Takamine Ferment Company (Signed by Jokichi Takamine)


SKU: 5872

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Product Details

Intricately engraved antique stock certificate from the Takamine Ferment Company dating back to the early 1900's. This document, which is signed by the company President (Jokichi Takamine,) Treasurer and Secretary, was printed by the New York Bank Note Company and measures approximately 10 1/2" (w) by 7 3/4" (h).

The certificate features a pair of vignettes - Jokichi Takamine at the left and an allegorical female figure holding a scythe and grains at the right.

Seldom seen piece. 


You will receive the exact certificate pictured. Please note glue residue at left side and edge faults.

    Historical Context

    The Takamine Ferment Company was organized by Jokichi Takamine in West Virginia in 1890 and was based in Peoria, Illinois. The company was formed to produce enzymes for a local distiller.

    Takamine discovered a method of obtaining ferment from wheat bran waste. This new source of fermentation was purer and more powerful than the malt which had until then been used in the West, or the koji traditionally used in Japan.

    The Takamine Ferment Company was destroyed in a fire shortly afterwards, however, and though rebuilt, ultimately folded due to pressure from the Whisky Trust and competitors in the liquor industry who feared that Takamine's fermentation source would render their malt totally obsolete.

    Jokichi Takamine

    Jokichi Takamine's Signature


    Jokichi Takamine was born in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, in November 1854. His father was a doctor; his mother a member of a family of sake brewers. He spent his childhood in Kanazawa, capital of present-day Ishikawa Prefecture in central Honshū, and was educated in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, graduating from the Tokyo Imperial University in 1879. He did postgraduate work at University of Glasgow and Anderson College in Scotland. He returned to Japan in 1883 and joined the division of chemistry at the newly established Department of Agriculture and Commerce. He learned English as a child from a Dutch family in Nagasaki and so always spoke English with a Dutch accent.

    Takamine continued to work for the department of agriculture and commerce until 1887. He then founded the Tokyo Artificial Fertilizer Company, where he later isolated the enzyme takadiastase, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of starch. Takamine developed his diastase from koji, a fungus used in the manufacture of soy sauce and miso. Its Latin name is Aspergillus oryzae, and it is a "designated national fungus" (kokkin) in Japan.

    In 1899, Takamine was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Engineering by what is now the University of Tokyo.

    Takamine went as co-commissioner of the Cotton Exposition to New Orleans in 1884, where he met Lafcadio Hearn and Caroline Hitch, his future wife. He later emigrated to the United States and established his own research laboratory in New York City but licensed the exclusive production rights for Takadiastase to one of the largest US pharmaceutical companies, Parke-Davis. This turned out to be a shrewd move - he became a millionaire in a relatively short time and by the early 20th century was estimated to be worth $30 million.

    In 1901 he isolated and purified the hormone adrenaline (the first effective bronchodilator for asthma) from animal glands, becoming the first to accomplish this for a glandular hormone. In 1894, Takamine applied for, and was granted, a patent titled "Process of Making Diastatic Enzyme" (U.S. Patent 525,823)—the first patent on a microbial enzyme in the United States.

    In 1905 he founded the Nippon Club, which was for many years located at 161 West 93rd Street in Manhattan.

    Many of the beautiful cherry blossom trees in the West Potomac Park surrounding the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC were donated by the mayor of Tokyo (Yukio Ozaki) and Jokichi Takamine in 1912.

    In 1904, the Emperor Meiji of Japan honored Takamine with an unusual gift. In the context of the St. Louis World Fair (Louisiana Purchase Exposition), the Japanese government had replicated a historical Japanese structure, the "Pine and Maple Palace" (Shofu-den), modelled after the Kyoto Imperial Coronation Palace of 1,300 years ago. This structure was given to Dr. Takamine in grateful recognition of his efforts to further friendly relations between Japan and the United States.

    He had the structure transported in sections from Missouri to his summer home in upstate New York, seventy-five miles north of New York City. In 1909, the structure served as a guest house for Prince Kuni Kuniyoshi and Princess Kuni of Japan, who were visiting the area. Although the property was sold in 1922, the reconstructed structure remained in its serene setting. In 2008, it still continues to be one of the undervalued tourist attractions of New York's Sullivan County.