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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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Scripophily Puzzle No. 4 - solution

In Puzzle No. 4 we were looking for a novel. This time, three scripophily detectives gave the correct answer. "A bit too easy" I was told. 

In order to solve the puzzle, I provided you two visual cues : details from the designs of a bond and a share certificate. Let's have a look at them.

The first image shows a logo consisting of the interlaced letters W and L flanked by two lions and a banner underneath. The banner shows some words. Click the image to enlarge it. You can't distinguish all the words but Compagnie, des, Lits and Européens must be clear.

Googling these words brings up links to the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. In the Google Images results pane you'll find a similar logo, and likely, an image of one of the company's bond certificates like the one shown here.

The Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et des Grands Express Européens, in short CIWL, was founded by the Belgian Georges Nagelmackers in 1872. His business pioneered in luxurious on-train catering and sleeping car services. CIWL operated the famous long-distance Orient Express that originally ran from Paris to Constantinople (Istanbul).

The second image shows a fragment from a share certificate. We can read [H]ôtel de Constantinople, and you can also detect a stamp that mentions Société Française des Grands Hotels Internationaux. All-knowing Google tells us that we are talking about the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul. 

The Pera Palace was built in 1892 for the CIWL. The company needed a suitable hotel at the final destination of its Orient Express. Among its famous guests were : Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Ernest Hemingway, Queen Elizabeth II, Alfred Hitchcock and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Using the words Wagons-Lits and book, or even novel, in your next Google search yields many results to multiple publications. So does Pera Palace combined with the words book or novel. Obviously, both are popular subjects.

A better idea was to search for the combination of all these words : Wagons-Lits, Pera Palace and novel, or, even better, Orient Express and novel. The outcome leads you to the solution : Murder on the Orient Express, a novel written by the English writer Agatha Christie.

Christie's famous book appeared in 1934. It brings the story of Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective, who returns from the Middle East on the Orient Express. The train is stopped by heavy snowfall and a murder is discovered. Poirot's trip home to London is interrupted to solve the murder.

Agatha Christie stayed on several occasions at the Pera Palace from 1926 through 1932. It is said that she wrote there Murder on the Orient Express in her favored room, 411. Did you know you can still book her room for your stay in Istanbul ? 

Did Agatha Christie ever travel on the Orient Express ? As a matter of fact, yes, she did, more than once. Her first journey on the Orient Express was in late 1928, only a few months before a blizzard, near Cherkeskoy, Turkey, stranded another Orient Express for six days. And in December 1931, when Christie returned from her husband's archaeological dig at Nineveh, aboard an Orient Express, sections of railway track were washed away by heavy rainfall flooding. 

In scripophily, we have seen bonds and shares that were issued to or signed by famous authors like Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain. Wouldn't it be a baffling mystery if a share issued to Agatha Christie would turn up in suspicious circumstances ?

To conclude, scripophily detectives DB and RS provided a correct answer, but is was SC who was the first to solve puzzle no 4.  Great job everyone. You are now entitled a portion of "eternal fame".




Sunday, January 17, 2021

HWPH kicks off '21 with large scripophily auction

Auctioneer Matthias Schmitt has compiled pretty much as 2000 lots of mainly antique bonds and shares for his 58th sale. The online event runs till 30 January, 10 AM. 

Collectors seek these genuine securities for their historic values or artistic features. I'll show you an Italian example from the auction of the first type later, but to start with, here is one of the latter type.

The SA Italiana per l'Impianto e l'Esercizio del Giardino Zoologico in Roma was founded in 1909. Today it is known as Bioparco di Roma. Its shares feature a gorgious vignette of wild animals, and sixteen others interacting with exuberant scrollwork and foliage. Click the image to enlarge. Creator of this Stile Liberty work was Giambattista Conti, aka Giovanni Battista Conti (1878-1970). He was known for his religious works and as an illustrator of children books. He became Director of the Vatican Restoration Institute. This rare certificate for 10 founders' share , lot 773 in the auction, starts at €1,000. 

