What is Scripophily?

Scripophily is the hobby of collecting old stock and bond certificates. Scripophily is a youngster in the collecting world. Only a few individuals collected old stock and bonds in the 1960s. The hobby started in Germany, spread to England and then the U.S. Scripophily began to grow rapidly with the discovery of several large hoards (for example, the Pennsylvania RR bankruptcy hoard) that were dispersed through auction house glossy catalogs. Today, tens of thousands of collectors participate in a rapidly growing collectible area.

Why would one collect old stocks and bonds?

Scripophily offers a richer collecting experience compared to stamps, coins and other areas. First, the vignettes on many old certificates are often stunning in their aesthetic beauty, depicting old industrial facilities, railroads and railroad stations, seaports, street scenes at the turn of the century, mining facilities and more. Secondly, the historical link is more direct with stocks and bonds compared to stamps and coins. Stocks and bonds are intimately linked with economic development, and historical events and people. A stamp or coin may commemorate a historical event or person, but a stock certificate signed by the individual who made history is a much more direct link to the past. Finally, many old and attractive certificates are reasonably priced. A stamp or coin with only a few hundred printed or minted often trades for hundreds or thousands of dollars. In contrast, many similarly scarce certificates are available for $100 or less.

What determines the value of a collectible stock or bond?

The value of a certificate reflects a variety of factors, most importantly, rarity, age, aesthetic appeal, condition, and whether it is signed by an important entrepreneur, politician, or other famous person. In the long-term, the more desirable material likely will appreciate, perhaps a lot. But other certificates may not appreciate much. And, there will be surprises on the upside as well as the downside. For example, Packard Motor Car certificates once were relatively scarce and sold for several hundred dollars. Then, a large group of them was found. Today, they sell for $15 to $20 each. The implication, in my view, is that one should collect for the enjoyment certificates provide, not because one anticipates price appreciation. There are better, less risky, ways to invest. Still, I think that if one puts together a coherent collection of stocks and bonds over a long time span, that person is likely to do well.

What is source of all these certificates in collectibles marketplace?

To be added soon

Storage, Display, and Care of Scripophily Certificates.

To be added soon

Links to Recommended Scripophily Sites

Tom's Vignettes on RubyLane.com/shop/Vig is my first Ruby online shop, and has been operating since November 2000. It typically has around 100 certificates listed and focuses on my new acquisitions and scarcer certificates.

COXRAIL.com is a non-commercial web site dedicated to collecting and disseminating information about collectible railroad stocks and bonds. This site is maintained by Terry Cox, author of Stocks and Bonds of North American Railroads.

WHACO.com is a general site, supported by the Washington Historical Autograph and Certificate Organization.

PSTA.com is the site of the Professional Scripophily Trade Association. The PSTA is a new organization of scripophily dealers, started in early 2004, dedicated to promoting the hobby of scripophily. The association's website features a series of educational articles, links to dealer web sites, and a schedule of upcoming events.

Goldsheetlinks.com is a mining information resource that provides extensive links to resources for researching obsolete securities. In addition this site has a very complete listing of scripophily dealers. Also available on their site (History Page) is long list of online sites with historical information on mining districts and mining ghost towns.