Tuesday, December 9, 2014

4th (and oldest) Stock Certificate Acquired - Dated July 31, 1912

Friends of the SALT TRAM
Update December 8, 2014: We are pleased to announce the acquisition of a Saline Valley Salt Co. stock certificate dated July 31, 1912, and issued to a "Miss Kyrus Freeman". Note that this stock certificate was sent to me to be donated to the Eastern California Museum (ECM). The donors declined to request payment for the historic document, but chose to donate it instead. It will be a welcome and worthwhile addition to the ECM Salt Tram collection - the largest in the world. Before we go any further, let's start form the beginning of this exciting acquisition, shall we?
Above (click to enlarge): I was so excited when I saw this package in the mail on 12/8/2014. I wanted to tear it open at the Post Office, but brought it home so that Sue and I could open it together. What a wonderful gift to California History from the donor!

I received an email below on December 3, 2014 (name disguised to protect the donor). 

Hi Mr. Waag,

(Hope this gets through to you--your "Contact Me" link didn't have your email address.)

Are you interested in having another Saline Valley Salt Company stock certificate?  My wife was going through some old family papers and found one dated July 31, 1917.  It was for 100 shares, signed by both the Smiths, and issued to Kyrus Freeman, who was the sister of my wife's great-grandmother.  And she was from--yep--Martin, Tennessee.  It is in considerably better condition than the one you have from 1914.  It appears to have browned quite a bit more than the one you have from 1920, but is still perfectly legible.

We're in the fortunate position of not needing the money like your seller from Georgia, so the certificate is yours to pass on to the Museum if you wish.  We'd be pleased to have two of your T-shirts if you still have them and you feel the contribution is worth that much.

Regards, and keep up the good work,

M.E., W., Connecticut

My answer, of course, was "h*ll yeah!" (okay, that was the short version of my email response). Note that M.E. made the understandable error of reading the date as July 31, 1917, when indeed, if you look carefully (especially on the date on the back), it is dated July 31, 1912 - making it the earliest dated stock certificate of the 4 that we have uncovered so far. This means it was purchased before the Salt Tram was completed and the first bucket of salt was transported over the Inyo Mountains on July 2, 1913. When we print another set of Waag Bros. Salt Tram T-shirts, we will gladly and gratefully send them a pair of them.

Above (click to enlarge): Here I am with the stock certificate in my hot little hands, standing in front of the replica miner's cabin in our backyard in San Luis Obispo.

Above (click to enlarge): And here it is - in very good shape! As noted many times over, most stock certificates of the day were folded in thirds, either for mailing purposes, or because they were stored in envelopes or custom-made stock holder sleeves. Either way, all 4 Salt Co. stock certificates share these horrible creases. It'd be fun to find one without them, but I doubt that'll every happen.

Above (click to enlarge): Here is the back side. It was never re-sold.

What's next? I will do an analysis of this stock certificate, as each one contains little details that add additional information to our knowledge of the history of the Saline Valley Salt Co. and all it's later incarnations.

In the meantime, a heartfelt thanks goes out to the donor, who lives in Connecticut. I will be asking for additional information about Miss Kyrus Freeman, the one who purchased the stock certificate. M.E. has indicated that she was the sister of his wife's great grandmother. It's always very exciting to hear the story of the life of those who happened to invest and lose all their money on this surrealistic mining adventure.
Above (click to enlarge): Along with sending the stock certificate in a carefully wrapped bubble-wrapped package, M.E. sent along the above note. We welcome his visit out to California and the Salt Tram any time he is out here. Happy Trails, my (new) friend. From Tim and Brian Waag, the Waag Bros.