Saturday, September 3, 2011

New York Stock Brokers: King's Views of the New York Exchange, 1898

I have been searching for an online resource to help identify the cancels and users of the cancels on the majority of the dollar value commerce stamps from the 1898 revenue series.  Three days ago I found an ideal document for the purpose, King's Views of the New York Stock Exchange, which can be found online through the Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections.  The document can be read online or through a .pdf file that you download to your computer. 



This book contains portraits of virtually all of the members of the New York Stock Exchange in 1897-98.  The members are identified as individuals and through their firms.  There are also photos of the interior rooms and trading floor of the Exchange in 1897, and photos of major buildings in the financial district of New York that housed important businesses in the financial industry.

If you download the .pdf file, Adobe Acrobat Reader enables one to search the entire document with a computer in seconds for complete names or partial names, like those that are often found on cancelled stamps that have been soaked off of their original documents. 

A typical page of headshots looks like this:


Headshot portraits from the book.  My 8 year old daughter asked if all of these gentlemen were the same person.  I suppose the greyscale, demeanor and facial hair of the subjects makes them all appear similar.  Except for one to know the reputation or more of someone like that at the upper left, one would never think these people to be the same.  J. Pierpont Morgan is at the upper left.  JP dominated US finance at the turn of the century.

This book does not answer all of my needs.  I am interested in the office addresses of each of these individuals and their firms.  I would like to be able to place their cancels on a map of New York's financial district. 

However, this volume does help to answer many questions.  Lets look at one example:



Dave Thompson sent me a scan of this stamp with a partial cancel.  We appear to have the following:

S. A. CRUIKS
DEC 13  1901

By putting the letters CRUIKS in to the Adobe search engine to search the .pdf of the document, one gets an immediate and satisfying return.  The search engine stopped me right at the portrait of Simeon A. Cruikshank, no doubt the canceller of this stamp:


The name Cruikshank is in blue because that is how Adobe highlights the word when you get a match for the search.

Now there is much to post about on this site, as I've got a backlog and fellow collectors like Dave Thompson have bunches of these stamps to explore.  There will be lots of dollar commerce stamps on this site showing up in September and beyond.

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