Thursday, April 28, 2011

1987 interview with SIMEX traders

Been feeling a bit guilty from not posting anything lately and since I'm in Singapore now for a bit, wanted to reach into my bag of tricks and upload this 1987 article from Intermarket which interviewed a few SIMEX traders. I did think about taking some photos in a Barings jacket at Nick Leeson's old hangout, Harry's, but didn't pack the jacket so maybe next trip here that'll happen.

SIMEX traders

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

CBOT cards dating 1891 - 1905 belonging to L.W. Bodman

Luther Bodman was a CBOT member from the late 1800s-early 1900s, which I'll write more upon later, but I was quite fortunate to acquire a significant amount of his personal items.  Below are front and back scans of his CBOT membership cards and as always click on the photo to enlarge. 

UIC will archive CME Group Records

Looks like I jumped the gun a bit on noting that the CBOT/CME were ditching history, at least in the visitors gallery, as during a trading lull today I was looking around on the internet and noticed that the library at the University of Illinois at Chicago is starting a four year project to archive the history of the exchanges.  Here is the job posting for the Project Archivist from last year to get a better idea of what it all entails.

There is also a number of CBOT records which are part of the Richard J. Daley Special Collections of the UIC library which I hope to take a look at when I have more time in town.

Another great resource that I'm also looking forward to viewing once my schedule opens is the documents that are housed at the Chicago History Museum.  In the museum itself there is a small display on the Chicago exchanges but I'm hoping that the research center has a lot of hidden gems.

My only concern with the UIC project is if the history will be reported accurately and in an unbiased way because the CME Group is very image conscious and I've seen instances along w/hearing stories I won't repeat of how the exchanges have shaped the presentation of history to show them in a positive light while neglecting to tell the entire story.  The aim of this website is to present things "as is" and in an unbiased manner.

Friday, April 8, 2011

CME group ditching history

I was nearby the CBOT today so made a quick detour to drop in to see something I didn't know of until recently, in the visitors gallery I read that a plaque existed of "retired" trading badge acronyms which were taken out of circulation to honor certain members.  There were a handful of big names from the past which I imagined would be on there and figured it'd create new trailheads to learn about others and their stature as to how they got such an honor.  Well when I went to the visitor's gallery I was shocked to see all the documentation and history hauled away and replaced by boring posters that described things in a very elementary manner.  What happened to all the old trading memorabilia I have no idea and that retired acronyms listing didn't seem to be left behind.

I figured maybe the lobby visitors center might've gotten spruced up as it was always a very weak explanation for visitors but as the photo at right shows the lobby visitor center is up for rent at the CBOT building.

So I guess there only one source for trading pit history anymore.....

Thursday, April 7, 2011

CBOT photo 1929

Those were the days when pit traders wore three piece suits, bow ties, fedoras to work but fast forward 80 years later and the only way you'd see a current or former pit trader in such an outfit would be if they had to go to court.  I'm not sure what pit that was but the photo dates from 1929 at the CBOT so it's corn, wheat or beans and my guess it's the wheat pit.  This is in the "old" CBOT building and not the current building.

One small step for a womon, one giant leap for womyn

A recent article by Emily Lambert, author of The Futures, profiled Grace Hyslop who was the first female member of any US financial exchange as she became a member of the CME by taking on her late husband's membership in 1960.  I however will abstain from commenting on the evolution of women on the trading floor cause the best material has to be saved for a book!

Here's the link to the article:
Found: A Financial Pioneer Woman

University of Houston Open Outcry competition

The University of Houston has an open outcry competition for students which has been running for about a decade it seems.  The CME sponsors it but I believe it's a legacy program which was originally associated with NYMEX.  On the trading floor, the summer used to be filled with interns who were home from university and I never understood how they could go back to school at the end of the summer with how fun, stimulating and exciting the floor was to work on.  I saw the trading pits after graduating high school early and immediately canceled the plans I had to go to school that fall without even securing a job on the floor.   

