Indonesia
  • Type of operations : railway 
  • Era : Ethical Policy program of the Dutch East Indies (1900-WWII)

Once you have specified a certificate's characteristics, you can use that information to find out more about the certificate, its issuer, the latter's location or possible notable persons involved. 

The term Naamloze Vennootschap, in short NV, corresponds to similar concepts in other countries such as Aktiebolag (AB), Aktiengesellschaft (AG), Incorporated (Inc), Public Limited Company (Plc), Société Anonyme, Sociedad Anónima and Spółka Akcyjna (SA), Società per Azioni and Societate pe Acțiuni  (SpA), Ανώνυμη Εταιρεία (A.E.), etc. In Indonesia the term Perseroan Terbatas (PT) is used.

What have I learned about this antique share certificate?

Sugar producers need a tramway
The illustrated share in the Passoeroean Stoomtram-Maatschappij (PSM) was issued in 1905 during the so-called Ethical Policy program. Aimed at promoting the living conditions of the Indonesians, this Dutch colonial policy comprised these pillars : 
  1. Irrigation, introduction of banking services and subsidies for indigenous industries and handicrafts,
  2. Education, including the organization of a Dutch school system,
  3. Migration of people from the over-populated Java to the less densely populated areas of Indonesia.
Unlike the Ethical Policy program, the PSM was a success. The company organized transport of passengers and products such as sugarcane, tea and tobacco for nearly 100 years. Actually sugar cultivation was the main reason to set up this tramway company.

The PSM imported locomotives made by Lokomotivbau Hohenzollern, HANOMAG and Cockerill. The one shown on this picture taken around 1910 is the Cockerill C2201 "Louisa".
image : Tidak Diketahui, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Colonial Indonesia's Liberal Period introduced private (mainly Dutch) entrepreneurship. The Sugar Act of 1870 allowed private companies to start sugar cane plantations in the Dutch East Indies. Soon, the region around Pasuruan saw the startup of several sugar factories. Pasuruan lies in East Java along the coast line between Surabaya and Probolinggo.

To provide cheap and fast rail transport to and from the sugar mills, the government granted several concessions to the PSM for building and operating a railway. The 6km track between Pasuruan and Warung Dowo was inaugurated on May 21, 1896. Others sections followed. The last one was opened in 1912 and connected Warung Dowo with Ngempit over a 5km distance. 

Some of PSM's branches were closed under Japanese Occupation during World War II. Others were further closed due to increased competition by road transport. The remainder of the PSM lines are now operated by PT Kereta Api Indonesia.

Oh, did you know that the Indonesian word for tram is trem !


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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

F.H.W. auctions 1900 lots of historic securities in online event. Scripophily from Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire substantial.

Freunde Historischer Wertpapiere (FHW) has scheduled its 119th sale for February 20, 2021. This time auctioneer Jörg Benecke and his team selected nearly 1900 lots of historic bonds and share certificates. Major sections have been reserved for scripophily from the USA, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and of course Germany.

The auction starts with the American scripophily section, over 240 lots, the bigger part being railway securities. 

L(ot) 41 is an uncancelled! stock certificate from The Cincinnati, Portsmouth & Virginia Railroad Company. Henry Fink signed in 1903 this share as President. He was born in Germany and was called the "Dean of Railroad Men", a title he earned for his continuous service in the railroad field. Fink started his career in 1851 as a rodman on the Western Maryland Railroad. Within several railroad companies he climbed up from construction engineer and master of transportation all the way to vice president, general manager, and receiver. Henry Fink wrote several works on transportation subjects.

Here are some other interesting US railway lots : 
  • L44, The Cincinnati, Washington & Baltimore Railroad, 5% First Income Mortgage Bond, $1000, 1883, rare 
  • The Tyrone and Clearfield Railway Company share from 1867, L221, displays a lovely railway vignette and is signed by John Edgar Thomson best know for his leadership of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Thomson, an entrepreneur but also a reknown civil engineer co-designed what became known as "Horseshoe Curve".
  • L29, The Central Pacific Railway Company, $500 4% First Refunding Mortgage Gold Bond, 1899, color print by ABN with portrait of Collis Potter Huntington, rare 

One of the main roles in FHW's event is played by k.u.k. and its successor states (Nachfolgestaaten). The Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918) comprised Austria, Hungary and parts of todays Italy, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Ukrain. It was the second-largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire at over 620,000 km2. The "kaiserlich und königlich" refers to "imperial (Austria)" and "royal (Hungary)".  The sale features over 300 k.u.k. lots including this lovely fire engine share.

