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Antique Insurance & Financial books

Rather than let my antique insurance and financial book collections sit on my shelf gathering dust, I’ve decided to make them available online for anyone to read. I trust you’ll enjoy reading them – and we would welcome a link to this page from your website!

(To the best of my knowledge, these books are not in copyright and are available to be scanned and placed online.)

Coming Soon!

  • History of Sun Life of Canada circa 1900’s – the books been ordered but has not yet arrived.
  • Another actuarial book on the pricing and principles of insurance from the early 1900’s (done)
  • A book for medical examiners for life insurance from the early 1900’s.(done)
  • And another book I’m very excited about, two volumes from the 1803 on life insurance and pensions written by RIchard Price. Richard Price was a prominent actuary and mathematician in the 1700’s and was a friend of Thomas Bayes.(done)

Antique Financial Books:

As terrible as the crash of 2008 was and all the resulting turmoil, it’s worth noting that it’s not the first time this has happened. And it won’t be the last. The stock market has crashed routinely throughout history – we’re all familiar with the lead in to the depression with the crash of 1929. But what about the crash of 1914? In books describing the crash of 1914 they even reference ‘the crash 7 years prior’. It goes even further back than that, the original market crash was in the 1600’s and centered around speculation on tulip bulbs. Too many people jumping in and buying tulips as investments. Prices drove upwards as people realized what great returns tulips were delivering…until one day everyone realized that all they had were tulip bulbs. And they weren’t even particularly good eating. Sound familiar? In any event, here’s my contribution to ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.

Antique Insurance Books

Some of these insurance books are sales focused and are entertaining from the perspective of peering into society from 100+ years ago. The actuarial books conversely, contain tables and data from centuries past – most of this data is not found anywhere else online and represents information and statistics from a much earlier period. If you’d like to help us with this project, it’s as easy as giving us a link from your website – that allows others to find this information and ensures that it’s preserved and useful.

  • Reversionary Payments Volume 1 – 1803 and Volume 2 – A very important piece of work in the actuarial field. This almost 1000 page tome from over 200 years ago is an authoritative treatment on the state of all things life insurance and actuarial of the time. It includes everything from all the a-angle-n formulas an actuary could want, to mortality tables going back at least to 1735, to mortality stats broken down by village residents vs. country residents. This is the 6th edition, it was authored by Richard Price who was associated with Thomas Bayes (Bayes Theorem) and continued his work, with additional essays from William Morgan who is considered the father of modern actuarial science. Price introduced the idea of estimating an event’s future occurrences based on the event’s past occurrences
  • Medical Examiner’s Guide from Prudential, early 1900’s – This is the official guide for medical examiners for Pru of America from the turn of the century. Not as dry to read as you might think. My favourite part is page 6, section 9 where the examiner is reminded they need to be cordial to the insurance agents!
  • Principles of Insurance, Volume 1, Life Insurance – 1917 – A standard entry level actuarial textbook from about 100 years ago. Interesting for no other reason than it looks very much like many entry level actuarial textbooks in use today.
  • Comparative Reserve Tables, 1915 – by Miles Menander Dawson (original actuary for A.M. Best. Reserve tables from 1915 for a variety of types of life insurance.
  • Economics of Life Insurance, 1927 – by Solomon S. Heuber from the Wharton School of Finance.
  • Remarkable Strategems and Conspiracies to Defraud Life Insurance Companies, 1878 – Easily my favourite book. Dozens and dozens of tales dating back to the 1700’s of attempts to defraud life insurance companies. Including one nobleman who smoked himself to death. Took almost a year.
  • Analyzing Life Situations for Insurance Needs, 1922 – How much life insurance do I need, circa 1920’s.
  • Joint Life Commutation Tables and Rates, 1912 – Joint Life Actuarial Tables.
  • Life Assurance by a Lady, 1858 – snapshot into the life of a woman insurance salesperson back in the mid 1800’s.
  • Life Insurance Contracts in Canada, 1902 – legal contracts dating back to the turn of the last century.
  • Modern Business, Insurance, 1919 – Book 18 on a series of ‘modern’ businesses.
  • Mortality Experience of Life Insurance Companies 1860’s – Mortality tables, compiled by the Institute of Actuaries in 1867, from stats provided by their member insurance companies. Interesting perspective into methodology from 150 years ago. The Society of Actuaries even today compiles data from it’s member companies to create mortality tables. Except now they use spreadsheets instead of cards (the book shows examples of the cards provided by the companies).
  • Mortality Statistics of Insured Wage Earners, 1919 – Mortality experience from Met Life from 1911 through 1916 on their industrial life policies. Industrial life policies were sold door to door and provided a tiny amount of coverage to policyowners. Insurance agents of the time then dropped by every week to collect the one or two penny premiums.
  • Insurance at Piney Woods – A series of articles from an insurance agent from 1896. Hilarious, this guy pulls no punches. For example, he talks about how a widow has taken out an advertisement in the local paper thanking life insurance for being a widow’s best friend. The agent’s spin on this? He calls it a matrimonial advertisement – she’s advertising that she’s a widow with some money 🙂
  • Report of the Superintendent of Insurance of Canada, 1896 – Interesting to see some of the companies listed are still alive and kicking today.
  • Report of the Superintendent of Insurance of Canada, 1897 – Same thing for the following year. I believe I have these books through the early 1900’s but two is probably enough online. Interesting to note, these reports are for the ‘Dominion of Canada’.
  • The Sociology of Life Insurance, 1928 – Much thinking and analysis goes into the sale of life insurance.
  • Terminal Reserves and Net Premiums – undated but I believe this is early 1900’s. Published by the Union Central Life Insurance Company which is now part of Ameritas Life.
  • Total Disability Benefit in Life Insurance, 1913 – This benefit is now called Disability Waiver of Premium. I believe this is the earliest example of this type of calculation and served as the first public work on this rider.
  • Wills, Trusts, and Estates, 1927