This item is an extremely rare American Bank Note Company working proof for a Sears, Roebuck & Co. stock certificate.
Working proofs were used during the American Bank Note pre-production process. Each piece details the intricacies of the old fashioned cut-and-paste method in which the designs were developed. The proof was subsequently circulated amongst American Bank Note Company officials and the executives of the customer (in this case Sears, Roebuck & Co.) for editing and approval. The markings from this process are evident on the layers of the proof and the distribution board as detailed by the images below. Once the approval and editing process was completed, the mass production of the certificate occurred for distribution to eventual shareholders. This unique item offers a glimpse into the bank note approval and printing process.
Working proof (1 piece), mounted inside a grey hard board folder.
This item is presented in an oversized, rigid hard board grey folder that measures 12 1/2" (w) x 8 1/2 (h).
The main proof (pictured above) is covered by a clear layer (tissue sheet) with the working markings from the editing process. When the layer is pulled back, the piece appears as pictured below:
The inside cover contains various approval annotations and approvals:
In 1886, a Chicago jewelry company shipped an order of gold filled watches to a Minneapolis jewelry store. When the jewelry store refused delivery a station agent by the name of Richard Sears decided to purchase the shipment and try to sell them to other station agents. This proved to be successful for Richard Sears, and in 1886, Richard Sears began a company known as R.W. Sears Watch Company in Minneapolis. A year later in 1887, Sears moved his new found business to Chicago, and placed an advertisement in the newspaper for a watchmaker. The ad received a response from an Indian man by the name of Alvah C. Roebuck. Sears hired Roebuck and in 1893 the corporate name of the firm became Sears, Roebuck and Company
. Business turned out to be very profitable for the company and in the 1890's the mail order industry for Sears, Roebuck and Co. began to take-off. As of 1895, Sears had introduced a mail order catalog that consisted of 532 pages offering shoes, women's garments, wagons, fishing tackle, stoves, furniture, saddles, bicycles, etc. that helped customers in rural areas receive merchandise that they might not be able to receive at local stores. In 1901, needing more financial support, Sears for the first time offered common and preferred stock in the open market and became publicly owned. In 1906, Sears expanded and opened an office in the Dallas, Texas region, expansion was beginning. In 1925 the opening of retail stores began, and by the end of 1927 Sears had twenty- seven stores in operation, and only one short year later in 1928 one hundred ninety two stores were in operation. Once again, the expansion at least doubled itself and Sears in 1929 was operating three hundred nineteen stores and by 1933 four hundred were placed around the country. This expansion was massive and remarkable given that only six short years before twenty seven stores were in operation. In 1931, Sears noted the need for car insurance in an environment that was becoming engorged with this convenient form of transportation. Hence, the beginning of Allstate Insurance Company which became a fully owned Sears subsidiary. Between the years of 1940's and 1970's Sears went through many changes and expansions making it one of the leading, if not top, retail contenders. One aspect that Sears developed and perfected was the idea of developing the store around the merchandise. What this means is that a selling floor plan would be developed, where merchandise was to be placed within the store, and then the design of the outer building would be developed.
See Additional American Bank Note Company Proofs