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.


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

Contributing high-resolution images

Scanning certificates requires different skills than scanning photos and ordinary documents. I have much information on this site specifically and entirely dedicated to scanning certificates.

Everyone who contributes will get credit -- if they want credit. In the interest of privacy, I will not include collectors' names without unless they request. And I will make sure I get an email saying so. Credit lines appear on the website like Image Courtesy of John Doe. (See Hints for displaying your certificates online for more information about broadcasting your name to the world.)

  • Scan at resolutions of at least 200 pixels per inch (79 pixels per cm.) Text on all certificates must be fully readable INCLUDING the printer's name. (If you can't read the printer's name in your scan, ramp up you dpi to 300 dpi or more. See more information at resolution.)
  • Scan in full color.
  • Scan against white backgrounds. No colored backgrounds. (See scanning regular vignetted certificates against colored backgrounds for more information.
  • Scan entire certificates. No cut-off borders.
  • You do NOT need to scan stubs or coupons. Whatever you do, do not fold stubs or coupons under certificates when scanning. (They always show through.)
  • Experiment with different exposure settings. Then turn off automatic exposure. The tight line work in vignettes confuses automatic exposure calculations. Whatever you do, avoid over-exposure. Light images are very hard to fix.
  • Turn off automatic sharpening. If your scanner will not allow you to turn off automatic sharpening, then scan at higher resolutions.
  • Scan and send large certificates in two, three or more pieces. Do NOT agonize over patching them together. All you need to do is make sure that you scan all the pieces with the top of the certificate facing the same direction. Otherwise, colors will NOT match. (Don't believe me, try it and see.) Scan with at least 2 " overlap. (See Scanning large certificates for more discussion.)
  • Do NOT agonize over alignment. I will fix scans that are not aligned.
  • Do NOT agonize over file naming or catalog numbering. I will handle all that.
  • Certificates do NOT need to be perfect. Tears, stains, cancellations, handwriting, revenue stamps, cut-outs, and other problems are part of the hobby.
  • Please send images of handwritten certificates. I receive very, very few.
  • Bonds; I always need images of bonds.
  • If you are going to send images by e-mail, save them as JPGs and send one at a time. If sending multiple images, send via (completely free). Or send on a a CD. If sending via WeTransfer or CD, you may save images in almost any format, but JPGs and TIFs are preferred. Mac users, please make images readable by PCs. I have conversion software, but I sometimes need to send out to a sub-contractor.
  • When you save images as JPGs, all software I have seen will allow you to adjust your file sizes. Depending on your software, select medium quality, medium compression, or medium file size. (Learn more about file formats.)
  • Some software provided with the current breed of entry-level scanners does NOT do a good job when saving as JPGs. If your scanner is giving poor results, try saving as TIFs. Be aware, however, that sub-$100 scanners can make truly excellent scans. It just takes a little practice.
  • What if your scanner makes your certificates look non-rectangular? Don't worry. I can fix that easily.
  • If, no matter what you try, your scans don't look the way you think they should, explain your problems to me. I have scanned well over a 50,000 individual maps and images, thousands of certificates plus probably a million pages on my scanners. I HAVE most assuredly encountered your problem. I suspect I can help you fix.
  • Still insist on stitching your images together, even though I'll be glad to do it for you? Go to Microsoft Research and download Image Composite Editor for F‑ R‑E‑E. The hardest part of ICE is installation. Using ICE, I have stitched together images of huge bonds with nine separate scans, all from a small scanner and all aligned with the pieces facing different directions!
Send an email message with corrections, questions or comments about this page.
(Last updated November 11, 2018)


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.



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.

© Copyright 2021 by Terry Cox