Belgian Association for Scripophily
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Like in all collections, the value of an old bond or share certificate is determined by supply and demand. However a serie of criteria are influencing their value, like age , signatures, decoration, rarity, and conservation state.

     Age. The older a stock certificate, the bigger the chance to have a valuable piece. However, this is relative to the activity of the company. A share of a colonisation company around 1700 can be considered old, but at this times the aviation was not existing yet. So for the railrods you have to wait around 1840 and even later for aviation and automobile companies. So finding a colonisation company share dated 1880 is common, which is not the case for aviation companies as at this times they were hot air balloons companies.
Opposite, spanish share of a colonisation company dated 1785.

Action de la 'Real Compania de Filipinas'

     Signatures. Independently of other factors, a share signed by a famous person has definitely a bigger value than the one signed by an anonymous administrator. Some names found around are : Nagelmackers, Rotschild, Rockefeller, and many other famous industrialists or politicians.

     Decoration. Many scripophilists collect decorated certificates. They either limit their area of interest to the well decorated pieces or collect them in addition to their main themes. These pieces are asked by more people (yes you understood : supply and demand) and have usually a higher value. It has to be noted that theses beautiful drawings on the front face of the share were often considered as advertising and this is why they were sometimes done by well-know designers like Mucha for example. This is often the case for colonisation companies were you see plenty of ivory, gold, peolpe working and other natural resources. How not to buy such a company ...The bonds and shares "Art Nouveau" and "Art Deco" are looked for their design. .
Opposite, bond of a french shop designed by Mucha. Used to be scarce and priced around a few thousands € till found in numerous exemplaries. Its price is now around a few hundred €.

obligation d'un magasin Français, design réalisé par Mucha

      Rarity (and indirectly the number of pieces issued). Small issues have the potential to become scarce and so more expensive. It will be the same for bond or share issues that have been destroyed after having been exchanged or reimbursed. If they can be found on the collector's market, it means they have been forgotten and that the proprietary lost some money at this time. Nevertheless, these pieces need to be demanded by some collectors. Small issues of companies not looked for like for example agriculture, chemical, construction, food or weaving companies will not have a big value even if scarce on the market. And on the other hand, some big share issues are really difficult to find. You understood again that all is depending on the supply and demand and that it is dangerous to say that a scarce bond will be expensive.
Opposite, share issued by the Belgian company 'Société Générale de Belgique', 800.000 pieces were printed but it is difficult to find any of the several issues.

Part de réserve de la Société Générale de Belgique, devenue l'actuelle Fortis

      The conservation state. Like every collectors, the scripophilists are looking for pieces of good quality. Ideally, they would have to look like having been printed recently. You understood that it is seldom the case: coupons were not carefully cut, borders teared, shares folded ... and all this lead to a depreciation for the collectors. Some ugly stamps were also sometimes printed on the face to state that there has been a capital increase, a change in the denomination of the company, ... or simply cancel this issue. It was also common to make some holes in the paper to cancel it : sometimes one, sometimes plenty .. Papers without stamps or other cancellation marks are more looked for.

But like you understood, independently of all has been said before, the main rule is "supply and demand". To give some examples, a city bond of Mortsel (in Belgium) hand written, dated 1855 and issued in 10 pieces, will be valued around 100 Euros. The Belgian company share "Société Générale de Belgique", dated 1928, issued in 800.000 pieces and depicted here above is valued around 300 to 400 Euros. Famous banks's shares are looked for, which is not the case for Belgian cities loans for which 2 or 3 collectors are known. Most of Eastern Europe pieces (except Russia), although often decorative, are not looked for. A lot of scripophily pieces can be compared to the common stamps : they are available in big quantities and due to the limited size of the market, can not be sold or at very low prices : ' Mines d’Or de Kilo-Moto', 'Trust Colonial', ...
Opposite, aviation share, issued 50 pieces but most ot them available on the market and so relatively inexpensive.

Action de la société Belge 'Les Avions Robert Wielemans'

Some dealers publish or have published a catalogue with reference prices and exhaustive lists of all what can be found at his moment on the collector's market. This is for example the case in Germany where these info is kept current. Nevertheless, listed prices are unrealistic and what you can find in scripophily bourses is sometimes well below the listed price. In France, another dealer published a catalogue a while ago and this info is now outdated : some scarce pices were found later in big quantities and prices have fallen and some pieces that were easy to find at this time have been for years in some collections and cannot be found anymore now. Their prices increased accordingly. Some collectors and associations also publish reference catalogues but usually without price references. This gives to the catalogues a longer life as prices are changing regularly. It is experience that will teach you to estimate correctly a piece.

Prices that you can get for your old bonds and stocks will most of the time vary from 0 (impossible to sell) to a few € and more exceptionaly higher. Nevertheless, in Belgium, it is quite regular to find valuable shares in a pack of old bonds and shares that the bank told you 'were without any value on the stock market'. This can sometimes lead to good surprises ... As non profit making association, we can help you.