Sunday, May 8, 2022

HSK's upcoming auction in Hamburg features more than 1100 lots of historic securities

28 May is the day when HSK's 41st auction takes place in Hamburg. This time HSK brought together more than 1100 scripophily lots. Bonds and shares from Berlin real estate developers, the Wolfgang Tartz collection, are part of many top-quality items included in this sale.

The event starts with a talk by Claus Müller titled The beginnings of the Russian mining industry in Ukraine, financed with foreign capital. After the auction a collector's bourse precedes a joint dinner.

From the American auction section,  L(ot) 62 is a rare bond from The Colorado Bonanza and Union Tunnel and Mining Company issued in 1891. The company was founded that year to dig for Colorado gold in Gilpin County. The upper vignette shows its mining operations near Bates Hill and Maryland Mountain. Remarkable, a cross-section of that same view tells us about the Bonanza and Union tunnels that were to be excavated. 

Scripophily from all continents is represented in the auction. Major sections are dedicated to America and Germany with in particular Bremen & Niedersachsen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein & Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Some noteworthy items from the European section :
  • L256 is a 1886 share in the Compagnie Générale des Bateaux Parisiens with riverboat vignette. The company operated commuter riverboat services around Paris. 
  • Illustrated with a Roman! pyramid, L298 is a lovely share certificate from the Public-Auto SA per il Servizio delle Automobili da Piazza in Roma e Altrove, a public transport company in Rome.
  • The Manchester Race Course Association share from 1848 features a detailed vignette of the company's grandstand, L287. 

The Eidgenössische Bank AG, aka Banque Fédérale SA, Zürich, was one of the most important Swiss commercial banks. It became part of the Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft (SBG) in 1945 (later UBS). The sale features two of the company's sought-after share certificates. L260, dates from 1893, see image, and  L261, from 1917. 

Before I discuss the Berlin real estate developers collection, let me point out some interesting German certificates :
  • L881, a "Stamm" (Kux, mining share) in one of the earliest mercury mining companies from Germany is a top item in HSK's auction. The share in the Quecksilberwerke am Lemberg, issued in 1846, shows excavation activities, the smelting of mercury ore, and is adorned with leaf scrollwork in beautiful blue printing. Check the word 'STAMM' in detail : each letter is designed as a trunk (another meaning of the word STAMM). A very rare, small work of art.
  • Carosseriewerke Schebera Aktiengesellschaft from Berlin dealt in automobiles and produced car bodies. The 1922 specimen share, L692, illustrated with a horse carriage and two of the company's automobiles, bears the facsimile signature of Jacob Schapiro, car dealer, taxi entrepreneur and stock market speculator, who became a large shareholder of Daimler-Benz.
  • Art Deco enthousiasts will love L941, a 1923 issued share from the Textil-Kunst Aktiengesellschaft from Dresden.

Architect Ludwig Richard Seel designed the city hall for Königsberg, known today as the Russian city of Kaliningrad. Seel is known for building the Parliament and Ministry of Justice in Tokyo. Königsberg's city hall, completed in 1912 and illustrated on this Stadthalle Königsberg share from 1907, included concert halls, a restaurant and a cafe. During the Nazy era, many artists lived in Königsberg to work independently of state control. The building was destroyed in World War II. Restored in the 1980s, it is now home to the Kaliningrad Regional Museum of History and Arts. L930 

The Wolfgang Tartz Collection counts over fifty bonds and shares from Berlin real estate development and property companies.  The collection was assembled over a period of many decades. Lot range 570 through 624.
Between 1750 and 1850 Berlin's population tripled to over 400,000 people. In 1871 Otto von Bismarck unified Germany. Berlin, the capital of the new German Empire, became the center of politics on the European continent. Von Bismarck created a favorable investment climate for the city's development. A large numbers of industrial workers and their labour unions, bankers, entrepreneurs, scientists and artists made Berlin a thriving but fast growing city. By 1910 the number of Berliners amounted to 2,000,000. 

