The Stock and Bond Collectors Price Guide

by Bill Yatchman


Published by Greentree Stocks. Reprinted with permission.


Introduction



The collecting of Stocks and Bonds, or SCRIPOPHILY, as it has become known, is one of the fastest growing and most satisfying of hobbies to date.


The term SCRIPOPHILY was arrived at as the result of a contest held in England; a search for an identifiable term for the hobby. It's root word is SCRIP, which means, "A certificate of a right to receive some-thing", such as a stock or equitable ownership in a company.


To capsulize the history of the hobby, it's major beginnings were in Germany in 1976, when two lists of foreign bonds, the result of doctoral research, were published. Though there were many individuals who have collected in excess of twenty years, the preceding was the foundation and basis for what we have today.


One reason for it's success is that it is a PURE COLLECTIBLE, that is, it is not an offshoot of anything else, but is in itself an original conception. Though a thousand pages can and will be written to the benefit of SCRIPOPHILY, one word epitomizes the true feeling derived from it; FUN.


With approximately 35,000 active collectors to date, it can safely be stated that SCRIPOPHILY is in it's infancy. There are very few knowledgeable texts on the field and therefore many items can be found at prices well below their actual value. Aside from the many dealers in stocks and bonds, there are many Flea Markets, Antique and Collectible Shows and even Estate Sales that can furnish the collector with a plethora of great material. This TREASURE HUNTING can both be enjoyable and profitable.


The acquisition of material is just one aspect of the hobby. Another equally important factor is research. It is an education into the great economic history of the United States, for both adults and children. A trip to the library and especially those in major cities, will provide an insight into the workings and stability of companies, and this data will augment the collection.


Some major reference works that could be used are Poor's or Moody's(1) Manual of Railroads, (2) Public Utilities, and (3) Industrials. These manuals are within themselves collector's items that are both desirable and scarce. When available in the marketplace, they are eagerly sought after for both their value and content.


Research is but one aspect of SCRIPOPHILY. On the pages to follow, we will touch on many areas pertinent to collecting.


ABOUT THE BOOK


The main purpose for the publication of this book, which is the most illustrated and modern to date, is to give the collector an idea of some of the various companies, vignettes and prices, so that these norms will enhance the scope of his pursuits.


Though in many cases different companies issue stock with the same vignette, the retail prices quoted are a good guide. Also, special care has been taken to ensure that all items listed were available at the time of printing.


FINANCIAL ART


Securities engravings are not only significant to their corporate association, but are also an accepted form of art. Collecting toward this end is quite in vogue and extends from the executive board room to the private den. Even interior decorators sense the perception of this impact and are using documents framed to compliment various motifs as stocks and bonds from the late 1700's to present day, cover most all accepted periods of furniture and decorator themes. This is one facet of collecting, though most Scripophilists prefer to display their collections in albums.


VALUE CONSIDERATIONS


Though there are many offshoots to the following, there are five basic considerations that generally determine value; (1) ENGRAVING,

(2) AGE, (3) CONDITION, (4) AUTOGRAPH, (5) SIGNIFICANCE OF COMPANY.


As a general rule of thumb, at least two of the five parameters indicated above should be combined when purchasing. Though this applies to all levels of purchasing, it is more specifically meant for purchases in excess of $20.00


COLLECTING THEMES


This subject is as individual as fingerprints, though the first three listed are in the forefront; (1) RAILROADS, (2) AUTOGRAPHS, (3) AUTO,(4) TRANSPORTATION, (5) MINING, (6) OIL, (7) ENGRAVER, (8) GEOGRAPHIC LOCALE, (9) ERA (PRE-1900, MODERN, ETC.), (10) LOW NUMBERED CERTIFICATES.


There are as many different themes as the imagination can dream up, but by a recent poll, the above are the most popular.


CONDITION


More and more as the hobby grows, condition plays an increasingly important part. The extremely close scrutinizing of a stock or bond is restricted to the more expensive and rare items, as their station would warrant. The grading system used is similar to that of coins and currency; from good to uncirculated or mint.


Though it goes without saying, the finest condition should be sought. Staple holes and folds for the most part are unavoidable. Excessive cancellations, staple holes and perforations in the vignette area should be avoided when possible. However, the entire series of a stock or bond may have these imperfections, so here, common sense must prevail.


REPAIR


Most stocks and bonds issued for specific companies and not mass prodduced for printing or supply houses, are of superior quality. This 'BOND' paper is tantamount to currency paper used by banknote engravers; they are both intended for heavy usage and handling.


At the other end of the spectrum, some lithographers use a lesser grade of paper. Their target goal is books of stocks for non-contracted companies, with company name to be printed after purchase. This paper may require closer scrutiny while repairs are being effected.


STUBS: Most glues used for attaching stubs are water soluble, as it is the least expensive. Stubs can be removed by soaking only that portion in water. After a few minutes, remove. Place stock on non-porous surface and rub glue area with terrycloth (wet) rag. Scrub glue off, wipe off excess water from both sides and place in thick book between two pieces of clean, white paper.


RUST: Residue Ferrous Oxide can be removed by applying a diluent solution of Hydrofluoric Acid. This is obtainable in many stores under the name "WHINK" (Brown & Yellow bottle). A drop on a cue tip is sufficient. Rub onto affected area and set aside. Dilute area after desired results are seen with water on cue tip. CAUTION; this treatment should be practiced and never used on rare stocks or bonds.


FOLDS: Lay stock on ironing board and cover with white paper or linen. With iron on hot setting, go over lightly, always checking after each stroke.


