Scripophily: An Intriguing Hobby

Some collectors choose to focus on the historic value of certificates, recognizing that each certificate represents a unique piece of history about a company. Some companies may have gone on to become successful, while others may have changed hands or merged and yet others may have met their demise through a scandal, mismanagement or being replaced by new technology. Other collectors may give emphasis to the artwork, colors and ornate engraving of certificates, while some scripophily enthusiasts (referred to as Scripophiliacs or Scripophilists) may become autograph collectors, looking for certificates signed by historic influential individuals. In addition to being an interesting hobby, there are collectors who consider scripophily to be a good investment and their main criteria will relate to current monetary value of certificates.

There are a number of factors that are taken into account when determining the value of a certificate. These include the condition, historical significance, age, rarity, aesthetics, original face value, signatures, type of company, issuing banker, cancellation markings, transfer stamps, printers and type of engraving process used. Historical significance may be linked to the product the company made and whether it was a pioneer in that particular field. The era in which the certificate was issued can also be historically significant. If the certificate was either issued to, or signed by anyone famous, or infamous, this will affect its value.

The aesthetics and type of engraving process used in producing the certificate will be of particular interest to collectors focusing on this aspect. Factors taken into account include the color of ink and type of border, whether the certificate was made by hand, wood engraving, steel engraving or lithograph and what quality of paper was used, as well as whether the paper has an anti-counterfeiting watermark.

With the introduction of electronic trading and fewer paper certificates being issued at stock exchanges, the creative artistry of bonds and stocks has been lost, but the unusual hobby of scripophily will ensure that the fascinating history of stocks and bonds is not forgotten.