Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Spink London launched its E-auction of world bonds & share certificates

Precisely 560 lots of scripophily will go on Spink's E-block. This online sale already started at 15:00 Oct 11. The bidding window closes on Oct 25 at 11:00. At stake are antique stocks and bonds from all continents.

Large sections are reserved for scripophily from Australia, Russia, USA Railways, China, South Africa and Canada. More than 200 lots of British bonds and shares are offered representing many themes such as Banking, Canals and Railways, Mining and Shipping.

The Cunard Steamship Company certificate for 5 shares of £20 was issued in 1880. Its two vignettes show an ocean liner and the company's emblem with lion. The share was issued to and signed by William Cunard. L(ot) 261 in the auction 

The British shipping section counts more than 30 lots including this early Cunard Steamship Company share (illustrated). Here are a few of the interesting lots from this part :
  • L266, F. B. Woodruff and Co. Ltd., ship and country flag vignettes in color, issued in 1915 and signed by Fred. B. Woodruff
  • L288 is a share from The White Star Line, Limited. The company was the owner of the "unsinkable" Titanic that perished with more than 1500 passengers after striking an iceberg. 
  • The sale includes three shares of the famous P & O  shipping line, founded as the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation, L276 through L278

The Royal Bank of Scotland was established about 300 years ago, in 1724. The bank invented the overdraft in 1728 which allowed merchants to withdraw money from an empty account. Today the bank counts around 700 branches, mainly in Scotland. L349 comprises of 5 capital stock certificates from this pioneering bank, all issued between 1891 and 1914.

A large British banks section consists of more than 60 auction lots. The Royal Bank of Liverpool is rarely seen on the collector's market: L348 includes two early shares from 1865. With illustrations of the York Minster and city walls, York City and County Banking Company shares are among the prettiest financial scripophily collectibles from the UK, see L357 through L362. Other famous names include Westminster Bank, L356, Midland Bank Limited, L341 and Barclays Bank, L306.

Antonio Salviati was an Italian glass manufacturer. His first company produced the mosaic glass for the altar screen for the high altar of Westminster Abbey, among other. In 1866 Salviati founded the Compagnia Venezia Murano with British capital that became an important producer of Venetian art glass. The Salviati factory in Murano remains a well known brand today. The Venice and Murano Glass Company, Limited (Salviati and Company, Limited) share bears a vignette of the Venetian lion and dates from 1889. L174 in the auction.

There is lots more to discover in this sale, so here are the details :
  • Location : this is an Internet only sale
  • Date : October 11 15:00 - October 25 11:00
  • Further info : see here 


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Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Berner Alpenbahn Gesellschaft - Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon, new book from author Dr Peter Christen

In 1906 the Berner Alpenbahn-Gesellschaft Bern-Loetschberg-Simplon was founded with the purpose of building the second Swiss railway line through the Alps between the cantons Berne and Valais through the Loetschberg mountain. Today it runs under the name BLS and is the largest private railway in Switzerland.

This year, the scripophily public welcomed Dr. Peter Christen’s new book on the Bern–Lötschberg–Simplon Railway. More than reason enough to have a talk with the author! 

FL Welcome Peter in this virtual studio. We are honoured to have you here. Let’s start from the beginning. How did you become interested in scripophily? 

PC Thank you. My “scripophily career” started at Christmas 1980. I can remember very well. I then was a first-year student at the University of Geneva. At the train station on my way to Christmas visit home I bought a financial newspaper … and out fell a share of the “Builder Investment Group”. It was a special Christmas present from the newspaper to its readers. I immediately fell in love with old shares and bonds.Since that day I am into scripophily.

FL Peter, what is the greatest joy you get from collecting?

PC The most fascinating thing for me is the information gathering. First, I have a share or bond in front of me and I know very little about it. Then, when I start to investigate, I find all this interesting information about its history and all its connections it is leading to.

FL Can you tell us something about yourself regarding your “scripophily career”?

