William Andrews Clark was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania on January 8, 1839. In 1856, at the age of 17, he moved with his family to Iowa, where he taught school and studied law at Iowa Wesleyan College. After a brief period working in the quartz mines of Colorado, Clark moved to Montana in 1863. He settled in Bannack, Montana, the capital of the territory, and began placer mining, his claim paying only a moderate return. He did, however, invest his modest earnings in becoming a trader, and drove mules between Salt Lake City and the boomtowns of Montana, supplying the residents with eggs and other basic needs. Tiring of that career, Clark became a banker in Deer Lodge, Montana, and made a small fortune by repossessing mining properties when their owners defaulted on their loans. He also invested in small smelting operations, electric power companies, newspapers, railroads, and many other Montana businesses. His investments were so profitable that he became known as one of the three “Copper Kings” of Butte (the others were Marcus Daly and F. Augustus Heinze), and between 1884 and 1888, he constructed a 34-room, Tiffany decorated multimillion dollar mansion (it is now the Copper King bed and breakfast and museum). Entering into politics, Clark served as president of both of the Montana state constitutional conventions (held in 1884 and 1889), and became a hero in Helena by campaigning for its selection as the state capital instead of Anaconda. Clark used his newspaper, the Butte Miner, to further his political ambitions, and was successfully elected to the United States Senate in 1899. It was discovered however, that he had bribed members of the Montana State Legislature for their votes (at this time U. S. Senators were chosen by their respective state legislators), and the Senate refused to seat him due to the scandal. He was, however, successful in a later campaign, and served as a United States Senator from Montana from 1901 through 1907. William A. Clark, one of the richest Americans of his era, died on March 2, 1925 at his mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City. His extensive art collection was donated to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. after his death, along with funds to construct a new wing to the gallery, appropriately known as the Clark Wing. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada was established as a maintenance stop for Clark’s San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, and when the area was later organized into counties, it became part of Clark County in his honor. Clark’s son, William Andrews Clark, Jr., was founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and left his library of rare books and manuscripts to the University of California at Los Angeles.
The presently offered document is a very attractive stock certificate from the “MOULTON MINING COMPANY” of “Butte City, Montana”, one of the many companies operated by Clark. Printed in bold, blue ink, the central vignette features three individuals at work in a mine, each one engaged in a different activity (one uses a bar to pry at the rock, another uses a drill, while the third holds a light so the others can see). A partly filled wheelbarrow can be seen between the two standing figures, while the one operating the drill must avoid hitting a jack that apparently supports the ceiling. The name of the company appears in an arc above this interesting scene, along with the information that they were “INCORPORATED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE TERRITORY OF MONTANA”, though by the date of this certificate, Montana had achieved statehood. Immediately below the vignette is a lengthy financial obligation which states (in part) that “This Certifies that John A. Wood is entitled to ONE HUNDRED Shares of the Capital Stock of the Moulton Mining Company ...”, with the value of each share being noted as $5.00. A second vignette divides the lower portion of the financial statement, this one depicting a brawny miner standing before a mountainous landscape. At the conclusion of the statement, also separated by the vignette, are the signatures of “John Hanna” and “W A. Clark”, who sign in their capacities of “Asst Secretary” and “President” respectively. Above Clark’s signature is the date of issue, “June 7th 1892", while below the lower vignette is the imprint of the “American Bank Note Company”, the printers of this document. A third signature, this one punch cancelled, appears vertically at left. A decorative border frames the entire piece. The verso is dominated by a lengthy transfer statement, with the blank areas filled in with stamps and ink (the shares were transferred only five months after they were purchased).
This interesting document is in extremely fine condition, with sharp contrast (the blue ink is especially bold against the white paper) and wonderful eye appeal. One very light vertical paper bend is present at the right, affecting the area between the “W” and “A” in Clark’s signature. Two small pinholes can be seen upon close examination, one at the upper right and the other at the lower left (these are neatly hidden in the decorative border and can only be seen when the piece is held to the light). One small stain is present at the upper right, and several areas of show through from the transfer on the verso are noted for accuracy. As mentioned in the general description, four cancellation holes are present at the left. A very nice example of this attractive stock certificate, boldly signed at the conclusion by one of America’s financial elite. Overall dimensions are approximately 7.25 x 11.0 inches.