The Jewish Colonial Trust (Juedische Colonialbank) Ltd. Was the Zionist Movement’s banking arm. A decision to establish the bank was made as early as the Second Zionist Congress in 1898. Theodore Herzl said: “Settlers in the Land of Israel need credit rather than charity.” The company’s first general manager, Zalman David Levontin, said in a more pragmatic tone: “Our purpose is to establish a legal institution for the World Zionist Organization which will be authorized to negotiate with companies and monarchies, in order to formally purchase, for the People of Israel, permits, rights, and concessions needed for our settlement in the land of our forefathers, as well as in order to obtain financial means to perform public works which shall allow for extensive settlement in due time, when conditions are ripe.” The initial goal was a bank with a capital of £2 million, a great fortune at that time. The bank’s founders – including David Wolffshon, who was to replace Herzl as head of the Zionist Movement, and the Jewish-Dutch banker Jacobus Kahn – assumed that amount would enable them to buy the Land of Israel from the Ottoman Empire. In reality, they managed to raise £250,000 – respectable sum as well. After approving the bank’s articles of association, pamphlets were sent out to Jews around the world, offering them to participate in the founding of the financial institution by purchasing its stocks.
Tens of thousands of Jews responded, purchasing the stocks in up to 80 installments, which allowed even the poor to take part.
The wide distribution resulted in the management’s effective control of the Jewish Colonial Trust. The funds were used to set up a banking operation in London, which proved quite unsuccessful. Its most significant investment was carried out in 1902, when a decision was made to establish the Anglo-Palestine Company (APC), which would later become the Anglo-Palestine Bank, and later yet – Bank Leumi. The Jewish Colonial Trust also invested in the Deposit Bank of Lodz – the city which was one of the most important Jewish centers in pre- Holocaust Poland – whose stocks it held until the mid-1930s. The Jewish Colonial Trust ceased to exist as a financial institution in January 1934, and became the Anglo-Palestine Bank’s holding company. Two years later, its stocks were issued on the Securities Clearing House in Tel Aviv. It lost its control of Bank Leumi following the bank stock crisis of 1983.
Certificates of the type we see here were printed in Vienna and issued between 1900 and 1904. More than 20% of the certificates were issued in Russia and carry Russian revenue stamps. This certificate is imprinted with a British 1.5-shilling British revenue stamp and is dated August 1901. It eatures a list of the company’s committee members. Headed by Herzl, the list includes nineteen leaders of the Zionist Movement at that time, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe. It is followed by a list of members of the board, chaired by Wolffshon.
The certificate is typical of those issued by business entities in the Land of Israel until the end of the 1930s – overprinted with a map of the country with the Jewish settlements marked by Stars of David. The four corners of the certificate feature images of activities characterizing the Jews in the Land of Israel at the time: agriculture, industry, a harbor and worshippers at the Wailing Wall. The certificate carries the signatures of Heinrich Rosenbaum, member of the board, and of James Loewe, the Secretary General of JCT. It also includes six numbered coupons for receiving dividends.
(From Barlev collection of Securities Certificates)