Beautifully engraved SCARCE certificate from the Franklin Fire Insurance Company of Philadelphia issued in 1839. This historic document has a vignette of a bust of Ben Franklin next to a lit torch with an early fire hose. This is the earliest insurance company stock certificate we have seen with a vignette. This item is hand signed by the Company's President and Secretary ( Charles Nicoll Bancker ) and is over 173 years old. It has cancellation stamps to signify the certificate was redeemed.
In 1829, a perpetual charter was obtained from the Pennsylvania Legislature for the incorporation of the Franklin Fire Insurance Company. This was passed by an Act of Assembly, approved and signed by Governor J. Andrew Shulze on April 22, 1829. The first meeting of the sale of stock was at Daniwl Rubican's Tavern where the stock sale was fully subscribed. The original founders of the company were Henry C. Carey, Charles N. Bancker, Clement C. Biddle, Richard Willing, James Schott, Samuel W. Jones, Thomas Hart, Thomas I. Wharton, Tobias Wanger, Charles Roberts, Levi Ellmaker and William Chaloner. Charles Nicoll Bancker became President of the Franklin Fire Insurance Company later in 1839. Charles Nicoll Bancker was born in 1778 and died in 1869. He was a Merchant and Financier. He was in business and trade prior to 1826, and in the insurance business after that date. He owned a substantial library of the period, which was used by Charles Wilkes's Expedition after 1837. Charles Bancker is known to have the first lyre-back chairs made by Duncan Phyfe, and, indeed, among the first made in this country. They are almost certainly the first to be mentioned in correspondence between Phyfe and one of his clients. Bancker was also a member of the American Philosophical Society.