Sunday, December 6, 2015

CRIPPLE CREEK, SCRIPOPHILY AND GOLD SHARES



Up until a few years ago when I met a scripophilist my knowledge of scripophily was just about zero!  But being a life-long learner I begin to gather information, albeit cursory, about the study and collection of stock and bond certificates.  I had seen old stock certificates before and actually had a couple stuck away in my cabinet of natural curiosities—picked up at garage sales decades ago.  I simply liked the engraving on the certificates, and the fact that both were associated with mining companies in in the western states of Utah and Colorado.  Recently I picked up a couple of additional certificates closely associated with Colorado Springs.  I am not about to become a scripophilist since correct pronunciation of the term, and spelling, is difficult for an ole country boy like me used to single syllable words like dog, cat, pig etc.


The first certificate I collected was a never issued certificate printed by the Bradbury Gold and Silver Company.  Their principal place of business was noted as Silver Cliff, Custer County, Colorado.  Bradbury was capitalized at $1,000,000 and trying to sell 100,000 shares at $10 each.  Interestingly the certificate was signed by the company president; however, I was unable to decipher his name.  Otherwise, the certificate was devoid of issuance information. My scripophilist friend told me that this certificate was probably at the “back of the book” and simply never sold.

A cursory examination of the history of Custer County did not reveal a single tidbit of information about the company.  I also was unable to locate any sort of information, other than their incorporation date of November 1, 1881.  Perhaps Bradbury was just part of common “get rich” schemes.  Anderson (2015) noted: “At the same time [1870-1880s], accounts of fabulous wealth acquired quickly through investments in Western mines were rampant in the East, where considerable capital was available for investing. In addition, many inexperienced individuals, looking to get rich quickly, came West to develop mines. Some of the surplus Eastern capital found its way to the Silver Cliff District.”  At any rate, although the Silver Cliff District did produce metallic minerals, I could not locate information on any success of the Bradbury Gold and Silver Mining Company.  Perhaps a visit to the Custer County archives would be in order.


Another garage sale produced a nicely engraved certificate noting that Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Incorporated purchased one thousand shares of Capital Stock of United Park City Mines Company in 1973 for $1 each.

United Park City Mines Company is a relatively new company and was formed in 1953 by merging of the Silver King Coalition Mines Company and Park Utah Consolidated Mines Company.  Their mining of metals continued off and on until 1970 when the Anaconda Company and ASARCO formed Park City Ventures and leased all mining properties of United Park City Mines Company in the Park City District.  However, United must have experienced a vision and in the early 1960s developed a small ski resort (Treasure Mountain) complete with 19 runs, a lift and an aerial gondola.  The last mine in the area, the Ontario struggled on until it closed in 1982. 

United had seen the future and after 1970 became active in the sale, development and lease of its more than 8300 acres of land.  Today some of that land is occupied by Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort.  In 2003 United Park City Mines Company was sold to Capital Growth Partners.  

During my time at the University of Utah in the late 1060s Park City was run down old mining town with many abandoned buildings, cheap real estate and the small Treasure Mountain resort.  Serious skiers gravitated to the resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons adjacent to Salt Lake City.  Skiers who desired a party atmosphere with more “open entertainment” rode the Snowball Express ski train from Salt Lake City to Park City and experienced “liquor by the drink” since the Federal government controlled the trains and “dry” Utah could not control their servings!


Closer to home I recently found a certificate noting in 1938 the Golden Cycle Corporation of Colorado Springs sold “exactly seven shares” of their Capital Stock to Boettcher & Co. for $70 ($10 per share).  The Corporation originally was incorporated as the Golden Cycle Mining Company (in West Virginia,1895), changed its name to the Golden Cycle Mining and Reduction Company (1915) and finally to The Golden Cycle Corporation (1929).  Its major business was mining gold at Cripple Creek and Victor but later expanded to buying a railroad (Midland, transporting ore from the mines to Colorado Springs), building a gold mill in Colorado Springs, and mining coal from the Popes Valley/ Rockrimmon area (Pikeview Mine) in north Colorado Springs for use by the mill.  In the late 1940s Golden Cycle dismantled its mill in Colorado Springs and moved it to Cripple Creek/Victor where it operated until 1962--although they continued mining the soft coal here in northwest Colorado Springs.  

In 2008 Golden Cycle became a subsidiary of AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.  with its main producing asset the Cresson Mine at Cripple Creek/Victor, smaller production projects in Nevada, and major exploration projects  in the Philippines.  In August 2015 Ashanti sold the Cripple Creek/Victor Mine (Cresson Mine) to Newmont Mining Corporation.

The stock certificate is noted for the beautiful engraving of the “Company’s Cyanide and Floatation Plant” in west Colorado Springs that later was moved to Cripple Creek/Victor.  Recently (the last decade) developers in Colorado Springs begin reclaiming the land formally occupied by the old mill and its slag pile by covering the toxic residue from the plant with some sort of a “rubber/plastic/something” and then covering that with soil, and finally building houses.  The same is true for the old Pikeview Mine where dwellings are now constructed over a maze of underground tunnels.
 
The final certificate that I picked up was issued in 1928 (100 shares at $1 each) by The Cresson Consolidated Gold Mining and Milling Company to H. Leroy Parker.  Evidently Parker kept the shares until 1948 when the Executor of his estate transferred the shares to Edward F. Puitluga of New York City.


I am not certain about the complete history of the Cresson Company except that the original Cresson mine was not a money-maker until late 1914 when the ultra-rich Cresson Vug (~1265 feet below the surface) was discovered---a room size cavern filled with various ores, mostly sylvanite [(Au,Ag)2Te4] and calaverite [AuTe2], containing crystalline gold.  In a month or so about 60,000 troy ounces of gold was taken out of the vug with hand tools—what is that, 80-90 million dollars in today’s prices?  The mine was still producing excellent gold in1915 and was sold to A.E. Carlton and Associates in 1916.  Carlton and his friends owned the Golden Cycle noted above, and in fact, owned about 95% of the gold properties in the Cripple Creek District.  The Cresson Mine (underground) continued to produce until about 1960 when most mining in the Cripple Creek area ceased.  Small scale surface mining started up in the early 1970s and the giant open pit Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mine (AKA Cresson Mine) became established (early 1990s) on the site of the old underground Cresson Mine.  As noted above, the mine is now owned and operated operated by Newmont Mining Corporation as a heap leach project and producing over 200,000 troy ounces of gold each year from a very low grade ore.

REFERENCES CITED

Anderson, W.I., retrieved December 2015, The Historic Mines of Custer County, Colorado:  http://www.uni.edu/~andersow/historicmines.html


Goin' up t' Cripple Creek, goin' on the run
Goin' up t' Cripple Creek t' have a little fun
Goin' up t' Cripple Creek, goin in a whirl
Goin' up t' Cripple Creek t' see my girl
As performed by “Mr. Bluegrass” Bill Monroe.

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