PC As a collector, I am definitely not a good role model: I do not specialize in one field. I collect items that are interesting and do have significant importance in economic history. This scope makes a collection really big. However, one of my main fields is collecting railways and more than 10 years ago I published a comprehensive catalogue for Swiss Railways and have published several articles about Swiss railway companies in different media. 


FL Oh yes, in 2014 you won the Journalistenpreis Historische Wertpapiere und Finanzgeschichte. If I am correct, you are the president of the Swiss Collectors Association SCRIPOPHILA HELVETICA, and you’re also a partner in the auction and trading house for historical securities HIWEPA AG. Now you have published a new book, “Die Berner Alpenbahn-Gesellschaft Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon BLS”. Why did you choose this subject?

PC I actually have hundreds of ideas of interesting things I could write about. There is just not enough time. But this year it is different. The idea for writing this book came up in February. “Thanks” to all these Covid restrictions I was forced to stay at home and could not go to my usual spring trekking holidays in Spain. So I decided spontaneously that I would write a book.

PC Finding a theme is definitely not a problem for me. A couple of years ago I wrote a short article (see here) about the “Finanzgeschichte der BLS Lötschbergbahn – Berner Alpenbahn” for my colleagues at HIWEPA. Together with the famous “Gotthardbahn” the BLS Lötschbergbahn – Berner Alpenbahn” was the second Swiss railway through the alps and has a very interesting history.

PC I took this article as a starting base and, for a couple of weeks, I investigated further into the story of the company, with – what at least I think – super interesting and new information about this railway and all its shares and bonds.

FL Well, you made me curious. Can you tell us briefly what makes this railway so interesting? What surprised you most?

PC The Berner Alpenbahn Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon, today BLS, was and is the second railway through the Swiss Alps and a very important link between Northern Europe and Italy. Its financial history is very interesting. Actually, at the beginning, nobody in Switzerland, except the people of the canton Berne, wanted to finance this project. Berne had to look elsewhere to raise the necessary funds and these were to come from an unexpected source.

PC I personally was surprised to find out that the Berner Alpenbahn and its shares and bonds even have some connections to an assassinated French president and even to the Compagnie Générale Aéropostale and its famous pilot and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I think nobody knew about this connection until I found it. 

FL Wow, that’s sounds intriguing? Looking at the book cover we can detect a certificate in the background of the front cover. Why did you pick that particular certificate?

PC The background for the front cover is the bond of the Berner Alpenbahn-Gesellschaft issued for building the railway. Between 1906 and 1912, the company raised money with four issues of these decorative bonds.

FL The vignette invites us to have a closer look. Does it represent a real view in Switzerland?

PC Yes, the image in the vignette shows an aerial view of the main section of the railway in the Bernese Oberland. The bond also depicts the two shields of the main cantons along the line, Berne, in the left border, and Valais, on the right. On top of the certificate, you’ll see a winged railway wheel with Mercury and the electric bolts. It represents the BLS as the first electric railway through the Alps.

FL I’m sure our readers will be interested about the book format and content. What about that?

PC The book has 148 pages and many colour images especially with details of the old shares and bonds. The book has three chapters, first, the financial history of the company and, second, the detailed images, description and background of its shares and bonds and, third, the list and images of all issued shares and bonds of the company. You also can buy the book as e-Book. 

FL Where there any special sources that you used for your research? How long did it take you then to write it?

PC I especially researched all reports from the company itself, general history and other reports about the company. Further, I am always astonished how every year the information you can get through the Internet increases. As I already have written a shorter financial history about the company the information gathering did not take too much time. It took me three to four weeks the write the book then.

FL Now, it’s time for what I believe is one of the most difficult questions a collector may answer. If you could add any certificate in the world to your collection, what would it be, and why?

PC I would love to find a share or bond with the signature of James Watt. In the collector market, all important inventions, railways, canals, cars, airplanes, etc, do have shares or certificates but there is nothing on the extremely important invention of the steam engine. So, a share with the signature of James Watt would really be a sensational find. Maybe our collector friends from the UK will make this find ... but I doubt it.

