Catalog Archive
Auction 185, Lot 254

"[Lot of 19 - Smackover Oil Fraud]",

Subject: Arkansas, Oil

Period: 1923 (dated)



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A small archive of maps (2), stock certificate (1), letters and promotional items (16) associated with fraudulent sale of securities by J.O. Galloway of Fort Worth and others relating to the Smackover Oil Field in 1922 and 1923.

The lot includes a small map of Our Smackover Holdings (8.2 x 7.2") showing the oil field, producing wells, wells underway, and more. The verso lists the supposed properties of the J.O. Galloway Oil Interests including some shown on the map. This same map also appears in the 4-page flyer entitled "The J.O. Galloway Oil Interests" with Galloway’s photo, text and a large photo of an alleged Galloway well “running wild.” Smackover was a major oil discovery in August 1922 that allowed fraudsters to entice investors with claims of riches to be made with a small investment. Maps frequently were used to demonstrate the legitimacy of the company’s claims and proximity to successful wells. In August 1923 Galloway was arrested as he tried to cross the border into Mexico “on a vacation.” As reported in the National Petroleum News of August 29, 1923, he had not been deterred by the previous year’s government crackdown on oil stock fraud. He persisted in his specialty of “merging” stocks, i.e. soliciting from shareholders their stocks and additional capital to merge into the Galloway Interests.

The archive contains a number of letters exhorting owners of one such company, Globe Consolidated Oil Co., to send their shares to Galloway and buy additional shares. Globe was promoted by Sutherlin Securities which as early as 1920 was accused of illegally selling stock [The Oil and Gas News, September 16, 1920, p. 6]. The final letter in the group is dated July 23, a month before Galloway’s arrest. The lot is completed by an attractive stock certificate dated June 19th, 1923 and issued to C.C. Middleton who "has transferred other shares of stock for 100 shares of the Class 'B' or common stock, of the J.O. Galloway Oil Interests."

A fascinating set of documents showing the shady side of the early 20th century oil boom.


Condition: B+

All very good to near fine with some light toning.

Estimate: $180 - $220

Sold for: $325

Closed on 11/17/2021