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.

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

Sending information from eBay
and other online sources

Hundreds of collectors from all around the world contribute information to this large and long-running project.

I am incredibly honored!

The best information comes from personal collections. Most correspondents send scanned images and serial numbers from their collections. Once they exhaust that kind of information, some try to continue contributing by searching the web for new material. With its ever-changing selection, eBay is an excellent place to find images and serial numbers.

Unfortunately, I have a dramatic lack of time. The wealth of material available on eBay conflicts with my lack of time. On average, I spend about 10 hours per week recording information about railroad stocks and bonds. I cannot possibly spend one more minute than I already do.

Hence my policy since June, 2006. I must refuse to follow links to any eBay or online sales. Many collectors feel they are doing me favors by sending links to eBay and other online sites. I appreciate their kind thoughts and their contributions. However, I simply cannot use that kind of help anymore. I tried for several years, but discovered the time spent following eBay and online sales links was unsustainable.

Few people know how much time it takes to add information to the database. Let me explain.

The process. Every single piece of new information that appears creates a time commitment.

  1. To record or compare any information, I must first search the database for the proper company name.
  2. Next, I search for the proper certificate.
  3. If I find the correct certificate, I record its serial number, date (year only) and shares. I record sales prices if reported. If reported prices are significantly higher or lower than my current price estimate, I research further to determine whether there is a trend. If so, I adjust my price estimate up or down.
  4. Next, I number any images supplied and reference them to contributors and sources.
  5. I then straighten and improve images. If I don't already have images online, I add them to the online database and upload the new images to the web.
  6. If contributors send high-resolution images, I record appropriate source and date information and store images on my hard drives.
  7. If I have never seen certificates before, I add new listings and catalog numbers. Recording information for new certificates takes three to four times as long as certificates that have already been recorded.

As most of you know, I collect sales prices from eBay every day. As I am sure you can imagine, it is a waste of time if I need to deal with the exact same certificate twice. Unfortunately, that is precisely what happens when someone sends an image from eBay. Chances are extremely high that I have already recorded information about the very same certificate.

Even worse, some people like to extract images from eBay before sales close. Again, while I greatly appreciate their attempts at helping, it ultimately forces me go through the entire process again when the item sells days or weeks later. Consequently, I beg contributors...

Please, do not send images from eBay sales until sales close. I have measured the number of minutes it takes to enter similar information from both open and closed eBay sales. As it turns out, the process for recording items from open eBay sales takes exactly as long to accomplish. The only problem is that I have not gained any new price information!

If I record an unsold eBay item and then the item sells sometime later, I must go through my entire process a second time simply to record prices. In other words, it takes two separate searches and twice as long to add information from open eBay sales as it does from closed sales.

This peculiarity with eBay sales has caused me to observe that...

"Information is valuable, but not uniformly valuable."

For those interested in a greater discussion of the eBay conundrum, please see Links to eBay and other online resources.

Yes, I know, some eBay information can be quite valuable. But even valuable information has its limits. I already spend the beginning of every morning gathering information about all railroad certificates that sold on eBay (US) during the previous 24 hours. This allows me to gather an ever-changing panoply of price information.

Because of my lack of time, I limit my price gathering to items that sell for $19.50 or more. Although I have kept that minimum price stable for several years, I envision a time when I will adjust it up or down in order to maintain a uniform time-commitment.

In case you're wondering, no, I do NOT gather images or information about unsold eBay certificates! Yes, I fully recognize that kind of information is potentially valuable. However, I purposely avoid recording that information because items that do not initially sell on eBay generally reappear a few days later. If sellers are sufficiently insightful, they lower their starting prices and subsequently sell later. Rightly or wrongly, I always assume I will encounter unsold certificates at later times. Yes, I know some certificates NEVER reappear. I am under-concerned.

I have a simple request for contributors. I beg you to understand that I already spend too much unpaid time on this project. As for eBay sales, I spend approximately twelve to fifteen hours per week capturing and cataloging eBay sales. With so many other sources of valuable information, spending more time with eBay is a very poor use of my time.

Yes, new, scarce and rare certificates appear on eBay every week. However, the vast majority of eBay certificates are neither new, scarce nor rare. And no matter how we slice or dice the direction of the market, prices achieved on eBay are very, very low compared to professional dealers and live auctions. I must research and quantify the entire market, not just eBay.

It embarrasses me when I need to reply to contributions negatively, so I have made these general guidelines:

  • If you find NEW or RARE certificates on eBay, please wait until they sell. If they sell for more than $19.50 on eBay (US), then you do probably do not need to do anything. I will almost certainly encounter them during my daily price research.
  • If you see NEW or RARE certificates that sell on eBay (UK), eBay (DE), or elsewhere, assume I am picking up those images, prices, and serial numbers also. But feel free to check me.
  • If you find new NEW or RARE certificates that sell for less than $19.50, then that information may be very valuable. Please send images, prices, and serial numbers.
  • If you find NEW or RARE certificates that do not sell, then you decide whether to send them or not. As I mentioned above, I usually avoid recording information about unsold eBay items because most items usually reappear for sale multiple times until sold.
  • Please do NOT send lists of serial numbers from eBay.
  • Whatever you do, please do NOT send links to eBay sales or any other online sources. I will NOT research them.

Thank you for your understanding.

But wait! There is another reason I purposely reject eBay links. You see, I have had collectors send eBay links for items they were bidding on, only to ask me not to bid. While I rarely bid on eBay certificates, I will not be hamstrung by such absurd requests. The best way to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest is to simply reject ALL links to eBay sales.

Again, I thank you for your understanding.

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(Last updated October 18, 2015)

 

I strongly recommend buying the Cox Catalog from your favorite SCRIPOPHILY DEALERS. Catalog cover
If they do not yet carry, or are out of stock, you may buy directly from the author.
$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.