FL Peter, I want to thank you for this interview and wish you a lot of success with the book.

Die Berner Alpenbahn-Gesellschaft Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon BLS Finanzgeschichte und Historische Wertpapiere, by Peter Christen, is published by Books on Demand :
  • ISBN: 978-3-753-40662-6
  • Price: CHF 29.80
The book can be ordered with hiwepa.ch, email info@hiwepa.ch, or at most bookshops and online bookstores. An e-Book version is available as well.


This post was originally written for Scripophily magazine, published by IBSS.

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Friday, October 1, 2021

The Compagnie des Indes Orientales : Boone reveals the oldest share ever auctioned in upcoming international collectors event

Mario Boone is a major player in the field of antique share certificates and financial documents. The auctioneer scheduled his 67th scripophily auction and bourse on 16 and 17 October 2021. On the agenda are about 1400 scripophily lots that will go on the block in Antwerp.

Boone succeeded in compiling exceptional rare and beautiful stocks and bonds from all continents, such as the oldest share to be auctioned, the oldest French railway share, a share purchased by Nobel prize laureate Max Planck, and many more amazing historic securities like this one.

Prior to the late 1890s color photography was the domain of a small number of researchers that build their own equipment. This share from 1897 is signed by the Belgian color photography pioneer Louis Ernest Dugardin who invented one of the first commercially available color cameras in the world. He founded in 1897 the Paris based Société Nationale de la Photographie des Couleurs et de Reproductions Artistiques Procédés L. Dugardin. This share was designed by the French Belle Epoque artist Lucien Métivet and printed by Imprimerie G. Richard. An amazing document, L(ot) 557 in the sale starts at €2000.

I'll point of out some more highlights of the sale in a moment, but first I'll say something about the bulky auction catalog that counts over 200 pages of data and images. Auction lots are grouped first by region, then by country. The main index lists over 90 countries. Large sections include Belgium, France, Russia, Germany, USA, Spain, Egypt, China, Great Britain and Italy. Collectors of scripophily from seldom-seen places like Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Ghana, Monaco, Martinique, etc, will be surprised by what's going under the hamer.

The Monte Toro Fábrica de Quesos operated on the island of Menorca. This share shows scenes from the town of Es Mercadal at the foot of the Monto Toro, the highest point on the island, a woman making cheese, and grazing cows. The certificate was printed in 1901 in Barcelona by Imp. Luis Tasso. L1075 in the auction, bids accepted from €100 onwards. 

So, what about the top item of the sale ? Well, it's a share from the Compagnie des Indes Orientales issued more than 350 years ago in 1665. That was an eventful year :  the Second Anglo-Dutch War begins, King Charles II of England leaves London fleeing the Great Plague, the Qing invasion of Taiwan fails due to a typhoon, and the Compagnie des Indes Orientales sends twenty settlers to start the colonisation of Réunion.

The Compagnie des Indes Orientales was founded by Jean-Baptiste Colbert on 1 September 1664 to compete with the English and Dutch colonial trading companies. The company was granted a 50-year monopoly of French trade in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Straits of Magellan, with a concession in perpetuity for Madagascar and ‘all other islands and lands it could conquer’ (*).  The company also had to build churches and train priests in its territories. Several ‘comptoirs’ were established in various parts of India such as Puducherry and Chandannagar. 
This share of 6000 French Livres, 2000 Livres been paid, unique and of great historic importance, is the earliest share ever auctioned. Bids for L467 start at €44,000 
(*) The Compagnie des Indes, by Howard Shakespeare, Journal of the IBSS, Feb 1997 

At the end of the printed catalog, you'll find a list with over 100 indexes on themes, Belgian provinces, famous signatures, artists and printing companies. On top of that you can search through the online version with keywords.

