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Antique Stocks Collecting Themes - Part II

People who collect antique stock certificates (Scripophily) often collect based on a particular characteristic (theme)  common to the certificates they like. This is the second in a series of three articles that describe and gives examples of popular themes.

Most people collect antique stock certificates by type, or theme, to give a common thread to their collection and to add passion to the search for specific certificates (though most of us also “cheat” and collect others just because we like them). Collecting themes also provides a logical way to organize or display your favorite stock certificates.

The “Part I” article before this one discussed themes of Industry, Geography, Vignette (artwork), Family Relationship (name) and Time Period.  Here are some other popular themes:

1.      Events, or some portion of one -

Examples:  Civil War, Confederate Institutions, Volunteer Bounty Bonds, Veterans Organizations

2.      Firsts, or among the firsts -

Examples:  Experimental Aircraft (Custer Channel Wing), Steam Locomotives (Tom Thumb), seminal autos (Willys-Overland Jeep), first electrically wired cities (Cincinnati Edison), current companies over a century old (Wells Fargo)

3.      Famous Names, issued to or signed by -

Examples:  Rockefeller, Disney, Remington, Pabst, Houdini, Rothschild, Chaplin, Buick, Morgan, Ames, Lorillard…

4.      Extreme Numbers on the certificate -

Examples:  Bonds for $1,000,000 or more, stock certificates for more than 10,000 shares or less than 10 shares, company capital of less than $1 million, low registration number (three digits or less)

5.      Unissued (the printed date usually has a blank in it, such as 187_) -

These are certificates that were never authorized, filled out and given to a share owner.  They have usually come from storage and archives of the companies, banks and printers that were involved with the issuance process.

Some people prefer unissued documents because they often are in better condition than “used” certificates.  Other collectors prefer issued ones because the names, writing and wear show they were held in people’s hands and used in commerce a century or more ago.

There are literally millions of permutations possible by crossing themes.  For example, if your family can be traced to Philadelphia, you might collect issued, canceled (the word is usually spelled with one L, but not always), green certificates that have one or two digit registration numbers with portrait vignettes from the 1800’s.

Or, maybe not.  If your family name is Miller, you could just buy Grandpa a “Millerstown Iron Company” stock certificate, have it framed and give it to him for Christmas.  Guaranteed, he won’t get duplicates of that gift.

So you can decide on a theme(s), or just browse and absorb and maybe a theme will develop as you learn more about what’s available and what strikes that special cord in you.  If nothing elseBusiness Management Articles, you will find fascinating insights into the people and things that made this country.

Source: Free Articles from


Larry Crain is a collector, author and dealer in Scripophily (the collecting of antique stock certificates). Visit Antique Stock Certificates Scripophily for images, values, more articles and research tools for old stock certificates.  Real Stock Histories has research tools for old company and industry historical information. Parts I and III of this series can be found at Scripophily Articles.

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