Belgian Association for Scripophily
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What is scripophily ?

Scripophily is the hobby of collecting old bonds and shares, without any market value. They can be without any value because they were cancelled, the company went bankrupt, these certificates were forgotten and never exchanged against valid ones, ... Some certificates can also been found as blanco or specimens : kept by companies in their archives without signature and number.    

The scripophily is, compared to collecting stamps, paper money, coins, post cards, ... a quite recent hobby. The first association was indeed created around the years 70 in England. In Belgium, our association, the only non profit making association grouping collectors of old bonds and shares, was created in 1982 in Brussel.

This recent hobby had to be named. How could we call 'collectors of old bonds and shares' ? A competiton among the membres of the English association lead to the election of the term 'scripophily' for this hobby and 'scripophilists' for the collectors. This was later translated in 'scripophilie' by the French (y was replaced by ie like in many other names) and 'scriptophilie' by the Belgians (scriptum meaning paper in Latin, it sounded more logical to add a t additionnaly). 'Philos' means friend in greek.
Opposite, bond of the tram company 'Chemin de Fer à voie étroite de Bruxelles à Ixelles-Boendael', difficult to find.

Picture of a tramway company

Scripophily goes beyond accumulating old certificates. Scripophilists are indeed doing a lot of research in order to collect more information on the companies that issued such certificates and the economical context around them. When was this company created, what was its main activity, its capital, its shareholders, and its history through the shares and bonds it issued : its initial creation as anonymous company, its expansion through several capital increases and share issues, its bankrupcy or absortion by an another company and the exchange or creation of new certificates, ...This financial history research work is often time consuming and his beeing carried during a whole scripophilist life.

Scripophily is such a wide hobby that scripophilists are often focussing on several specifics domains and / or regions in order to gain an expertise in this area. These domains are quite often related to our financial history ; the developpment and the expansion of the railroads and tramways, the coalmines, the banks, the aviation, the automobile, the colonisation, ... Beyond these specialization, it is usual to see scripophilist collecting bonds and shares from their region and / or decorative ones. Scripophilits usually collect certificates from their country but a specialization in a specific domain can lead them to collect more world-wide.
Opposite, certificate issued by the 'Solvay' cy, famous Belgian company that started producing soda and is now worldwide know for chemical and pharma products.

Picture of a Solvay share

How do people start collecting these strange certificates ? Like for any other collection, scripophilists were brought in contact with these papers and like for coins, stamps, paper money, ... feel attracted by the historical, financial and sometimes decorative aspect of them. They started to collect them ! So among scripophilists, you will find a lot people that have been working in banks or more general in the finance world. Some other people got this trigger event when they received these old papers from an heritage or found on the flea market a share of a company where the family had been working for years.

Scripophily is a fascinating hobby. Beyond discovering financial documents that made history, scripophily allows us to contemplate beautiful documents, to find a share where a parent has been working for years, and to discover pieces never seen on the market. There is no price catalogue for Belgian pieces, which makes it a little bit difficult for a new scripophilist to find its way and this is why being member of a non-profit Association is important. This is not like philately where all pieces are listed, with the number issued and a price depending on the quality. To collect stamps, you buy the catalogue and you pay the price ... We, scripophilists, have the pleasure to discover unseen pieces, to buy at bargain prices scare pieces but on the other hand we sometimes also pay too much for a so called unique piece that is found later in big quantities and for which the price is so disminished.

Scripophily is an international hobby, with members around the world. However, there are big differences among countries. So, when related to the number of inhabitants, Germany is the most important scripophily country, followed thereafter by the USA and England. The collector's market is quite limited in Belgium and even more in France. This hobby is starting to be popular in Eastern Europe countries.