Bonds and stock certificates do not usually have the cachet of paper
money, nor do they command the same prices. For artistry, history and
topical interest, however, they can often rise to equal status.
On Nov. 10 in London, as part of a larger auction of bonds and stock
shares, Spink will offer what it is labeling “The Casino Collection.”
More formally, it is the Helmut-Stahl Collection, described as the
world’s biggest collection of casino shares. It comprises almost 300
items from over 20 countries, issued between 1830 and recent times.
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The shares offer a history of the business of gambling. The first
true casino opened in Spa, Belgium, in 1763, and included in the sale
is a 25-franc share from the Cercle International de Spa, dated April
30, 1894. Certificates from the famous spa towns of Baden-Baden and
Bad-Homburg reflect the growth of gambling in 19th century Germany,
where the game of roulette was employed to make the Bad-Homburg resort
the leading gaming venue in Europe.
The legendary casino in Monaco is not forgotten and is represented
by one of that institution’s oldest shares — an unissued mid-19th
century 500 franc certificate for the Bains de Mer et du Cercle des
Etrangers à Monaco. At the bottom of the certificate is an image of
the casino looking much as it looks today. Somewhat jarring, however,
is that, instead of being surrounded by today’s buildings and luxury
cars parked bumper to bumper, there is bucolic scenery and a
The Monte Carlo casino had a long-time near monopoly on gambling in
Europe after the closing of all German casinos in 1872 and was a
profitable economic engine of the principality for years.
Not all the stocks and bonds being offered tell the same story of
success. Among the otherwise worthless shares being offered to
collectors as part of a large lot is an April 24, 1998, certificate
for one share of Trump International Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc.
According to financial reporting services, in bankruptcy, each share
was worth 88 cents in a cash distribution and one-thousandth of a
share in a new company. It will probably be worth more as a
collectible because of current events.