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".




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