[NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE] A remarkable group of illuminated manuscripts presented to Henry George Stebbins Noble commemorating his service as President of the New York Stock Exchange upon the outbreak of World War I and during the longest shutdown in Exchange history.
Four items, comprising one vellum bound illuminated manuscript, one large framed illuminated manuscript leaf, and two later morocco-bound illuminated manuscripts. The items as follows: A very finely prepared vellum bound illuminated manuscript presented to Henry G.S. Noble. New York: circa December 1914 or shortly thereafter. A very fine nine-page calligraphic and illuminated manuscript on vellum in a vellum binding with green ties, the upper cover with "NYSE" set within a finely gilt shield heading an intricate ink floral design set with raised gilt dots, "AD MCMXIV" in green and "H.G.S. Noble" in gilt, housed in its original folding fitted case. The cover and interior pages all with very fine calligraphic text with historiated initials set within elaborate pen and ink and illuminated scrollwork of flowers and berries heightened with gold and with raised gilt dots, each leaf signed at foot "C. Scapecchi, N. York" by the illuminator Corrado Scapecchi. 10 1/4 x 7 3/4 inches (26 x 20 cm). Very fine overall, a few dots possibly detached; A large framed illuminated manuscript leaf presented to Henry G.S. Noble. New York: 12 May 1915. A large calligraphic and illuminated manuscript on vellum, twenty-five lines in black, blue and red heightened with gold set within a historiated initial and a very fine scrollwork of flowers, berries, urns, and raised gilt dots, signed at foot "C. Scapecchi, Ill" by the illuminator Corrado Scapecchi. 19 x 12 inches (48 x 30 cm); framed. A few small abrasions to the large initial with small losses, several of the gold dots chipped, fade to the presentation signatures; and A pair of calligraphically engrossed manuscripts presented to Henry G.S. Noble upon his retirement from the New York Stock Exchange. New York: Ames and Rollinson, 1932 and 1935. Two separate calligraphic illuminated manuscripts loosely held in a black and dark blue morocco portfolios gilt, the covers each with the monogram of Henry Noble applied to the upper covers. The manuscripts, each 8 pages, present a calligraphic text set within historiated initials and a floral scrollwork in colors heightened with gold. Both the first pages of the manuscripts and the bindings signed by Ames & Rollinson at the foot. 11 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches (29 x 22 cm). One tie broken.
Henry George Stebbins Noble was president of the New York Stock Exchange from 1914 to 1919 and presided over one of the most difficult periods in Exchange history: the five month shutdown of trading upon the outbreak of World War I. Noble artfully described the impetus for the shutdown in his 1915 book The New York Stock Exchange in the Crisis of 1914: "The fundamental reason for closing the Exchange was that America, when the war broke out, was in debt to Europe, and that Europe was sure to enforce the immediate payment of that debt in order to put herself in funds to prosecute this greatest of all wars. There was to be an unexpected run on Uncle Sam's Bank and the Stock Exchange was the paying teller's window through which the money was to be drawn out, so the window was closed to gain time." The shutdown remains the longest in the history of the Exchange - events from the Civil War to the September 11th attacks on downtown Manhattan did not close the Exchange for such an extended period. For his extraordinary service during this period, Noble was presented from his peers at the Exchange this group of illuminated manuscript citations, honors and resolutions. The book and broadside document were made by Corrado Scapecchi, a furniture painter and talented illuminist in the renaissance style. These exquisitely rendered works match the gravity of the events they recall. The opening text of the book reads: "The outbreak of European war necessitates the closing of all the Exchanges of the world, and on July XXXIst owing to the prevailing conditions, the New York Stock Exchange closed its doors." This is continued on the broadside document, applauding Noble's service "under the most alarming and exacting conditions, with business transactions suspended for five months, with the whole world in chaos and disorder. Resolved that the Governing Committee place upon the records its unbounded confidence and affection for Mr. Noble, its great appreciation of his distinguished services and executive career, which have brought the greatest credit to the New York Stock Exchange." Presented in recognition of the unprecedented challenge facing the New York Stock Exchange upon the outbreak of war, the works offered here are simply a tour de force of American illumination of the period.
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