As part of its mission to document the history and practice of American finance, the Museum of American Finance actively collects documents and artifacts related to the capital markets, money and banking. The collection includes stocks, bonds, currency, checks, prints, engravings, photographs, objects and books. The Museum has an extensive collection of stock and bond certificates from the Gilded Age, as well as one of the nation’s premier collections of 18th century US financial documents. The digital collection database contains more than 13,000 record locators, many of which have multiple – and in some cases hundreds – of items.
Items from the Museum’s collection are often featured in books, newspapers, television documentaries and other media. Images of many items from the Museum’s collection can be viewed on our Flickr Photostream.
Stock and Bond Certificates
Stocks and bonds comprise a large portion of the Museum’s collection, with thousands of examples ranging in date from the 18th century to contemporary corporations. The collection features certificates from a variety of industries – from banking and finance to transportation and technology – and many are signed by historically-significant figures, including US Presidents and other political figures, industry titans and renowned corporate leaders. Highlights include a 1792 US Treasury Bond issued to President George Washington bearing one of the first known uses of the dollar sign on a federal document, a $100,000 bond issued to Andrew Carnegie in 1901 when US Steel was formed as one of J.P. Morgan’s outstanding corporate deals and an 1869 Erie Railway certificate signed by Jay Gould.
Currency and Banking
The Museum’s collection of currency and bank notes features a large archive of colonial currency including bills of credit and early continental notes, as well as greenbacks, early US legal tender, fractional currency and Depression-era scrip. The Museum also has an extensive collection of bank notes from around the country dating from the late 18th century and including prominent early banks, such as the Bank of New York and the Bank of the United States – the nation’s first central bank. The Museum also maintains important material relating to the development of banks and banking in the United States and abroad.
Photographs and Prints
The Museum’s photography and print collection includes the oldest known photograph of Wall Street, as well as lithographs, stereographs, popular satirical cartoons and various illustrations relating to the evolution and development of the American financial markets. Additional holdings include photographs of iconic Wall Street figures, pictures taken on the day of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and many images relating to trading, commerce and banking in Lower Manhattan and across the country.
The objects in the Museum’s collection range from machinery and equipment used in trading and banking to more whimsical items, such as financially-themed board games and Wall Street memorabilia. Highlights include a stock ticker from 1897, ticker tape from the Great Crash of 1929 and historic cash registers from the National Cash Register Company.
The Museum houses several self-contained collections within its archives. These collections represent subsets within the financial services industry including value investing, printing and engraving, interstate commerce, 18th century finance, professional financial associations and financial advertising.
American Bank Note Collection: The American Bank Note (ABN) Company was one of the world’s largest engravers of national currency and postage stamps, as well as stock and bond certificates. The Museum houses a unique and important collection of thousands of ABN materials, including specimen and issued stock and bond certificates; production materials, such as artwork, proofs and printing plates; and order books spanning from 1860-1905.
The Bond Club of New York Archive: The Museum houses the archives of The Bond Club of New York, a professional association founded at 50 Wall Street in 1917 as a way for Liberty Bond salesmen to increase their sales through collective effort. It evolved into a social organization of prominent businesspeople which hosts events with distinguished guest speakers, including several US Presidents and Vice Presidents, as well as senators, governors, New York City mayors, CEOs of major corporations and members of the armed forces. In addition to its programs, the Bond Club publishes a satirical newspaper, The Bawl Street Journal, which pokes fun at Wall Street and provides commentary on the financial world. The Museum’s Bond Club of New York archive consists largely of documents from the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a substantial collection of Bawl Street Journals. Other notable items include membership applications, including the first applications submitted by women in 1979; records of club events; board meeting notes and business documents; and notes and publications from the 1920s.
Carver Gibbons Collection: This voluminous archival collection contains more than 2,400 documents spanning nearly a century, from the late 1700s to the 1880s. The collection consists chiefly of family and business correspondence, financial receipts and ledgers, legal documents, memos, books and miscellaneous ephemera involving the Gibbons family and the landmark Gibbons v. Ogden court case regarding interstate commerce regulations. View finding aid.
Drexel Burnham Lambert Collection: Drexel Burnham Lambert (DBL) was a prominent Wall Street investment bank founded in 1935 and forced into bankruptcy in 1990. The Museum’s DBL Collection consists of internal company memoranda and correspondence; financial statements of the firm; consolidated income statements; information about profit sharing, health care and retirement benefits for employees; issues of DBL Exposure, an employee publication; SEC settlement documents; Chapter 11 bankruptcy material; DBL Liquidating Trust material; journals and newspaper articles about DBL; and DBL objects including banners, t-shirts, buttons, etc. View finding aid.
Lebenthal & Company Collection: The majority of the Museum’s Lebenthal & Company Collection consists of art materials used to create advertisements for municipal bonds. These materials include layouts and prints of ads created during the 1970s through the 1990s, as well as storyboards, cassette tapes, photo negatives and printing plates. These advertisements, which often featured celebrity endorsements, were instrumental in establishing the Lebenthal brand for individual investors. View finding aid.
Sanford J. Mock Collection: Sanford “Sandy” Mock, a life-long collector of historical financial documents, donated a large portion of his 18th century collection to the Museum’s archives in 1998. The Mock Collection includes Revolutionary War bonds, pay orders and correspondence; checks and bonds from the First and Second Banks of the United States; legal documents from the American colonies and early United States and early American currency.
Municipal Bond Women’s Club of New York Archive: Since 1998, the Museum has housed the archives of the Municipal Bond Women’s Club. The Club was founded in 1948 to foster association among women engaged in the municipal bond business by providing marketplace information, as well as a forum for members to exchange career advice. The collection includes meeting minutes, financial reports, membership applications, club correspondence and ephemera from club events spanning 1948-1959. View finding aid.
Books and Periodicals
The Museum maintains a diverse collection of books and periodicals that chronicle finance in America. Periodicals include Puck, Judge, Harper’s, American Heritage, Fortune and industry insider journals and periodicals such as the Bond Club of New York’s Bawl Street Journal. The book collection includes reference volumes for published data from institutions such as the New York Stock Exchange, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, as well as a wide-ranging collection of corporate, bank and exchange histories.