The public square and transport hub of Alexanderplatz is recognizable from afar thanks to Berlin's nearby 368m heigh Fernsehturm. With hundreds of thousands of passers-by and visitors  Alexanderplatz is the most visited area of Berlin. 
Founded in 1912, the Aktiengesellschaft Alexanderplatz managed a number of houses at Alexanderplatz and nearby, including Hotel "Alexanderplatz". This 1000 Reichsmark share from the same year is part of the Wolfgang Tartz collection. L572 

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

Though called a share certificate (Anteil-Schein) this is an interest-free lottery bond from the still existing Ski-Klub Oberstaufen. It was issued in 1920 for "the purpose of building a first class ski jump". Since the 1960s several international slalom competitions were held in Oberstaufen won by champions like Vreni Schneider and Ingemar Stenmark.  Note the logo with skis. L902 in the auction. 


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Sunday, April 24, 2022

Scripophily Puzzle No. 6 - solution

I'm sure you recognized the Disney vignette as one of the three visual cues from Puzzle No. 6 . Even with the other vignettes provided, solving the puzzle was not straightforward. Yet I did receive one correct answer.

The three visual cues were clippings from three different stock and bond certificates. The common link between the cues was a particular object.

The correct answer for the puzzle was ... (drumm roll in the background) ... the Liberty Bell.

Shares from the American Union Fire Insurance Company from Philadelphia, PA, show the Liberty Bell in front of the city's Independence Hall. Printed by the Security Bank Note Company, this share certificate was issued in 1910. Things were not going well for the insurance company. It liquidated in 1913. 

The Liberty Bell was made in Great Britain by a foundry that became known as Whitechapel Bell Foundry, a producer of many famous bells such as the Big Ben in London.

Pennsylvania commissioned the Liberty Bell in 1751 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of William Penn's Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania's original constitution. After a rough passage across the Atlantic, the bell cracked when it was first rung.

Two Philadelphia workmen, John Pass and John Stow, recasted the bell. Its large distinctive crack, also visible in the vignette above, originated somewhere in the first part of the 19th century. The bell was placed in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, aka Independence Hall. This leads us to the first cue.

These bonds, issued by the City of Philadelphia in 1866 (upper right image) and 1861, feature the same vignettes, including the city's Independence Hall that housed the Liberty Bell for about two centuries. It is now located in the Liberty Bell Center. This pair of bonds was sold at Holabird Americana's Dec 2020 auction at $50 without buyer's premium. 

The bell became a symbol of freedom. In the 1830s several anti-slavery journals featured the bell in their publications. In 1853 President Franklin Pierce visited Philadelphia. He spoke of the bell as the symbol of the American Revolution and Liberty.

George Lippard writes his "Fourth of July, 1776" in 1847. In that story a young boy instructed an aged bellman to ring the bell on America's Independence Day. But that was not correct. Historians assume that the Liberty Bell rang on July 8th to summon the people to hear the Declaration of Independence read out aloud for the first time. Anyway, Lippard's story was widely reprinted and retold as 'historical fact' for many decades to come.

On the occasion of Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial International Exhibition a replica of the Liberty Bell was cast. It weighed 13,000 pounds (5900 kg), more than six times the weight of the original bell.

The Liberty Bell was not displayed at Philadelphia's Centennial Exhibition. But it made several trips to various other expositions and celebrations in the years thereafter. This brings us to the second cue of puzzle No. 6.

The World's Columbian Exposition, aka Chicago's World Fair, took place in 1893 to mark the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World in 1492. With 46 countries participating, it attracted over 27 million visitors. This $10 shares certificate from 1893 was printed by the Western Bank Note Company. It sold for $400 excluding buyer's premium in Holabird Americana's 2018 October auction. 

In 1893 the Liberty Bell was sent to Chicago's World Columbian Exposition as a highlight of the festivities. It was not the only big bell on display there.

For the World's Columbia exhibition a much larger Columbian Liberty Bell was casted. Two days before the end of the exhibition, Chicago's Mayor Carter Harrison sounded his "new" bell at his final speech on 28 Oct 1893. A few hours later Harrison was assassinated.

The original Liberty Bell returned from Chicago bearing a new crack. Wherever it went, the bell attracted millions of people, more cracking occurred, and souvenir hunters chipped pieces away from it. After 1915 Philadelphia refused any further requests for having the bell featured in events like that.

There was also a third "bell" present at the Chicago event. It was a full-sized model of the Liberty Bell made out of oranges by the State of California. This brings us to our last cue for this puzzle which showed Walt Disney and several Disney figures.

