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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What does it mean when I ask for price guidance?

It means I have no good pricing information about the item you have. Or at least no recent information. I need your thoughts on pricing.

I want to know,

What would YOU would willingly pay to acquire another near-identical certificate if something happened to the one you currently own?

I am NOT ASKING you:

  • to estimate prices in the future.
  • to estimate current seller prices in any market.
  • what price you would sell your item for.

I am simply asking:

What would YOU willingly pay to acquire another near-identical certificate if something happened to the one you currently own?

Anything can happen to certificate collections. Loss or destruction can result from thefts, winds, floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and mishandling. Just imagine your certificate is gone. Would you buy another? If so, at what price? That price represents YOUR true demand.

Please understand that I already know something about your item, even though I probably have never encountered one like it before.

I know you bought it from some sort of seller. If you told me the purchase price, that would tell me what the seller was willing to take. It would tell me nothing about what you were willing to pay at that time. And it certainly tells me nothing about your opinion of desirability since you've owned it. Desirability could have gone up or down.

If I encounter another item like yours for sale somewhere, and the listing is two or three months old, that tells me something, also. First, it tells the seller's price might be too high. Otherwise, the item would be gone. It also tells me that that the seller might not have a sufficient number of interested buyers looking at inventory. In either case, sellers' ask prices do not tell me what collectors perceive as fair prices.

A FAIR PRICE is what collectors are willing to pay and there can be quite a range in that assessment. Sales take place only when prices seem fair to both buyers and sellers, but buyers control the purse.

The ideal would be to get opinions from many collectors. Obviously that is not going to happen with items I have never encountered before. So, an opinion from a single current owner will suffice, even though other collectors might disagree. A current owner knows more about the desirability of his or her item than non-owners. Obviously, the item you own was more desirable to you than the previous seller. But, by how much?

Let's imagine a few possibilities. Imagine you bought a certificate a few years ago, enjoy your purchase, and figure you would willingly pay $50 to acquire another example if it were lost.

Scenario One: In the absence of any deeper consideration, your price guidance is $50.

Scenario Two: You think you remember seeing a similar item listed on eBay for $25. Do you lower your your acceptable expenditure in response? If so, your willingness might drop to $35. Your price guidance is $35.

Scenario Three: You haven't seen another item like yours in a while and you start thinking your item might be more scarce than previously imagined. You raise your base price by 50%. Your price guidance is $75.

At this point, nothing has really changed except you examined your memory. However, once you think about it, you might realize that the eBay price might have been overly discounted and not representative of the possibilities of finding another certificate like yours quickly.

Similarly, you might also realize that the inability to remember any similar offers in a while may mean nothing. After all, you weren't looking for a replacement, so you could have overlooked many offers.

Scenario Four: You have been looking for a replacement for a while and find a new dealer listing at $100. Would you be willing to buy at that price? If so, your price guidance is $100.

Scenario Five: You like negotiating and your pride won't let you cave in to a dealer's first "ask" price. You decide you would be a buyer at $80. That's a fairly deep 20% discount. Your price guidance is $80.

Scenario Six: You hate negotiating and you think $50 is a fair price. The seller needs cash and lowers the "ask" price to $60. Are you willing to buy at $60? If so, your price guidance is $60.

Scenario Seven: You've owned that certificate once and you don't want to buy again. That's okay. Your price guidance is $0.

I assume that every collector tries to buy at the lowest possible price and every seller wants the highest. If a collector says that he wants to pay no more than $50 for an item, but is willing to pay more when confronted by buying opportunities, discounts or negotiation, then price guidance is definitely more than $50. Just pick a number. Give me your opinion.

I just want to know:

What would YOU willingly pay to acquire another near-identical certificate if something happened to the one you currently own?


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(Last updated September 28, 2020)


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