Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Walkman share

In the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, underdog Peter Quill “Star-Lord”, portrayed by Chris Pratt, faces the galaxy’s worst criminals. Using a Walkman he listens to Rupert Holmes’ catchy Escape (Piña Colada) song in order to stay connected with the Earth and the family he lost. 

SONY introduced in 1979 the Walkman, a portable cassette player that allowed you to listen to music while on the move with a small headset. The player fit in your hand and you could clip it onto your belt. By the time Sony had stopped production, 30 years later, they had built about 200 million cassette-based Walkmans.

This SONY specimen share certificate was printed by the Dai Nippon Printing Company and dates from 1975. The red characters in the center are 見本 : Mihon, meaning ‘specimen’. Note the odd denomination of 1-99 (number of shares) which suggests that the certificate was a presentation model. 

Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita both served in the Imperial Japanese Navy during WW II. In 1946 they formed Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation) which became Sony in 1958.

The company would become world famous with electronic products, such as the portable transistor radio, cassette players, televisions, video recorders, the Discman, digital cameras, Vaio laptop computers, Playstations and humanoid robots. SONY Corporation is now owned by SONY Group Corporation which is, among many other things, one of the largest music companies and film studios today.

Sony’s stock was first listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in December 1958. It became a part of the Nikkei 225 stock market index. Sony was listed on the NYSE in September 1970 as the first Japanese company to appear on an any American stock exchange.

Collecting Japanese shares is challenging, especially if you don’t read the language. Luckily modern ones are bilingual showing the text in both Japanese and English. You can read that the certificate illustrated above mentions a capital of 424,000,000 shares of 50 Yen with date of issuance Nov 1, 1975.

I cannot read Japanese but with the help of a dear collector friend I’ve learned to recognize some “phrases” on antique bonds and shares from Japan. The older certificates have to be read in a “right to left and top to bottom” direction. Modern certificates print Japanese from left to right, as is the case here. 

The bold characters in black are ソニー株式会社株券.  
This can be split into three parts:
  • ソニー, SONY; 
  • 株式会社, kabushikigaisha, Corporation or ‘Co Ltd’ , which is in turn formed by 
    • 株式, kabushiki, stock 
    • and 会社, kaisha,company; 
  • 株券, kabuken, stock certificate. 
Together it says “stock certificate of the SONY Corporation”.  

In the lower right corner, you see the western facsimile signature of President Kazuo Iwama (1919–1982). He was a geophysics engineer lured away from his research job at the seismology research center of Tokyo University by his brother-in-law and SONY co-founder Akio Morita. Kazuo Iwama’s Japanese signature is shown in black right above the lower border: 岩間 和夫.

Japanese shares usually show red seals. These are carved in a traditional formal font style and are hard to interpret by most people. These official seals have a legal impact and must be registered with the local authorities and are used as a formal signature with all kinds of business transactions.

The red rectangular seal is the official company seal with characters written in the traditional way (special font, left to right/top to bottom). It says “seal of the Sony Corporation”. The red round seal has an outer ring mentioning the name of the company, thus ‘SONY Corporation’. The inner circle says ‘seal of the president’.

Finding SONY scripophily is not straightforward. Not often, an ADR stock certificate becomes available on the collectors market. These were printed by the American Bank Note Company in American standard format and with a vignette of a woman encircled by electrons. This specimen ADR dates from 1995. American Depositary Receipts (ADR) are negotiable securities issued by a bank that represents shares in foreign stock. ADRs trade on a American stock exchange. 

As for the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Sony Pictures Imageworks, a Canadian unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, provided some of the visual effects and digital animation for the film.


This post is based on an article written for Scripophily magazine, published by IBSS.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

FHW's 120th auction of historic stocks and bonds presents the Stratmann collection of German film companies

Freunde Historischer Wertpapiere (FHW) has scheduled its 120th sale for October 9, 2021. This time the auctioneer selected more than 1400 lots of historic bonds and share certificates. Major sections have been reserved for scripophily from the USA, Germany, the German DM era, and a series of more than 200 lots from other countries worldwide.

