Virginia Coal and Iron Company


SKU: 1693

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Product Details

Intricately engraved antique stock certificate from the Virginia Coal and Iron Company dating back to the 1920's. This document, which is signed by the company President and Secretary, was a printed by the Security Bank Note Company, and measures approximately 11 1/4" (w) by 8" (h).

This certificate's vignette features the Virginia State Seal.


You will receive the exact certificate pictured.

Historical Context

The Virginia Coal & Iron Company was incorporated on January 6, 1882, and renamed Penn Virginia Corporation on April 19, 1967. VC&I was a typical large southern Appalachian coal and land company founded by members of the Leisenring, Wentz and Kemmerer families.

The Leisenrings were among several Pennsylvania anthracite operators who made the transition to bituminous coal. Their first such venture, and VC&I's direct predecessor, was the Connellsville Coke & Iron Company, established in 1880 in the western Pennsylvania basin that then held a near-monopoly on the production of coking coal for the iron and steel industry.

The Virginia Coal & Iron Company acquired 70,000 acres of coal, iron ore, limestone and timber lands near Big Stone Gap by absorbing the property of the Tinsalia Coal & Iron Company (1880-1882). The Tinsalia Company had been established by entrepreneurs from the Connellsville Field of Pennsylvania on the representations of a local promoter, the ex-Confederate General John D. Imboden.

The formation of the Virginia Coal & Iron Company was part of a larger movement of northern capital and entreprenuers into the underdeveloped natural resource industries of the Appalachian South. Isolated land was purchased in large blocks at low prices from local or absentee proprietors. Locally-based land speculators like Imboden acted as willing middlemen. The northern capitalists financed the construction of railroads to open their properties to market, and the opening of each section was marked by land booms that drew in lesser entrepreneurs and speculators.

The Connellsville Coke & Iron Company had come into competition with Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, and the Leisenrings were compelled to sell out to them in 1889. The capital and skilled personnel thus released were transferred to Virginia.

The railroads finally reached Big Stone Gap in 1890-91, giving access to the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest. The Virginia Coal & Iron Company opened its first mines and coke ovens at Stonega in 1896. It made a brief effort to develop the iron ore deposits in 1900, but they did not prove profitable.

In 1902, the operation of the mines was spun off to the Stonega Coke & Coal Company, controlled by Dr. John Shriver Wentz, who was also then president of VC&I. While operating as a lessee, it remained partially interlocked with the Virginia Coal & Iron Company.

From 1902 to 1966, the Virginia Coal & Iron Company was primarily a receiver of dividends, rents and royalties, the Virginia staff never exceeding ten people. The company leased portions of its lands to other coal operators, sold timber and operated sawmills and maintained a limestone quarry. Beginning in 1931, it organized several subsidiaries to explore for oil and gas. Between 1896 and 1961 it built and owned the Interstate Railroad to serve the mines of its lessees and insure an adequate supply of railroad cars. It also created the Clear Creek Water Company (1906-73) and the Cumberland Water Company (1918-77) to supply fresh water to the coal towns and the city of Appalachia. It organized the First National Bank of Appalachia in 1909 to secure adequate local banking facilities.

In the 1960s, the entire corporate structure was reorganized. In 1962, the Virginia Coal & Iron Company acquired 52% of the Westmoreland Coal Company's stock, and a year later it absorbed Westmoreland's land company, Westmoreland, Inc., which owned land in Westmoreland County, Pa., and Boone and Logan Counties, W. Va. The company also divested itself of its traditional Virginia subsidiaries between 1961 and 1977.