How I Got Interested in Scripophily

by Bill Jaume

In the summer of 1991 I started working for the Corporate Trust Division of Banker’s Trust Company (now Deutsche Bank). Among my many operational responsibilities was the management of the vault that held physical securities, both registered and bearer. Shortly after my start, the supervisor in charge of the vault informed me that it was time to purge obsolete securities from the vault inventory. Among the items to be purged were old Cuba Railroad bonds. The items caught my eye both for their artistic impression and because of my Cuban heritage. I obtained permission to keep a sample. At the same time, my work colleague, noticing my interest, introduced me to the world of Scripophily. He had been a collector for many years specializing in railroads and mining companies. He taught me the ropes about contacting dealers, the Bond & Share Society, and especially about RM Smythe & Co, which was exactly 2 blocks away from my office in the financial district! I soon became fascinated with this wonderful world of old securities which unlocked an amazing trove of history, and I focused my attention on Cuba and the Balearic Islands. My family is originally from Mallorca and I was born in Cuba, thereby the link. Over the course of 20 years, I accumulated approximately 50 pieces from the Balearic Islands and over 500 pieces relating to Cuba. I had a marvellous time dealing with auctions all over the world, Internet sales, rummaging through shops in the US and in Europe and working directly with dealers. I learned so much about the history of my native country and met many, many fascinating people along the adventure. I recently retired and my focus now is on different things, so I have decided to pass on my collection so that others may enjoy what I enjoyed for such a long time. I donated the Balearic collection to a cousin in Mallorca who continues to keep it alive and plans to exhibit it there someday. My Cuban collection has been entrusted to Spink so it may have the widest possible distribution.

It has been a wonderful experience.