Today, the Liberty Head Barber Dime Coin remembers when the New York Stock Exchange reopened to limited trading on December 12, 1914 after being closed almost four and a half months.
From The New York Stock Exchange in the Crisis of 1914 by Henry George Stebbins Noble, President, New York Stock Exchange, published in 1915:
The year 1914 has no precedent in Stock Exchange history.
At the present time (1915), when the great events that have come to pass are still close to us, even their details are vivid in our minds and we need no one to rehearse them.
Time, however, is quick to dim even acute memories, and Wall Street, of all places, is the land of forgetfulness.
The new happenings of all the World crowd upon each other so fast in the financial district that even the greatest and most far-reaching of them are soon driven out of sight.
This being the case, it has seemed to the writer of these pages that some record should be kept among the brokerage fraternity of what was so great an epoch in their history, and that this record could best be written down by one who happened to be very favorably placed to know the story in its entirety.
Far different from these were the circumstances surrounding July 31st, 1914. On that eventful date a financial earthquake of a violence absolutely without precedent shook every great center of the civilized world, closing their markets one by one until New York, the last of all, finally suspended in order to forestall what would have surely been a ruinous collapse.
At a meeting of the Governing Committee on December 7th the following resolution was adopted:
“That the Committee of Five is hereby empowered to permit dealings on the floor of the Exchange in such stocks as it may designate under restrictions prescribed by it. That the Committee of Five is hereby authorized to enforce stock loan contracts whenever in its judgment it may deem best so to do, and that the resolution of July 31st, 1914, be modified in this respect.”
A list of minimum prices was fixed upon that averaged some two or three points below the closing prices of July 31st, and on December 11th the Committee issued a ruling prescribing the conditions for the partial resumption of stock dealings on the Exchange.
We here present it in full:
“The Special Committee of Five rules that Rule 13 be rescinded, in so far as it applies to stocks admitted to dealings in the Exchange from time to time by the Committee of Five, said rescision to take effect at the close of business on Friday, December 11, 1914.
“Beginning on Saturday, December 12, 1914, dealings in certain specified stocks listed on the Exchange will be permitted on the floor of the Exchange between the hours of ten and three o’clock each day except Saturday, when dealings shall cease at twelve o’clock noon.
“Dealings in such stocks as shall be specified by, and be under the supervision and regulation of the Committee, shall be for ‘cash’ or ‘regular way’ only and not below the minimum prices authorized by the Committee from time to time. Transactions at prices below those allowed by the Committee, or in evasion of its rules are prohibited.
“A list of stocks to be admitted to dealings on the Exchange accompanies these rulings. Minimum prices on same will be announced on December 11, 1914.
“All stocks quoted on July 30th at or below 15 percent, or $15 per share, may be dealt in without restriction as to price, but are included in the list for your guidance, and will be marked ‘Free’ in the price column.
“All stocks admitted to dealings as above, which were being cleared through the Stock Exchange Clearing House at the close of business on July 30, 1914, will be similarly cleared from the opening of business on the 12th day of December, 1914.
“All stocks admitted to dealings, which were being dealt in ‘Ex-Clearing House’ at the close of business on July 30, 1914, will be similarly dealt in from the opening of business on the 12th day of December, 1914.
“Stocks admitted to dealings on the Exchange will cease to be dealt in through the Stock Exchange Committee on Clearing House. Stocks not so admitted will continue to be dealt in through the Committee on Clearing House until further notice.
“All rules of the Exchange governing delivery and default on contracts covered by these rules shall be in force on and after the 12th day of December, 1914, but the closing of contracts ‘Under the Rule’ shall be subject to the foregoing provisions.
“The Loan Market for stocks will reopen at ten o’clock, a.m. on the 12th day of December, 1914, for such stocks only as are admitted to dealings on the Exchange, from and after which date all rules of the Exchange governing the borrowing and loaning of such stocks shall be in force, but the closing of contracts ‘Under the Rule’ shall be subject to the foregoing provisions.
“The above rule shall apply to stocks borrowed and loaned prior to and since July 30, 1914.
“Borrowed and loaned stocks will be cleared as before July 30th last, but only in cases where such stocks are admitted to dealings on the Exchange.
“Loans of stocks not admitted to dealings on the Exchange will continue to stand until further notice, unless otherwise agreed to by both parties to the contract.”
On Monday, December 14th, the next business day after the limited list of stocks had been placed upon the floor of the Exchange, it was reported to the Committee that the volume of transactions taking place in the Stock Exchange Clearing House, in the stocks not yet admitted to the floor, had risen to such proportions as seriously to embarrass that institution.
As this activity was taking place on a rising market and signs of increasing confidence were constantly multiplying, the Committee quickly resolved, on the same day, to transfer all stocks to the floor on the following morning, and notice to that effect was at once sent out.
The unexpected appearance of this notice on the tape was greeted with cheers of approbation in the Exchange, and on December 15th the long hoped for reopening of the entire market had become a reality.
The Liberty Head Barber Dime Coin shows with an image of the New York Stock Exchange, circa 1917.