“Brokers for the Purchase and Sale of Public Stock” — New York State Quarter Coin

Today, the New York State Quarter Coin remembers when the first group of stock brokers signed their agreement promising to work together on May 17, 1792.

From The New York Stock Exchange by Francis L. Eames, published in 1894:

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Buttonwood Tree and Tontine Coffee House Period: 1792—1817

The First Congress of the United States met in 1789 and 1790, at New York, in Federal Hall, on Wall Street.

At this Congress the Federal Government assumed the debts incurred by the Continental Congress, and also the war debts of the separate colonies or states.

The issue of bonds (then called stock), for this purpose to the extent of about $80,000,000, naturally led to many orders being sent to New York for the purchase and sale of the new securities.

These orders at first came to the merchants and to the auctioneers, but, as the transactions increased in importance, some men began to give especial attention to this business, and these were probably the first stock brokers in New York.

The earliest mention of any attempt at organized dealings in stocks in this city is found in the “Diary, or London’s Register,” a newspaper published in New York, which contained early in March, 1792, the following advertisement:

“The Stock Exchange Office is opened at No. 22 Wall Street for the accommodation of the dealers in Stock, and in which Public Sales will be held daily at noon as usual in rotation by A. L. Bleecker & Sons, J. Pintard, McEvers & Barclay, Cortlandt & Ferrers, and Jay & Sutton.”

The foregoing advertisement would indicate that the auctioneers had endeavored to establish a public stock market by holding daily sales under a joint arrangement.

This action seems to have antagonized the stock brokers, for on March 23, 1792, the following notice appeared in the “Diary:”

“A meeting was held at Corre’s Hotel on Wednesday last, March 21st, of the merchants and dealers in stocks, when they came to the resolution that on and after the 21st of April next they will not attend any sale of stocks at Public Auction, and also appointed a committee to provide a proper room for them to assemble in, and to report such regulations relative to the mode of transacting their business, as in their opinion may be proper.”

The agreement of 1792, which is the earliest record in the possession of the Stock Exchange, was doubtless the result of the meeting referred to.

The following is a copy of that agreement:

“We the Subscribers, Brokers for the Purchase and Sale of Public Stock, do hereby solemnly promise and pledge ourselves to each other, that we will not buy or sell from this day for any person whatsoever, any kind of Public Stock at a less rate than one-quarter percent. Commission on the Specie value, and that we will give a preference to each other in our Negotiations. In Testimony whereof we have set our hands this 17th day of May, at New York, 1792.”

The following is a list of the signers of the foregoing agreement, to which has been added the business address of each signer taken from the city directories of the period:

Leon’d Bleecker, Broker, 16 Wall Street.
Hugh Smith, Merchant, Tontine Coffee House.
Armstrong & Barnewall, Insurance Brokers, 58 Broad Street.
Sam’l March, Broker, 243 Queen Street.
Bern’d Hart, Broker, 55 Broad Street.
Alex’r Zuntz, Auctioneer and Broker, 97 Broad Street.
Andrew D. Barclay, Merchant, 136 Pearl Street.
Sutton & Hardy, Stock Brokers and Auctioneers, 20 Wall St.
Benja’n Seixas, Merchant, 8 Hanover Square.
John Henry, Broker, 13 Duke Street.
John A. Hardenbrook, Broker, 24 Nassau Street.
Samuel Beebee, Broker, 21 Broad Street.
Benj’n Winthrop, Merchant, 2 Great Dock Street.
Jno. Ferrers, Merchant, 205 Water Street.
Eph’m Hart, Broker, 74 Broadway.
Isaac M. Gomez, Broker, 32 Maiden Lane.
Gulian McEvers, Merchant, 140 Greenwich Street.
Augustine H. Lawrence, Warden of the Port, 132 Water Street.
G. N. Bleecker, Merchant, 21 Broad Street.
John Bush, Broker, 195 Water Street.
Peter Anspach, Merchant, 3 Great Dock Street.
Charles McEvers, Jun’r, Merchant, 194 Water Street.
David Reedy. Insurance and Stock Broker, 58 Wall St.
Robinson & Hartshorne, Merchants, 198 Queen Street.

The preceding year Congress had chartered the (first) “Bank of the United States,” capital, $10,000,000, and the shares were already actively dealt in.

The following is a quotation list of 1792:

Stock Quotations, MAY 26, 1792.

6 per cents, 22s. 0d.
3 per cents, 12s. 8d.
Deferred, 13s. 2d.
Indents, 12s. 3d.
Final Settlements, 18s. 0d.
Half shares Bank U. S., 50 per cent. premium.
Shares Bank of North America, (Phila) 15 ditto.

In the use of shillings and pence for quotations, 20 shillings was equivalent to par, 10 shillings to 50%.

In 1792, the city of New York extended northward on the line of Broadway to about the site of the present City Hall, and had a population of about 35,000. There was in the city only one chartered bank, the Bank of New York.

From 1792 to 1817 the stock brokers of New York dealt together under various agreements and in various places.

The street dealings were usually near a buttonwood tree which stood in front of the dividing line between 68 and 70 Wall Street.

After the completion of the Tontine Coffee House in 1793, on the northwest corner of Wall and Water Streets, the brokers for a while met in that building.

The “New York Tontine Coffee House Company” was chartered “for the purpose of a Merchants Exchange,” with 203 subscribers at $200 each.

The building was the meeting place for merchants, brokers, and various commercial bodies, till 1827, when upon the completion of the first Merchants Exchange at the corner of Wall and Hanover Streets, the business was transferred to the new Exchange, and the Tontine Coffee House was divided up into stores and offices.

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The New York State Quarter Coin shows with images of the agreement signed by the stock brokers on May 17, 1792.

New York State Quarter Coin

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