Intricately engraved antique stock certificate from the Belden Corporation dating back to the mid 1900's. This document, which contains the printed signatures of the company President and Secretary, was printed by the Security-Columbian / United States Bank Note Company, and measures approximately 12" (w) by 8" (h).
This certificate's beautiful vignette features a female flanked by a dynamo and an electric train and power lines.
Belden was founded by Joseph C. Belden in Chicago in 1902. Belden had been working as a purchasing agent for Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company of Chicago but was finding it difficult to locate the high-quality, silk-wrapped magnetic wire needed for telephone coils. Recognizing the need for this product, Belden, then 26, decided to go into business for himself, selling shares in the company, called Belden Manufacturing Company, to 11 investors for $25,000 in start-up capital. Belden served as the company's president until 1939.
As the company grew, it protected itself from fluctuations in demand by expanding its product line. An initial foray into supply silk-wound wire frames for ladies' hats proved less successful given caprices of fashion, and Belden quickly found two new markets--the nascent automotive and electrical appliance industries--for the company's wire products. Belden's early commitment to quality helped the company become a leading source of wiring and cables for these industries. Early customers included Thomas Edison and Lee De Forest, creator of the radio vacuum tube. By the end of the century's first decade, the company had achieved sales of $350,000.
Belden was already establishing its reputation for innovative product development, with strong research and development efforts and a quick recognition of market opportunities. The increasing use of electricity demanded better insulation capacities, and in 1910, Belden introduced its enamel insulation, marketing under the trade name Beldenamel, which would become an industry standard and open the way for such wire refinements as fine and ultra-fine magnet wire. At the same time, Belden also introduced rubber-covered wire products.
Belden next expanded operations to include plastic manufacturing capabilities, primarily to supply bakelite housings and other products for the electrical markets. However, the outbreak of World War I provided the company's strongest growth, as Belden supplied wire and cables for such support units as motorized transport and field communications for the war effort. The company also began receiving orders from England and Russia for enameled copper wire--Belden later discovered that its products were used for developing and installing wireless radio communications, bringing the company into a new market. After the war, Belden continued to supply both the aviation and radio markets. Meanwhile, the company had a two-year backlog of orders from its domestic customers.
When commercial radio broadcasting began in the 1920s, Belden's low tension cables, aerial wire, and magnet wire found strong demand. The company also began selling parts to jobbers in the radio industry, beginning the company's distribution arm. In the late 1920s, Belden entered another market with the development of a molded rubber plug.
In 1939, with sales of $4.9 million, and a net income of $378,000, the company went public, listing on the Midwest Stock Exchange.