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)

Search this website for information about collecting stocks and bonds.


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

Certificate variations that normally do not qualify for separate listings


Basic idea. In deciding which micro-variations to list and which to ignore, I try to walk the middle ground between "lumpers" and "splitters." My goal is to list variations only when substantial numbers of collectors prove they care by routinely and predictably paying more.

The hard reality. Certain factors govern my decisions about inclusions and exclusions.

  • I want to keep the size of the printed catalog manageable.
  • Collectors rarely pay premiums for micro-variations, regardless of scarcity.

In general, I create varieties based upon the appearance of certificates when they left printing and engraving companies. With few exceptions, I do not create varieties based upon markings made upon certificates after that time. I do, however, make separate listings and price estimates for variations that routinely affect values of certificates such as:

  • states of issuance (issued vs unissued)
  • states of cancellation (cancelled vs uncancelled)
  • autographs by notable celebrities

I do NOT create separate listings for:

  • autographs from minor celebrities (please see autograph criteria for an in-depth discussion of minor celebrities)
  • autographs from ordinary company officers
  • certificates issued to celebrities but not signed by them (also included in the discussion of autograph criteria)
  • variations in types or degrees of cancellations
  • variations in trust company or clearing house names
  • variations in designs of backs of certificates
  • handwritten or overprinted share values
  • minor size differences
  • minor color variations

I constantly strive to control the scope of my project and the size of the resulting catalog. For instance, if I recorded and tracked every boldly overprinted share value on all twenty-two varieties of Pennsylvania Railroad stock certificates, I might increase the number of possible listings by several thousand. Autographs from minor celebrities or company officers could add several thousand more. Cancellation variations could conceivably add still more thousands. Yet, such a massively increased number of listings would be essentially pointless because few if any collectors currently pay more for such variations.

I also do NOT create separate listings for HANDWRITTEN documents related to:

  • dividends
  • transfers
  • subscriptions
  • assessments
  • proxy bids
  • powers of attorney, and so forth

Such documents were evidence of valid transactions related to stocks and bonds, no argument there. In order to be listed, documents MUST BE AT LEAST PARTIALLY PRINTED WITH COMPANY NAMES.

Understand that there were potentially millions of handwritten documents created in banks, brokers' offices, trading floors, lawyers' offices and dining room tables all over the continent. Every one was custom-made and every one was different. There is simply no possible way of describing handwritten documents in small amounts of space sufficient to allow discrimination from other similar documents. Variability is unmeasurable high and value is extremely low except to specialists. Can you imagine picking up a catalog such as mine with thousands upon thousands of listings describing small handwritten scraps of paper attesting to the sale or transfer of some unknown type of bond or stock certificate?

I am not saying they may not be historically significant. And I am not saying there aren't examples that are very valuable for their celebrity autographs or philatelic relevance. I am saying that, with the exception of handwritten stocks and bonds, I do NOT list any document that is entirely handwritten.

Why do I list handwritten stocks and bonds? Because they were valid securities and had every legal right afforded to handsomely engraved and printed stocks and bonds.

Send an email message with corrections, questions or comments about this page.
(Last updated Mar 5, 2011)


I strongly recommend buying the Cox Catalog 3rd Edition from your favorite SCRIPOPHILY DEALER. Catalog cover
If they do not carry, or are out of stock, you may buy directly from me. Simply click the buy button below.



Papermental logoHelp support this free site! Please visit my eBay store called Papermental by Terry Cox. My inventory includes railroad passes, railroad ephemera, newspapers, magazines, engravings, and all sorts of paper collectibles.

Please contact me if you have certificates not yet listed. (See How You Can Help.)

I suggest using WeTransfer or similar file transfer sites when sending large files or large numbers of files.

PLEASE contact the many fine dealers listed on my dealers page to buy certificates.

© Copyright 2021 by Terry Cox