The Art & History department is responsible for one of the largest collections of securities in the Netherlands: thousands of shares and bonds that currently no longer hold any financial value, but that together represent a good 200 years of economic history. They are also important from an international point of view, since from the eighteenth century onwards the Dutch had a preference for investing in foreign securities. Thus this collection contains Russian, Chinese and Austro-Hungarian government bonds, with exuberant designs that, besides being quite beautiful, were also intended to make forgery extremely difficult. The securities are interesting from an art-historical perspective as well; some of these papers are veritable pearls of graphic design.
A 1,000 dollar share issued by the southern states (Confederate States) of America in 1863.
During World War II, ABN AMRO predecessor Incasso-Bank used this share as a receipt for a loan to the Dutch resistance. Other predecessors did the same with their other shares.
Specimen of a 1,000 guilder share in the NV Lochemsche Bankvereeniging from 1899. There were hundreds of ABN AMRO predecessors, including small and local banks. All of them eventually were absorbed into ABN AMRO through mergers or acquisitions.
One rather unknown example is the Lochemsche Bankvereeniging, acquired in 1925 by the Nationale Bankvereeniging. It was a subsidiary of the Rotterdamsche Bank, a predecessor of what was to become the Amro Bank.
Certificate of ten shares for 500 dollars each in the New York Ontario and Western Railway Company, dated 1885.
American railroad shares (called spoortjes) were particularly popular with foreign investors, but did not always prove lucrative over the long haul. The railway company that issued this share had the dubious honour of being the first in history whose entire railroad line was cancelled. Many more would follow.
United we stand
A receipt from 1894 for a negotiation (loan) of 500 guilders to investment fund Concordia Res Parvae Crescunt. The Amsterdam merchant banker Abraham van Ketwich founded the world's first investment fund, named for this Latin proverb, in 1774. Loosely translated it means United we stand, divided we fall. After many permutations his business ended up in the ABN AMRO 'family tree'.
Certificate for a 100-guilder share in the Purmerender Stoom-Wasch en Strijk-inrichting, dated 1912.
Large and well-known companies were not the only ones to issue shares. Small businesses like this launderette in Purmerend did so, too. Such shares ended up in ABN AMRO's securities collection after being returned to the bank or to one of its many predecessors.
A 2.50 guilder share in the lottery-loan of 1 million guilders for the Vereeniging ter Bevordering ’s-Lands Weerbaarheid, dated 1870.
This shooting-practice association was founded in 1866 in reponse to fears of a Prussian invasion in the Netherlands, which at that time had no general conscription. The association was supported financially by the sale of lottery tickets.
A 5 guilder share in the loan for the the Catholic Church of Saints Agatha and Barbara in Oudenbosch, dated 1874.
Religious institutions also issued loans, like this church of the Saints Agatha and Barbara. The collected money was used to build this church, a small copy of the famous Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome.
Share for 500 francs in the Compagnie Française de Haut-Congo, dated 1899.
A share was often considered the calling card of the issuing organisation. So shares were often elaborately decorated with pictures of the object of the investment, as in this example of an investment company in the former French colony of Upper Congo.
Share for 500 francs in the Banque Industrielle de Chine, dated 1920.
A beautiful and elaborately designed share was intended not only to seduce potential investors, but also to make forgery more difficult. In the early twentieth century, China attracted many foreign investors but also many counterfeiters.
Certificate of share for 1,000 guilders in the Crediet- en Handelsvereeniging Banda, dated 1925.
Dutch investors eagerly sank large amounts of money into what at the time was the Dutch East-Indies. Many of these investments became worthless overnight after decolonisation and are now only of interest to collectors.
A new beginning
Certificate of a share for 150 guilders in the Nieuwe Afrikaansche Handels-Vennootschap dated 1880.
This is a unique example of a company that went on to flourish after a name change. It also survived the gross malpractice of its founder, the infamous Lodewijk Pincoffs. The company had a total of 75 trading posts in West and Central Africa.