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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