October 10, 2017

Mario Boone Auction 59, October 21 and 22

We have another fine offering from Mario Boone to be auctioned in Brussels later this month. Among the lots are some truly fine rarities including the certificate shown on the cover. Dated Oct 20, 1777, that stock certificate will turn 240 years old the day before the auction. It was issued by The Iron Bridge Trust to build on iron bridge across the River Severn in Shropshire, England. The bridge has been honored by UNESCO which proclaimed that it is the symbol of the industrial revolution and that "the world's first bridge constructed of iron had a considerable influence on developments in the fields of technology and architecture."

The bridge still stands today. It was built by the Coalbrookdale Company and opened on January 1, 1781. Eleven years later, the same company built the world's first railroad locomotive, which brings me to the purpose of this article.

The 59th Boone auction will auction 1,348 lots, 76 of which involve North American railroads. One of the fun things about recording information about certificates over such a long period is that I get to witness the movement of certificates from continent to continent and from collector to collector. In this case, I recorded many of the certificates offered in this auction in the early 2000s from images and lists graciously provided by the owner. Many of those certificates had appeared in early Boone auctions, as well as in auctions by R.M. Smythe and Scott Winslow and catalogs by famous dealers such as George LaBarre.

On the other hand, this auction also lists several items I have never seen before. Even after a quarter century of cataloging, I still get to record new items every week!

One of the new items I noticed is a an attractive new red specimen from the United Railways of the Havana & Regla Warehouses (lot 946). That company controlled over 1,200 miles of western Cuban railroad by the 1920s.

Another intriguing Cuban scarcity is a 1-share stock certificate from Compañía Consolidada de Ferro-Carriles de Caibarien a Santo Espiritu dated 1866 (lot 945). This certificate makes the only the ninth example known to me.

Lot 979 is a cancelled stock certificate from the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad Company. The certificate was issued in 1837. While not the oldest railroad stock recorded, as far as I can tell, this company was the first to issue stock in the United States. I know of several 1839 certificates from this company as well as one other from 1837. However, the certificate being offered in lot 979 is the only one of that variety that I have recorded and it is the lowest serial number (#1556) recorded from the company

A still earlier 1834 certificate from the Boston & Providence Rail Road & Transportation Co appears in lot 980. While Mario calls that item a subscription receipt, I list it as a full-fledged stock certificate. Note that it displays serial #7. Collectors may never have another opportunity to secure a lower number.

Not many people have seen (or own) a stock certificate from the National Suspended Monorail Company (lot 1038). No, the company was not a main line railroad nor was it a standout in any historical way. The certificate is not vignetted. Nonetheless, I pause to point out that this certificate is one of a minuscule number of of stock certificates that display punch panels in both the left and right borders. Since the punch panels had the capacity to display as many as 9,999 shares, I list this certificate as a "less than 10,000-share" certificate. (No, you're probably not impressed, but it is a fun fact to me!)

Lot 1030 is from the Duluth, St Cloud, Glencoe & Mankato Railway Co. Usually seen in unissued form, issued examples are normally seen converted to first preferred shares by handwritten or rubber-stamped notices. This is the first issued example I have seen that was not converted from ordinary capital shares.

I am afraid that lot 1018 might confuse a couple of collectors. While titled Jamaica & Brooklyn ROAD Company, it was actually a horse car operation. It took its name from the consolidation of the Jamaica & Brooklyn Plank Road Company and The Jamaica Woodhaven & Brooklyn Railroad Company in 1880. This item remains the only certificate I have yet recorded from this company!

Another item that I suspect collectors will overlook is a temporary preferred stock certificate from the Fort Dodge Des Moines & Southern Railroad Co (lot 1033). While illustrated online, it is not shown in the printed catalog. Even if it were shown, like most temporary stocks it is fairly plain and easy to ignore. Nonetheless, it has so far proven unique in my experience.

Several collectors have told me they, "only buy on eBay." I understand their bargain hunting, but I always warn them that their collections will never grow past a certain point until they branch out to auctions and professional dealers. I'll go even one step further for my more advanced readers here.

Your collection will ultimately be stymied if you do not continue to widen your horizons to foreign sources.

By foreign I mean that if you live in North America, you should consider buying in Europe. And if you live in Europe, you need consider buying in the opposite direction. Why? Because different items routinely appear in different markets. Items in our hobby are too rare to appear in very many places and many items tend to congregate on one side of the Atlantic or the other. Yes, professional dealers always try to shop the world for inventory, but even they cannot buy everything. And they may not  consider buying something in your specialty.

Bringing things back around, I want all of you to consider items in this sale. While there are certainly scarcities and rarities, all of the start prices in this sale are reasonable. Some are even on the low side by American standards! Most of the items in this sale are seen infrequently and very, very few will ever appear for sale in eBay. I will go a step further to suggest that there are several items in this sale that won't appear for sale again for another ten or more years.

The easiest way to get started is browse Boone's online catalog at booneshares.com. At the left side of the page, click either "Browse by Country" or "Browse by Theme." Personally, I always want a physical catalog so I can flip back and forth at will. If you're such a person, be sure to request a printed full-color catalog as soon as possible. Or make sure you get on Mario's list for his next sale. (Catalogs are $15 / €10.)

Yes, Mario speaks perfect English. And since he grew up in the worldwide scripophily business, he knows how to ship internationally without problem. He accepts PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and bank transfer. Since there is no language barrier or currency transfer problem, why not branch out now?