AMERICAN AUTOMOTIVE STOCK CERTIFICATES:
A Collectors Guide With Values
by Lawrence Falater
The automotive industry is vast and complex. There have been many thousands of incorporated and unincorporated concerns involved in the industry, almost all of which issued stock certificates. Although to a somewhat lesser degree, most probably issued bonds. Many companies failed or for other reasons no longer exist and it is probable that, in many instances, all issued stock certificates and bonds were destroyed. It is recognized that the definition of the term automotive related category is a judgment definition.
For example, a supplier company to an automotive manufacturer which provides auto radios or body stamping is included but a company which occasionally provides nuts and bolts is generally excluded.
Some of the areas that are included:
* automobile, truck, motorcycle, and related manufacturers
* major component manufacturers (tires, etc.)
* transportation companies: truck and bus lines
* manufacturers of fuel and lubricants
* distributors, warehousers, transporters, and retailers of the above
* parking lot and garage operators
* highway and bridge builders
* training and automobile travel enterprises
* miscellaneous items such as concrete barrier manufacturers
We have included only certificates and bonds of North America that are known to exist. We have specifically refrained from listing companies for which certificates are not reported.
It is fully anticipated that as additional data is accumulated, the scope of future editions of this work will include world-wide automotive stocks and bonds. Collectors with significant collections or rare pieces are requested to contact the author to insure that all information is included in future editions.
Historical and General Information
The advent of the automobile unquestionably had one of the greatest influences upon civilization. Nowhere was the impact more dramatic than in the United States, where the economic and social developments forever changed the way of life. The new industry provided millions of jobs and supportive industries while making convenient transportation affordable.
The very earliest self propelled vehicles were steam powered and were usually infrequent, isolated examples. These early, slow moving vehicles were usually developed for heavy industrial purposes. In the United States, Selden developed an automobile and successfully patented the invention in 1877. By the late 1890's numerous individuals had built experimental automobiles powered by electric, steam and gasoline powered engines. In 1896 the Duryea Automobile Co. built 13 vehicles of a similar design. This is generally considered to be the start of the automobile industry in the United States.
Improvements and refinements gradually changed the status of the automobile from a rich man's play thing to a practical mode of transportation. Mass production with resultant lower production costs and lower selling prices put the average man within reach of the purchase of a vehicle, and America's love affair with the automobile began.
Thousands of individuals and companies tried their hands in the fledgling automobile business. Many were merely assembly line operations with most components being purchased from other suppliers. With the emergence of large, efficient producers with salable products, many concerns failed or terminated operations. The Great Depression of the 1930's took a terrible toll with many great automobile marques (an industry term for brands) passing out of existence. Modern competition has eliminated additional manufacturers with further consolidations resulting in only a handful of manufacturers remaining. It should be remembered that manufacturers are different than automobile brands. A frequently requested stock is the Edsel, which does not exist, since it is a division of the Ford Motor Car Co. and not a stock certificate producing company.
The author is greatly appreciative of the kind cooperation and assistance of many individuals and institutions including the following: Howard Aaronson, Stefan Adam, Archives International, Richard Balbaton, David Beach, Lucien Birkler, Joseph E. Boling, Christian Blom, Pierre Bonneau, Eric Boone, Gerald M. Briggs, Dick Brown, Dr. J. W. Carberry, Citizens Motorcar Co., John Conde, Terry Cox, Grover Criswell, Lee DeGood, Detroit Public Library, Eric A. Drum, Tom Durkin, Scott Eisenhut, Jerry Fuchs, Fred Fuld, Joan Gast, Stephen Goldsmith, Robert Greenawalt, Bruce R. Hagan, John R. Halko, Frank W. Hammelbacher, Bruce Heiner, John Heleva, John & Diana Herzog, Clinton Hollins, Richard T. Hoober, Jr., Lowell Horwedel, Mark Hotz, Dr. Michael Hovan, Theodore Isler, Dave Keller, Robert Keller, Bob Kluge, Bill Knadler, Chet Krause, Malcolm Kurin, Werner Kurle, George LaBarre, Herb LaTuchie, John F. MacArthur, Greg MacClaren. Larry Marsh, Ian A. Marshall, Douglas McDonald, Scott Mitchell, Claude & Judith Murphy, John Parker, Bob Patetta, Paul R. Peel, Ken Prag, K. Clifford Priest, Richard T. Quinn, Ed Richt. Herbert D. Rice, Ted Robinson, Fred Schwan, Robert I. Schwartz, Robert Schell, Neil Shafer. Robert Signom II, R. M. Smythe & Co., Inc., Neil Sowards, John R. Stone, David Strebe, Studebaker National Museum, Karl a Surmacz, George Teas, Reinhild Tshope, Richard Urmston, Barry Wexler, Martin D. Wiener, Scott J. Winslow, Sam Withers, and Bill Yatchman. Grateful appreciation is also expressed for several prominent collectors, who, while wishing to remain anomalous, were especially helpful in providing significant data.
