Autumn

Autumn

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Scripophily

Is the study and collection of stock and bond certificates. It has been a half-hobby of mine since 1973 when I first entered the world of investments when the New York Stock Exchange was still an American company. This was back in the days of brokers and long distance screams of terror when my novice investments didn't quite pan out.

I've always had a great interest in the history of Wall Street, and as a result while browsing among the dust and cobwebs of an old building one day, I came across a box filled with canceled stock certificates. Beautiful pieces of history, art really, with dates back to the early and mid depression years. I asked the owner of the box his asking price. He replied, "Take them. They ain't worth spit." He was wrong.

Take a look.

Yesterday one of my customers came in and gave me an envelope and without so much as a word turned and walked out. I thought, 'now that's weird.' I opened it and inside I found this:






My friend had given me one of the last certificates issued by the old Winn-Dixie food store. A few months after its issue date the company went out of business and later reopened under new ownership. This is a twenty-six share certificate. 

I now understood why he didn't speak. He was a Winn-Dixie executive prior to their bankruptcy. He'd lost his life savings during the crash of a once proud Southern company.

See, a piece of art stamped and colored by history.

Like I said, I don't actively seek out stock and bond certificates these days, but then again, I never pass over a piece when I stumble across a find.


Fun hobby. I frame mine and display them in my office.

Stephen
 

28 comments:

  1. beats the hell out of my old hobby of collecting traffic tickets....

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    1. I'd agree with that...thanks, my friend.

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  2. I once recruited brokers for EdwardJones (not a plug - haven't worked there in 10 years). One of the duties of their assistants is to trace the history of old stock certificates. They often find the seemingly-worthless documents are worth surprising amounts of money in companies that bought the older ones' assets. Many of those assistants become as fascinated by the artwork, and used to tell me stories about history they'd uncovered.

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    1. I once found fifteen or twenty different certificates in an old roll top desk in an antique store. I sent them over to my (at the time) brokers office for the same kind of research. Took them nearly a year but it paid off. Thanks, my friend.

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  3. i think they are just beautiful...i am glad that you frame these pieces of history and art!

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. I can't frame all of them but I do frame many and switch them out from time to time. Thanks, sweet one.

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  4. My father worked for Winn-Dixie and I have some of those certificates also.

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    1. I bet there is a mess of 'em out there. Sadly many went straight into the trash. Thanks, my friend.

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  5. Just looking at that certificate had to break your friend's heart, but he knew someone who would appreciate it. I was touring the museum in Corydon Indiana when I saw a framed land-grant. It was my great-grandfather signing over a huge parcel of land that eventually BECAME Corydon Indiana. I pointed this out to the museum manager.....then asked for the back rent money.

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    1. I'll ask him next time he walks into the shop but I bet you're correct in that he found it and the paper just dredged up the memories of his lost safety net. Thanks, my new friend. I really enjoy your blog.

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  6. Old stock certificates are pretty neat, some are real pieces of art.

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    1. Yes, indeed, my friend. And the rare examples worth a pretty penny.

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  7. Interesting hobby. I'm not much of a collector of anything. On a good day it's all I can do to collect my thoughts.

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    1. Then you and I are much alike...thanks, my friend. Now, get back to work on that filter.

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  8. Nice, very nice. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Wish I knew that. Working at a bank for a while I've seen just about all of them. I always loved the bonds that came in issued during the late 30s and 40s. They were just so steeped in history. My favorite was a perfect condition $500 E bond issued June 6, 1944. I might still have a copy of it somewhere. Unfortunately, if you want to keep them you can't get the money they are worth. Pretty cool hobby. I didn't know that was the name of it.

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    1. Oh, man, you had a chance for some nice collectibles. I have some beautiful bonds. My all time favorite is an very old Mohawk & Malone gold railroad bond issued in the late 19th century. Thanks, my friend.

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  10. You don't see many certificates any more. Everyone at the brokers wants you to hold them in book form without any actual paper. Easier for them!

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    1. It's still possible to be issued paper certificates, Swamp Dog, but now you must pay a fee for the paper. I'd rather collect the old examples anyway. Thanks, my friend.

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  11. Somewhere in my stuff, I've a stock certificate from The Houdini Motion Picture Co.
    Harry made a few silent films, but didn't make it as an actor.
    My grandfather gave it to me, as, when I was a teen, i was an amateur magician.
    Still have it, somewhere, signed by Harry himself.

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    1. Check it out on the link I provided and then find it and frame it, carefully...have an expert do the work. Thanks, my new friend...don't be a stranger.

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  12. Wish I was finding cool stuff like that at mom's place, but I am finding mostly dust. In the end, they are merely earthly treasures subject to moth, rust, etc.

    Your true treasure will be the legacy of beliefs you teach Lil Bit.

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    1. Very true. Thanks, my dear friend.

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  13. Yes, indeed, an incredibly interesting hobby.
    By the way, you can find out more on public scripophily events here http://leeuwerck.blogspot.com/p/calendar.html
    Regards,
    Frarnky

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    1. Well thanks, F.L., I appreciate the link. Come on back.

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  14. Worked at Winn-Dixie for 25+ years. Always bought stock, like this, made a lot money. Just lucky, for me, I cashed out before it all fell apart.

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