October 08, 2013

Two more auctions coming up in October from HWPH

October is a busy, busy month for stock and bond auctions. Two more beautiful catalogs just came in from longtime contributor Matthias Schmitt and his company Historiches Wertpapierhaus AG (HWPH).

Auction 31 will take place on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at Erbprinzenpalais in Wiesbaden, Germany followed two days later by Auction 32 at the same location. Together the two sales will offer 2,302 lots of stocks and bonds from around the world. Most lots are illustrated in full color in both the catalogs and online at www.hwph.de. If interested in participating in these auctions, be sure to contact Herr Schmitt or his staff immediately at auction@hwph.de or by phone at +49-81-06-24-61-88.

The Saturday auction (Auction 31) offers 962 lots of which 16 represent scarce and rare certificates from North American railroads. Several of these come from the collection of world-class collector Tankred Menzel and will not likely appear for sale for another twenty years or so. Since these certificates are being offered in Germany, I must expect most to attract strong bids.

The Monday auction (Auction 32) offers a wider selection of more typical certificates. As I have pointed out time and again, American collectors should remember that some certificates are much, much scarcer in Europe than here. Consequently, some of the certificates we see as common attract very strong bids in Germany. CONVERSELY (and this is the heart of my warning), some certificates are greatly more scarce here in the U.S. than in Germany and therefore sell for less on the other side of the Atlantic. Never assume that certificates are equally common or scarce everywhere in the world!

By my count, Auction 32 offers 1,341 lots, of which approximately 142 are North American certificates. Of that number, 65 lots are railroad-related. At least 11 lots are autographed certificates which normally fetch strong to very strong bids in Europe. Don't forget to look in the back of the catalog (lots 2253 to 2262) for multi-item lots which often represent great deals, no matter where sales take place.

All single-item lots are illustrated in full color and all images show entire certificates. Prices are denominated in Euros and all lots clearly show minimum bid amounts..

September 30, 2013

Latest (and fast approaching) Auctions

Four new auction catalogs have come in in the last few days. Most of you have already received one or two of these. Let me inform you about others that might interest you.

ARCHIVES INTERNATIONAL AUCTIONS, PART 16 - This first session of this sale will take place at the Museum of American Finance in New York on Saturday, October 22, 2013. The second session will follow on Tuesday, October 22 at the Fort Lee, New Jersey offices of Archives International. Contact the company at 201-944-4800 or at www.ArchivesInternational.com for a copy of this 200-page, full color and well-illustrated catalog.

By my count, there are 426 lots of American railroad certificates, 10 of which sport important autographs. There are more railroad-related items from elsewhere in North America (Canada, Mexico, Cuba) that I did not have time to count.

A full 209 lots are examples of items of certificates from the Penn Central collection that R M Smythe first brought to light in 1986. This collection includes an example of essentially every variety Smythe found, many of which remain very scarce. I only one #1, but several are low-numbered.

Approximately 217 railroad-related lots will be offered during Session 1, 70% of which are specimens and proofs. For those of you who like bargain hunting, approximately 15% of rail-related lots include two of more certificates. There are around 2,290 lots offered in this massive sale with about half related to stocks and bonds.

MARIO BOONE 51st AUCTION - Mario's latest sale will be an internet and mailbid auction on and will take place Oct 12, 2013. For American readers, I would advise calling immediately if you want a catalog. Contact Centrum voor Scriptophilie at 0032-(0)9-386-90-91 or online at www.booneshares.com.

This sale is smaller than recent sales, possibly because Auction 50 was so large. For collectors of North American railroad certificates, I count only 17 lots, although there are a couple of standouts that caught my attention.

Were I a collectors, I'd aim for lot 574, a stock certificate from Bermuda Railways Investment Company. At a starting bid of only 30 Euros, even with shipping and commission, this seems a deal. But what do I know?

Another item of interest to American collectors is a tramway-related stock certificate from the Angamar Motor Company of New York (lot 630). I've never encountered this company before and the starting bid of 50 Euros again sounds like a serious deal. But you decide.

As always, all lots are available for viewing and bidding online. Make sure you get after it as soon as possible so you can do your research and decide how you might bid.

SPINK COLLECTOR'S SERIES SALE 317 - Like most of Spink's recent sales in the U.S., the 1,099 lots in this auction encompass a huge range of collectibles: stocks, bonds, coins, currency, documents, medals, autographs. As usual, there are some great collectibles in practically every category, although I only count 53 lots related directly to railroad stocks and bonds from North American collectibles. Yes, I catalog railroad stocks and bonds, but believe me when I tell you there are some other tremendous items in this catalog. Whether you bid or not, you WILL see things that catch your attention.

Ever since Spink took over Smythe, we've seen a heavy reliance on multi-item lots and this sale is no exception (32 of 53 are multi-item lots.) While certainly not for every collector, multi-item lots are great ways to amass certificates quickly. If you end up with something you don't want, scan it and put it up for sale on eBay. As long as you don't have a monstrous start price, you'll sell.

Thus sale is a short-fuse opportunity. Visit www.spink.com immediately to see the lots online and order your own full-color, well-illustrated catalog.

