Standard Oil Trust Stock Certificate Signed by John D. Rockefeller and Henry Flagler

The recipient was Clement A. Griscom, a shipping magnate who led efforts to build an all-American merchant marine

Standard Oil Trust was one of the most important companies in American financial history. It generated the wealth of the trust’s president, John D. Rockefeller, which was estimated at $900 million in 1913. That is equivalent to a few hundred billion dollars today. Henry M. Flagler was secretary of the trust. Rockefeller...

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Standard Oil Trust Stock Certificate Signed by John D. Rockefeller and Henry Flagler

The recipient was Clement A. Griscom, a shipping magnate who led efforts to build an all-American merchant marine

Standard Oil Trust was one of the most important companies in American financial history. It generated the wealth of the trust’s president, John D. Rockefeller, which was estimated at $900 million in 1913. That is equivalent to a few hundred billion dollars today. Henry M. Flagler was secretary of the trust. Rockefeller once stated that Flagler was “the brains behind the Standard Oil Trust.” Flagler is best remembered for “discovering” Florida and transforming it into one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world.

Document signed, being a Standard Oil Trust stock certificate for 100 shares, New York, October 14, 1886, signed by both Rockefeller and Flagler. Corporate treasurer Jabez A. Bostwick has also signed.

The purchaser of the shares was Clement A. Griscom, a shipping magnate and businessman. In the 1880s he operated numerous shipping lines, and in 1902, with financing from J. Pierpont Morgan, the companies were merged into the International Mercantile Marine Trust Company, which operated 136 vessels over five transatlantic lines. Griscom was noteworthy for his efforts to build an all-American merchant marine to rival those of shipping powers Britain and Germany.

The shares have a “cancelled” mark at top right, and on the verso we see that on July 14, 1899, Griscom resold the shares to Rockefeller himself. At lower right is the received stamp with Rockefeller’s initials.

This is our first Rockefeller/Flagler signed stock certificate in about two decades. Serendipitously and atypically, the signatures are unmarred by hole punch cancellations.

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