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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