Wall Street Sign That Survived 1920 Bombing Fetches $116,500

Street sign of Wall Street and Broad Street
An original post-top style intersection street sign of Wall Street and Broad Street from the late 19th to early 20th century. The street sign stood in front of the banking house of J. P. Morgan near the New York Stock Exchange. The sign fetched $116,500 at Christie’s in Manhattan. Source: Christie's Images Ltd. via Bloomberg

A porcelain sign that once marked the intersection of Wall and Broad streets, near the New York Stock Exchange, fetched $116,500 at Christie’s in Manhattan today.

The bidding started at $48,000 and quickly reached $95,000. A telephone bidder bought the work, which had a presale estimate range of $60,000 to $80,000. The final price includes buyer’s premium.

“It’s a very showy item,” said Jeremy Norman, a Novato, California-based dealer in rare science books and manuscripts, who was in the saleroom. “This is a symbol of American finance.”

The seller, Kevin Lessin, a former Merrill Lynch trader, bought the vintage sign about 25 years ago from a dealer liquidating the estate of a collector of New York memorabilia.

The sign consists of two enamel plaques set crosswise, with Broad above Wall in white letters on a cobalt-blue background. The street names are framed by cast iron. Lessin’s research suggests the sign was taken down around 1925, when New York changed to “humpback” street signs.

It’s possible the sign was standing on Sept. 16, 1920, when a bomb nearby killed 38 people and injured more than a hundred. Part of the sign bears pocking that may have resulted from that noon blast, according to Thomas Lecky, head of Christie’s books and manuscripts department in New York

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