The German chapter presents over 600 lots from the pre-DM period covering all regions and branches. A dedicated Deutschland Top 20 section, lot range 983-1002, bundles the high-end items. Some examples from the German chapter  :
  • The Megola Motoren Aktiengesellschaft was an early motorcycle manufacturer. Its boldly designed 10000 Mark share dates from 1923,  L(ot) 961
  • L988 is a rare share from the Farge-Vegesacker Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft. Its railway line from Vegesack-Grohn to Blumenthal-Farge was opened in 1888. 
  • L1097 presents a loan from the city of Duisburg for the construction of a concert and theater building. Printed by M. Mendelssohn, its large vignette shows the "Tonhalle", destroyed by Allied bombing in 1942.

The Podeus family from the city of Wismar was active in coal and wood trading, iron works, railway cars, agricultural machinery and shipping services. Before WW I the company diversified into automobiles and trucks which they sold under the Podeus brand name. This 1901 share in the Stahl-Schrauben-Dampfschiff “Herzog Johann Albrecht”, a steamer built by the Neptun Werft in Rostock, is signed by Heinrich Podeus.  L1119 in the auction starts at €1200 

The Dieter Stratmann collection consists of German pre-WWII film certificates brought together over a time span of more than 30 years. Included are tens of rare, some unique, bonds and shares from this fascinating theme. Bidders will first have the opportunity to bid on the entire collection as a whole. It consists of 93 certificates grouped into 72 lots (L492 - L563). Start price is set at €18500. In case no bid is achieved, the auctioneer presents the lots one by one. The sale includes many authentic UFA shares, see image below, and many other interesting movie names, such as : 
  • Bavariafilm Aktiengesellschaft München, 1923, L494
  • L527 and L528, Rolf Randolf-Film-Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin, 1923, 5000 and 10000 mark shares with facsimile signature of actor, film director, screenwriter and producer Rolf Randolf
  • L531-L533, Terra Film Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin

During the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) the German film industry became the largest in Europe. Not less than 250 films were produced every year. The most important company of the era was Universal Film AG (UFA). The company stood for experimentation and new technological developments in film making, set design and lighting. In the early 1920s the company expanded the Babelsberg Studio locations into the largest film studio in Europe. Among UFA's great successes were Fritz Lang's Metropolis and The Blue Angel starring Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings. Recently, the Babelsberg Studio co-produced international movies like Flightplan, The Hunger Games and Charlie's Angels. Besides this rare and early 1000 Mark share, unissued but from 1921, the auction features several  more original bonds and shares from the Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft. L539 

Over the past years Deutsche Mark scripophily has shown its popularity in German auctions.  After the example of the Deutschland Top 20, the auctioneer published a DM TOP 20 in its PDF auction catalog, see page 164 (link below). You may want to check the interesting statistics and sell-thru rates from recent auctions for that DM category. The current sale includes about 300 DM lots. Here are a few examples from lot range 1184 through 1442 :
  • L1289 and 1290, two 1998 specimen "Sammel-Namensaktien" from Generali Lloyd, security printing by Schleicher and Schuell with the Lion of Venice in underprint
  • L1299, Gusstahlwerk Witten AG, 1000 DM share, unissued but 1956, see image
  • L1358 is a 50000 DM specimen share from department stores company Kaufhof AG, Köln, 1985

In 1948 West Germany introduced the Deutsche Mark which became one of the world's most stable currencies. The country's economy then rapidly developed. This "Wirtschaftswunder" created a heavy demand for steel. Bidding on this stunning share in the Gusstahlwerk Witten Aktiengesellschaft starts at €120.  L1299 in the sale. 

