So a couple of hours ago I was noodling around the used bookstore– used to be called Gryphon Books, now Westsider Books– on Broadway and 81st, and I overheard this guy asking the clerk whether they’d be interested in buying any old Russian bonds. The clerk said no, they don’t really do ephemera, and by the time I got to the front of the store, the man who’d had the bonds to sell was out on the street, rummaging in the trunk of his car.
His wife was with him (they were in their early seventies, I’d say); the bonds turned out to have belonged to her grandmother. They’d been going through old files and clearing out bookshelves, and had come up with the idea of maybe trying to get some cash for the paper. “I don’t know how much they’re worth, but I don’t think,” said the husband glumly, “that Putin’s going to be pulling out his wallet to honor these any time soon.”
They are Russian bonds (well, Ukrainian, but that didn’t exist at the time; if anyone’s going to have the honor of not honoring these bonds, it’ll be Putin, not Viktor Yanukovych), issued by the Société du Crédit Immobilier of Odessa, a couple from the 1860s, some from as late as 1916; a couple of bank-notes, one from 1917. The coupons have, on many of them, been carefully clipped out– until mid-1920, when her grandmother apparently decided that, no, it probably wasn’t going to be worth the effort to keep sending them in. The bond from the 1860s has Russian, French, and German text; the later 19th century ones, Russian and French; the ones from 1916, Russian only.
So, yeah, I bought ‘em. And I’m making this public for one simple reason: this investment is firm proof of my anti-Communist sympathies, and my commitment to back the White Russians against their revolutionary enemies. I’ve put my money where my mouth is: this will, I hope, eliminate any misunderstandings held by (for example) certain people at the Acton Institute (who have been, by happy coincidence, recently preoccupied with banking ephemera themselves) to the effect that distributists are all just secretly reds after all.