Photo taken at Museum of American Finance on August 1.
Last week, I visited the Museum of American Finance, just a block away from the famed New York Stock Exchange. I arrived just before 3:30, leaving a solid half hour before closing, appropriately marked by the ringing of the closing bell. The museum is quite small in comparison to the New York Historical Society. I was able to comfortably walk through the exhibits in the time I was allotted.
Currently, I am researching the self-winding stock ticker. The museum is home to four generations of stock tickers, allowing visitors to see the evolution of this technology. The tickers replaced “runners,” people who raced from the floor of the exchange to brokerage houses to report the latest quotes. Clearly, the tickers were more efficient, as reporting could be done across long distances much quicker. Though the focus was still around Wall Street, brokerage houses were able to branch out of lower Manhattan.
Perhaps the most impressive thing I saw was a ticker tape from the morning of October 29, 1929 (I didn’t get a good picture of it). This historic item reflects the first 45 minutes of panic, displaying rows of mindless selling. Also at the exhibit are two newspaper clippings from October 25, 1929. The headline of the New York Daily Investment News reads “Stock Market Crisis Over.” This, of course, was not the case. The effort to stabilize the market, by Thomas Lamont, would only provide temporary hope. The Museum of American Finance is well worth a trip, even if just a brief one.