AMERICAN MERCHANTS UNION EXPRESS CO. - COLLECTION WITH THE AMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY, WILLIAM G. FARGO, HENRY WELLS, ALEXANDER HOLLAND, ALVIN ADAMS, J. N. KNAPP, E. P. ROSS, JAMES C. FARGO - HFSID 350401
Sale Price $3,400.00
HENRY WELLS, WILLIAM G. FARGO and ALVIN ADAMS
Amazing collection from the founders of the great “Express” companies.
Comprises (1) Partly Printed Check endorsed: "Alvin Adams" on verso, 7½ x 3. San Francisco, California, 1877 August 14. Wells Fargo & Company check, payable to Alvin Adams for $46.10. Secretary Signed: "William G. Fargo" on front. (windowed to show both sides of certificate)Lightly soiled. Fine condition. (2) Stock Certificate signed: "Henry Wells" as President, "Alexander Holland" as Treasurer and "Jas. C. Fargo" as Secretary of the American Express Company, 1p, 11¾ x 8. New York, 1866 May 28. Issue of 18,000 shares of Capital Stock; each share was worth $100. Certificate No. 661, certifying "that R. A. Porter of Keenu New Hampshire is entitled to One Share in the American Express Company...." On verso, the certificate has been transferred on June 28, 1866, the date of its issue (windowed to show both sides of certificate). Lightly creased. Light show through of revenue stamp affixed to verso. Fine condition. (3) Stock Certificate signed: "Wm G. Fargo" as President, "E.P. Ross" as Treasurer and "J.N. Knapp" as Secretary of the American Merchants Union Express Company, 1p, 11¾ x 8¾. New York, 1868 December 18. Issue of 180,000 shares of Capital Stock; each share was worth $100. Certificate No. 597, certifying "that C. C. Paine of Troy Penn is entitled to Five Shares in the American Merchants Union Express Company...." On verso, the certificate has been transferred on December 10, 1889, the date of its issue (windowed to show both sides of certificate). Lightly creased. Light show through of revenue stamp affixed to verso. Fine condition.
In 1839, Alvin Adams established the beginnings of the express business by offering a quick, reliable service to businessmen, merchants, and wealthy customers who did not trust the postal system. From his simple start of personal delivery by riding the train between Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts. Adams expanded, making the express business lucrative and challenging. Competition was on the horizon within a decade when the established firm of Henry Wells sought a merger with that of Willima G. Fargo, and they formed the American Express Company (1850). As president, Wells signed this stock certificate of the American Express Company, dated May 28, 1866. Fargo's brother, James Congdell Fargo, co-signed as Secretary Pro Tem. The following year, the Merchants Union Express Company was formed by a group of wealthy New York merchants and created serious competition in service and promotion. In 1868, American Express bought the Merchants Union after a year of stiff competitive business and would merge to become the American Merchants Union Express Company- the name changed back to American Express in 1873. William G. Fargo succeeded Wells as president following the merger and signed that stock certificate on December 18, 1868. By now, they far exceeded the capital and territory of Adams. Less than a decade later, a secretary made out this check drawn on the San Francisco branch of Wells Fargo & Company to Alvin Adams, who endorsed it shortly before he died on September 2, 1877.
Wells Fargo & Company was founded in 1852 to expand business in the western frontier and to capitalize on the gold rush. American Express was formed on March 18, 1850, with the merger of three companies: Wells and Company, which Wells helped found in New York (1846); Livingston, Fargo and Company, which was co-founded by Wells and Fargo in Buffalo, New York (1844); and Butterfield, Wasson and Company (1849) established by John Butterfiled and James Wasson. The unincorporated association of these previous competitors was formed with a beginning capital of $150,000 and a limited life of ten years. The company operated in the New England states, following the Great Lakes westward and as far north as Canada; it transported valuables, currency, mail, and commodities. After its first decade of operation, the company dissolved according to legal requirements. The assets were auctioned off for $600,000 and then returned to its stockholders. The company re-capitalized by issuing $1 million in stock-2,000 shares at $500 each- to its original stockholders. By the end of the Civil War, the American Express Company had expanded to include 900 offices located in ten states nationwide; meanwhile, Adams Express had expanded down the Eastern seaboard to service the South almost exclusively under a subdivision named Southern Express.
Since Adams' company still held a strong position in New England, American Express moved westward. As competition emerged from railroads and telegraphs, both corporations bought companies in varying fields to become massive conglomerates. In 1918, Adams Express and others merged their shipping business with American Railway Express Company. Adams' company would emerge as an investment trust company. Through this type of evolution and a consumer need for a money order competitive with that of the federal postal system, American Express had developed its financial company (1880s). The success of their money order led to the credit and financial company of today. Three items. Framed to an overall size of 27¾ x 39½.
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