The American scripophily section comprises 270 lots, the bigger part being railway securities. Some noteworthy collectibles are :
  • L72, Chester and Iron Mountain Railroad Company, 1st mortgage gold bond of $1000, great railway vignette and lettering, rare
  • L176-209, a number of Pennsylvania Rail Road Company stock certificates, issued around 1900, all printed with very odd denominations, such as L200 which was printed for "SIXTY TWO" shares
  • L228 is a share in the Rio Grande and Texas Land Company, dated 1836, printed on parchment and showing a map of the Rio Grande and Rio Nueces area. Both rivers marked the disputed border between Mexico and the Texan Republic.

Coca-Cola Bottling Corporation, Boston, MA, $100 shares preferred stock, 1928, famous logo and bottle, printed by Goes, L91, €1000 start price 

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


PS : Did you like this post ? Thank you for sharing it on you favorite social media channel !

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Exhibition : From Peking to Hankow

Train World is the official museum of the NMBS/SNCB, the National Railway Company of Belgium. It is situated in the old but renovated Schaerbeek railway station in the Brussels-Capital Region.

Until 10 October 2021, the museum hosts an interesting temporary exhibition about the history of one of China's most remarkable railways, the Peking–Hankow railway. The exhibit includes several antique government railway bonds.

From Peking to Hankow : a Belgian adventure in China tells the surprising story of China’s longest railway line, from Peking (Beijing) to Hankow (today Wuhan), connecting the North to the South in the early 20th century.

Thousands of people laboured on this immense operation for seven years. This feat was achieved by engineers, technicians and workmen, and Western and Chinese diplomats and financiers. Jean Jadot, a Belgian engineer coordinated and implemented this massive project.

During your visit, the main players in the saga, embodied by talking figures, will tell you some fascinating tales and take you back in time so that you can relive grand moments in the history of the railway.

The exhibition also showcases the impressive development of China’s current high-speed railways. Original works relating to the construction of the Peking-Hankow line and created by artists Li Kunwu (China) and François Schuiten (Belgium) add a contemporary artistic touch to the exhibition. 

Train World is over 8,000 square metres and displays 22 locomotives, royal train carriages, 1/10 scale models and 1,200 other railway related objects, including an original 19th century railway bridge. One of the principal objects to see is the oldest preserved locomotive (1845) in Continental Europe.

A large format hardcover catalog has been published in French and Dutch. The volume counts more than 270 pages and depicts some large illustrations from antique securities. The museum has these scripophily objects on loan from various lenders such as the National Bank of Belgium and BNP Paribas-Fortis. A small number of bonds and shares are actually on display.

Practical info :
  • Opening hours : 10:00 - 17:00, but closed on Mondays, the Peking-Hankow exhibition runs till 10 October 2021
  • Location : Princess Elisabeth place 5, Schaerbeek
  • More info here in English, in Dutch, in French and in German  


Previous posts

Monday, September 6, 2021

HWPH stars Shanghai Stock Exchange predecessor in double session sale

Historisches Wertpapierhaus AG (HWPH) has scheduled its next international event for 18 and 19 September 2021. Specialist Matthias Schmitt and his team brought together over 2,300 lots of historic securities and related documents for this special occasion. 

The first leg of the auction is both a live and an online event and takes place in Zorneding, near Munich. The second part is an online only sale and happens the next day. 

The offerings are peppered with German rarities but also includes many desirable antique stock certificates from states like Russia, Sweden, Italy, and much more.

A dedicated 50 Highlights catalog has been compiled for the top lots in the sale. One of the highlights in the auction is a share in the Shanghai Securities and Commodities Exchange  Company Ltd from the 1920s. 

After the first turbulent years of the Republic of China, "Father of the Nation" Sun Yat-sen wanted to develop a stable national economy. A stock exchange, headed by Chinese people, was part of that plan. Together with Zhu Zhixin and Yu Qiaqing, he proposed in 1916 the formation of the Shanghai Securities and Commodities Exchange. But the military regime at Beijing blocked the initiative. When at the end of 1918 Japanese businessmen started their Share Co. Ltd in Shanghai in order to control the exchange market, the founding of the Shanghai Securities and Commodities Exchange Co. Ltd was reproposed and approved in 1919. The new exchange was inaugurated on July 1, 1920, and Yu Qiaqing was its first chairman. Shanghai became the financial center of the Far East. The exchange merged with the Shanghai Chinese Merchant Exchange to form the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 1929. This rare stock certificate, 100 shares of 50 yuan, was issued in 1925. Its vignette shows the exchange building and features early microprinting in the underprint. L(ot) 702 in the auction is expected to realise at least €9000.

