Beautifully engraved antique bond certificate from the Florida East Coast Railway Company dating back to the 1940's. This document, which is signed by the company Vice President and Secretary, was printed by the International Banknote Company and measures approximately 12 1/2" (w) by 9" (h).
This piece features a vignette of a train steaming down the tracks.
Built primarily in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, the Florida East Coast Railway Company (FEC) was a project of Standard Oil principal Henry Flagler. He originally visited Florida with his first wife, Mary; they sought assistance with the health issues she faced. A key strategist who worked closely with John D. Rockefeller building the Standard Oil Trust, Flagler noted both great potential and a lack of services during his stay at St. Augustine. He subsequently began what amounted to his second career, developing resorts, industries, and communities all along Florida's shores abutting the Atlantic Ocean.
The FEC is possibly best known for building the railroad to Key West, completed in 1912. When the FEC's line from the mainland to Key West was heavily damaged by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, the State of Florida purchased the remaining right-of-way and bridges south of Dade County, and they were rebuilt into road bridges for vehicle traffic and became known as the Overseas Highway. However, a greater and lasting Flagler legacy was the developments along Florida's eastern coast.
During the Great Depression, control was purchased by heirs of the du Pont family. After 30 years of fragile financial condition, the FEC, under leadership of a new president, Ed Ball, took on the labor unions. Ball claimed the company could not afford the same costs as larger Class 1 railroads and needed to invest saved funds in its infrastructure, the condition of which was fast becoming a safety issue. The company—using replacement workers—and some of its employees engaged from 1963 until 1977 in one of the longest and more violent labor conflicts of the 20th century. Ultimately, federal authorities had to intervene to stop the violence, which included bombings, shootings and vandalism. However, the courts ruled in the FEC's favor with regard to the right to employ strikebreakers. During this time Ball invested heavily in numerous steps to improve the railroad's physical plant, and installed various forms of automation. The FEC was the first US railroad to operate two-man train crews, eliminate cabooses, and end all of its passenger services (which were unprofitable) by 1968.