May 23, 2014

Spink Auction in Switzerland, June 7

Spink has a sale (#SW1012) of "Bond & Share Certificates of the World" scheduled for June 7, 2014 in Lugano, Switzerland. The sale will offer 380 lots. Twenty-four lots represent North America of which eight are related to railroads. Six are illustrated.

Before ordering the catalog, you may want to peruse the offerings online at Descriptive text for all North American lots are in English. Price estimates are in Swiss francs.

Among the American railroad certificates, the standout is probably a French temporary bearer certificate (certificate provisoire au porteur) for a $500 bond of the Central Pacific Railway (lot 367). I have only seen one previous reference to such the certificate (CEN-686-O-35). It is blue and black and was printed in Paris in 1911. It strongly resembles Dutch certificates for the period which were issued to invest in American railroads. I have always called this certificate a "receipt" and feel comfortable with that description.

Another item of interest is a stock certificate from the Louisville New Orleans and Texas Railway Co., dated 1891. Certificates of this company rarely sell for more the $50 these days, but this one (lot 372) was issued to and signed by Collis P. Huntington.

Those of you with more diverse interests will possibly be intrigued by a three-item lot of currency sized stock certificates for the Litchfield Mine, the San Antonio Mine and the Norwich Mine, all owned by American Mining Company. All three were charter by the state of Vermont and issued in the early 1850s. Also notable is a $100,000 bond issued in 1901 upon foundation of United States Steel. This bond was issued to the Carnegie Company, trustee in partial payment of the staggering sum Morgan had promised Carnegie.

Were I a big collector of these things, I'd probably be most interested in an 1869 New York City bond signed by Mayor A. Oakley Hall and City Controller Richard B. "Slippery Dick" Connolly. Both were among the inner circle of Tammany Hall corruption manipulated by "Boss" William Tweed.

Price estimates are very typical of European sales and I suspect most will probably sell within estimated ranges. Although estimates are elevated by comparison to American prices, I personally predict the Central Pacific certificate (lot 367) is not likely to appear again very soon. After, all this is only the second I have encountered since 1990.

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