Imported from: Google Blogger site
Original publish date: August 3, 2011

Join the International Bond and Share Society

A couple days ago (meaning late July, 2011), I read with horror that the International Bond and Share Society (the IBSS) had lost 44 members between the end of 2009 and the end of 2010. Such a meager loss would not even be visible to an organization like the American Numismatic Association. But the IBSS is no such monstrous club. Six months later, by the time of the report at the Society's Annual General Meeting in July, membership had decreased by a few more. 

While some of those lost members will rejoin, the fact remains that all of us, including myself, are falling down on the job. We are simply not doing enough to promote the hobby. After all, the number of collectors who have contributed to my project over the years or who have contacted me about stocks and bonds is almost as large as the total membership in the IBSS!

And I'm just one guy involved in one specialized part of the hobby!

I am here to ask all my readers and all my contributors to step up and do their part. I ask everyone to do three things:

  • join the society
  • stay members of the society
  • realize their involvement will have an unknown, but crucial future benefit.

I'll explain "crucial future benefit" by asking one simple question. If someone is currently collecting certificates, to whom will they (or their heirs) ultimately sell those ollectibles?

Answer: Other collectors. That's it!

Yes, many of those certificates may first go to dealers, but can exist ONLY by selling to collectors. Do you get my point?

Future prices of collectibles depend entirely on one thing and one thing only! – the number of collectors active in the hobby at that time. Consequently, there are only three possible scenarios.

  • fewer collectors in the future
  • same number of collectors in the future
  • more collectors in the future

If there are fewer collectors in the future, there will most assuredly be lower demand for certificates. In short, fewer collectors means lower prices. The equation cannot be simpler.

If there are the same number of collectors in the future as there are right now, prices will be roughly the same as they are right now. It is my unshakeable opinion that if hobbies are static, the amount of money collectors receive upon sales of collections will be roughly equal to their initial investments after accounting for sales commissions and inflation.

If there are more collectors in the future, there will be increased demand for all certificates, hence there can be real price growth beyond the rate of inflation.

Those are the pure, unadulterated economics of collecting. Yes, I know there are collectors who like the current state of the hobby because prices are absurdly cheap relative to rarity. But those same collectors will cry and whine in the future if the hobby does not grow.

A static or declining hobby helps no one. Conversely, a healthy, vibrant growing hobby helps everyone.

I contend that helping the IBSS means helping grow the hobby. As obvious as that position seems to me, it is equally obvious that many collectors are staying away from the IBSS which is the only organization I'm aware of that involves the collecting of stocks and bonds. Here are some of the objections some of those "non-joiners" have told me.

"I think the name 'International Bond and Share Society' sounds too European." Okay. What if the organization had been named the "International Stock and Bond Society"? What would collectors in Europe — where the hobby started — be saying? "I think 'International Stock and Bond Society' seems too American." Regardless of addresses on one side of the Atlantic or the other, the purpose of the organization remains the same: to promote the hobby of collecting of antique bonds and equity shares of stock.

"The are too few articles in Scripophily about certificates I'm interested in." That's true for every member, no matter their specialty. But, so what? The fact is that every intermediate and advanced collector has a specialty that is shared by extremely few others. And yet, I guarantee that every collector will find knowledge in every issue of Scripophily that will impact his or hers specialty in some manner.

"There are only three issues of Scripophily per year." That's $10 apiece!" Again true. Putting aside language too delicate for adult ears, I must ask why anyone would even consider collecting anything if they cannot afford $30 per year.

Conversely, if someone IS fortunate enough to be able to afford a collecting hobby, then where is the reason for not being able to afford a $30 per year membership?

For persepectve, I will go a bit further and suggest that every semi-experienced collector will overpay that much in a year of collecting. Maybe even a single auction lot, if for no reason other than the inability to control auction fever. Furthermore, average collectors will almost certainly spend multiples of $30 on unnecessary food, bottled water, soda, coffee, beer, alcohol, and tobacco .

"I won't get any benefit from increased IBSS membership except for Scripophily magazine." In my opinion, that is more than worth the cost in itself. I will admit that to get full benefit from their $30 membership, collectors will need to go out of their way a bit. With only a little extra effort, collectors who become members can freely gain:

  • invitation to IBSS member breakfasts at certain shows and bourses.
  • access to the full web site.
  • free ads in Scripophily magazine for collectors
  • access to a complete directory of dealers and collectors.
  • access to past articles published in Scripophily magazine.
  • access to reviews of several years of past auctions (worldwide.)
  • access to other members. (So they won't feel so all alone.)
  • access to bibliography of books and articles related to stocks and bonds.
  • opportunity to share insights and discoveries by writing articles for Scripophily.

Readers have now heard my rants, so I'll gently kick my soap box to the corner. I am personally asking EVERYONE who reads this page to join the International Bond and Share Society. At the same time, I also want everyone to understand that I don't want anyone joining if they are unwilling to continue supporting the hobby and the organization in the future. A one-time blip in membership is pointless. The hobby – and that includes ALL collectors, regardless of whether they are "joiners" or not – needs participants who will support the hobby for their entire collecting careers.

So, if you're ready to support the hobby please join us. Accept my invitation to become an active participant in your "stock and bond" or "bond and share" or "scripophily" or "wertpapiere" hobby.

Here are links to the International Bond and Share Society website and membership form. (Or click the button above.)