The Loans of the German Reich

16 November 2015 of IBSS Webmaster

SPINK UK will auction the Loans of the German Reich from the “Reichsbank vault” on Friday, Nov 20, in London. Here is the interesting history of these loans. The German version with more pictures can be viewed here as 14 pages pdf. Author: Peter Christen, SPINK CH

The Kaiserzeit 1871-1918

Kaiser Wilhelm I

Kaiser Wilhelm I

The German Reich was founded following the German victory over France in the Franco-German War (1870/71) under the leadership of Kaiser Wilhelm I. Until 1890, the politics of the Reich was dominated by the so-called „Iron Chancellor“, Otto von Bismarck. His influence also extended to the establishment of the Reich’s fiscal administration.

Otto von Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck

The first fiscal measure was the unification and standardisation of the currencies with the introduction of the Mark and the Gold Standard. In building up the financial authorities, the Reich often fell back on existing Prussian institutions and assigned them the new Reich’s function.

Reich‘s Debt Administration (Reichsschuldenverwaltung)

The Reich’s Debt Administration was founded in 1871 and has its origins in the Prussian Main Administration of the States Debt. It took over the Administration of the Reich’s Debt and the conversion of the old loans into the new Mark. It was under the control of the Chancellor and under supervision of the Reich’s Debt Commission. The following persons were the directors of the Reich’s Debt Office during the existence of the German Reich: 1874–1879: Botho Heinrich zu Eulenburg, 1879–1892: Friedrich Hermann Sydow, 1892–1905: Otto von Hoffmann, 1905–1907: Rudolf von Bitter der Jüngere und 1907–1918: Alexander von Bischoffshausen. During the Weimar Republic, the directors were Carl Halle 1918–1928 and Ernst Articus 1929–1944. The later remained in office for the vast majority of Nazi rule. All Reich borrowing was signed off by the director of the Reich’s Debt Office. Their facsimile signature is always the first signature on the left of the signatures of all directors of the Debt Administration on the individual certificates of all loans of the German Reich.


As France was required to pay war reparation to the German Reich, it required virtually no additional finance in its infancy. The Constitution determined that all current expenditures had to be financed by tax, tariffs, post and railway and that any fiscal deficit had to be covered by the Länder. The Loan bill from 27.1.1875 enabled the Reich to obtain external finance and to issue new loans. The purpose of these loans were the development of a Reich’s army, marine, fortifications and coastal defences, a post and telegraph administration, financing the acquisition of the Reichsdruckerei, minting a new coin, the implementation of the customs-free zone for Hamburg and Bremen and the construction of the Nord-Ostsee-Canal.

Sales and Distribution of the bonds issued by the Reich’s Debt Administration was taken on by the new German Centralbank, the Reichsbank. It was founded in 1876 and, similarly to the Reichsschuldenverwaltung, originated from an old Prussian Institution, which was founded by Friedrich the Great under the Name „Königliche Giro- und Lehnbank“, laterly called the “Prussian Bank”. The loans that are being sold by Spink auction originate from the safes of the Reichsbank.

Germania Loan

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The Boxer Bonds

11 May 2014 of IBSS Webmaster

(by Howard Shakespeare, published with additional illustrations in ‘Scripophily’ in Winter 1999)

China in the 1890s was a very disturbed land. Central government, never very effective, had more or less broken down in many areas and, both economically and militarily, the country was weak. War in 1895 led to a victorious Japan occupying part of Manchuria (northeast China). Foreign powers took advantage of China’s weakness to give themselves « areas of influence », « treaty ports » and all types of concessions, much more to their advantage than China’s. France had influence in the south, Britain in the Yangtse valley, Germany in the Shantung peninsula, and Russia in the rest of Manchuria.

Ordinary Chinese were angry, and blamed the « foreign devils ». Although popular opinion was xenophobic generally, not specifically anti-Christian, the most accessible foreign targets were missionaries, and many missions were destroyed and missionaries killed. By 1898, much of the resentment had coalesced into one of China’s many secret societies, the Yihetuan (variously translated as « The Armies of Justice and Peace » or « The Society of the Righteous Fist »), whose symbol was a clenched fist. They were linked to the White Lotus Society, who practised a form of sacred boxing. On account of all this, its members became known to the west as the Boxers.


The Boxers’ main area of activity was northeast China, from Shantung to the Peking region (now Beijing), although sympathisers caused trouble elsewhere. Sporadic attacks on missions, in late 1898, grew into a campaign by an army of up to 200,000 men, mostly peasants and boatmen displaced by the use of steamships. The climax of the rebellion was an attack on Peking in 1900, when a Boxer army, helped by some Imperial troops, besieged the diplomatic quarter. The story of the desperate defence of the foreign legations is well-known, and told in the film 100 Days in Peking. The legations were relieved, just in time, by an army from eight nations, led by the German General von Waldersee, which had fought its way from the sea at Tientsin.


The Imperial Government was held by the European powers to have permitted, or even encouraged, the Boxers.  Under the « Boxer Protocol », China was forced to make valuable trade and railway concessions, and was subjected to a huge compensation indemnity of 450 million Haikwan taels (£67,500,000), payable with interest over 39 years. The indemnity was granted to the various nations, as follows :

Russia           28,7%       £ 19,372,500
Germany       20,0%       £ 13,500,000
France          15,7%       £ 10,597,500
Great Britain 11,0%       £  7,425,000
Japan             7,7%        £  5,197,500
USA                7,3%        £  4,927,500
Italy                5,9%       £  3,982,500
Belgium          1,9%        £  1,282,500

The other 1,8% was shared amongst Austria-Hungary, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Norway and Sweden. China entered World War I, against Germany, in 1918, and a waiver of five years’ repayments was granted as a result. Moreover, after the end of that war, balances due to Germany and Austria-Hungary were cancelled.


special boxer

Unique piece of the US boxer loan: This one is signed by some 20 directors of the Banque Industrielle de Chine. Sold for 9.500 GBP by Spink in London (June 2013).

Bond issues

Although the majority of the Boxer indemnity was to pay for damage and losses caused to foreign interests during the rebellion, a part related to funds for building the embankments of the Whangpu and Peiho rivers. The total amount of the indemnity was divided into five payment series, payable by China over different periods, starting from 1902 to 1932, but all to be completed in 1940. These inter-government obligations were probably not printed as bearer bonds.

However, several of the creditor nations later made bond issues against the indemnity due to them, so as to raise cash in advance of the Chinese payment dates. Russia, France, Belgium and Great Britain have left such « Boxer Bonds » known to collectors today. A fifth, Italy, issued a loan in 1933 for $4,400,000, but these bonds have not been seen by scripophilists, and may not have been sold to the public.

Much of our financial and scripophily detail are from China’s Foreign Debt by Wilhelm Kuhlmann, Hanover 1983.



The Bradley Find: Scripophily of Nevada Mining Venture

11 May 2014 of IBSS Webmaster

Summary: A newly-discovered cache of Nevada Territory stock certificates is described, its backstory a microcosm of the “mining mania” that swept the Pacific Coast in the early 1860s, exemplifying and illustrating: the willingness of ordinary citizens, not simply to invest, but to form their own companies to promote and develop mines in remote regions hundreds of miles distant; the use of carefully chosen company names and beautiful certificates to promote stock sales; the selective entry of Eastern capital into Western mines circa 1865; the conflicts arising from development of closely spaced lodes, and their resolution, not by law or logic, but by purchase of the weaker claimant by the stronger.  Read the whole article as pdf.