In Holabird Americana's May 2021 auction this Walt Disney stock certificate went $120 excluding buyer's premium. The company displays a full-sized replica of the Liberty Bell in Walt Disney World, Florida. 

As part of the US Liberty Bell Savings Bond Drive, the US government ordered 55 full-sized replicas of the Liberty Bell in 1950. These were casted by Fonderie Paccard in France. Shipped as gifts to US states and territories the bells were to be displayed and rung on patriotic occasions. 

In 1989 Walt Disney ordered another bell casted by the same foundry from the same mold. It stands now on Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, Bay Lake, Florida.

The Liberty Bell sometimes appears on coins, stamps, bonds and stock certificates. I'm interested to see other examples from the latter category. Several American corporations have used the bell's name and image, but none so daringly as the restaurant chain Taco Bell.

On April 1, 1996, Taco Bell launched an ad in the newspapers posting that it had purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell". Thousands of outraged people had called Taco Bell headquarters and the bell's caretaker, the National Park Service. By noon it was told that the story was a joke. The company's publicity stunt allegedly led to nearly a $1,000,000 rise in sales that week.

I received one joint correct answer on this puzzle from Randy & Scott. Well done! You are now entitled a portion of "eternal fame".


Reference links

Friday, April 15, 2022

International auction & bourse weekend in Antwerp shows amazing historic securities and scripophily collections

A major player in the field of antique stock certificates, auctioneer Mario Boone scheduled his 68th scripophily auction and bourse on 30 April and 1 May 2022. On the agenda are about 1400 scripophily lots ready to go on the block. Boone managed to assemble exceptional rare and beautiful stocks and bonds from all continents. 

Part of the offerings are several thematic collections containing exceptional items. One of them is the Portuguese Railways collection consisting of 126 lots of Portuguese and Portuguese colonial railway certificates. The collection formed the basis of the 1990 published Boone-Shakespeare catalog on Spanish and Portuguese railway scripophily and it was further enlarged with new discoveries. Bidders will first have the opportunity to bid on the entire collection as a whole. Start price is set at €18,000. In case no bid is achieved, the auctioneer presents the lots one by one.

Founded in 1908 the Companhia Carris de Ferro do Porto operated the Porto tramways. This 5 shares of Rs10$00 certificate from 1909, only one known, shows a perspective of the Dom Luís I Bridge taken from Vila Nova de Gaia. Part of the Portuguese railway collection, Lot 617 (L618-L744). 

The Boone sale includes many highlights from the turbulent 18th century! That century saw the great powers waging several wars and expanding slave trading across the Atlantic but also the founding of Los Angeles, the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, the premiere of Mozart's Don Giovanni, and the invention of the steamboat and the power loom. Some of the historical items from this period are : 
  • L409 is a 2500 livres share from the Compagnie des Indes from 1770
  • From 1797, L285, a share from the Natur-Torfgräber Unternehmung zu Moosbrunn, a peat digging company in Lower Austria, is probably the oldest Austro-Hungarian share known.
  • The most mind-blowing lot in the sale, L516, is a 1777 founder share from the Iron Bridge company. Boone expects it to hammer at €18,000. 

This share in the Company for Building a Bridge across the River Severn, Ironbridge, Shropshire, England, dates from 1777. Opened in 1781, it was the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron. The share is signed by Abraham Darby III and John Wilkinson

Darby took over the iron-making business of his family. He became manager of the Coalbrookdale ironworks. The Darbys and other ironmasters like John Wilkinson perfected the technique of smelting iron with coke, instead of coal. This allowed them to produce cheaper and more cast iron. They started casting iron rails and wheels for railway wagons. 

John "Iron-Mad" Wilkinson invented a precision boring machine that could bore cast iron cylinders such as cannon barrels and piston cylinders used in steam engines. In 1787 he launched on the Severn an iron ship. In 1775 Wilkinson and local businessmen commissioned Abraham Darby III to build the Iron Bridge. 

Thanks to the bridge, its builders and their achievements, the area around Ironbridge is described by UNESCO as the "Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution". The monument gave its name to the town that grew around it. The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust runs 10 museums throughout the IronBridge Gorge World Heritage Site; they tell the story of the Industrial Revolution. 