TEARS: When possible, it is best to leave this {Special Char 183 in Font "Symbol"}'alone, but when further damage can be caused, use archival tape only. The non-acidity of archival tape will ensure no discoloration. Available from some rare book and manuscript dealers.


All of the above work well to some extent (glue may come off, but stain may be permanent, etc.). The best philosophy is when buying a stock, consider that is it's final condition. Then when any improvements are made, the results are that much more satisfying. Never is it recommended to try to remove excessive ink, as bleaching may cause paper softness and permanent discoloration.

ISSUED VS. UNISSUED


Issued pieces are worth considerably more than unissued ones as their historical significance is partly due to date, corporate officers, and customer. Type of cancellation and it's date can also be appealing.


Many situations exist where the entire run of stocks may be unissued or those issued pieces never surfaced, were destroyed, or in condition unsuitable for collecting, due to storage damage.


By no means should unissued pieces be shunned. Adding to your theme collection is requisite and unissued pieces should be considered. One further justification is that unissued pieces are generally in a crisp state of preservation.


SPECIMENS


Usually before a printing contract is finalized, a small number of SPECIMENS or APPROVALS are sent to the issuing officers for inspection. These may be in the form of the design intended and/or secondary choices with different vignettes.


Specimens are costly to the engraver and subsequently to the party purchasing. Even if the basic plate has already been engraved, the word SPECIMEN and sometimes zero serial numbers require additional compensation as it is a special run. On the average, though, a small number of them are presented gratis.


Extra specimens are often printed to accommodate officers of the executive, treasurer's and legal offices. They are sometimes given as gifts to various concerned parties, but are always produced in quantities that are quite fractional to those intended for general market trading.


This desirable area of collecting is lucrative as condition of these PRESENTATION PIECES are superior and that some secondary designs may never have been issued, making them unique.


SURVIVAL RATE


There is no adequate formula to determine what is or will be available in the marketplace due to so many variable factors, but a generally accepted figure is that 957~ of all stocks and bonds issued are destroyed.


This statement is somewhat of a paradox because some companies will never have their pieces surface, while others will all be available. Though this figure is an extrapolation, 95% can be considered accurate.


HOARDS


The surfacing of a massive quantity of stocks or bonds can have a profound impact on the marketplace, though for the most part, works to the advantage of the collector. The key reasoning for this is the all-important ABSORPTION FACTOR.


The large grouping is subsequently divided among dealers, causing a lowering in price and eventually making it available to all collectors.


The other side of the proverbial coin is the surfacing of a RARITY in quantity (pieces that have gained their notoriety due to the demand by serious collectors and investors). Each rarity surfacing - which by no means is a common occurence - has it's own impact which is as individual as fingerprints.


The neutralization of a rarity is uncommon. The whole crux centers around QUANTITY VS. INTERESTED COLLECTORS.


STOCKS VS. BONDS


Many people collect only stocks and justify their reasoning with, "BONDS DON'T FIT THE ALBUM AS WELL."


It is illogical to assume that if an items is large, it should not be collected, or collected only on a limited basis. Quite to the contrary, bonds are not only issued in a smaller aggregate sum than stocks, but equal or surpass the historical significance of their counterpart.


Before going any further, let's define the two:


STOCK: PART OWNERSHIP OR INVESTMENT IN A COMPANY.


BOND: INDIVIDUAL GUARANTEED LOAN BY A COMPANY.


A company's profits are of primary import in the 'LIVE' market. If they are substantial, the stockholder gains. If the company performs poorly, stock prices fall. This makes it a high risk market for stocks.


On the other hand, a bond is guaranteed by the issuing company and the bondholder, or lender, will receive his agreed rate of interest however the company does. Even into bankruptcy, bondholders will benefit to some extent, whereas stockholders may not.


AUTOGRAPHS


This segment of collecting can be by far the most lucrative. Famous signatures of such prominent persons as; John D. Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Collis P. Huntington, Jay Gould, etc., epitomizes the elite stage of collecting. It is pure fiscal evidence of economic history; the saga of the power struggle which pitted capitalist giants one against the other.


A stock or bond signed by a famous person is always worth many times more than the same stock or bond not signed by him and his autograph on a separate sheet of paper.


Rare signatured pieces are more than sentimental relics, they add a piquancy to collecting and an investment prospect which grows with the field. From the graphological point of view, it captures the personality of the celebrity on paper.


ENGRAVING TECHNIQUES


This is a fascinating concept where necessity prompted ingenuity. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution and even before, large quantities of securities had to be, (1) printed in the shortest amount of time, (2) be reasonably attractive, (3) personalized for companies, and (4) mass produced without fear of counterfeiting.


Wood block engraving could not satisfy increasing requirements due to their wear factor and also because they were not articulate enough to meet the demands of companies requiring ornate presentation. The debut of STEEL ENGRAVING and LITHOGRAPHY changed printing forever.


STEEL ENGRAVING incorporates a design etched into soft metal. This original die was then hardened, conveyed to a transfer plate which showed the design in relief, and finally placed on a printing plate with the design recessed as originally etched.


LITHOGRAPHY works on the principle that water rejects oil. A plate is water drenched and the surface wiped dry, leaving the recessed area wet. The ink, being oil-based, is rejected by the wet area and accepted by the dry surface.


These are two of the fundamental types of printing and represent the preponderance of collectible stocks and bonds available.


As engraving was an extremely competitive business, the finest in this profession were vehemently sought by the vying factions. The pages that follow list some of the best of their period, along with their corporate lifespans.


IN SUMMATION


SCRIPOPHILY is more than collecting ornate paper. It educates as it offers challenges. It encompasses theory, conjecture and fact. It's limits are only those subjected by the collector. It's material and themes are ad infinitum.