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American Express.   One of America's most recognizable business names, the company was established in 1850 by Henry Wells, William Fargo and John Butterfield to provide express delivery services from New York to the west (as far as St. Louis). Although the company transported freight and other goods, its largest and most consistent clients were banks, for whom they delivered stock certificates, notes, currency and other financial instruments.

In 1882, With a long list of banking clients, the company went into the money order business and in 1891, invented and introduced the world’s first travelers cheque. By 1892, they where selling more than $6 million in cheques annually.

The money order and travelers cheque businesses lead to building relationships between the company and a number of European banks. So in 1895, the company established its first European office, in Paris.

American Express nearly disappeared in 1929. Chase National Bank quietly bought up 97% of the outstanding shares over a period of years. They were unable to gain control of the remaining 3% before the Glass-Steagall Act was passed in 1933, which prohibited banks from engaging in non banking businesses. Chase was forced to divest its stock in American Express.

In 1852, with the gold rush in full advance, Henry Wells and William Fargo wanted to expand service all the way to San Francisco. Others in the company where not convinced so the pair formed "Wells, Fargo and Company". Both men remained with American Express, which handled the eastern business while "Wells, Fargo and Company" established the western trade.


Stock. Issued in 1866. #1266. An Scripophily classic. Signed by Henry Wells as President and William Fargo as Secretary.

Henry Wells
Henry Wells
Score Card
Rarity Industry Beauty Cross-Collectable Importance Age
6 7 6 8 8 7
Overall Value 8
 *Rankings are 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest) (key)

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