Signatures of Abraham Darby III and John Wilkinson. 
Few people have had such a lasting impact on modern society. L516 

Another remarkable collection offered in the auction are 78 Panorama certificates. Before the advent of cinema audiences could visit a panorama or diorama attraction. Often implemented as large winding 360-degree paintings, and sometimes constructed as mobile attractions or in specialized theatres, these immersed the viewer in large topographic landscape views and historical events. The collection as a whole can be purchased, L9, starting at €8,000. In case no bid is achieved, the auctioneer presents the lots one by one, L10-87.

The Panorama collection includes attractions from Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, France, the USA and more. This share in the French Royal London Panorama company dates from 1881. The company built its panorama in the former Saville House, Leicester Square, London, where it showed the battle of Waterloo. L65 

The printed catalog contains several indexes to help you find what you are looking for. The online versions can be searched by keywords. The largest country represented this time is the USA and, including a Confederate Bonds collection, counts over 300 lots. Many non-typical scripophily countries are represented as well such as Fiji, Pakistan, Kenya, San Marino and Uruguay.

One of the lots mentioned under the "Sports" index, L927, is a 1923 share in the Autodrómo Nacional SA. Founded in 1922 the company built and operated the Terramar Autodrome, a racing circuit in Sant Pere de Ribes, Catalonia, Spain. In 1923 Alberto Divo won the first race with his Sunbeam at an average of 142 kilometers per hour. 

Even if you are not a collector the weekend of 30 April & 1 May is an opportunity to see some great antique securities. The venue is the Antwerp Crown Plaza. An airport shuttle from Brussels Airport to Antwerp (about 30 minutes) stops in front of the hotel. The public bus stops right outside the place and takes you in 10 minutes to Antwerp Central Station. 

Here are the auction details :
  • Location : Antwerp, Belgium
  • Dates
    • 30 April 2022, Boone's 68th live and internet auction
    • 1 May 2022, 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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Thursday, April 7, 2022

April sees a new Spink London auction of world bonds & share certificates

SPINK's Bonds and Shares Department has put its latest sale of 2022 online. The auctioneer offers over 600 antique securities from all continents. This online auction ends at 11AM, April 19, 2022. One of the highlights in the auction is this China Mercantile Co. share from the Qing dynasty, L(ot) 102.

The China Mercantile Co. was founded in 1903 as a trading and holding company. The company owned a bank, a porcelain factory, and an export freight company. San Fransico was one its major destinations. The company traded in Chinese and oriental products, tea, silk goods, baskets, brooms, brushes, brass goods, jewelry and art goods. This $20 shares certificate, printed in London by Gilbert & Rivington, dates from 1905 and shows two flags : the Qing dynasty flag with dragon, and possibly the company flag. Rare, L102 

Scripophily from the UK is richly represented. More than 170 lots are divided in separate sections: aviation, bridges/docks/piers, commercial & industrial, hotels & entertainment, mining, motors & cycles, railways & engineering, shipping & shipbuilding. Some of the many interesting items are: 
  • L258 is a stock certificate in the Southport and Cheshire Lines Extension Railway, issued in 1890, with vignette and embossed seal of early locomotive. 
  • Shares certificates from The Fairey Aviation Company Limited are rarely seen. The company built biplane torpedo bombers and other aircraft. Its share, L282 in the sale, was issued in 1956, a year before Fairey built the Rotodyne vertical takeoff airliner. 
  • Roach River Oyster Fishery Company, Limited, 1913, vignette and fine embossed seal of fishing boat, L406 

The UK Mining section consists of 51 lots. This is L323, a 5 shares certificate from the St. Gennys Mining Company, St. Gennys, North Cornwall. Printed on vellum and issued in 1835, this is an early and striking example of using guilloches as a security printing feature. 

The auctions includes stocks and bonds from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and South America. Dedicated sections contain scripophily from the USA, Confederate States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 

New Zealand counts 17 lots in the sale. This is L65, a bilingual 5 shares certificate from 1904 in The New Zealand Consolidated Gold Mines, Limited. Maori warriors adorn this print by Eden Fisher & Co. 

