This article was originally published in Antique Trader
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Q I recently inherited this stock certificate that was purchased by my great-grandfather in 1902 and I am having a hard time finding the collectible value of it.
— C., Texas, via email
A The Ezekiel Airship Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1901 in Pittsburg, Texas, after the Rev. Burrell Cannon, an inventor/machinist and holder of several U.S. patents, convinced his friends and neighbors that the airship he had designed would actually fly; $20,000 in stock was sold at $25 a share and the Ezekiel Airship was built on the upper floor of P.W. Thorsell’s Machine Shop in Pittsburg.
The airship was completed in 1902. The poplar story is that one Sunday morning in November 1902, unbeknownst to Rev. Cannon, foundry worker Gus Stamps, along with a few of his co-workers, took the flying machine out to a field for a very short flight, beating the Wright Brothers into the air by a year. Fearing for their jobs, however, they kept the excursion a secret.
Rev. Cannon wished to exhibit the Ezekiel Airship at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Unfortunately, high winds blew the airship from the flatbed rail car by which it was being transported, destroying it.
According to George Cuhaj, accomplished numismatic researcher and editor of the five-volume Standard Catalog of World Coins, and the three-volume Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, several factors weigh against the value of the certificate: Since $20,000 worth of stocks were issued, thousands may still survive providing a plentiful supply for collectors. The certificate was produced by lithography rather than from an engraving, which would have been more desirable. Also, the piece has been folded and there is some slight paper foxing along the folds, which both detract from the value.
However, due to the early aviation subject matter, which is always popular with collectors, and the nice vignette, a reasonable value for this stock certificate would be $75 to $100.
Send your questions and photos via e-mail to AskAT@fwmedia.com, or mail to Antique Trader Q&A, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54945. Photos sent by e-mail should be 200 dpi or larger. Appraisals are personal opinions of value and are to be considered for entertainment purposes only. The values are estimated and are not to be used for any other purpose, either legal or personal. Personal replies are not possible.
Karen L. Knapstein is Print Editor for Antique Trader. A lifelong collector and student of antiques, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Joe, and daughter, Faye. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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