On Thursday, the NYT had this story about a bond issued in 1868 that’s just now coming to fruition. The city has been paying 7% interest on the bonds for 135 years, but on March 1, one of the holders is entitled to collect the full face value: $1,000.
The Times wasn’t able to track down any of the 39 bondholders (city officials wouldn’t give up the names), which the paper admits is something of a shame. Two of the active bonds are in the Museum of the City of New York; they were given to the museum by a bond specialist who bought them in the 1970s from the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery (“The Hudson Valley’s Only Full Service Cemetery”). The Cemetery got them from a Martha B. Jones, who took possession of them in 1881.
SNY is currently working on a print story about some old financial instruments, and, as such, is predictably fascinated by the idea that you can trace these live bonds through the last 150 years. Who holds these and how did they get them? There must be 39 different stories here, each of which reveals something different about families’ financial history, and taken together, one would think they tell a particular story of American investing.