Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 2.djvu/320

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298
[1881
HENRY VILLARD

which he himself would contribute a large part, in order to enable him to lay the foundation of a certain enterprise the exact nature of which he would disclose on or before May 15, 1881. Payments were to be made in three instalments.

The effect of the circular was astonishing. The very novelty and mystery of the proposition proved to be an irresistible attraction. One-third of the persons and firms appealed to signed the full amount asked for before the subscription-paper could reach the other two-thirds. Then a regular rush for the privilege of subscribing ensued, and, within twenty-four hours of the issue of the circular, more than twice the amount offered was applied for. The allotments were made as fairly as possible, but hardly one of the subscribers was satisfied with the amount allowed him. All wanted more, and Mr. Villard's offices were crowded with persons pleading for larger participations, including some of the first bankers of New York, of whom several protested angrily when refused. The subscriptions commanded twenty-five per cent. premium at once, which rose to forty and fifty per cent.; in other words, people were willing to pay fifteen hundred dollars for every thousand they were permitted to contribute. The eight million dollars was promptly paid, notwithstanding the great stringency of the money market at the time.

The subscribers received a personal receipt from Mr. Villard, reading as follows:

Received this day from ……… the sum of ……… dollars, as his contribution to, and which entitles the holder hereof to a proportionate interest in, the transactions of a Purchasing Syndicate to be formed with a capital of $8,000,000, by agreement in writing of the parties in like interest, for the acquisition of properties, real, personal and mixed, for the purpose of the sale thereof to and the consolidation with the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company or the Oregon Improvement Company or both, or to serve as the basis for the formation of a new Company. It is understood and agreed that the undersigned shall account to the