Even as the warring sections of the country fought to decide whether there would be one united nation or two separate entities, local governments, businesses, and individuals struggled to survive and prosper in a difficult economy. The Federal and Confederate governments each issued bonds to help fund their military activities, while local concerns issued stocks and bonds to raise capital of their own. Many of these pieces are beautifully engraved, and some even feature the signatures of important local and national figures. The presently offered stock is one such example. The central vignette depicts a somewhat pensive seated female figure, obviously meant to represent Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. She is surrounded by several agricultural products, including a sheaf of wheat and a cornucopia with corn, and holds a sickle restfully in her right hand. A shield or mirror appears at her left, with the sun rising above mountains and water depicted upon it. The name of the issuing institution, the “BANK OF ORANGE COUNTY” appears in an arc above, with “GOSHEN, N. Y.” printed below. A lengthy financial obligation dominates the center of the document and states that “This is to Certify that Henry Walshe (?) is entitled to Ninety three Shares of the Capital Stock of this Bank, transferable only on the Books of the Bank by him or his Attorney on surrender of this Certificate.”, with the city of issue, “Goshen”, and the date, “January 2 1862” following. The signatures of “C J Everett” and “A S Murray” appear at the conclusion, each signing in his respective capacity as “Cashier” and “President”. The signatures are neatly separated by a small vignette depicting sheaves of wheat, a plow, and a rake, undoubtedly a reference to the central vignette at the top. The left end of the certificate features a geometric design, upon which is printed “SHARES $25 EACH”, while the certificate number and amount of shares are written in their respective spaces above the issuing authority. The imprint of the producers of this piece, “F. B. Clayton’s Sons, 157 Pearl St. N. Y.”, can be found below the signature of the cashier at the lower left. All of the printed material is accomplished in blue ink on while paper, while the manuscript additions are accomplished in period brown ink. This attractive piece measures approximately 5.50 x 8.50 inches and would look great framed with a note issued by this bank or an image of A. S. Murray (see following description).
Ambrose Spence Murray, the man who signed as the president of the bank, was born on November 27, 1807 in Wallkill, New York. He attended the local common schools, and was employed as a clerk in a mercantile establishment in Middletown from 1824 through 1831. He subsequently moved to Goshen where he engaged in banking, and served as the treasurer of Orange County from 1851 to 1854. Murray served in Congress from 1855 through 1859, first as an Opposition Party candidate and then as a Republican. Following his time in Congress he returned to Goshen and resumed banking, though he remained active in politics and served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1860. Along with banking, Murray was active in several other business ventures. Ambrose S. Murray died in Goshen on November 8, 1885 and was buried in that town’s St. James Cemetery.
The presently offered document exhibits signs of definite period use and subsequent extended storage. Numerous folds, both horizontal and vertical, are present, many undoubtedly associated with the long-term storage of the piece. Due to the quality of the paper, none of these folds has caused the separation or significant loss of any paper, or damage to the designs (close examination reveals very minor edge dents). Scattered pinholes can be seen when the document is held to the light, but they are difficult to see when the piece is laid flat (especially against a white background). Light soiling and minor toning are noted for accuracy. The margins are intact, though they are somewhat irregular and especially tight at the left (certificates of this type were many times housed in a book with a stub attached at left and its removal may have had something to do with the tight margin). As noted earlier, this piece could be framed and the mat used to balance and center the design. A very attractive and historic document signed and issued during the Civil War by a one-time U. S. Congressman.