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Why do some catalog numbers seem out of order?
I apologize if numbering occasionally seems confusing or contorted. If I had the luxury of starting over right now, with over 26,000 varieties instead of my original 3,000, I guarantee numbering would appear more logical. But for long! New certificates will continue to appear for years. Within weeks, even a brand new system would start showing bits of illogical numbering here and there. It is simply the nature of this hobby.
I had been selling collectible paper money since 1984 and began branching out into railroad stocks and bonds sometime around 1990. That is when I started collecting prices of railroad certificates. By the time I had identified about 3,000 varieties, I decided I needed a numbering system. Sometime in 1992 or 1993, I devised a numbering system based on one pioneered by James Haxby (for his Standard Catalog of United States Obsolete Bank Notes.)
Ideally, I wanted my numbering system to:
Some of my numbering preferences within any given company:
At the time I created my numbering system, most companies were represented by only one or two different kinds of certificates. Only a few companies were represented by large numbers of varieties. It was easy to number certificates in logical groups and in logical date order.
The list kept growing and ultimately turned into a database. More and more unlisted certificates kept appearing for sale in auctions and dealer catalogs. Certificates appeared randomly, and as each new stock or bond appeared, I created a new number in my cataloging system. Obviously, it was a lot easier to add new numbers when the database was small and new.
In the early 1990s, relatively few certificates were illustrated, so the majority of my earliest ‘varieties' were based entirely on written descriptions. Thankfully a few illustrated catalogs had already been published including George LaBarre's three-volume set titled, Collecting Stocks and Bonds (1980-1981) and Bill Yatchmen's Stock & Bond Price Guide (1984). My descriptions underwent constant improvement whenever new illustrations appeared in auction catalogs from R.M. Smythe, George LaBarre, Scott Winslow and Centennial Documents.
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