There is nothing as fascinating as antique securities produced in gold print. A search through the digital catalog on keywords like "gold print", "printed in gold" and "gold, black" (co-occuring colors), yield some great results. You should see these. I've listed them by start price in ascending order : 
  • €30, L440 Basilique de Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant-Jésus à Lisieux, 1933, Lisieux, Calvados
  • €40, L1173 The Port Rowan and Lake Shore Railway Company, 1880s, Port Dover, Ontario
  • €80, L702 Cooperative des Médecins et Pharmaciens de Grèce, 1924, Athens (see image below)
  • €200, L230 Szegedi Kereskedelmi es Iparbank, 1909, Szegeden, Hungary
  • €200, L524 Compagnie L'Union Service par Bateaux à Vapeur et Autres, 1840, Rouen, France
  • €1000, L459 Casino et Concerts Paganini, 1837, Paris
  • €1200, L1274 The Gold Mining Company, 1888, registered in West Virginia, mines at Mojave County, Arizona
  • €2000, L758 Barkschip: Grootmeester Nationaal, 1857, Dordrecht
  • €2000, L1169 Great Cariboo Gold Company, 1905, New York, but operations in British Columbia, Canada

L702 is a wonderful 5 shares certificate in the Cooperative des Médecins et Pharmaciens de Grèce. Issued in 1924, Athens, and produced in gold print. 

Boone auctions always include scripophily related to that little country somewhere near the center of Europe, Belgium (about 220 lots). Here are some interesting lots from that chapter in the sale :
  • L234 Algemeene Nederlandsche Maatschappij ter Begunstiging van de Volksvlijt, a Dutch share from 1825 to finance a new canal between Pommeroeul and Antoing (Hainaut province) 
  • L241 the oldest certificate seen, a bond, from A.C.E.C., and highly decorative too
  • L245 Société Européenne d'Automobiles, 1898, far ahead of its time targeting the European market, rare and prehistoric automobile manufacturer 

I didn't know that Belgium once tried to colonize Guatemala, did you ? Here's a share, L292, in the Compagnie Belge de Colonisation, Communauté de l'Union, issued in 1844. The company was founded with the help of King Leopold I of Belgium to administer Santo-Thomas de Guatemala, today known as Santo Tomàs de Castilla, Puerto Barrios. Leopold's goal was not only to exploit rich natural resources, but also to reduce crime in Belgium by sending the unemployed, the underprivileged and adventurers to the "promised land of Verapaz".  Many colonists died in the harsh conditions and the project was given up after 20 years. A rare object of Belgian international history, bidding starts at €200.

There is a lot more to discover in the auction. I almost forgot, if you are into Russian scripophily, then don't forget to check out that chapter as well. It includes interesting railway certificates but also a large section of Russian banking and credit securities. 

Before giving you further details and links for the event, I'll end this post with an incredibly beautifully produced work. Extremely rare and of historic economic importance, L451 is a share in the Chemin de Fer de Paris à St. Cloud et Versailles - Rive Droite de la Seine, the oldest French steam-powered railway. The share dates from 1837 and is signed by politician and financier Emile Pereire.

The auction catalog fully describes the history of this French railway company, the Chemin de Fer de Paris à St. Cloud et Versailles. Click the image above and below to see more details of this wonderful print. In the detail below, you see two angels below a column. They present the coat of arms of Paris. Above and at the left of the figures you can detect two light grey rosettes. All those details are produced in such a way that it gives the viewer a feeling of depth just like the raised relief on a medal. But that is only an optical illusion. In fact, the only color used for this print is black. The certificate's design was created by the best engraver of its time, Jacques-Jean Barre, who designed and engraved the first postage stamps of France. He was master engraver at the Monnaie de Paris producing designs for coins and medals. Absolutely stunning. Start price of L451 is €12,000.

Even if you are not a collector the weekend of 16 and/or 17 October is an opportunity to see some great antique securities. As for me, I am looking forward to meet again collector friends that I haven't seen for a long time. Here are the details :
  • Location : Antwerp, Belgium
  • Dates
    • 16 October 2021, Boone's 67th live and internet auction
    • 17 October 2021, bourse of historic bonds and shares
  • Further info : 
    • online catalog & bidding, see here 
    • or via the Invaluable platform (large images), see there 
    • and the PDF version of the catalog can be found here 


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