Finally, we thank the very most those who provided data and were mistakenly not listed here.
Stock certificates are documentary evidences of ownership in a corporation in proportion to the stated shares on a specific certificate to the total outstanding shares of a corporation. There are various classes and types of stock certificates--the most frequently encountered are common and preferred categories. There may be a stated value of a stock such as $10 par value or one of no par value. The par value of a stock may not have any relationship to the original selling price. Usually the selling price of a stock is greater than the stated par value. A company, for a number of reasons, may require additional capital for expansion or to weather financial difficulties. It may be necessary to offer a new class of stock which has a priority in both dividends and possible liquidation, There may be several types of preferred stock such as "Class A" preferred and "Class B" preferred in addition to common stock. There are many other definitions including such things as convertible preferred stock. Some states allow a firm to be unincorporated under common law provisions and issue stock. An additional type of certificate category of temporary, interim or scrip certificates exists. These are usually of a plain unvignetted type set design which are generally considered to be much less desirable.
Bonds are documentary evidence of indebtedness of a company. There are numerous types and categories of indebtedness; the most common names applied are bonds and debentures. The bond states the rate of interest and the maturity date.
The condition of the stocks and bonds in this catalog is usually not stated relative to the indicated valuation. The rule of thumb is that the condition would be in general relationship to both the vintage and size of the document. Early pieces are expected to be folded and somewhat more handled condition with turn-of-the-century pieces expected to have two vertical folds whereas modern pieces would be in new or nearly new condition. Very large items especially early bonds would be expected to have a horizontal fold as well as several vertical folds. Again, the condition/price relationship is what one would expect for the time given the vintage and size of the document. Any noticeable exceptions to the above should be clarified, be it in price lists or auctions.
Cancellations affect condition as well as valuation and usually fit into two categories: cut out and punch cancels or ink stamped/written cancels. The sizes of the cut out cancels differ greatly and significantly affect the values. When large size cancels affect an important vignette or title of the company, desirability and value are diminished. Cancellations which affect the officer's signatures are also detrimental to valuations, especially if the autograph is of a famous person. Punch cancels range in size from pin holes to the size of a large coin. Very large, dark or multiple ink stamp cancels also adversely affect eye appeal and values. Occasionally, cancels of various types are combined on a single certificates. Another type of cancellation which is rarely seen is a cut cancel in the form of an "X" or double lined "X." This may be seen on an early certificate. Large certificates are more likely to incur edge splits or tattering. Any type of extraordinary defect should be mentioned when such an item is offered for sale.
Abbreviations and terminology
i = issued. cancellation, if any, unknown
ic = issued and canceled
iu = issued and uncanceled
u = unissued. cancellation, if any, is unknown
uc = unissued and canceled
uu = unissued and uncanceled
s = specimen
p = proof
< = less than. Example: less than 100 shares
> = more than. Example: not more than 10,000 shares
nameplate = an engraved area on which the company name appears. Usually a border surrounds the name.
nd = no date
c = circa
ABN = American Bank Note Co.
B-G = Broun-Green Co.
CBN = Canadian Bank Note Co.
COL = Columbian Bank Note Co.
EAW = E. A. Wright Bank Note Co.
FLA = Franklin Lee Division - American Bank Note Co.
HBN = Hamilton Bank Note Co.
NBN = National Bank Note Co.
RBN = Republic Bank Note Co.
SBN = Security Bank Note Co.
S-C = Security-Columbian Banknote Co.
WBN = Western Bank Note Co.
The prices indicated in this volume reflect the author's perspective of current valuations. They are based upon current dealer's price lists, stock and bond auction results, observations at paper money and stock certificate bourses as well as consultation with collectors and dealers. Where previously recorded transactions are not current, prices are projected to current levels. Supply and demand greatly influence valuations.
A most significant factor affecting valuations is eye appeal and is frequently referred to as attractive graphics. Beautiful or rare vignettes (engraved scenes or images) along with attractive color combinations usually command higher prices, especially if custom steel plate engravings are utilized. Conversely, standard stationery store lithographed blank forms which require only the printing of the company's name and minor other information are generally less appealing and are usually priced at a substantially lower level. A very common supplier of these forms was the Goes Publishing Co. The name Goes frequently appears in the lower left margin or as a very small logo incorporated into the lower left border design.
Issued 19th century automotive certificates are seldom encountered and command substantial premiums. Very early 20th century pieces are also very desirable and priced accordingly.
