Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Soldiers' Business Messenger and Dispatch Co. Creating luck.

As part of my ongoing quest for the next amazing Scripophily gem, I have started considering where material of interest might be in larger concentrations. My home is in New Jersey and from here I have spent hundreds of hours crawling around every antique center in at least a 200 mile radius. Sure, there might be a few towns I overlooked but for the most part, I pretty much covered it. I have found that the inventories of these places does not turn-over at any frequent basis so repeat visits rarely yield a significant return. The only exception to this rule is when I re-discover a certificate and find it is not ready to be added to my collection. So I make a note where I found it and return when I feel it's a better fit. So far, it appears that the North East has a rich history of manufacturing and company headquarters along with a major financial center. I have not yet traveled west of the Mississippi searching for more items but hope to get there someday. My trips to the south as far as South Carolina have not uncovered any items of historical interest. It seems any significant family papers that make it to market are swarmed by historians looking for famous people in history.       

Medal of Honor Recipient 
Major-General Alexander Shaler can I create more "luck" finding those rare, I mean really rare, certificates? I have proven that sweat and determination are two key characteristics necessary to uncover hidden treasures. I heard a funny comment earlier this week, that if you skip a flea market that you usually attend on any given Sunday, that will be the day that a real gem will be available and you'll miss it. Last Sunday I was debating with myself and decided after a few minutes to roll out of bed early to get to the flea market. Words cannot express how glad I am that I decided to travel the 45 minutes on a clear sunny day. I was strolling though the isles and was told by one of the vendors about another table with stock certificates. What I found had the combination of age, beauty, condition and relevance for truly desirable certificates. One gem caught my attention.

The Soldiers' Business Messenger and Dispatch Company certificate is dated 1868 issued and not cancelled signed by Medal of Honor Recipient Major-General Alexander Shaler, President and Secretary Col. S. Truesdell and Treasurer Brigadier General J. Henry Liebenau. The condition is extra fine with a revenue stamp tied in the lower right corner dated March 7, 1868. I have not seen one of these certificates before and am interested to hear from anyone with more information about the company beyond the basic material found on the Internet.  

The Soldiers' Business Messenger and Dispatch Company Issued 1868

The Soldiers' Business Messenger and Dispatch Company was created on April 15, 1867 as a way to provide gainful employment for maimed veterans that lived in New York and the orphan boys of soldiers that either died or were injured after while serving in the volunteer army of the United States. These soldiers were able to receive and deliver packages, bundles, property, and messages by sealed envelopes and magnetic telegraph within the territory known as the Metropolitan Police District made up of New York counties Kings, Westchester and Richmond headquartered at 2 Park-place. Messengers were paid $35 per month.

Basic costs for the messenger service;

10 blocks .10c
15 blocks .12c
20 blocks .15c
25 blocks .17c
30 blocks .20c
35 blocks .22c
40 blocks .24c
45-140 blocks  .25c

Additional fees were charged for excessive weight and ferry crossings.
The executives of the company and the board of directors were very prominent military officers.

Officers and Directors
Major-General Alexander Shaler - President  (Medal of Honor)
Major-General Henry A. Barnum - Vice-President (Medal of Honor)  
Brigadier General J. Henry Liebenau - Treasurer          
Brigadier General P. H. Jones - Secretary (Future Postmaster of New York) replaced by
Colonel Samuel Truesdell        

Board of Directors
General Alexander Shaler
General C. W. Darling
General P. H. Jones
Colonel E. A. Ludwick
General J. E. Hamblin
Colonel J. Henry Liebenau
General Henry A. Barnum
General G. S. Batcheller
General C. H. Young

The company planned on placing  a total of 800 booths between Brooklyn starting with 300 in New York City except on Broadway. Each booth was used for advertising and as a shop for newspapers, stationary, magazines and cutlery.  Booths were maned by a maimed soldier in charge given the rank of Corporal as they were unable to handle the typical messenger tasks. Corporals that manned the booth were able to keep the profit from their sales and if it the profit did not meet the $35, the difference was made up by the company. Salaries varied after the organization got off the ground. Special wagons were used on the railroad at regular intervals to carry heavy packages and groceries. Capital was also identified to lay telegraph lines and agreements were made with a telegraph company to use their poles throughout the city.

For full disclosure, in addition to the certificate above, I also found that day, two New York coal companies, a Gas Light company from 1865, 1868 and 1869 and an Atlantic and Great Western Railroad stock (ALT-536b-S30) in excellent condition from 1862. Yes, it was one heck of a day!


  1. Bill, Great find! Gook Luck in your search.

  2. i love to read the things which you have posted in your blog..its very useful information to all those who love...Thanks for sharing..