June 03, 2014

Spink Smythe Auction 320, June 17

The latest Spink Smythe auction catalog 320 just came in. This latest offering is part of the "Collector's Series" series and offers a wide array of items including coins, currency and stocks and bonds.

You may view the catalog online, of course, or purchase a copy directly from Spink.

The downside is that stock and bond lots in The Collector's Series are limited in number – only 174 lots this time. The upside is that because the lots are hidden inside a predominately coin and currency-related auction, competition for lots might be greatly diminished.

41 of the 174 scripophily lots are related to North American railroad. 15 of the 41 lots are multi-item lots. I always like multi-item lots because of the opportunity to acquire certificates for excellent prices.

As expected, there are several serious rarities, but because so few North American railroads are illustrated in the catalog (only four!), I suspect they will go largely unnoticed by all except the obsessed. Standouts include Waverly & New York Bay RR (lot 1608) with only four examples known to me. The Liberty & Vienna RR certificate (lot 1602) is almost equally scarce, but a more attractive piece. An issued version of a stock certificate from the East Line & Red River Railroad Co. (lot 1595) is probably three to four times more common than the other two, but tends to sell for about the same or more because of its coloration and its origin from Texas.

Lot 1597 offers two certificates (#2 and #3) from the Engleside Railroad. Okay, the certificates are not terribly attractive (vignettes of Washington and Franklin), but these two items represent one-eighth of all the certificates likely issued for this company. Scarcer still is a stock certificate from the Grassy Island Coal & Rail Road Company (lot 15980. This is one of only three certificates known to me. I like this item because of the vignette of a mine shaft at left that takes up 60% of the height of the certificate.

Lot 1604 is a certificate from the New Jersey Junction Railroad Company, signed by John Pierpont Morgan as trustee. These certificates are relatively common, but because of Morgan's signature, these certificates have been selling for roughly $400 in the last couple years. Having said that, though, let me remark the two highest prices I have ever recorded have occurred in the last two years. ($1,200 in June, 2012 and $1,300 in January, 2014.) Amazingly, both bonds were sold on eBay!!! I mention those prices not to entice you to bid more, but to indicate that Spink's estimate of $300 to $500 is spot-on.

Let me digress for a moment and tell you about a stunning mining-related certificate (lot 1582) from The Gold Mining Company. I can't remember encountering a less informative corporate name. The company was incorporated in West Virginia and issued a certificate for its gold mines in northwestern Arizona in 1895. What makes the certificate special is its size (14.25" x 7.25") and a detailed map in brown underprint covering the entire width. The mining area sits in Mohave County, about halfway between Kingman and the Grand Canyon. The map covers an area from the Music Mountains west to Mineral Park, replete with wagon roads and rail lines. This is a stunning certificate and appears on the back cover of the catalog.

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