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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