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The Tardiest Correction in Magazine History

A mystery trader, an inncorrect citation, and the search for Institutional Investor’s first cover subject.

  • Kip McDaniel

As covers go, this one is unremarkable.

A youngish man stands in the middle of a teeming trading pit, arm outstretched, mouth mid-sentence. Boards — the type that displayed the latest quotes and trades in the age before personal computers — tower behind him. Yet the picture speaks of action, of money, of youth and vitality — all things that Institutional Investor, with its first cover in the spring of 1967, was hoping to convey.

Nearly fifty years later, this cover, and the pages inside, sits in the Institutional Investor house library — a dark closet at 225 Park Avenue South in New York City. Upon its discovery, an obvious question swirled around the newsroom: Who was this man?

The edition was less than helpful. Its table of contents lists only the man’s location — the floor of the Montreal Stock Exchange — with the photo credited, oddly, to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (Montreal, of course, is in the neighboring province of Quebec). The mystery trader was unnamed.

For an answer, Institutional Investor took to social media — a tool that would have astounded George Goodman (pen name: Adam Smith), the magazine’s legendary first editor.

From both personal and professional accounts, the Institutional Investor team swamped the Twitter feeds of followers worldwide, asking for help in identifying the trader. The response was rapid and robust. We contacted friends north of the U.S. border, who contacted the exchange on our behalf.

As of press time there are two possibilities, both backed by people certain that Institutional Investor’s first cover boy is their man.

First, the late Don Bainbridge: a man who was so compelling that “there was only one omnipotent being” on the trading floor, “and that was Don Bainbridge. All my memories of Bainey on the floor are a pleasure, and watching him do a slow dance with a stripper with the same grace he used dealing with the best of the business establishment was part of his charm.” (The editors of Institutional Investor feel that we would have liked Don Bainbridge.)

Second, it could be James Douglas Sloan. Less is known about “Jimmy.” Whereas memories of Bainbridge litter the Internet, Sloan seems to have faded from public memory. Still, the majority of those who got in touch with Institutional Investor say the picture is most certainly of him.

One thing is certain, however: Neither man worked the floor of the Montreal Stock Exchange, which didn’t have trading boards as seen in the photograph.

In what will go down as perhaps the tardiest correction in magazine — any magazine — history, the earliest edition of Institutional Investor (Spring 1967) mistakenly cited the Montreal Stock Exchange as the location depicted on the cover. We can confirm that this was, in fact, the floor of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

We regret the error.