Category Archives: American Express Founders

RR Autograph Auctions American Express Founders

RR Autograph Auctions American Express Founders

Partly-printed DS, signed “Henry Wells,” “John Butterfield,” “Wm. S. Fargo,” “Johnston Livingston,” and “Ja. C. Fargo,” three pages on two adjoining sheets, 10.5 x 16.25, November 28, 1868. An indenture between Henry Wells, John Butterfield, William Fargo, Johnston Livingston, Alexander Holland, James Thompson, James Fargo, and William Fargo “in consideration of one dollar lawful money…do grant, alien, remise, release, convey, and confirm, unto the said party of the second part…All that certain lot piece or parcel of ground with the building theron situate lying and being on the East side of Broadway in the City and County of Albany.” Signed on the second page by Wells, Fargo, Fargo, Butterfield, and Livingston, as well as two others, with a red wax seal next to each signature. Document also bears two long endorsements and a receipt from the county clerk. A fifty cent revenue stamp is affixed to the top of the first page, initialed by Wells, Fargo, Wells, Butterfield, and Livingston. In fine condition, with a couple small separations along intersecting folds and hinge and some scattered light toning and soiling.

American Express began in 1850 as an express mail company headquartered in Albany, New York. It was founded as a joint stock corporation by the merger of the express companies owned by Wells, Fargo, and Butterfield, who decided to combine forces because they considered the fierce competition between them destructive and wasteful. In 1852, Wells and Fargo proposed extending service to California, but the other directors opposed the plan, fearing that their chief competitor, Adams and Company, would gain a monopoly in the west. The pair formed Wells Fargo, while continuing to fulfill their obligations as officers and directors at American Express. Today, American Express is one of the most well known financial services providers and valuable companies in the world and Wells Fargo is the nation’s fourth largest bank. A rare document signed by some of the most important businessmen in American history. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.


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