Saturday, November 21, 2015

Turning Over An Old Leaf

Well it was bound to happen, a piece of American Leaf Tobacco Company history has finally landed in my lap. Now it's not one of my holy grail items, which would be a matchbook (an obvious choice for a tobacco importer and cigar packer) or stationery from the Brooklyn based HQ of ALTC but it's pretty sweet just the same. The item in question is a 1909 ALTC stock certificate issued for their Quincy, Florida operation.

I found my first reference for the owner of these particular shares, one Mr. Julian Mitchell, in the December 21, 1912 issue of Forest & Stream magazine which details the sale of his yacht to the U.S. Life Saving Service in Galveston. He is described as being from New York and little more sleuthing revealed he was a Broadway Producer and Director. His firm was eventually named Hamlin, Mitchell & Fields. Fields was Lew Fields, a very famous actor and comedian at the time who went into producing.  So Mr, Mitchell definitely had the means to purchase 50 shares of ALTC stock at $100 a throw!

The stock subscription was intended to raise $420,000 in capital, a huge sum of money at the time. That works out, of course, to 4,200 shares outstanding.  I'm still working on identifying the secretary and president of the Quincy concern as the signatures are a bit difficult to make out although the Secretary's surname looks like Shaw. I am still connecting the dots to Morris Chigorinsky (later Shorin) but prior research I have done links the Florida operation to Morris's Brooklyn HQ. I imagine since the stock was issued in accordance with the State of Florida's laws, the officers had to be Florida residents.

A look at the embossed seal gives us an ALTC incorporation date of 1908, which matches that of the New York Branch of the firm.

1908 being,  of course, the founding date of the company, as per this February 29, 1968 piece from the United States Tobacco Journal:

The back is a model of brevity. I think the transaction date is February 12, 1909 but it's a little hard to make out the month:

ALTC items are essentially non-existent so I am happy to have found this.  Hopefully more pieces from the firm will pop up but for now this will have to do.

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