Collecting Ideas

by Bob Kerstein, CEO Scripophily.com

Over the years, I have been asked what are some of the ways to collect Scripophily. Although there are so many reasons why people collect Scripophily, I thought I would start a list of some collecting ideas and themes that I have seen over the years.  We will be updating this on a regular basis. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know by sending me an email:

  1. Autographs – Issued to or signed by as officers by famous people
  1. Vignettes – The vignette is the image on the certificate.  You can collect vignettes, by themes, type of product, same Image different company etc.
  1. Printers – Some of the major Printers include the American Banknote Company, E.A. Wright, Franklin Lee, Goes, Western Banknote Company, De La Rue, etc
  1. Industries – Banks, Computers, Communications, Motion Pictures, Oil, Utilities, Airlines, etc
  1. Company’s acquired by other companies – i.e. Paypal, TWA now part of American Airlines, Peet Manufacturing ( Formally of Colgate – Palmolive – Peet  ), etc.
  1. Geography – Country, State, Province, Continent,
  1. Countries no longer around ie Ottoman Empire, Prussia,
  1. Family related as officers or company includes family name
  1. Modern Companies currently in existence
  2. Dates – Eras, Birthdays, Years, Decades, major events, etc
  1. Scandals – Enron, Equity Funding, Keely Motor Company, Bre-X Minerals Ltd, Investors Overseas Services, etc
  1. Major Bankruptcy’s – Continental Illinois Corporation, French Panama Canal, Kmart Corporation, Penn Central, etc.
  1. Companies owned by politicians or their families – i.e Buckeye Steel where Samuel Prescott Bush ( President Bush’s Great Grandfather ) was president
  1. Dot Com’s – in 2000 the Internet bubble burst. Stock prices plunged, investors lost confidence, and web based businesses started closing down by the minute. Many paper millionaires lost everything including their jobs.  Click based employees went back to their old Brick based jobs with wild stories of wasted money, lavish parties and ridiculous business plans.
  1. Obsolete industries like  Plankroads, Telegraphs, Steel Companies in the United States, Silent Movies,  etc.
  1. Mining companies – Type of company like Gold, Silver, Copper,
    Uranium, or by eras, regions, Mining Districts, etc.
  1. Certificate Number – Some collectors like getting the first certificate issued of a company.  Others look for certain serial numbers that have special meaning to them ie 777, 11, 13, etc
  1. Company’s with common names – i.e. Acme, Diversified, General,
  2. Type of cancellations – Stamp, Cut, Pin Hole, Written by Hand, Punch, etc
  1. Uncancelled certificates – These are certificates that have been issued but have never been redeemed.  The reasons for lack of cancellation markings can range anywhere from the company going out of business to the certificate being lost and later replaced.
  1. Specimens – Specimen Certificates are actual certificates that have never been issued. They were usually kept by the printers in their permanent archives as their only example of a particular certificate. Sometimes you will see a hand stamp on the certificate that says “Do not remove from file”.Specimens were also used to show prospective clients different types of certificate designs that were available. Specimen certificates are usually much scarcer than issued certificates. In fact, many times they are the only way to get a certificate for a particular company because the issued certificates were redeemed and destroyed. In a few instances, Specimen certificates we made for a company but were never used because a different design was chosen by the company.These certificates are normally stamped “Specimen” or they have small holes spelling the word specimen. Most of the time they don’t have a serial number, or they have a serial number of 00000. This is an exciting sector of the hobby that grown in popularity over the past several years.
  1. Unissued Certificates – This are certificates that were printed but never filled in or only partially completed, but never issued to a shareholder or bondholder.
  1. Original Dow Average – Collect companies that are part of the Dow Averages.
    Below is a list of the Original Dow Industrials companies from 1896:
    American Cotton Oil
    American Sugar
    American Tobacco
    Chicago Gas
    Distilling & Cattle Feeding
    General Electric
    Laclede Gas
    National Lead
    North American Company
    Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company
    U.S. Leather pfd.
    U.S. Rubber

The Current Dow components include:

3M (materials, electronics)
Alcoa (aluminum)
Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris)
American Express (financial services)
AT&T (telecommunications)
Boeing (aviation and aerospace)
Caterpillar Inc. (heavy equipment)
Citigroup (financial services)
Coca-Cola Co. (beverages)
DuPont (chemicals)
Eastman Kodak (photographic equipment)
Exxon Mobil Corp. (petroleum)
General Electric (electronics, financial services)
General Motors (automobiles)
Hewlett-Packard (computer hardware, printers)
Home Depot (retail, specializing in home improvement)
Honeywell International (electronics)
Intel Corp. (microprocessors)
International Business Machines (hardware, software and services)
International Paper (paper, packaging)
J.P. Morgan Chase and Co. (financial services)
Johnson & Johnson Corporation (pharmaceuticals)
McDonald’s Corporation (fast food franchise)
Merck and Company (pharmaceuticals)
Microsoft Corporation (software)
Procter and Gamble (household supplies, pharmaceuticals)
SBC Communications (telecommunications)
United Technologies (aerospace, defense)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (retail)
Walt Disney Company (entertainment)

  1. State,  Province or County of Incorporation – Ohio, California, British Columbia etc
  1. Government Bonds – By Country, Municipals, War Bonds
  1. Type of Security – Common Stock, Preferred Stock, Gold Bond, Convertible Bond, etc


We are always looking for articles about the hobby.  Please us know if you have any suggestions  Email

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