There is lots more to discover in this sale, so here are the details :
  • Location : this is an Internet only sale
  • Date:  Apr 19, 2022, 11 AM
  • Further info : see here , PDF catalog there 


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Monday, April 4, 2022

An Albatros from Ukraine

Alexander Kamenka was born in 1888 in Odessa, Ukraine. Because of the Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War he fled with film producer Joseph Ermolieff to France. In Montreuil near Paris, they established in 1920 a film production company. 

In 1922 Ermolieff leaves Paris to continue his film work in Germany. Kamenka stays and founds a new company, the Société Anonyme des Films Albatros. Co-founders are Maurice Hache and Noë Bloch, the latter also being a refugee from Russia. 

Société Anonyme des Films "Albatros" 
Ordinary share of 100 Francs, 1924, printed by Imp. Richard 

Several of Albatros' first films were directed by Victor Tourjansky : 1922 Nuit de carnaval, 1923 Calvaire d'amour, 1924 La Dame masquée. Tourjansky came from an artistic family in Kyiv. He had fled to Yalta, Crimea, during the Russian revolution. And after Lenin nationalized in 1919 the Soviet film industry he came to France with Ermolieff and his group of actors, cinematographers and directors.

The Albatros films were "silent" films. Films with recorded sound and dialogues were technically not possible to produce till the end of the 1920s. Silent-film actors emphasized body language and facial expression. Onscreen titles were used for explaining dialogues and actions. The title writer fulfilled a key function in addition to the scenario writer who created the story. 

Alexander Kamenka  (1888, Odessa - 1969, Paris) was the son of Boris Abramovich Kamenka (1855, Kiev - 1942). His father was an entrepreneur and banker in the Russian Empire. Boris Kamenka joined the board of several companies including the Azov-Don Bank and the Taganrog Metallurgical Company.  
image : Cinémagazine 31 Dec 1926 

Other Albatros movies from that period are La Maison du mystère, 1923, shot by, inter alia, cinematographer Fédote Bourgasoff (b. 1890, Lokhvitsia, Ukraine) and Kean, 1924, starring Ivan Mosjoukine and his wife Nathalie Lissenko. Born in Nikolayev, Ukraine, 1884, Lissenko left Russia in 1920 with her husband.

Other important film makers of the era working with Alexander Kamenka's Albatros Films included Jean Epstein, Jacques Feyder, Marcel L'Herbier and René Clair. 

Alexander Kamenka produced in 1924 Le Lion des Mogols. The film directed by Jean Epstein and co-written by Ivan Mosjoukine was a success. Mosjoukine, the star of the Albatros studios, played the main role together with his wife Nathalie Lissenko. The actors fancy costumes and this movie poster were designed by Boris Bilinsky. He won a gold medal for that at the 1925 Paris International Exhibition of Decorative Arts. Bilinsky, a Russian Civil War refugee, was born in Bender, Moldova.
image : Multilingual Inventory of Cultural Heritage in Europe, films from the "Albatros" catalogue 

At the end of the 1920s sound film made its entrance. Only well into the 1930s the Paris studios became fully sound-equipped. Many French sound movies were shot in Germany where film studios were faster to adopt the new technology. 

It was a difficult time for Kamenka's Albatros company. Cagliostro, coproduced in 1929 with Wengeroff-Film and starring the German actor Hans Stüwe was still a silent movie. An interesting trivia is that Universal Pictures planned a remake of it with Boris Karloff in the title role, but the script was rewritten into The Mummy.

Facsimile signature of Alexander Kamenka, Managing and Artistic Director of Films "Albatros" 

In 1930 Albatros produces Le procureur Hallers, a sound film. It was made in the same year in the same Berlin studio by director Robert Wiene as a French language version of Wiene's Der Andere. La porteuse de pain from 1934 stars actor Fernandel.  Le Messager, a sound film from 1937 directed by Raymond Rouleau, was one of Albatros' last movie productions and featured French top actors Jean Gabin and Bernard Blier. 

With the outbreak of World War II, Kamenka winds up the company. For the second time in his life, his home country, now France, goes through a war.

After WWII Alexander Kamenka organizes a new film production company, the Société des Films Alkam. He produces Les Frères Bouquinquant, 1948, Le mystère Barton, 1949, Coupable?, 1951, and several more movies. His son, Sacha Kamenka, born in 1910, will also become a movie producer.