HWPH is known for its Russian offerings and starts the feast with more than 250 lots from Russia and the former USSR. Two examples : 
  • L(ot)116 A 5-shares certificate, 1898, from the Rigaer Commerz-Bank, unusual large underprint  the imperial double-headed eagle holding the arms of the city of Riga, then still part of the Russian Empire.
  • A specimen bond from the Soviet Union's 1925 Internal Loan for the Reconstruction of the Economy, multicoloured Art Nouveau design, three vignettess, L151.

One of the Russian highlights is L154, a specimen bond from the 9% railway loan of 1927. The loan was issued to finance railway extensions connecting Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan with the Trans-Siberian Railway. The bond has a denomination of 25 Chervonets, a currency, fully convertible and backed by the gold standard, that was introduced by the Soviet Union to stabilize the hyperinflation. 

A major part of the sale consists of scripophily items related to Germany. Actually there are 700 of them. These can easily be queried online by means of key words like 'Freiburg', yielding 3 results, or 'Leipzig', 16 results. 

Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft, AEG, originated in 1882 when Emil Rathenau acquired licenses to use some of Thomas Edison's lamp patents in Germany. This extremely rare share from 1890, L917, bears Rathenau's facsimile signature. L918, a share in another Berlin company, has Rathenau's original signature. Rathenau died in 1915 when AEG pioneered in the development of aircraft and soon thereafter in film projectors as well. 

Nearly 300 lots represent scripophily from the USA, some picks :
  • L1714 shows a share number 1 in The Magirus Corporation of America, issued in 1926, and with vignette of a fire engine. Conrad Dietrich Magirus, born in Ulm, Germany, was the inventor of the mobile fire ladder. Today, the Magirus M68L is the fire engine with the highest turntable ladder in the world with a range of 68 meters.
  • The Los Angeles, San Diego and Yuma Railway Company, 1890 stock certificate, L1711, rare
  • The tracks of the Virginia and Tennessee Rail Road, a company that played a strategic role for the Confederacy, were destroyed during the American Civil War and later rebuilt. Its $1000 bond from 1853, shows off some of the finest vignettes on US railway securities. L1801, interesting start price at €40.
  • A section of 27 Confederate States of America bonds with start prices at €20 to €40, L1618 through 1644

The auction counts no less than eight 'piano' lots : 563, 1023, 1139, 1213, 1567, 1578, 1773 and 1886. This share in the Schomacker Piano Forte Manufacturing Company was issued in 1894. Pianists and high society figures like President Ulysses S. Grant preferred these fine and award-winning instruments. Schomacker pianos were called the “Gold String” pianos. H. W. Gray, who signed this share as President, patented a technique wherein the piano strings were gold plated through a process called electro-plating. The other signature we see here is the one of Henry C. Schomacker, son of Johan Heinrich Schomacker, founder of the business. L1773 

The offerings present bonds and shares from many more countries. Let me further mention some more noteworthy collectibles :
  • UK : One of the oldest Cunard Steam-Ship Company shares seen, 1888, with ship vignette, L532
  • Italy : Gucci Group NV, Dutch Gulden specimen stock certificate , vignettes of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, and Gucci craftsman inspecting a Gucci handbag, L598
  • Czechoslovakia : L727, Prvni Pražský Měštanský Pivovor, freely translated : The First Prague Civic Brewery, 1930, multicolor print with brewing vignetttes and of course, a drinking King
  • The sale includes a nice selection of Egyptian scripophily.

The Monte di Pietà, a church-run lending institution founded in Italy's 15th century, became a model for many charity institutions. Called “Monte’s” these organizations obtained their funds by means of bonds called “Luoghi di Monte” and evolved into banks and lending institutions. The bonds were registered, and guaranteed the investor a type of life annuity. This Monte non vacabile del Sale della Città di Firenze was issued as early as 1699! The loan was guaranteed by income from taxes on salt (Sale) and bears the arms of the House of Medici. L895 

Of course, there is much more to tell, but the best way is to see for yourself. Here are the auction details:
  • Date : 30 Januari 2021, online auction
  • Further info and catalogs, see here on HWPH
  • Live bidding is possible through, see here, where you can find high quality images of the lots.


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