Prices of temporary, interim or scrip certificates which do not have vignettes and are very plain are less popular and usually bring lower prices. The discovery of new corporate archives of stock certificates will undoubtedly reach the market causing price fluctuations. For the most part. the significance of corporate officer's signatures is unresearched and unappreciated and may be subject to future price appreciation.
Prices will probably continue to increase due to a number of factors. There is increased interest in esoteric collecting as well as an overall upward collecting trend in stocks and bonds. Numismatists, the largest segment being attracted to stocks and bonds, have been disillusioned over high priced collecting areas and condition related eccentricity. The number of dealers offering stocks and at paper money conventions is increasing. Moreover, there are expanding markets, most noticeably in the telemarketing field as well as interior decorating demand for framed stock certificates. Many beautiful stocks and bonds are produced by steel plate engravings which is considered to be one of the highest forms of commercial art. All of these factors are contributing to the popularity of this collectible field.
Certificates covered here may be found in many different varieties They may be obvious or obscure, significant or trivial, large or small Collectors pay varying levels of attention to these varieties.
The broadest categories are bonds and stock certificates, but there are many subvarieties. A stock certificate may be common or preferred' It may also be class A or B (or C) common or first preferred or any of many other description depending upon the state of incorporation. All of these different then may come in different denominations, and the colors of the denominations might change and all of these different types and varieties might be found in issued, unissued, and specimen format.
Many early certificates, although infrequently found, have the a autographs of now famous automotive men. Any certificates with pen-signed signatures of the founders of automobile companies are highly prized. While a few are commonly found, such as the Lincoln Motor Car Co. with signatures of Leland and Nash, most are seldom seen. The great majority of early automotive stocks and bonds are unknown in any form. Certainly, an early stock certificate bearing a pen signature of Henry Ford would be a prized find with a substantial value.
However, the signatures of company officers who are not famous also might be of interest to collectors. Company officers frequently changed, and the moves are reflected on the respective certificates. This area has not been aggressively pursued by collectors so much research remains to be done.
The printers of certificates sometimes changed. When one security printing firm was purchased by another as Colombian Bank Note Company was by Security Bank Note Company or Central Bank Note Company by E. A. Wright Bank Note Company (which was then ultimately taken over by Security Bank Note Company) it is possible to find essentially identical certificates with different imprints. These are change over pairs.
When a corporation went to an entirely new company for its security printing, a new certificate was created. Sometimes the new certificate resembled the old, but normally it was of a completely new style. Obviously a corporation might change printers because of price, but this was less common than it might seem because the original company had the advantage of having the original printing materials. A more likely reason for change was capacity. If the corporation became very successful, its need for certificates might exceed the ability of the original printer. Of course this is also related to price. The real question is if it can produce them efficiently. Sometimes this change occurred when the salesman changed from one printing firm to another and was able to "take his old accounts with him." When you find certificates for the same corporation printed by two completely different security printers, you have a jump over pair.
Alterations and surcharges
Frequently it is necessary to alter a certificate. The most common alteration is of a signature. Occasionally you might find a certificate with a signature simply lined out and a new signature entered by hand. More commonly you might find a pen and ink alteration to the title of an officer. By far the most common change is by obliteration. The old information (signature) is covered and the new information is applied over the obliteration. Obviously this is much faster and cheaper than obtaining new certificates when an unanticipated change takes place. This is a very common and widely accepted means of changing the signatures and titles of company officers. It is also used to change other technical data.
Company name changes frequently occur because of mergers, takeovers, and marketing decisions. When this happens, interim certificates are prepared by surcharging the old certificates with the new information. Such interim certificates are potentially more scarce than the predecessor or successor certificates, but this is not always the case. Indeed, sometimes the reason for the change is some sort of financial crisis. In this case the successor certificates may never have been produced and the interim certificates may have flooded the market and be the most commonly available varieties for collectors.
The classic use of a surcharge is to change the denomination of a certificate. Because of shortage similar to those described above for changes of officers, it is sometimes necessary to alter a certificate for issue at another denomination. This is a very interesting situation. Unlike changing signatures, changing denomination means altering security devices on a certificate. This undermines the security of engraved certificates, but it has been and probably is currently being done.
Catalog Numbering System
The listings in this catalog are exactly as they appear on the certificate with a deletion of the initial article, "the" and abbreviations of commonly accepted words such as "Co." and "Corp." In some instances, titles and descriptions have been taken from early auction sales and price lists. Often times the descriptions are very cursory and some information may be lacking including an incomplete company title. Such an example may be "General Motors." If no date is given, it is unknown if an earlier certificate should be "Co." or the later "Corp." In these instances, the description is as it appears in the original list or catalog.
The catalog numbering system is patterned after the standard reference on railroad stocks and bonds by Terry Cox Stocks and Bonds of North American Railroads: Collectors' Guide with Values. Permission to utilize this excellent standardized system is gratefully acknowledged to Terry Cox.