November 05, 2019

Mario Boone Auction 63

Where in the world does Mario find this stuff? It is the question I had back in 1986 when I first saw a Boone catalog. And it's the same question I have asked with almost every catalog since.

This catalog is similar to its ancestors in having a heavy population of scarce and rare certificates. I count 75 rail-related certificates from North America, 69 of which are from the U.S. There is a near-even split among stocks and bonds. While there is an inevitable foreign exchange penalty for American collectors due to the weak U.S. dollar, start prices remain reasonable especially in comparison to scarcity.

Like many previous Boone sales, several items are seen much more frequently in Europe than in the U.S. This tells me three things.

First, European dealers and collectors were very astute in recognizing and buying up rarities from Smythe auctions back in the 1980s and 90s. Second, prices in Europe have remained too strong for American tastes, which is why only limited numbers of those certificates have moved back to North America in intervening years. Third, as I have mentioned many times in the past, European collectors have a greater appetite for rarity; for them, historical significance trumps appearance.

This auction, now in its sixty-third edition, caters heavily to historical significance. For instance, take the 1898 stock certificate from the Stockton & Tuolumne County Railroad Company (lot 1309). This railroad was started by a group of women and remains the only American railroad company known to have had a female president. Only two stock certificates from this company are known to me. That other certificate sold in Germany in 2014 for over $1,600.

Then there is a 1912 bond from the International Railways of Central America (lot 1220) issued in New Jersey to finance a Guatemalan rail system. This bond is issued. Only one other unissued bond is known to me. True, Guatemala is not a big collecting interest among Americans. Nonetheless I must ask, "Where exactly is someone going to find another one like this?" Oh, yeah...Boone sold the unissued example in 2003 for $540.

Lot 1255 is an example of a great rarity that will likely be overlooked. It is a cut-cancelled 1851 stock certificate from the Rochester & Syracuse Rail-Road. I encountered this particular variety only once in 1990. That means this certificate has been vacationing, out of sight and probably in Europe, for the last 29 years!

Another certificate likely to be overlooked is a 100-share specimen from Gary Railways Company (lot 1315). Its ABNCo vignette is highly familiar, so collectors can be forgiven for thinking this certificate is too common to mess with. While I could be wrong, I personally suspect this certificate is unique.

With its huge vignette taking up most of the width, stock certificates from the Union Railroad Safety Gate Company (lot 1290) are highly sought after. There are a few unissued, unnumbered examples known. So far, they have sold in the range of $27 to $378. This is the only issued example I have ever seen and Mario Boone sold it in 2013 for $771. It is up for sale once again for less than $700, including currency exchange and commission.

Among the not-so-rare are items like an 1870 $1,000 bond from the Selma & Gulf Railroad Company (lot 1268.) That particular certificate is one of ten known to me. While an example in poor condition sold in a 2018 Holabird sale for $250, the last one I recorded prior to that was sixteen years ago. I remind everyone: they aren't making anymore of these things!

As I always recommend when reviewing Mario Boone's sales, make sure you get a physical catalog. This one is 184 pages with full color images of almost all certificates. Contact Booneshares: The Scripophily Center at or call 0032-(0)9-386-90-91. Be sure to act quickly because the sale will take place in Antwerp, Belgium November 9 and 10, 2019. You may view all the lots and bid online by going to