On a similar note, I do wonder if open outcry trading will go the way of Civil War Reenactments where a group of enthusiasts in the future gather to geek out and relive the old way.  Ahh that reminds me that I have to do more work on the trading handsignals book and although the yearend deadline looks intact, it's still a slow go. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

1900 CBOT banquet program

A program dated 1900 to a CBOT banquet is pictured above and you'll have to click on the photo as usual to enlarge.  It seems to me since every other US commodities exchange was listed, that the CBOT was likely hosting a dinner for the other exchange executives.  Do click on the second photo to check out the menu, absolutely amazing!  Whoever put it together also did a great job selecting the wine w/the courses: Montrachet, Sauternes, Chateau Margaux and Mumm 1895

Before the exchanges became public, they were well known to have a nice entertainment budget.  Prior to when I arrived at the CME, there was an annual event called the "Merc Prom" which was headlined by a big name act like B.B. King.  Because it was a bit before my time I can't give precise details but everyone spoke of it as great fun. 

Scalp - French tv show

Emmanuel NOBLET dans "SCALP" by twin1811

I just put the labels for technique and origin on the MATIF Brokerage/Participants signals and while looking up something came across the French tv show SCALP which was set in the MATIF pits of the 1990s.  SCALP was aired over 8 episodes in early 2008 on Canal + and obviously the financial crisis of that year contributed to it not being renewed.  I don't speak well enough French to understand everything in the above video but it's clear that it was shot relatively well and authentic, largely due to the co-producer and co-writer being a veteran of working on the MATIF exchange. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

London prints are in!

 (kinda crappy photo from my phone)

I'm happy to announce that the London prints got finished last week before I left for a bit of travel.  All the handsignal prints (Chicago, Singapore, New York and London) are beautiful and the process of getting them made was fun as well.  Collaborating with people who were passionate about their chosen craft was amazing and that was the biggest reward.  Everyone involved in creating the prints and work independently to pursue art and it's refreshing to be around that perspective just as there aren't too many people trading on their own like I do.  FYI, the shop link on is down as I need to rearrange something on the backend but have been too busy/lazy to get it done but any print enquires can be made to tradingpithistory 'at'

Just to give a little background on everyone involved I think will help express what the tradingpithistory project is all about.

All the prints were illustrated by Mike Nudelman who had to interpret explanations of the hand signals and then develop the layout of the print.  Mike didn't start with anything but a vague idea of what the prints were meant to represent and used his creative powers to realize the vision greater than I imagined.  There's actually two websites that Mike has and this is the link to his other.

The prints were brought to life by Dan Grzeca who did the physical printing and is the most prolific printmaker in Chicago and beyond.  Dan has a passion for his craft that's quite obsessive and turns out a large amount of his own works as well which are worth checking out at his blog.

As far as the website itself, right now it's maintained by Jason Vandecreek who is the man behind the curtain.  If there are any issues w/the website it's generally my fault cause I neglect any non-urgent issues until they become urgent.  If I was as dependable on this project as Jason then we'd see a 10x magnitude increase in quality.

The project is a lot broader than I originally imagined it and the development of the website was originally created with Tuan Le who truly made it all possible to coordinate w/everyone and serve as the photographer. Tuan and I are going to do a full reshoot of all the photos now that the gallery of signals is realized as the photos on the website were taken over many years in many random locations. Jack Birmingham was also there from the beginning to assist in many ways, particularly with the late night photoshoots.  The webpage "skin" of was designed by Justin Gum who was able to create the clear gallery layout and design concept.

Before working with all the above guys, I didn't have a proper appreciation for the talents of such freelance craftsmen but I came away thrilled with all their work and creative focus. 

I can't embed the video due to an issue on youtube but I can atleast link the video for Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing" which is most appropriate for a bunch of guys following their passion.

And since I like to refer to my hero of all heroes, the great explorer Sir Richard F. Burton, he often questioned his own drive to follow where his heart leads:
Starting in a hollowed log of wood—some thousand miles up a river, with an infinitesimal prospect of returning! I ask myself "Why?" and the only echo is "damned fool! . . . the Devil drives!"

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