Collectible Stocks and Bonds from North American Railroads     by Terry Cox

A guidebook and catalog of prices
(I do NOT buy or sell certificates on this website)

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Search the Coxrail database for descriptions of 23,700+ certificates from over 7,400 North American railroad companies.

Bonds

Visual appearance of bonds

Bonds are normally larger than stocks. They average roughly 9 by 13 inches with some of the largest bonds up to 27 inches square. As a rule, early bonds were larger than later ones.

Bonds always show monetary values. About 60% of the bonds I currently know about are $1,000 bonds. The next most popular denomination was the $500 bond, which represents about 12% of the known varieties. Printed denominations range from $2 to $1,000,000.

Bonds represent money that companies borrow from investors. Consequently, they always have voluminous text explaining repayment terms, interest rates, and guarantees. The wording on bonds usually starts with a sentence like

 

The NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY is indebted unto __________________ in the sum of __________ Dollars...

Read the text carefully and you will find the interest rates companies promised to pay. You will also find a phrase that describes when they intended to repay their loans. Financial fortunes, however, often changed before companies repayed their loans. Occasionally companies re-negotiated payment terms with investors and rubber-stamped new payment terms on their bonds. Bonds appear in both horizontal format (printing across the long paper dimension) and vertical format.


Vertical formal


Horizontal format

Prior to 1880, practically all bonds were coupon bonds. About 95% of those bonds printed in horizontal format.

After 1880, 89% of all coupon bonds were printed in a vertical format. This switch seems to coincide with the increasing popularity of registered bonds, which were generally printed in a horizontal format.

The popularity of coupon bonds decreased steadily throughout the 20th century, and only a small number were issued after 1950. As vertical format coupon bonds disappeared from circulation, registered bonds switched over to a vertical format. By the 1960s, practically all railroad bonds were vertical format registered bonds.

 

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