The origin of the company name Films "Albatros" is not clear. Some sources refer to the the name of a boat which brought some of the fugitives from Russia. Besides adopting the image of the albatros as its symbol, the company took the motto "Debout dans la tempête" : Upright in the storm.


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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

FHW presents unique stocks and bonds from the Austro-Hungarian Empire

FHW's upcoming auction takes place on February 26, 2022 in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. The town is home to both the world-famous Jägermeister distillery and the headquarters of the Freunde Historischer Wertpapiere.  

The sale includes 1910 lots of scripophily: antique share certificates and bonds from all continents will go under the hammer. Large sections include the Austro-Hungarian Empire, USA, Germany pre 1945, Germany DM era, Russia and the Baltic States, and China.

The Zillertal Railway is one of the most popular attractions in Tyrol. Its line opened in 1902 and runs along the Ziller river between Jenbach and Mayrhofen. Tourists and railway enthusiasts from all over the world enjoy a ride with the company's steam operated trains. This founder share, issued in 1903, designed in lovely Art Nouveau style, features vignettes from Jenbach, Zell am Ziller and Fügen. L(ot) 497 in the auction, Zillerthalbahn AG, starts at €1,500

The k. u. k. Doppelmonarchie, aka the Austro-Hungarian Empire, existed between 1867 and 1918. The "kaiserlich und königlich" refers to "imperial (Austria)" and "royal (Hungary)".  The state comprised Austria, Hungary and parts of todays Italy, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Ukrain. As such it was the second-largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire at over 620,000 km2. 

The sale features 350 k.u.k. lots including a lovely Zillerthalbahn share, image shown above. Some more examples from other Austro-Hungarian certificates are:

  • Actiengesellschaft der Liesinger Bräuerei, share from 1872, wide vignette of the brewery buildings, L153. 
  • Several hotel companies are included in the the k.u.k. section such as 
    • L164, Actien-Gesellschaft Hotel Goldenes Lamm, 1872, lodgings vignette in the underprint 
    • US President Theodore Roosevelt once stayed in the Hotel Krantz, L272 and L273
    • The luxury Grandhotel Pupp is located in Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad), Czech Republic, and can be admired in the movies Last Holiday, starring Queen Latifah, and Casino Royale, with James Bond. L274 
  • Railway collectors will appreciate the tens of railway companies that are included in this section. Some examples are: 
    • Grazer Tramway-Gesellschaft, L264, 
    • Innsbrucker Mittelgebirgsbahn, L279, and, 
    • one of the highlights in the auction, L310, K. K. Priv. Prager Eisenbahngesellschaft, Prague, share from 1828, one of the oldest railway companies in continental Europe.

Included in the Austro-Hungarian section is this Spar- und Kredit-Verein des Janus share. This bank was formed by the Janus wechselseitige Lebensversicherung-Anstalt, a mutual life insurance business, to provide financial services to its members. The amazing vignette shows a portrait of Janus with the two faces. This Roman god controlled the beginning and ending of conflicts. The certificate, issued in 1914, was produced by M. Salzer, one of the oldest printing companies of Austria. Matthäus Salzer (1799-1878) expanded the printing works of the Salzer family into a factory. He bought in 1866 the Carl Ueberreuter printing house. L430 in the auction starts at €200 

The auction includes two German scripophily sections presented by more than 400 lots : 
  1. Germany before 1945, lot range 1142 through 1429, and 
  2. Germany after 1945 'DM era', range 1430 - 1620. 
  3. On top of that you can add the "50% vom letzten Ausruf" section, range 695 - 1141, which contains many German items unsold in previous auctions but now listed at 50% of the original start price.

The printed (PDF) catalog contains indexes on themes and German regions. The online sites provide key word search functions. I tried the word Magdeburg and found more than twenty lots such as L943, a rare 200 Thaler share from 1872 in the Magdeburger Brückebau-Anstalt in Buckau bei Magdeburg with corner vignettes of bridges.

Vignettes on antique securities often display smoking chimneys alluding to productivity and profitability. Being a child of its time, this specimen share from the MEMBRAN Aktiengesellschaft für Finanzinformationssysteme delivers the same message by means of a then expensive desktop computer system with two diskette disk drives. Issued in 1987, Berlin, L1558 is part of the 200 lots counting DM era section.

