Tag Archives: museum of american finance

The Municipal Bond Women’s Club of New York

Founded in 1948, the club, later known as The Municipal Bond Women’s Club of New York, is a registered 501(C)(6) professional society located in New York with its first address at One Exchange Plaza, 55 Broadway, New York 22, NY. Their website describes the club as follows:

Mrs. Wilma Soss.  Sun Staff Photo.
Mrs. Wilma Soss.
Sun Staff Photo.

In 1948, eight businesswomen founded “The Municipal Bond women’s Club of New York”, in order to foster association among women engaged in the Municipal Bond Business. Providing information about the marketplace as well as forum for members to exchange career advice, this organization is a source of counsel, support, and camaraderie for women working in a field that is constantly changing.

The Museum of American Finance archives contain the club’s correspondence and documents from 1948 to 1961 relating to:

  • Membership
  • MeetingsRecord Attendance at United States Steel Annual Meeting
  • Speakers
  • Outings
  • Club finances

Among the newspaper clippings in the collection, is one from the New York Herald Tribune of May 3, 1949 with the headline “Record Attendance at United States Steel Annual Meeting”. One photo shows Wilma Soss clad in Victorian garb addressing the board chairman. Mrs. Soss was noted for pressing the cause women a voice in corporate America as stockholders and board members. She continued to attend annual meetings of major corporations, often interrupting their agendas until the year of her death 1986 at the age of 86. The collection also contains a copy of a New York Sun article of May 8, 1949 which describes her activities and goals.

The Bond Club of New York

Professional organizations and clubs have long provided a place for both networking and socializing. One club, The Bond Club of New York, traces its history back to 50 Wall Street, on the same block that the Museum of American Finance now sits.

The Bond Club of New York was founded in 1917 as a way for the men selling Liberty Bonds to sell more through a collective effort. While they are no longer selling Liberty Bonds, the club still serves as a social organization for people involved in the financial world of New York City.

1983 Dinner Invitation from the Bond Club of New York.
1983 Dinner Invitation from the Bond Club of New York. The speaker that night was John Glenn.

The club has a long history of having prominent businessmen and politicians as speakers at their luncheons and annual club dinners. This distinguished group includes future presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon and George H.W. Bush, along with multiple vice presidents, senators (including astronaut John Glenn), governors, New York City mayors, CEOs of major corporations and members of the armed forces. The trend of having noteworthy speakers continues today with recent speakers including former Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Chris Christie and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Cartoon from the June 29, 2009 edition of the Bawl Street Journal entitled: The Buy and Shell Game.
Cartoon from the June 29, 2009 edition of the Bawl Street Journal entitled: The Buy and Shell Game.

Along with luncheons and dinners, the Bond Club publishes The Bawl Street Journal, a satirical newspaper that pokes fun at the club members and Wall Street events. It is filled with cartoons and mock advertisements that provide commentary on the financial world of New York City.

The Bawl Street Journal has been published since the Bond Club of New York’s founding. Before it went digital in 2005, it was traditionally distributed at the annual field day at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Westchester County, New York.

1949 Field Day Invitation
Invitation to 1949 Bond Club of New York Field Day.

The Bond Club of New York archive held at the Museum of American Finance consists mainly of documents from the 1970s and 1980s. Notable items in the collection include membership applications from that time period, including the first applications that were submitted by women in 1979.

Along with the applications, the archive includes records from the 1970s and 1980s, assembled annually by the club secretaries. These records include information about the club’s events along with notes from board meetings and examples of Bond Club of New York letterhead.

The Museum also holds documents from the club’s early history. These early documents include copies of the annual year books from 1920 and 1923, which list the members for that year along with earlier speakers and former club officers. There is also an article from the New York Post on the Bond Club of New York from 1925 that outlines its early history, as well as a set of meeting notes from the early 1920s which provides another window into the early history of the club.

Peter Macfarlane is a Senior Collections Intern at the Museum of American Finance.

The Bonds That Sparked New York’s Transportation History

Sonia Huang

A few days ago, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced it is selling a “catastrophe” bond worth $125 million, in order to cover the damage from future natural disasters.

The New York City transportation system has a 109-year-old history, but it has “never faced a disaster as devastating” as Hurricane Sandy, the chairman of the MTA, Joseph J. Lhota, said in a statement. After Sandy smashed the city in October 2012, the “Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end, and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed.”

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Uncovering the Paternity of the Hedge Fund Industry in the Museum’s Collection

Graham and Newman, 1959
Benjamin Graham (right) and Jerry Newman, 1959.

 

For the past few months I have been a guest contributor to Bloomberg’s Echoes blog, which is edited by historian Stephen Mihm and focuses on the history of business and finance.  While most of my columns have tied in with significant anniversaries or events in financial history, for this week’s post I was invited to instead write an article on one of the Museum’s collections.

I have several favorite collection items, but I chose to focus on the Graham-Newman Collection.  It’s a fascinating archive of business documents, personal correspondence, rare first edition books and personal effects belonging to Warren Buffett’s mentor and the father of value investing, Benjamin Graham, and his business partner, Jerry Newman.

And, as I assert in my article, within this collection may lie the answer to the on-going debate over the origins of the hedge fund industry.

To learn more, read “What Was the Very First Hedge Fund? Ask Warren Buffett.”

Taking Stock of History: The Bull and Bear Statue

The focus of this video is the Bull and Bear Statue, an object on display at the Museum of American Finance, on loan from LaBranche & Co. The statue previously stood at the entrance of the Stock Exchange Luncheon Club, which was located on the seventh floor of the NYSE. This club was an exclusive place for traders and brokers to discuss the trades of the day and to unwind with fresh seafood and drinks after work.

There are a number of theories for the origin of bull and bear markets – too many to be included in this short video. The term “bull” was used in association with markets as early as 1714. A bull is a person who buys commodities or securities, optimistically anticipating a rise in prices. He may also be someone who tries, by studying stock trends, to contribute to a rise in the market. The longest bull market trend was in 1949, which lasted eight whole years.

The term “bear” dates back to 1709, when it was used as shorthand for the bearskin jobber occupation. The title “bearskin jobber” originates from a proverb highlighting the practice of selling bearskins before catching the bear. In a more modern sense, a bear is someone who expects prices to fall, thus selling stocks in hopes of a future compensation.

In light of its ancient connotations, the bull and bear statue was an emblem of success for Luncheon Club members, as they would superstitiously rub the horn of the bull and hope for their trades of the day to go up. Although the club has closed, the bull and bear symbol remains pertinent to traders and brokers today, as the statue remains an important icon of the history of finance.
To find out more about this historically significant statue, watch the video: “Taking Stock of History: The Bull and Bear Statue.” Additionally, LaBranche & Co. invites the public to view and to touch this statue, here at the Museum of American Finance.

Julia Edwards is a Senior Museum Intern at the Museum of American Finance.

Video by Senior Museum Interns Kelly O’Brien and Julia Edwards.