Other noteworthy scripophily lots being offered at the Smythe's winter sale include:
Lot # 1099 - Edison Phonograph Works (NJ) 1888 [Estimate $2500 - $3500]. #24. 80 600/1000 shs. Brown. Small eagle, bottom. Issued to and twice signed by Thomas Edison. Signed by him as president, and signed a second time by him on the back. The signature as president is lightly cancelled, the other signature is bold and uncancelled. EF.
While Thomas Edison was not considered a profound scientific genius, he had a tremendous talent for applying scientific principles to practical applications. In 1876, while experimenting with a needle attached to a telephone receiver, Edison discovered a method that reproduced sounds on a wax cylinder, and the recording industry was born. Edison's invention relied on mechanical amplification, but by the 1920s his competitors were manufacturing electrically amplified, higher fidelity phonographs. Edison was hard of hearing and could not appreciate the difference in sound quality. He refused to allow his sons to waste time and money to develop an improved electrically amplified phonograph, a decision that would have dire consequences for the Edison Phonograph Works.
Lot # 1198 - Boston, Massachusetts Feb. 22, 1787 [Estimate $2000 - $4000]. One Hundred Pounds. Mostly typeset receipt on laid paper. Issued to Elias Hasket Derby, Esquire. Signed "Edwin Payne & Son ". One -inch round glue mounting remnant on back only, else VF+.
After the Revolution, there was an economic depression throughout New England. Small property holders who could not pay their taxes faced imprisonment. Town meetings talked of tax relief, and the issuance of paper money, but these issues were opposed by the legislators. Daniel Shay emerged as the leader of a localized rebellion which tried to close the courts in order to prevent action against debtors. Neither the Federal government, nor the state, would supply money for the militia to put the rebellion down, but some $20,000 was borrowed from "private sources", probably through a subscription campaign. On January 25, 1787, Shay and his supporters attacked a Confederation arsenal in Springfield, but they were repulsed by General Lincoln. Shay escaped to Vermont, and was eventually pardoned. This note is a receipt given to Elias Hasket Derby for paying in the one hundred pounds subscribed by him to the "...Loan for procuring Provisions and Necessaries for the Militia ordered to Worcester..."
Lot # 1220 - Potomac Company 1786 [Estimate $7500 - $12500] . #43. 25.3.3 Pounds. Receipt. Handwritten document. Receipt signed 11/17/1786 by Richardson Stuart for payment of 25.3.3 Pounds by Potomack Navigation. Three of the directors have signed on the reverse: George Washington, John Fitzgerald and George Gilpin. EF.*
Stuart was the manager of the construction operations of the firm. In September 1784, Washington joined with others, then chiefly Virginians, to form the Potomac Company, whose purpose was to remove the impediments of the navigation of the river past the falls and so clear the way to the development of the lands beyond, all the way to the Ohio. Washington, in common with others, held substantial lands in the Trans-Alleghany region, and these men combined to induce the legislatures of Maryland and Virginia to charter a canal company for that purpose. The Potomac Company was only the second such corporation in America, the Susquehanna Canal Company having been founded in the preceding year. The Potomac Company started with a capital of 250 shares with a par value of only $100. The shares were to be evenly divided between the citizens of Maryland and Virginia, with Washington getting fifty shares that were given to him gratis by the Commonwealth of Virginia. By May 1784, 403 shares had been sold and Washington was elected President with John Fitzgerald and George Gilpin among the four other directors. Initially, the directors wanted to build the canal and clear the river of obstructions only with free white labor. But despite liberal cash salaries and distributions of liquor, the work went slowly. As a result, Washington arranged for the purchase of 60 slaves and the hiring of 100 freedmen, who could be better controlled. By 1786, a number of snags and other obstacles had been removed, and work was in progress at Shenandoah Falls, Harpers Ferry, Seneca Falls and Great Falls. In each of these places actual canals were being built, but the wooden locks rotted and had to be replaced with stone. From 1785 to 1789 and again from 1797 to 1799, before and after his presidency, Washington was active in the management of this firm. Progress was slow, the amount of capital needed proving to be much larger than expected, reaching $500,000 in 1815. Robert Morris and John Nicholson bought large numbers of shares as part of their plans to develop their properties in the District of Columbia. Since the canal paid only one dividend for $5.50 in 1802, despite having opened 338 miles to navigation, ownership of the canal was not profitable. The company languished until the chartering of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, which took over the Potomac Company's works.
Lot # 1302 - Standard Oil [Estimate $7500 - $12500] (OH) 1877. #122. 25 shs. Black. Capitol Building. Liberty with flag and sword ("The Standard Bearer"). The original Standard Oil founded by John D. Rockefeller and signed by him three times, once as president, again on the transfer stub, and again on the reverse. Also signed by Henry Morrison Flagler as secretary. Lightly cancelled in red pen through the vignette and the officers' signatures, hardly distracting. An extremely important piece of American financial history representing the early days of one of America's most significant industries.
When it was first incorporated in 1870, shares in the original Standard Oil were very tightly held. There were only five shareholders at its inception, and ten years later there were only forty-one. Standard Oil was the world's largest oil refiner, controlling 90% of the U.S. Oil business at that time.
John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) was the dominant figure in the oil industry until his retirement in 1911. He started his business career as a bookkeeper, and by age 19 was a partner in a produce business. He began operating a small refinery with his partners, and quickly became alerted to the growing investment possibilities in what was then a fairly new industry. In 1870, he organized the Standard Oil Company of Ohio and proceeded to achieve control over 90% of the oil refineries in the country. Rockefeller had little interest in discovering oil; he left that to wildcatters and other speculators. He concentrated on the transportation, distribution and sale of petroleum products, building a fortune estimated at over a billion dollars.
# # #
R. M. Smythe and Co., established in 1880, buys, sells, and auctions coins, paper money, stocks and bonds and autographs at their corporate headquarters at 2 Rector Street in the heart of the Financial District in New York City.