September 28, 2015

HWPH auctions 39 and 40

Matthias Schmitt and his company, HWPH (Historische Wertpapiere AG) has two upcoming auctions on October 17 and 19. The majority of the lots involve German certificates, but there are still significant numbers of items from North America, Asia and elsewhere.

HWPH catalogs are among the most well-produced and well-illustrated catalogs for the stock and bond hobby. HWPH catalogs show all lots in full color which is essentially the European standard. The thing that separates HWPH from its global competitors is its awareness that it can use the web to show details that no printed catalog ever can.

By going to the HWPH website, collectors can see online images of certificates that are over seven inches across! I do not know of any other catalogers in the stock and bond specialty who show their lots in the same manner.

By my count, HWPH is offering 40 lots related to North American railroading. Standouts include the ever-popular Harrisburg Portsmouth Mount Joy & Lancaster Rail Road Company stock certificate with ten distinct vignettes (lot 101.) Another interesting offering is lot 103 which features an 1865 Illinois Central Rail Road stock certificate. This certificate is one of only four known to me and fetched an historic high price of $581 (counting commission) in Germany in 2013.

Many of the remaining lots are seen with some frequency in the United States and would not cause much excitement if offered here. However, as always, there are a few very rare items that might go unnoticed.

One is a $1000 second mortgage bond from the Columbia Electric Street Railway Light & Power Company from Columbia, South Carolina. This item is one of only two to have come to my attention and both of those sold on eBay in 2014.

Another item sure to escape attention is a Canadian-Pacific-Railway-Company share supposedly issued in Montreal in 1911. This particular variety was the subject of a November, 1991 article in the International Bond & Share Society Journal. According to the article, the Canadian Pacific testified that it never issued such certificates. On the other hand, the author suggested (and I concur) that the company might very well have been mistaken. These certificates are so well-engraved that it seems unlikely they were entirely fraudulent. At any rate, this certificate makes the fifth to be listed in my database and is historical by its confusing nature. (See a reprint of the IBSS article on my website at

There are another couple deserving of attention. One is a stock certificate from the Kinniconick Freestone Railroad Company. This certificate is not horribly rare (six in my database), but is still infrequently seen. Another is a generic Goes certificate for the Madden Silent Wheel Corporation (four known to me.) The certificate being offered is one that previously appeared in a George LaBarre catalog from 2006.

These two sales will take place on the third weekend in October, so collectors still have time to acquire catalogs if they desire hard copies. Otherwise, interested collectors go to the HWPH site and browse the catalog online.

September 15, 2015

Spink Collector's Series Sale, Sep 24-25, 2015

It's tough to promote auctions when I receive catalogs with less than two weeks' notice. I can only hope that my readers receive their copies in time. If you are not on the Spink mailing list, then please act today!

At any rate, the latest Spink sale will take place in New York on September 24 and 25. You can find details at Spink's site along with the capability of downloading a PDF version of the catalog.

There is a lot to like in this sale. I count 126 lots of railroad-related certificates. One of the things I especially appreciate is an increased emphasis on telling collectors that certificates are NOT cancelled. Thank you Spink!

As all of you are aware, coins and currency tend to sell for substantially more than scripophily and, consequently, are more profitable for auction companies to sell. Still, Spink has dedicated quite a lot of space in this catalog for scripophily illustrations (40 by my count) and I am sure collectors will enjoy that costly decision. Nonetheless, I continue to warn collectors to to pay special attention to non-illustrated lots. There are some gems hiding in the shadows, so be sure to take your time with the catalog and use my web site to see more illustrations.

(The majority of the small lots are well-described. Used with my online database, you will generally be able to tell precisely which certificates are being sold in the non-illustrated lots.)

One such non-illustrated gem is a Rio Grande Southern Railroad stock certificate signed by Colorado narrow-gauge pioneer Otto Mears. This is one of eight certificates that I have recorded, although I suspect several more exist. This particular example last sold in 2005 for $259.

Other notable lots include:

  • South Pacific Coast Railway specimen bond; last sold for $900 in 2007 and illustrated on the back cover
  • Denver & Boulder Valley Rail Road stock certificate; only seven known to me and this particular certificate was last offered 18 years ago
  • Nevada Central Railway proof bond (with typical accessory impressions); I agree with Spink's suggestion that this is 'probably unique'
  • Columbia & Klickitat Railway stock certificate; non-illustrated; while I can not possibly see every sale that takes place, I have not encountered another example since 1996
  • Dakota Pacific Railroad bond; yes, friends, it IS scarce
  • Northern Pacific & Puget Sound Shore Railroad specimen bond; I have never encountered before
  • Ferrocarrilles Unidos de Yucatan specimen bond; another example previously unknown by me
  • Pachuca Zacualtipan & Tampico Railway Ltd, specimen bond; I suspect this item is unique; last sold by Spink in 2009
  • Tehuantepec Inter-Ocean Railroad Co; yet another specimen I suspect of being unique; last sold in 1997
  • Maryland & Pennsylvania Rail Road Co, bond; this is a sleeper I hope collectors will notice; while there are almost certainly other examples hidden in American collections, I know of only two other examples; both of those are in Germany with little likelihood of returning to the U.S. anytime soon.

Forty-five of the lots being offered are multi-item lots, 13 of which contain from 100 to 1000 certificates each. A few of those large lots show that the great Penn Central/New York Central hoard is still being liquidated twenty-nine years after its release! If you have need for Pennsylvania Railroad certificates, you can probably pick up a thousand for less than 50 cents apiece. New York Central certificates? Probably a dollar apiece or less.

The point I want to make is that there should be something in this sale for everyone. Just make sure that you understand the sale will take place the fourth week in September. There is no time to dawdle.