December 28, 2017

HWPH auction January 20 & 22, 2018

I received the latest offering from Historisches Wesrtpapierehaus AG (HWPH) over the Christmas weekend. Auktion 47 will offer 928 lots, predominately from Germany and Russia. There are only a few lots representing North America and only one 471-item lot related to American railroads. Thankfully Herr Schmitt posted a complete list of the contents of that large lot on the web. (See lot 47.)

For collectors of American railroads, online Auktion 48 is more enticing. 60 of the 2,398 lots involve American and Cuban railroading. About half are seen very rarely in the United States and are not the kinds of certificates any experienced collector should hope to find on eBay. For that reason, I suggest collectors take a serious look at this sale. Several certificates in this sale will not be seen again in the next decade, so I will mention a few that caught my attention.

Several collectors will recognize a $1000 bond from the Brooklyn & Brighton Beach Railroad (lot 2064). One of these certificates appears for sale every couple of years, but the number of collectors who want one routinely pushes auction prices over $150. It is more elusive than its familiarity might suggest.

Certificates from the American Car & Foundry Co should also appear familiar, but the 100-share certificate offered in this sale (lot 2032) is much scarcer than most people realize. Similarly, a 1908 $1000 bond from the Chicago Subway Company (lot 2079) is another infrequently-seen beauty that might be overlooked.

Now to the rarities.

Labeled 'Brunswick & Albany Bahn', the certificate in lot 2066 is a certificate of deposit is one of only five I have recorded. This unassuming certificate was used for bonds deposited with the Brunswick & Albany Committee in Frankfurt in 1872. Only one of the five was sold in the U.S.

Lot 2140 is a £250 bond from the Havana Railroads Company, dated 1859 and only the third to come to my attention. Sadly, Cuban railroad certificates seldom attract the attention their rarity might imply. This is especially true of on orange 1-share preferred certificate from the Cuba North & South Railroad (lot 2115). This is a bearer share certificate and I can attest that bearer shares are very uncommon from anywhere in North America other than companies that operated in the Caribbean island. This orange variety is one of only four that I have encountered.

However, there is also a green common share companion (lot 2114), which just happens to be the first I have ever listed. Hmmm, I wonder how many collectors are going to realize the rarity (!) of this certificate, especially considering HWPH's minimum bid is only €140.

Another first to me is a warrant from the Erie Railroad to purchase common stock (lot 2126). It is admittedly plain, but still a new item for my catalog.

Also the first of its kind is a specimen 1925 equipment trust certificate for $1000 from the Great Northern Railway (lot 2126). Yes, it also is plain. And yes, not very many people collect equipment trust certificates. Still, if a collector is attracted to rarity for the sake of rarity (as many are), he/she should take a look at these kinds of certificates that usually fly under the radar of most collectors.

I can't remember exactly when I first started cataloging railroad certificates, but I think it was about 1987. If true, then lot 2169 seems to be rare. It is a $10,000 bond from the New Orleans & Northeastern Railroad Co dated 1917 and only the fourth serial number I have recorded of this variety. No question about it, there are probably more around. After all, there is no way anyone could have listed every railroad certificate offered over the last 30 years by hundreds of dealers in fifteen or more countries. But no true collector should ever call this certificate common!

Another uncommon certificate is lot 2081, a 10-share common stock certificate from the Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul Railway, dated 1912. It might look a familiar to the uninitiated, but it is only the third such certificate I know about.

Still not impressed? How about a certificate I have recorded only once before? Lot 2150 is a $1000 second mortgage gold bond from the Kansas City & Northern Connecting Railroad. Minimum bid? €100.

Finally, do you just want a great vignette? Then look at lot 2082 from the Christopher & Tenth Street Rail Road. Minimum bid: €30.

See all these certificates and about three thousand more at, the website for Historisches Wertpapiere AG. Once you reach the home page, click on the flag appropriate to your language. (Click this link to go directly to the complete list of auction items in Auktion 48.)

Finally I personally recommend you also acquire the beautiful full-color print editions.

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