In December 2012, Robert Siegel held a multi-day auction containing, among other things, the collection and exhibit material of the late Steven Belasco. Hidden within that material was a lot containing 10 examples of one of the coolest philatelic items I’ve ever seen: presumably the first stock certificates ever issued for a U.S. stamp company, issued in 1866.
I bid aggressively on the lot, but ultimately came up the underbidder. I was able to find out who outbid me and contacted them to find out if they were planning to part them out. They were, so I bought one. It cost me considerably more than the pro-rata cost would have been had I won the lot, but since I had no way of knowing what the other party’s top bid would have been, and this kept me from having to put out 4+ figures, this is fine by me. There were also 6 more examples in the collection balance lot, but that went for 5 figures… not an option.
This is not only an attractive piece to revenue collectors, with a wonderful multiline printed cancel, but to stamp collectors/historians in general.
From the Belasco exhibit:
Edgar H. Judkins, a Lowell Mass. stamp dealer, began using the name United States Stamp Company in 1865. E.T. Gage was a clerk in Lowell. In 1866 they sold shares in the United States Stamp Company in what may have been the first syndication of a stamp business. At least 100 shares were sold to several different investors. The 5-cent revenue rate applied to shares in an unincorporated company.
The example I received is the one shown in his exhibit and in the Siegel auction catalog. All of the certificates in the lot have the same stamp, cancel, and date.
Are there any stock certificates from other stamp companies? I’ve never seen any.