In its auctions FHW features top American items, especially scripophily from railroad companies. This time the USA section includes about 300 lots.  Some examples are : 

  • a rare Colorado Northern Railway Company share, L1698, with vignette of a train exiting a tunnel, starts at €500
  • Civil War Major General Grenville Mellen Dodge who later became the Union Pacific's chief engineer signed the Denver, Texas and Forth Worth Railroad bond, rare, L1711
  • L1769, Chicago and Oak Park Elevated Railroad Company, stock certificate from 1908, great vignette of steam train on elevated track

From the USA section, this share in The Defender Gold Mining Company not only looks spectacular but tells a surprising story as well. Incorporated in Colorado the company prospected in the Cripple Creek gold district. It was founded in 1895 when the American sloop Defender defeated its British challenger, the Valkyrie III, in the America's Cup race. The share shows the winner, the "Auld Mug" trophy, shipping ropes and the company name, all of them in gold-print. L1706 in the sale 

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


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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Use alternative search terms when searching digital publications

When you want to find something specific online, you key in a search term in the input field of a search engine such as Google. A search term can be a single word or a combination of words, e.g. “railway” or “railway company”. However, to get want you want, you may need to take an extra step.

The vignette shown here appears on a bond from The Utica and Black River Railroad Company. It is wide and gorgious, you can click the image to admire the scene in detail. 

The railroad's line originally ran from Utica, N.Y., to Philadelphia, N.Y. (Manual of the railroads of the United States 1874)

The bond is illustrated below. According to its Frequency of Appearance is F1, which means this certificate "usually appears more than 10 times per year" on the collectors' market. Note that Cox's Frequency of Appearance system does not tell you anything about the value of a particular railroad stock or bond. You can find out more about this system here

The Utica and Black River Railroad Company, $1000 First Mortgage 4% Gold Bond Guaranteed, 1890, Cox catalog nr UTI‑125‑B‑50 

I tried to identify the signature of the person who signed the bond as President of the railroad. Sometimes that person turns out to be an important railroad entrepreneur, a philanthropist, or even a civil war veteran.  

An interesting source for researching railroad officials is The Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America. The 1885 edition, edited by E. H. Talbott and H. R. Hobart and pubished by The Railway Age Publishing Company, lists nearly 4000 names of :

  • Presidents and vice-presidents
  • general and assistant general managers
  • general, assistant, and division superintendents
  • general and assistant general freight agents
  • general and assistant general passenger and ticket agents
  • chief engineers
  • general agents, and 
  • other officers.

The 1885 edition of the book is available online. You can consult it here on A PDF version can be downloaded there

The site provides a search function when the book is read online. I then keyed in the word combination "Black River", a snippet from The Utica and Black River RailRoad Company name. 
This yielded the following results that referred to the full company name :
  • B. H. Bail, General Freight Agent in 1883 to date [1885, the book's publication date] 
  • Edgar A. Van Horne, General Superintendent in 1883 to date
  • Albert Wilber, resident engineer in 1875

Interesting, but not what I was looking for. Though all of these were officials from our railroad, none of the names seem to match the signature.

Next I put in an alternative keyword : "Utica".
Now I got these outcomes :
  • B. H. Bail, General Freight Agent in 1883 to date
  • Theodore Butterfield, General Freight and Passenger Agent, Utica, N.Y.
  • J. F. Maynard, Vice-President and General Manager, Utica, N.Y. 
  • John Thorn, Director 1859, President 1859 to date 

Aha ! Got Ya. The signature present was the one from J. F. Maynard. 

Why the different results ? 
The reason is that the automatic process of converting old books in print to a computer-readable format is not error free: letter 'l' can be misread for number '1', sometimes a letter is worn off, etc. This illustrates my point: use alternative search terms to get the most out of your digital research activities. 

By the way, you can find the 1887 edition of the book here, and the 1893 edition there. Perhaps there are more editions available online.

I could have ended my post here, but there is something extra about this bond certificate that I wanted to share. The thing is, the certificate features two different embossed company seals, both hardly visible. 

