Tag Archives: Victorian stockbroker

The Conscientious Broker: 1889

yellow jacket silver mining company stock certificate 1887

The Conscientious Broker.

I heard a very clever story on a prominent broker a few days ago–a man whose name I am not at liberty to discuss, though I may say that he is well known as a picture buyer. This broker had some mining stock which he had long regarded as worthless, and one day when he found an opportunity to get rid of it at a pretty fair consideration, he was very happy. That very night, however, after he went home, he received a telegram announcing that this mine, of which he had sold the stock, had developed a lead of extraordinary richness. An hour afterward the purchaser of the stock received a telegram from the broker, who desired to see him immediately upon a subject of great importance. The buyer called and was told by the servant that the broker was very ill and could not be seen.

“But I must see him: I have been sent for by him not half an hour ago ”

The servant went upstairs and brought back word that the visitor might go up.

The broker was in bed, moaning with pain. The lights were turned low. When the visitor entered the broker began:

“My dear Jones, I have had to-day another of the dreadful attacks I am subject to, and I am afraid this last one is going to ‘do me up.’ I sent for you to confess that I have taken advantage of you in a business transaction, and I want to make reparation before I die. That mining stock I sold you to-day was really worthless, and it troubles me that I took advantage of you.”

“Oh, nonsense; that is all right. I didn’t pay you much for it and I can easily sell it to somebody else.”

“No, that will not do. I want to take it back and pay you back your money. I can’t rest until I have made this right.”

“Oh, well if you feel that way, of course I will give you it back.”

“Very well, and while I am able to sign a check I will prepare one, and, in the meanwhile, you can bring back the stock.”

The visitor went home, got the stock, and returning it, received the check which the now utterly exhausted broker had filled out for him. He went away musing upon the vicissitudes of human life and filled with profound sympathy for the sorrowing family of the rapidly sinking broker.

And the broker? The moment his customer was out of the house he leaped out of bed and gleefully danced around the room in a manner that would have aroused the envy of Carmencita could she have seen it. But the customer, next day, when he learned of the rise in the value of the stock, metaphorically kicked himself for his stupidity in being taken in by a broker’s “conscience.”

The Ketchum [ID] Keystone 23 November 1889: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil shared this diverting anecdote with a scholar who is studying Victorian urban legends. He noted that he would have preferred an ending where the customer sells back the shares at double the original price, and is then revealed as the sender of the falsely optimistic telegram.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.