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Denver City Consolidated Silver Mining Co. (Signed by Whitaker Wright)

$95.00

SKU: 7458
Product Details

 

Nicely engraved antique stock certificate from the Denver City Consolidated Mining Co. dating back to the 1880's. This document, which is signed by the company President (Whitaker Wright) and Secretary, was printed by the Kendall Bank Note Company and measures approximately 11 1/2" (w) by 8" (h).

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    Historical Context

    The Denver City Consolidated Silver Mining Co. was incorporated in Colorado in 1880. The company had properties on Fryer Hill in Leadville, Lake County.

     

    Whitaker B. Wright purchased three claims on Fryer Hill for $195,000 to form the company. The three claims were the:

     

    • Shamus O'Brien
    • Denver City
    • Quadrilateral

     

    Despite the involvement of Whitaker - who was later determined to be another of times' common frauds - and a very dubious output at first, the company managed to stay in business into the 1920s.

    Whitaker Wright

    Whitaker Wright's Signature

    Whitaker Wright's Signature

     

    The eldest of five children, James Whitaker Wright was the son of James Wright, a Methodist Minister, and Matilda Whitaker, a tailor's daughter. He was born in Stafford, and spent his early years in various parts of England with his father. At an early age he was sent to Shireland Hall School in the Birmingham suburb of Smethwick, a boarding establishment funded by charitable donations which catered for the sons of clergymen of all denominations. He was instructed in Latin and Greek and was taught how to use a printing press.  In 1861, according to the census of that year, he was a printer in Ripon. Between 1866 and 1868, he was a Methodist preacher like his father, but retired due to ill health. He was also the elder brother of John Joseph Wright, who invented the reversible trolley pole, transmitting electricity from an overhead wire to the motors of a tram or trolleybus. The brothers started a business as printers and stationers in Halifax, England in 1868 but it failed the following year.

    Emigration, Marriage and Fortune

     

    On the death of his father in 1870, the family emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Wright then travelled to Philadelphia, where he met and married Anna Edith Weightman in 1878. Wright made a fortune by promoting silver-mining companies in Leadville, Colorado (the Denver City Consolidated Silver Mining Co.), and Lake Valley, New Mexico, although none of the companies made money for the shareholders.

    Wright returned to England, and promoted a multitude of Australian and Canadian mining companies on the London market.

    Sharp Practices

     

    Wright's career as a swindler peaked in the 1890s, when he formed the London and Globe Company which floated a variety of stock and bond issues dealing with mining. Wright called some of these stocks "consols", the term used by the British government for state bond issues that were solid and reliable. He loaded the directorships of his companies with Peers of the Realm; for instance, the Chairman of the London and Globe Company was the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, a former Viceroy of India. This served the purpose both of impressing the public and attracting wealthy investors. Wright also sought to make a place for himself in late Victorian English Society. Besides a mansion at Lea Park to form a deer park; the notorious name was changed to Witley Park, as the estate was further extended towards Witley, Surrey. Wright also owned the yacht Sybarita which beat the yacht Meteor (which belonged to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany) before the Royal Yacht Squadron.

    Wright became a friend and financial adviser to Sir James Reid, the personal physician to Queen Victoria. In fact Reid became the trustee for Mrs. Wright in the financier's will; later this would lead to financial difficulties for the physician for neglecting her interests in the events connected to Wright's fall. Reid eventually had to pay Mrs. Wright £5,000.

    Everything was apparently working well in Wright's empire, when in 1900 he sought to float a bond issue for the building of the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway (now the London Underground's Bakerloo line). The line had been difficult and costly to construct. Why Wright sought to get involved in the company is contentious; he was a mining engineer, not a construction or railroad engineer. It is likely that Wright believed he would be able to cap his career in City finance if he were knighted for his public spirited activity. In any case the bond issue was a disaster — Wright found it strained his resources, and few people were willing to subscribe. It started the collapse of the entire Wright group.

    At this point Wright made his criminal error. To maintain an image of solvency and success, Wright kept pushing thousands of pounds from one of his companies to another in a series of "loans". This led to some misrepresentations on balance sheets. But when he announced that, despite the apparent prosperity of his group, there would be no dividends, people became suspicious. In December 1900, the companies collapsed. Wright fled, but was brought back to stand trial. The shock waves led to a panic in London's exchange. There were other losses. The humiliated Marquess of Dufferin and Ava died in 1902 in the midst of the investigation.

    Trial and Death

     

    The trial took place in January 1904, before Mr. Justice Bigham; the prosecution was led by one of the best barristers of the day Rufus Isaacs. Bigham was one of the most astute corporate law experts in England, and Isaacs was an expert in stock market procedure having previously worked as a broker. The government (when studying the confusion of Wright's paper trail) could not see a successful government prosecution; instead the prosecution was brought by the stockholders. With a prosecutor exposing the various financial tricks that Wright pulled for the jury, and a jurist patiently explaining points about finance, Wright's attempts at obfuscation were defeated.

    On January 26, 1904, Wright was convicted of fraud at the Royal Courts of Justice and given a seven-year prison sentence. He committed suicide by swallowing cyanide in a court anteroom immediately afterward. The inquest also revealed that he had been carrying a revolver in his pocket, presumably as a backup: He was never searched as the security was weaker at the Royal Courts, which were Civil Courts, the trial being held there as it was deemed likelier that the special jury required would be less prejudiced against the accused than a normal jury at the Old Bailey criminal court, which was in the City. In spite of his financial misconduct, there was a great outburst of grief at his funeral at Witley, where he is buried.