L507 is a 100 Forint share from the Tarnóczy Tűzoltószer- És Gépgyár Részvenytársasag, in English: Tarnóczy Fire engine and Machine Company. Issued in Budapest, 1891, it shows the company's factory, hand-operated fire engines, lathes, a blacksmith and a firefighter with firehose. 

The lion's share of new offerings can be found in two major sections of the auction: Germany before, and, after 1945. The former counts 272 lots, the latter - the "DM" part - features 495 lots. As good as all regions and economic themes are represented. I checked out the catalog reference index on 'breweries and malthouses' and found tens of entries ! 

The economy of West Germany developed rapidly after World War II. This "Wirtschaftswunder" created a heavy demand for steel. German post-WWII securities are often artistically designed. Modern German steel scripophily counts perhaps the most stunning examples. Check FHW's catalog for L1816 Stahlwerke Peine-Salzgitter, L1542 Dortmund-Hörder Hüttenunion and L1641 Hüttenwerke Phoenix. This 1000 DM specimen share in the Rheinisch-Westfälische Eisen- und Stahlwerke AG dates from 1953, L1764 in the sale. Click image to enlarge

Top German item in the sale is L1223, a founders share from 1838 in the Gesellschaft für Spinnerei & Weberei in Ettlingen, the first public limited company in the German cotton industry. The share shows the detailed floor plan of the factory and its usage of hydropower from the Alb, a tributary of the Upper Rhine. The company is known today as ETTLIN AG and still manufactures fabric and technical textiles. 

You want to inspect the "50%" lot range 688-1126. Here, unsold lots from previous sales are offered again at 50% of the original start price. Included are also bonds and shares from the Dr. Werner P. Schmidt Automobile and China Collection.  

From the Dr. Werner P. Schmidt Automobile Collection, L881 consists of two Volvo shares from the 1930s. Volvo was founded in 1927 as a subsidiary of the ball bearing manufacturer SKF. The share shown here bears the facsimile signature of SKF founder Sven Wingqvist. 

There is a lot to discover in the sale, so here are the details :


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Sunday, February 7, 2021

George Bellows's Men of the Docks

What have a Lamport & Holt steamer, the Brooklyn Bridge, and John Jacob Astor in common ? The answer is : a painting !

Men of the Docks is an oil painting by American artist George Bellows. He made it in New York and finished it in 1912. The work shows you longshoremen on a wharf along the East River. The weather is cold, it has snowed and across the river we see the first sunlit skyscrapers of Manhattan. 

The work is now on display in London at the National Gallery. Purchased in 2014 at the price of $25.5 million, Bellows's painting was the museum's first major American painting. 

I invite you to watch National Gallery's curator Christopher Riopelle, who does an amazing job telling us what Bellows really painted and why the painting was particularly relevant in April 1912. Sure, you'll find out that a Lamport & Holt steamer, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Astors feature in his story as well.

Tip : You can watch the 26' video expanded up your entire screen by clicking the Full Screen button (the rightmost icon at the bottom).

George Bellows's 'Men of the Docks' | The History of the National Gallery in Six Paintings
courtesy The National Gallery

That was interesting, wasn't it? It felt like making a journey through space and time. All that remains is for me to show you the share certificates I used for the collage at the beginning of this post.

This Lamport and Holt Limited share was issued on 7 Nov 1912, only a few months after George Bellows completed his Men of the Docks. Shipping lines painted their ships' funnels (chimneys) in distinctive colours to distinguish them from competitors. In the ship vignette the funnel is printed in three shades of grey. As you could see in the Bellows painting the real funnel colors were black, white and blue.

The Brooklyn Elevated Railway Company, founded as the Brooklyn Elevated Silent Safety Railway, was in 1884 reorganized as the Brooklyn Elevated Railroad Company. One year earlier, the Brooklyn Bridge was opened. The bridge carried pedestrians, horse-drawn vehicles and elevated railway lines into the 1950s. The large vignette on this 1880 issued share includes one of the bridge's suspension towers designed in Gothic Revival style.