SPINK BONDS & SHARE CERTIFICATES OF THE WORLD - Thankfully, this sale is a little further out. This sale will take place in Lugano, Switzerland on October 19 and October 21, 2013. Unlike the last sale described above, this sale is dedicated almost entirely to stocks and bonds. Please contact Spink at www.spink.com for your copy of the sale catalog. As always, Spink catalogs are well-illustrated and in full color. Most lots are illustrated online and bidding will take place live across the internet.

This particular sale is being conducted in cooperation with the prominent Swiss dealer, HIWEPA. Since the sale will take place in Switzerland, be aware that the currency used is Swiss Francs and the descriptions are variably written in either English or German.

Like most German, Austrian and Swiss sales, numerous lots involve railroad celebrities and semi-celebrities(Morgan, Vanderbilts, Huntington, etc.). In my opinion, the standouts will probably be Fargo-signed certificates from American Express. Overall, I count 146 lots related to North American railroads with a quarter being multi-item lots.

For those of you who collect certificates from other specialties and other countries, you won't fail to find something you'll like. Be sure to check out the sale online immediately.

May 14, 2013

Spink Smythe sale 316, May 22-23, 2013

The latest Spink Smythe “Collector’s Series” sale catalog is now available online at http://www.spink.com/. For a copy of the physical catalog, call 800-556-7826 or email usa@spink.com. The auction will take place in Spink’s New York offices May 22 and 23.

As with other sales in the “Collector’s Series,” a wide range of collectibles are being offered. All told, 1277 lots are being offered with the bulk of the sale represented by 542 lots of coins, particularly stunning gold coins. Paper money (380 lots) is also well represented. Especially important is a wonderful collection of U.S Nationals (215 lots.) If there is one particular highlight, it is the second part of an unbelievable collection of George Armstrong Custer paper (59 lots.)

Stocks and bonds involve 149 lots, of which 51 are directly railroad-related. Unlike recent Spink Smythe sales, this sale is light (9 lots) on multi-item lots which I think should be an overall good move for collectors.

It is hard for stocks and bonds to earn their way in normal sales heavily populated with more popular collectibles. In this case, though, Spink is offering several very scarce and rare items that I have either not seen or have not seen in a long while. As typical of Spink Smythe sales, about a third of the railroad lots represent items signed by celebrities such as Belmont, Blair, Fillmore, Gould, Harriman, Huntington, Mellon, John Rockefeller, William Rockefeller, Ryan, Sage and the Vanderbilts.

Two items of note are rail-related autographs, although not signed on certificates. One is an 1882 document representing 80 acres of land sold by the Central Pacific in Yuba County, California. The document is signed by Leland Stanford whose autograph is nearly unknown on stocks and bonds. In my opinion, Spink’s estimate on this item is fair and probably on the low side. (Why the president of the railroad, let alone two corporate trustees, would have signed a sales document for $120 worth of ordinary farm land near Smartville, California is unknown.)

There is a similar situation (restrained estimate) with an 1873 proxy form appointing a man named Niven to vote for directors of the Spuyten Duyvil & Port Morris Railroad Co. The item is a partially printed, generic form but is signed by Commodore Vanderbilt, William Henry Vanderbilt and Cornelius Vanderbilt II. All three signatures are clear and bold and the document fully uncancelled. Considering the prices fetched by “C Van Derbilt” autographs in the past, the current estimate of only $1000 to $1500 seems very fair indeed.

I won’t enter information about any of the certificates into my database until after the sale. However, it looks to me like all of the non-autographed lots are either scarce or rare, non-typical items or items not previously recorded. The downside (for Spink) is that there are so few stocks and bonds that they may not attract much attention in the shadow of more popular coins and currency. The upside (for collectors) is that prices might end up being rather reserved. Decide for yourself, but make sure you look over the sale as soon as possible.

May 10, 2013

Purpose-built locomotive

This is a photo of the “Reuben Wells” taken as it was being hauled on a flat car to its permanent home at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis.

The Reuben Wells was built in 1868 in the repair shops of the Jeffersonville Madison & Indianapolis Rail Road at Jeffersonville, Indiana. It was designed exclusively for a 1.3 mile piece of track at the west end of Madison, Indiana. The track was special because it climbed out of the Ohio River Valley on a 5.89% grade. The locomotive did not need to be fast. It just needed to be able to push freight and passengers up what is reported to be the steepest non-cog railroad in the United States. (The locomotive pushed cars up the hill because the couplers were too weak for pulling.)

The 33-ft long, 0-10-0 locomotive was named for the designer/engineer, Reuben Wells. It weighed 55 tons (49,900 kg) and construction cost $18,345. The day after the locomotive arrived for service on July 17, 1868, the Madison Courier reported its weight at 70 tons. Its hard to imagine that wood and water would have accounted for the 15 ton discrepancy.

The machine apparently worked from until about 1898. It was sent to Purdue University in 1905, but appeared in exhibitions at the Chicago’s World Fair (1933-1934) and the Chicago Railroad Fair (1948-1949.) Sometime afterward, it was moved to Pennsylvania Railroad yards in Pennsylvania.