The lion's share of the sale involves German securities. The auction's online catalog allows searching for your interests by means of country as well as thematic indexes. A keyword search using the word Nürnberg yields more than twenty lots, including a stunning share, interesting from an art history perspective as well, in the Tiergarten Nürnberg.

Hermann Gradl used to design Art Nouveau decorations for the Nymphenburg porcelain works in Munich. In 1907 he became a teacher at the Nuremberg School of Applied Arts. He designed the share of the newly founded Tiergarten Nürnberg AG in 1911. The zoo received 800,000 visitors in 1918. By then Gradl was as a succesful painter of German landscapes. 
Tiergarten Nürnberg survived the hyperinflation years but after the Nazis seized power, the zoo had to make way for the Nazi party rally grounds in Feb 1939. Two years earlier Adolf Hitler saw several Gradl paintings in the studio of architect Franz Ruff. The latter finished the Party Congress Hall on the new party rally grounds. Hitler arranged a meeting with Gradl and ordered six huge landscape paintings for the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin. 70,000 Reichsmarks were paid as an advance. After delivery of the works in 1941, Gradl was "asked" to join the NSDAP and he received the remainder of his fee totalling 120,000 RM. 
The Nuremberg Zoo was almost entirely destroyed during World War II. By the late 1950s it was rebuilt and today it is one of the largest zoos in Europe. L365 in the sale  

The auctioneer provided a dedicated catalog - in Russian - for the more than 200 Russian offerings : 59-й аукцион антикварных ценных бумаг. Some examples from this category :
  • L704,  a share in the Gesellschaft der Anstalt für künstliches Mineralwasser in St. Petersburg, the first company traded on the Saint Petersburg bourse, issued to and signed by Baron Ludwig von Stieglitz, court banker of Tsars Alexander I and Nicolas I. Large vignette of the building, 1834, reportedly unique 
  • L709, Moskau-Yaroslav-Archangelsk-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft, 4% 1000 Rubel bond, 1895, 2nd emission 
  • A coat of arms, showing Archangel Michael with sword and shield and the Tsar crown on top of it, adorns a pink and black printed 5000 Rubel specimen bond from the Société du Crédit Foncier de la Ville de Kief, L765
  • L902, Trans-Alaska-Siberian Railway Company, stock certificate, 1906, issued to and signed by the French Baron Léon Loicq de Lobel known for his proposal to build a bridge-and-tunnel link between Siberia and Alaska. The project was authorized by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

The sale includes more than 40 Italian lots. To name a few : Banco di Roma, L1055, Fabbrica Automobili "Nazzaro", L149, and shipping company La Polare, L184. The certificate illustrated here is a 1925 share in the Industria della Maglia Dott. Francesco Floris, a textile company from Florence. Gaetano Spinelli, an Italian painter, made the wonderful monochromic print for the certificate's central vignette. Spinelli's works are displayed in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, and Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderne e Contemporanea, among others. L167. 

The auction offers historic and beautiful antique stocks and bonds from all continents spanning 5 centuries of financial history. There is much more to tell, but the best way is to see for yourself. Here are the auction details:
  • Dates and place : 
    • 18 September 2021, live (and online) auction, Zorneding, followed by a meeting for EDHAC members 
    • 19 September 2021, online auction
  • Further info, catalogs and search tools, see here on HWPH. Live bidding is possible through, see there, where you can find high quality images of the lots. 

PS : Did you like this post ? Thank you for sharing it on you favorite social media channel !