March 16, 2017

Boone Auction 58, April 1, 2017

As usual, Mario Boone ( has come up with another great selection of certificates for his upcoming auction 58 in a couple weeks. Mario deals in certificates from around the globe, so his selection is always wide-ranging. Regardless of your specialty, you will always find something of interest.

I want to stress to my American collectors that Mario grew up surrounded by global certificates. That long experience allows him to buy and sell things that most of us will only see in photographs. That experience also means that he is exceedingly competent in shipping items everywhere on the planet. I say this to suggest that you should feel comfortable in dealing with Mario even if you have never bid in European auctions.

Having said that, I need to point out that prices in European live auctions are different than those encountered in the U.S. There are a couple key reasons.

First, Price history strongly suggests that, on average, European collectors are less enamored with vignettes on certificates than American collectors. On the other hand, they tend to pay substantially more for rarity. Second, collectors will learn that the selection of North American railroad certificates available in Europe is different. That means that some certificates are much more common in Europe than here – and vice versa!

These two significant differences routinely compound to offer opportunities to acquire certain rarities that are underpriced by American standards. Those are the items I want American collectors to consider in this and other European sales.

Let me give a couple hints.

My readers interested in railroads will find forty-two certificates from North America in Auction 58. (3 each from Canada and Cuba, 1 each from Honduras, Puerto Rico and Mexico, 33 from the U.S.) And yes, your will quickly see a few from that number that are relatively common in the U.S.

At the same time, you should be able to spot some terrific rarities. One of those is an 1870 aid bond issued by Barbour County, Alabama to purchase stock in the Vicksburg & Brunswick Railroad. Minimum bid: €200. I'm sorry, you cannot currently find this certificate listed in my database; this is the first time I have ever encountered it.

On the same page in the catalog are two bonds from the Maxwell Land Grant & Railway Company. I have recorded prices for such bonds that range from a high of $3,750 in 2003  to a low of $1,225 in 2005 (on eBay). The last price I saw was $2,000 in 2015. Mario's starting bid for each bond is only €300 (about $318.)

Now for the kicker!

Both were signed on the back by Thomas Scott as trustee. Additionally, both were also signed on the front by William Jackson Palmer as president. For people unaware of Palmer, I'll merely mention that if sold in the State of Colorado, his autograph would probably fetch a couple hundred dollars as an ordinary 'cut signature.'

Maxwell Land Grant bonds are scarce; lots 1254 and 1255 represent two of eight bonds that I have recorded since 1999. However, they are downright common compared to lot 1266. That happens to be stock certificate from the Wharton Railroad Switch Company. In thirty years, this remains the only example I have ever seen. Start price? €80.

While you're at it, why not take a look at lot 1272, another item with a minimum starting bid of €80. It is a stock certificate from the Wilkes-Barre & Wyoming Valley Traction Company and is also the only example known to me!

Yes, I know that not everyone is impressed with potential one-of-a-kind items. I get it. And I am certainly NOT saying those two lots are genuinely unique. It is always possible others might appear at some time. But they are definitely worth a look,

While you're at it, why not take a peek at an item that is three times as common. (i.e., three examples known.). Lot 1202 is an 1854 certificate from the Honduras Interoceanic Railway and possibly the oldest stock certificate from Honduras. Mario tells a good story of the company and how it ultimately gave Honduras one of the the highest per capita debts in the world. This is an historic piece with a start price of €700.

I always recommend acquiring a physical catalog (170 pages, full color.) However, since time is a little tight for the start of the auction on April 1, you can see and bid on all items at