Ultimately, it was rescued from rusting away by Tom Billings, head of the Children’s Museum advisory board, and returned to Indiana in 1968. It now resides on permanent display in Indianapolis.

This image shows the Reuben Wells on a Pennsylvania Railroad flat car. The image came from a post card and I removed the distracting background so you can see the shape of the locomotive more clearly. In this photo and in photos of the current display, the Reuben Wells carries a mushroom smokestack. Much older photos available in Madison (http://mjcpl.org/rivertorail/buildingtherailroad/the-reuben-wells-locomotive) show the locomotive in service with a large funnel (“balloon”) stack.

Having walked the railroad grade many, many times as a kid, I find it amazing that trains were able to run year round. You can see the grade on Google Earth at 38.749176 degrees N, 85.396786 degrees W. You can also find more information about the machine on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reuben_Wells_(locomotive).

April 02, 2013

Two fast-approaching Boone auctions on a short fuse

I've always been a big fan of Mario Boone's catalogs and thoroughly enjoy every one I get. Unfortunately, I don't often have a lot of lead time to get the word out.

This time, I received two catalogs. The first represents the 50th (!) sale by the Scripophily Center and boasts 1500 lots of world stocks and bonds. The majority of lots are illustrated, and all are in full color. Like all Boone catalogs, sale items are fully indexed so collectors can quickly discover items in their areas of interest (both country-wise and specialty-wise.)

Numerous certificates represent North American railroads. I've already spotted a previously unrecorded bond-
sized scrip certificate from Canada. There are 60 lots from North American railroads. As expected, there are quite a few familiar faces, but advanced collectors will spot several that are seen very infrequently.

Among those are items like an 1889 stock certificate from the Utah Midland Railway. There were only 2500 shares authorized, and Mario is offering #9 for 494 shares.

Some railroad specialists only collect certificates from actual operating companies, but even they will be attracted to a fine example of a stock certificate from the Union Railroad Safety Gate Company. While not horribly rare, these certificates are so attractive that they always find ready buyers. I'm guessing this one will see a good sale price.

Another serious rarity is an 1863 bond of the West Hoboken & Hoboken Passenger Railway Co. It's always hard to predict sales of early bonds like this. Sometimes they go for a lot of money; sometimes they don't. I'll be very interested in the behavior of this item.

The more I look, the more I see that I'm sure will interest my readers: an 1870 bond from Selma & Gulf Railroad. An 1889 bond from the Piedmont Cable Company. An 1892 stock from Pueblo City Railway, etc.

Instead of reading this, you might want to look at everything in the sale at www.booneshares.com. The sale will take place in Antwerp, April 5, 6 and 7 so there is no time to waste.

Included in the sale is a special collection of notable items that Mario has separated into a second catalog titled the Golden Jubilee Auction. While primarily consisting of world rarities, the catalog still includes a few rail-related pieces from North America.

As far as I am concerned, the "biggie" that overshadows all the other lots is a bail bond issued against Jay Gould and and signed by both Jay Gould and Erastus Corning. This is an incredible piece of American corporate history representing the culmination of the Erie Wars between Gould, Fisk and Commodore Vanderbilt. (Gould was arrested in Albany, NY in 1868 upon Vanderbilt's insistence and Gould immediately produced the $500,000 bail!). Boone's minimum start price is 12,000 Euros. Oh, boy! What will this thing sell for?

Archives International Auctions, part 14

Archives International Auctions will hold its 14th auction at its office in Fort Lee, New Jersey April 16. This sale will feature approximately 1,150 lots, and like most recent AIA sales, leans very heavily on unassailable items from American Bank Note Company and its predecessors.

About 18% of the lots involve stocks and bonds and about 10% involve security printing ephemera. The remainder of the sale represents U.S. and world paper money. Huge numbers of specimens make an appearance, especially among the world notes. In my mind, the top-notch showpiece of the sale is a presentation proof of a $10 1890 U.S. legal tender with General Sheridan. Terrific! (This is the note shown on the cover, at left.)

Obviously, I am most interested in the selection of railroad stocks and bonds. True to form, previously unseen specimens are the order of the day among Archives International's offerings. Of the hundred lots being offered, I suspect there are 40-50 certificates I don't yet have cataloged. (Many are multi-item lots, consequently the number of certificates available exceeds the number of lots.)

To me, standouts among railroad stocks and bonds are "new" bonds from the Union Pacific, but collectors will all have their own favorites. An unlisted bond of the Eastern Railroad of Long Island ought to attract attention. (Long Island-related collectibles are always popular.) So should three bonds from the Central Pacific, one of which is a bond for $2,941,000. Another very interesting piece is an 1870 proof from the Northern Pacific. Regardless of collectors' individual interests, there ought to be something for everyone.

If you have not already received a catalog, contact Archives International Auctions right away by phone at 201-944-4800 or by web at www.archivesinternational.com. As typical, you may bid in person or by mail, fax, phone or internet.

Archives International's catalogs are always very well produced. Items are well illustrated and most are given lots of "breathing room." Because of the presentation style, the catalogs tend to be very thick and will probably become collectible in themselves. Make sure you get yours while they are still available.