• Fine Printed Books and Manuscr auction at Christies

    Sale 2328

    Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana

    22 June 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 24

    [NEW YORK -- WALL ST.] Wall St. and Broad St. Original post-top style intersection street sign. Late-19th to early-20th Century.

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    [NEW YORK -- WALL ST.] Wall St. and Broad St. Original post-top style intersection street sign. Late-19th to early-20th Century.

    Cast iron mounting bracket composed of four interlocking frame pieces through which a threaded bolt passes from within pole cap to a cast iron finial (measuring 15 x 19½ in. overall); each frame houses a pair of blue and white enamel over sheet metal street plaques (each of the four plaques measures 4 3/8 x 18 3/8 in). Bracket with several layers of old paint and original(?) green paint showing through; enamel plaques with some occasional wear, most notably on one of the Wall St. plaques (see note below), otherwise showing fine original patina including cracklure.

    A QUINTESSENTIAL PIECE OF NEW YORK HISTORY: A VINTAGE STREET SIGN THAT STOOD AT THE FAMOUS INTERSECTION OF NEW YORK'S WALL AND BROAD STREETS--ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS STREET CORNERS IN HISTORY, AND THE EPICENTER OF WORLD FINANCE

    This early street sign from the corner of Broad and Wall Streets stood in front of The House of Morgan and in the shadows of the New York Stock Exchange through the dramatic first part of the 20th Century.

    Wall Street runs east from Broadway to South Street on the East River, through the historical center of the Financial District. It is the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange; over time its name was used to connote the name of the surrounding geographic neighborhood in general. The name of the street derives from the 17th century when Wall Street formed the northern boundary of the New Amsterdam settlement. In the 1640s, basic picket and plank fences denoted plots and residences in the colony, and to protect against attack from various Native American tribes, Peter Stuyvesant ordered the construction of a stronger stockade here: a strengthened 12-foot wall. In 1685 surveyors laid out Wall Street along the lines of the original stockade. The wall was dismantled by the British colonial government in 1699. Broad Street stretches from South St. to where it terminates at Wall St. The famous neo-Roman facade of the New York Stock Exchange and main entrance is located on 18 Broad Street.

    The former headquarters of J.P. Morgan & Company was built on the southeast corner of Wall St. and Broad St. in 1914. What was to be known as "The House of Morgan" was the most influential investment bank of the time. At noon on September 16, 1920, this corner was the scene of the Wall Street bombing, when an explosive was placed in front of the bank killing 38 and injuring several hundred. The interior of the J.P. Morgan bank, which the cart was parked outside, was severely damaged by broken glass, masonry and flying shrapnel. The perpetrators were never caught, but the explosion helped fuel the Red Scare at the time. (One of the enamel signs here facing Wall St. bears some heavy pocking which may have resulted from the blast). The Wall Street Bombing of 1920 was the most destructive terrorist attack to date in the United States, and the scars remain today on the facade of the former Morgan bank (see image below). In October 1929, crowds gathered at the intersection of Wall and Broad streets after the 1929 crash in shock and disbelief.

    Today the moniker "Wall Street" represents financial and economic power, both positive and negative. It can represent elitism and power politics, yet also symbolize America itself, and its storied economic system on which it was built through trade, capitalism, and innovation.
    This remarkable historical artifact stood at the epicenter of some of the most eventful times in our financial history. It was recently on display at The Museum of American Finance, 48 Wall Street (an affiliate of The Smithsonian Institute). The Museum has offered the potential buyer of this lot the opportunity to continue to exhibit the sign there, with full acknowledgement of the loan.


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    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR