Do you enjoy collecting things? Are you interested in history? Do you keep an eye on stocks and bonds?
Well, you can combine all three of those little joys into one and even make some money out of it, when you take on Scripophily as a hobby.
Here’s a basic guide:
- What is Scripophily?
- Why become a Scripophile?
- How does one get into the game?
- Keeping condition in mind
- Making money from Scripophily
According to the Cambridge dictionary, Scripophily is the activity of collecting old bond and share certificates.
This hobby can probably be compared to collecting old stamps, coins and notes that are no longer in use.
The word is a combination of English and Greek – ‘scrip’ representing an ownership right and ‘philos’ meaning to love.
While it may seem like an exceedingly strange hobby to some, the fact is thousands of people avidly practice it worldwide!
Simultaneously, it hasn’t become so popular that it’s hard to find certificates that have some sort of value.
There are various factors that attract enthusiasts to Scripophily. Here are a few of the main drawcards:
Were the parties involved in the signing of the certificate somehow involved in important historical events? For instance, was it perhaps the first company to produce a certain product, such as automobiles, aeroplanes, vacuum cleaners – anything under the sun really!
Was it printed by a famous printer?
Let’s just be honest, people really knew how to make even the most ordinary things look beautiful in the old days.
Even boring old stock certificates.
So, it’s hardly surprising that some people get into Scripophily purely for the aesthetic value of these documents.
Features they might look out for include: type of engraving, colour of ink, figures represented in the vignette, the presence of borders and paper quality, to mention but a few.
Could any of the parties involved with the signing be considered famous… or even infamous?
– Original face value
How much was the stock or bond issued for? Usually, the larger the original face value, the more collectable it is.
– Specific field
If you’re interested in a specific area of business, such as sports, finance, railroads or automotive, you could focus on collecting certificates that fall into these categories.
How many of the certificates were issued? How many survived over the years? Normally, the fewer survived the more collectable it is.
As with any hobby, the Scripophily bug might catch you completely off guard.
Perhaps you stumble upon a fascinating old certificate while rummaging through your neighbour’s garage sale. Or perhaps you inherit one from your grandparents unwittingly.
However, the most common way for Scripophiles to come upon their treasures these days is online. Ebay has a whole section dedicated to old stock certificates and the site Scripophily.com connects collectors from all over the world.
So, you’ve found your first stash of (possibly) lucky stocks and bonds, but how do you even start valuing them?
Well, as you can guess, it’s not as simple as it might sound. However, at first glance, there are a few things you tell about the value from merely looking at the condition of the papers.
This is the general grading scale:
– Uncirculated – Looks like new, no abnormal markings or folds, no staples, clean signature and no stains
– Extremely Fine – Slight traces of wear
– Very Fine – Minor traces of wear
– Fine – Creased with clear signs of use and wear
– Fair- Strong signs of use and wear
– Poor- Some damage with heavy signs of wear and staining
While you can certainly collect old bond and share certificates for your own personal pleasure, there is actually money to be made.
However, it’s going to take some time.
Mike Veissid, an avid Scripophile, told Financial Times in an interview that the secret to turning your vintage stocks and bonds into an asset is to “build a collection that has some meaning beyond its individual pieces, which is then going to appeal to a large number of people when it is disposed of.”
A clever way of doing this is to focus on certain industries, decades or institutions.
For instance, railroad and automobile companies are always big hits, even more so if they’re still in business.
According to Veissid, any certificates dating beyond 1930 are pretty much worthless, so it’s best to focus on those created between the mid-1800s and 1920s.
His collection, built up over 30 years, is worth more than £150,000.
Right now on eBay, you will find certificates going for anywhere between £0.99 to £1,996.71.