The Wagner Palace Car Company made luxurious sleeping and parlor cars for trains. This share was issued in 1895 to John Jacob Astor IV. He signed it on the reverse (lower image). The Astor’s owned lots of real estate property including parts of Lower Manhattan, the Times Square area and the land where the Empire State Building is now. John Jacob Astor IV was the wealthiest person aboard the Titanic. Actor Eric Braeden portrayed him in James Cameron's Titanic, starring Leonardi DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. John Jacob Astor IV did not survive the Titanic when it sank on 15 April 1912, but his pregnant wife was rescued. 


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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Pioneering communication technology and lots more ready for take off at Spink

SPINK's latest timed scripophily auction went live earlier this week and ends at 11 AM GMT on Feb 16, 2021. This online sale presents about 600 lots of antique bonds and shares from all continents.

SPINK's e-Auction includes a large American section. The Utah Lithographing Co. S. L. C produced this stunning print for the Fairview Southend Mining Co. We've seen other lovely scripophily works by this printer, such as those made for the Salt Lake and Ogden Railway Co., depicting a tramcar and a mountain and lake landscape, and for the Dromedary Hump Mines Company illustrated with a dromedary. This 1906 issued share certificate shows a native American at nightfall watching the first star that appears behind the mountain tops. L(ot)534

For this sale SPINK specialist Mike Veissid selected a remarkable number of antique bonds ands shares from companies pioneering in the field of communication technology. Marconi needs no introduction, L292 is a share from Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd. Edison is represented with a £100 share in The Edison Telephone Company of Glasgow, 1880, L281. 
Here are some other fascinating items :
  • Most of us still remember the fax machine. L290 Kamm's Zerograph Syndicate (1905), Limited, issued in 1906, is signed by Leo Kamm who invented a filmless movie projector but also a telegraph transmitting text that was printed at the receiving end. 
  • Two 1911 shares in The National Telewriter Company, Limited comprise lot 296.
  • Military commander and aviation pioneer Baden Baden-Powell signed L286, The Helsby Wireless Telegraph Company, 1910. 
  • A share in The Kilduchevsky Mega Telephone Syndicate, Limited, L291, is signed by another aviation pioneer, Paul de Kilduchevsky.

The German Josef H. Reineke invented this wireless telephone system for use in mining environments. A demonstration of Reineke's system was given in 1913 at the Annandale Pit, Kilmarnock, belonging to the Carrington and Auchlochan Coal Co. It was stated that with a portable apparatus in case of an accident, when ordinary telephone wires would be broken, it would be possible to converse with entombed miners. Officials of Dinnington Main Colliery, Yorkshire, where the system was tested for six months, often spoke from the pit-head or the pit-bottom to an operator in the cage while in motion. They also communicated with success through a mile of solid coal. L299 in the auction.
source: The Electrical Review, Vol. 73 No. 1869, Sep 19, 1913.

Also prominent in the sale is a series of securities related to arms, explosives and weapons : 
  • Probably the most splendid scripophily in this theme is a share in The Colt Gun and Carriage Company, Limited. Issued in 1906 it is embellished with vignettes of soldiers and machine guns, L306. 
  • L312 is a share in John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers), Limited. Rigby, one of the oldest gunmaking companies in the world became famous in the 18th century for its dueling pistols. 
  • Hiram Percy Maxim is credited with inventing the firearm silencer. L311 is a Maxim Silencer Company, Limited share from 1909 with embossed seal depicting guns.

The Rexer Arms Company acquired the rights to manufacture the Danish Madsen machine gun in the British Empire. After a legal battle on patents Rexer changed its focus on producing the Rexer Steam Car, without success. L323, £1 shares certificate, 1906, vignette of aiming soldier 

There is a lot more to discover. Collectors of scripophily from South Africa, Rhodesia and Egypt will be delighted, as well as those looking for new automobiles, motorcycles and tobacco material !
Here are the sale's details : 

Into African and Belgian Congo scripophily? Then this top signature of Henry Morton Stanley will definitely interest you. As an agent of King Leopold II of Belgium, Stanley searched for the source of the Nile and explored central Africa. Detail from L303, W. T. Henley's Telegraph Works Company Limited


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