The first seal was embossed on the guilloche figure that was printed in the lower left corner of the bond. You can see it much better when you inspect the reverse of the certificate. However, on the reverse you see a mirrored image, see the left image above. 

Luckily, the GNU Image Manipulation Program software allows me to rotate and mirror the image once more so it becomes readable (right image above). The seal depicts a locomotive and reads: 


Then there is a second embossed seal, also difficult to detect. It is located on top of the "U" initial of the company title (top left corner). Also in this case we check the reverse of the certificate. It reads : 

The seal was embossed upon this printed text:

For Value Received, The Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad Company hereby guarantees the punctual payment of the principal and interest of the within Bond according to the terms, tenor and effect thereof.

Since 1886 the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg RR started leasing the lines of the Utica and Black River RR. Both had been under one management since then. The former thus assured the bond buyer that he would see his money back in the end.  


Previous posts 

Friday, January 21, 2022

SPINK UK's first scripophily sale of 2022 presents Australian gold mines, British stone companies, American cattle businesses and lots more

SPINK UK launched its e-auction of world bonds & share certificates. 601 scripophily lots go on the block. The online sale started earlier this week, and its bidding window closes on Jan 31 at 12:00. The Down Under chapter in the sale consists of more than 50 lots. 

The Australasian Gold and Finance Corporation Ltd registered in 1896. The company dealt in mining properties in Western Australia, Victoria and Waihi, New Zealand. This share from 1897 has an exceptional vignette of a prospector with kangaroos and emus. L(ot) 39 in the auction starts at £50.

Here are some more Australian examples: 

  • L16 Melbourne and Suburban Railway Company, 1859, vignette of surveyor and navvy presenting train on bridge, riverboat and map, embossed seal with train 
  • The Central Australian Ruby Mining and Prospecting Co., Ltd, 1888, L45 
  • Along the Howqua River archaeological quarry sites from the Taungurong people were found. The river area would later be mined by the Chief of Howqua Gold Mining Company, L48 
  • Kelly's Freehold Gold Mining Company, Rutherglen, Victoria, 1898, wide vignette of mining operations, L65

The Canadian section features this £100 bond from the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway Company issued for 999 years in 1884. People bought these certificates which could be traded on the securities market. Though due in 2883, the Canadian Pacific Railway recently repaid the outstanding bonds. At £60, L385 is expected to attract buyers. 

A section of 30 Russian lots includes many Maikop oil certificates. 

About 150 lots of British bonds and shares, divided over several sections, represent themes such as canals, shipping, railways, mining, sports and entertainment. Some British examples :

  • Several slate, stone and granite companies are offered, such as the Hard Stone Firms Ltd, see image below.
  • The Grimwith Lead Mining Company, certificate for 2 ordinary shares, 1867, mines at Appletreewick, near Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire, embossed seal, fine vignette of mine entrance, L277
  • A high denomination share of £10,000 in the Wheal Stackhouse Mining Company, L302, was issued in 1836, Truro. The company operated tin and copper mines in St. Enoder, Cornwall.
  • The Crystal Palace housed the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, London. It became a symbol of progress, L317 and L318
  • Lot range 185 through 194 consists of 18th century South Sea annuities

The Hard Stone Firms, Limited was formed in 1897 with offices in Bath. The company owned granite quarries in Cornwall and Devon. Cornish granite was used for the Eddystone Lighthouse located on the dangerous Eddystone Rocks, roughly 15 miles south of Plymouth. The rocks submerge below the surface of the sea. The lighthouse appears both in the vignette and in the embossed seal. L278 in the auction.

The USA is the largest country represented in the auction. Several American sections cover themes like railways, mining, oil and turnpikes. This time there is also a nice series of livestock scripophily. Some examples with great vignettes: L570 Dale Land and Cattle Co. (Texas), L573 Lea Cattle Co. (New Mexico) and L576 North Moccasin Live Stock Co. (Montana).

L582 in the sale is this $1000 bond from the Union Cattle Company. Issued in 1886 it shows off its cow breed and the company's cow brand embossed in the gold seal. 

There is lots more to discover in this sale, so here are the details :
  • Location : this is an Internet only sale
  • Date : Jan 18 12:00 - Jan 31 12:00, 2022
  • Further info : see here 


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