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.

Do individual coupons have value?

In my opinion, NO!

Since 2004, correspondents from North America and Europe have alerted me to online sites where people are attempting to sell individual coupons as collectibles.

The key word is "collectibles." If you are wondering whether coupons retain redeemable cash value, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Two types of coupons routinely appear for sale on eBay. The majority come from readily available collectible bonds. Coupons are merely removed from those bonds, clipped apart and then offered for sale in efforts to turn inexpensive collectibles into $5, $10 or $20 collectibles.

The second type are coupons that were redeemed and cancelled as intended. Bondholders were instructed to remove coupons twice a year and return them to companies for payment of semi-annual interest. I have no idea how this second group of coupons found their way from companies back into the hands of collectors, but a substantial number of those coupons do exist and some represent pieces of bonds that are now extinct.

Yes, coupons from bonds destroyed long ago COULD be considered collectible and COULD be listed in someone's catalog. It is the position of this project NOT to list individual coupons regardless of their origins. I take this position for one simple, over arching reason:

  • I want to prevent the destruction of potentially valuable collectibles by keeping them as intact as possible for future collectors.

Although thankfully few are sold, coupons routinely appear for sale on Ebay. Would-be collectors need to understand that most of the coupons offered there were removed from inexpensive collectible bonds. At the same time, anyone who is a genuine collector knows that collectors want documents in conditions as close to original as possible. By removing coupons, sellers are decreasing the collectible values of intact certificates.

Almost as important is a secondary effort to protect unsuspecting beginning collectors from being defrauded. Numbers of sellers have already photographed, promoted and deceptively sold single coupons as "collectible currency." I cannot imagine any of them stopping of their own accord. Since eBay is not going to take any action, the only obvious mechanism for preventing destruction of more certificates is to educate beginners.

This project endeavors to inform beginners that coupons are NOT currency and NEVER WERE currency. Moreover, the only buyers that holders of coupons are going to find in the future will be other beginners. While some amateur sellers may be entirely innocent in offering their coupons as "collectibles," con artists are not. Regardless of intent, this project takes the position that both groups are destroying perfectly good collectible bonds in order to wrest money from unsuspecting beginners.

It is the unyielding opinion of this project that coupon-chopping is extremely harmful to our hobby and needs to be stopped.

Here's the way it works. Procure inexpensive coupon bonds that still have coupons attached. Remove the coupons, and sell coupons individually for a few dollars. That SEEMS innocent enough. But, if sellers can trick a sufficient number of beginners, they can take a bond worth $10 or $20 and make a couple hundred dollars profit.

Sheet of 40 coupons still attached to a 1902
Pueblo & Suburban Traction & Lighting Co. bond.

I receive inquiries about coupons and most seem to come from people unfamiliar with the stock and bond hobby. Based on the wording of inquiries, it appears a large percentage of correspondents believe coupons are "bonds" or some form of tiny currency.

It tears me apart to tell them that individual coupons have little if any value as collectibles.

Admittedly, some coupons might have value to more advanced collectors IF they came from bonds that no longer exist. In thirty-plus years of tracking stock and bond prices, however,

  • not a single experienced collector has reported that they have ever bought individual coupons
  • not a single collector has ever told me they consider individual coupons to have value
  • though I have asked, not a single major dealer has ever told me they think individual coupons have collectible value.

 

Please understand that I am not saying that no one collects coupons; I am merely saying no dealer or advanced collector has reported to me that they support the destruction of intact coupon bonds as sources for individual coupons.

 

I also have a concern that once beginners realize they have been duped into thinking coupons have value, they are going to blame the hobby instead of sellers. I don't want that.

Yes, yes, I know. The stock and bond hobby is not in the business of enforcing ethics. We all know there is no mechanism by which the hobby can keep beginners free from all possible deception.

However, I can tell readers that I believe it is entirely UNACCEPTABLE to take advantage of ignorance!

There are excellent opportunities to help beginners get off to good starts. I have corresponded with many hundreds of experienced collectors and dealers. I don't know any who are unwilling to help beginners in one way or another.

If YOU have already bought clipped coupons, I hope your purchase price was a low entry fee for learning about the hobby of collecting genuine, historic stocks and bonds.

While I am only a single individual, I promote this hobby as strongly as a can. I feel very strongly that this is a terrific hobby with genuinely scarce certificates still available at great prices. Before you buy more coupons, why not explore the hobby more? Why not decide for yourself whether spending more money on coupons is in your best interest? If you bought coupons as tiny collectibles, why not expand your collection by purchasing one of the actual bonds that spawned the coupon that introduced you to this hobby?

I further plead with you to visit the many wonderful dealers I list. Be aware that all sell stocks and bonds, but none sell coupons. (If any do, I remove them immediately.)

What if you think your coupon might retain redeemable cash value?

It is possible that some uncancelled coupons might retain cash value. The only way to confirm is to confer with experts who make it their business to research antique and extinct securities. It is a specialized field and they charge for their services. Please see my Security Values page for more info.

Before you commit to spending money on research, understand that if your coupon says it was worth $20 at some time in the pasat, it is still worth $20 today and no more. Neither coupons nor their source bonds compounded interest after their redemption dates.

 

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.
$49.95+post


 

 


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.