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This article is also available in Chinese - see link at the bottom.
Scripophily is a hobby dedicated to research and collecting of old stock, bond and share certificates.
Scripophily is the study and collection of stocks and bonds. A specialized field of numismatics, scripophily is an interesting area of collecting due to both the inherent beauty of some historical documents as well as the interesting historical context of each document.
Scripophily, the collecting of canceled old stocks and bonds, gained recognition as a hobby around 1970. The word "scripophily" was coined by combining words from English and Greek. The word "scrip" represents an ownership right and the word "philos" means to love. Today there are thousands of collectors worldwide (Scripophilists or Scripophiliacs) in search of scarce, rare, and popular stocks and bonds. Collectors who come from a variety of businesses enjoy this as a hobby, although there are many who also consider scripophily a good investment. In fact, over the past several years, the hobby has exploded in popularity.
Many collectors like the historical significance of certificates. Dot com companies and scandals have been particularly popular. Others prefer the beauty of older stocks and bonds that were printed in various colors with fancy artwork and ornate engraving.
A large part of scripophily is the area of financial history. Over the years there have been millions of companies which needed to raise money for their business. In order to do so, the founders of these companies issued securities. Generally speaking, they either issued an equity security in the form of stock or a debt security in the form of a bond. However, there are many varieties of equity and debt instruments. They can be common stock, preferred stock, warrants, cumulative preferred stocks, bonds, zero coupon bonds, long term bonds (over 400 years) and any combination thereof.
Each certificate is a piece of history about a company and its business. Some companies became major successes, while others were acquired and merged with other companies. Some companies and industries were successful until they were replaced by new technologies. The color, paper, signatures, dates, stamps, cancellations, borders, pictures, vignettes, industry, stock broker, name of company, transfer agent, printer, and holder name all add to the uniqueness of the hobby.
A lot of companies either were never successful or went bankrupt, so that their certificates became worthless pieces of paper until the hobby of scripophily began. The mining boom in the 1850s, railroad construction in the 1830s, the oil boom in the 1870s, telegraphy (1850s), the automobile industry beginning around 1900, aviation (around 1910), electric power and banks in the 1930s, the airline wars and mergers in the 1970s, cellular telephones (1980s), long distance telephone service in the 1980s and 1990s, and most recently the Dot-com era and Enron all resulted in historically significant certificates being generated and issued.
With the existence of the Internet, more and more stocks and bonds are issued electronically, meaning fewer paper certificates are issued as a percentage of actual stock issued.Source: Wkipedia
Thank's to Mr Abe Tse effort this article has been translated to Chinese and the chinese version is available for download in pdf format: About Scripophily in Chinese