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Lot 349: CANAL MARITIME DE SUEZ, CIE. UNIVERSELLE DU
29 October 2016
Brussels, BelgiumLive Auction
Description: 1885 PARIS. 3% Obligation de F500. Serie 2. blue, buff. No 131762. The Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez was formed on December 5, 1858 with a capital of 200 million francs (£8 million). The company was to operate the canal by leasing the relevant land, for 99 years from its opening, for navigation. The project was clearly obstructed by the British who recognized the canal as an import trade route (the shortest route to India) and perceived it as a direct menace to their geopolitical and financial interests. Eventually in 1875, the British joined the board of directors by taking over the 44% stake of Said's heavily indebted successor and finally in 1882 they even took control. In an atmosphere of big celebrations (for which Verdi composed Aida), the canal finally opened to traffic on November 17, 1869. Its final cost was more than double the original estimate. Fortunately, the return was high. The canal had an immediate and dramatic effect on world trade. Combined with the American Transcontinental Railroad completed sixmonths earlier, it allowed the entire world to be circled in record time. By 1955 approximately two-thirds of Europe's oil passed through the canal. In 1956, the company was nationalised by Egypt. The company itself remained in business as Suez, a major French industrial conglomerate. The Suez project was (except for a difficult start-up) a great financial success (in contrast to the Panama Canal). What we offer here is the 2nd bondissue, for 100 million francs (the first was in 1879, than this one from 1885, the third in 1906 and we know also of a bond issue in 1911). The design shows a map of the canal, the pyramids and sphinx, the temple of Philae at Aswan, etc. Small format, but a lovely piece with a great history.
Condition Report: EF