Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Stock Certificate Found - Dated Sept. 25, 1914!

The 2nd known Saline Valley Salt Company Stock Certificate was found in April 2013. Unfortunately, it is in very poor condition. It was owned by a man in Calhoun, Georgia. He acquired it recently (within the last year) in payment of a debt of the previous certificate owner. Ironically, the previous owner contacted me about buying it, but then his cell phone number became disconnected before we could agree upon a price. 

Upon acquisition of the certificate by the Calhoun man, he found our web page and contacted me - just like the person he purchased it from! We negotiated a reasonable price, and we acquired the stock certificate. We donated it to the Eastern California Museum in Independence, California in June of 2013. The Eastern California Museum also has the first stock certificate that we obtained and donated to them. Before going on, let's take a look at this one!
Above (Click to enlarge): I scanned the front of the 1914 stock certificate before donating it to the Eastern California Museum in June of 2013. 

The artwork for the 1914 stock certificate is dramatically different from the 1920 certificate. The main differences include:

1) Gold Corporate Seal (see below) which incorporates the same basic art as the embossed seal from the 1920 stock certificate.

2) Has original Saline Valley salt harvesting art in the oval in the upper left hand corner.

3) The paper and the print/ink quality on the 1914 stock certificate is of much lower quality than the 1920 certificate. This does not really make sense, as I would expect the initial stock certificates to be of better material quality, to go along with the original Salt Lake art. Not only is the 1914 paper of low quality, but the ink used to print it is faded and has ink drop outs in it.

4) The 1914 certificate was signed by White Smith, at the time the President of the Saline Valley Salt Company and also by Fred R. Smith, the Secretary and Treasurer of the Saline Valley Salt Company and White Smith's brother. This is the first known signature of White Smith and Fred R. Smith - a huge find! We believe that these are the actual Smith brothers signatures, because the 2 Smith signatures use different handwriting. There is also a 3rd type of handwriting used by the person that was dating the stock, the number of shares, and the name of the person the stock was issued to.

Above (click to enlarge): The back of the 1914 Stock Certificate. 

The back indicates that 500 shares were issued to Geo. Abington on September 25, 1914 (same name as on the front, and in the same handwriting as the front). We know that most or all of the major investors were from Tennessee, as was White Smith and his siblings. 

There is a George Abington who lived in Shelby, Tennessee in census years 1910 and 1920, and was born somewhere between 1869 and 1884, making him 41 years old in 1910 and 51 years old in 1920; he appears to have had a wife named Mary. George Abington is a fairly UNcommon name, so I am about 80% confident that it is the person named on the stock certificate. It would also appear that Geo. Abington signed the stock certificate on the back (vertical signature on the left side of the certificate above), bringing a total of 4 different handwriting samples on this 1914 stock certificate (both front and back). 

Let's take a look at the corporate logo that is embossed in gold on this certificate (below).
This artwork appears to be almost identical to the embossed stamp from the 1920 stock certificate. The main difference is that Inyo Mountains in the background are faded in the gold 1914 stock certificate seal.

This art was used to create the Saline Valley Salt Company T-shrts (which are for sale for $16 plus shipping - just email us at!). That artwork is reproduced below, and is the 4 color art on the BACK of the t-shirts (Art by Laura Waag at Sidedoor Studio in Southern California):
Condition of the Stock Certificate: Unfortunately, the condition of this stock certificate, as mentioned above is POOR. It is torn on the standard vertical tri-fold (and repaired with glossy clear tape), as well as having 3 additional horizontal folds that have torn (and been repaired with taped as well). It is also somewhat worn and faded, and has a few tiny spots where the paper is missing along the folds. However, given that it is the only one known to exist, we are not complaining. 

Thanks as always for the support from Roberta Harlan and Jon Klusmire at the Eastern California Museum! Also, thanks to those who have offered to chip in some cash to purchase the certificate. This time, the price was very reasonable, so I just made the purchase myself. Keep that cash ready however, should a more expensive Saline Valley Salt Company artifact become available.

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  1. On Jan 17, 2014, at 2:56 PM, wrote:

    Dear Mr. Waag,

    This just proves, you just never know what will come up next. While revisiting some old papers from my great aunt via my mother, I found a stock certificate for The Saline Valley Salt Company dated 12th day of May, 1914. I looked and found your web site. You have done some fascinating work!

    This stock certificate was issued to Alvis Workman. He was the brother of my great aunt's husband, William Workman. From our existing family history research, we know Alvis was born on Feb. 12, 1847 in Orange County, NC. He died in 1920. My great aunt, Sallie, was married to Alvis' younger brother, William. William was born in 1852 also in Orange County. William survived Alvis and his wife, Susan and other brothers. So that is why I assume it was inherited by my great Uncle William. I never knew him since he died in 1926. But I did know my great aunt Sallie B. Workman who married William in 1902 and who died in 1967 (May-December wedding, second marriage for William). My mom looked after Aunt Sallie (who lived in Kernersville, NC) in her later years. I got the stock certificate from my mom who got it from my aunt Sallie. That is the provenance I have.

    The certificate is the same style with the raised gold seal as the one you obtained in 2013. It is for 125 shares. It is signed by Fred and White Smith as well. The certificate number is 2063 which is later than the one you have but this one is dated as noted on May 12, 1914, not quite 100 years ago. I assume certificates were printed and sold as they found buyers. The number "125" is handwritten. The signatures appear very similar but not exactly as the one you found. The quality appears to me to be in better shape than the one you show. It also has a tri-fold. My guess they did not routinely use larger envelopes then.

    I do not know if you are interested in buying this certificate or not. I would consider selling it. If you are interested, let me know what you would consider a fair price for this earlier document. It could be the third and earliest known certificate you have!

    Sounds like your upcoming trip in March will be very interesting!

    Thanks for the work you have done to help preserve this history.

    Wayne M.

  2. Tim's response to Wayne above:

    Wayne, thanks for contacting us - it is appreciated. First, you could consider
    donating it to the Eastern California Museum (ECM) in Independence, Calif.
    ECM has the largest archives on Salt Tram documents and artifacts. They hold
    the first 2 stock certificates that we were able to procure for them. The first
    stock certificate was donated directly to the ECM. The second one was purchased
    for $150 by me from a person who needed the money, and donated to the

    In the event that you are not interested in a donation and subsequent tax write-off,
    we would indeed be interested in purchasing the stock certificate for a reasonable
    amount - we would then donate it to the museum. There is nothing in it for us,
    except to preserve the history.

    Please call or email to discuss. Thanks again for contacting us regarding this

    --Tim and Brian Waag