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How you can help
The hobby needs your help!
This book and website is dedicated entirely to collectors. I want to help keep the collecting of railroad stocks and bonds FUN. I want you to know that YOU can help participate in the discovery. Hobbies like coins and stamps are very mature; this hobby is still quite new. So new, in fact, that every collector can contribute new knowledge.
I guarantee that you can contribute knowledge to the hobby. You can join my impossible quest of cataloging every certificate out there that involved railroading in North America.
I need your help because I cannot do this alone.
The best place to start
There are many ways you can help. You can start by spending a few minutes looking at Information Recorded. This gives you a quick rundown on every type of information I record. In general, almost everyone can help by sending:
Copies of certificates I have missed
Most collectors have certificates not listed in the database. The single best way you can help is by sending good color scans or good photocopies.
Oftentimes, missing certificates may seem plentiful. If seemingly common certificates are not listed in the database, that means no one took the time to send good images. That frequently happens with common certificates. Some certificates are so common that dealers never show them in their catalogs and so I never see them.
Also, be alert for undiscovered varieties among common certificates. Here is a curious phenomena. Advanced collectors seldom look hard for variations among common varieties, but beginners do! Beginners have reported huge numbers of minor variations that experts have ignored.
I will stress this again. All collectors, even raw beginners, have something to contribute. And, so far, almost everyone who has tried to help has found something new to add.Serial numbers
I add hundreds of new serial numbers every month. However, it is an EXTREMELY time-consuming chore. To save time, my primary criteria for adding serial numbers are:
Now for the ugly truth.
By themselves, serial numbers don't help much. They leave nothing for me to review in the future. They give us no way to spot undiscovered new varieties. They leave us with no way to detect possible errors. Raw serial numbers give us no way to verify autographs, number prefixes or suffixes, officers, shareholders, issue dates, printed portions of dates, seals, cancellations, printers, sales prices or any other kind of information. In other words, raw serial numbers without images are of little value.
"But they show us which certificates are rare and which ones are common." No, they give us evidence of past contributions and sales, not rarity.
I beg you in the strongest possible way, please do NOT send lists of serial numbers from eBay sales. There are simply too many certificates for sale on eBay. If I recorded every number on eBay, we would have a nice database, but I would have no time for anything else.
As a rule, I do not enter serial numbers without supporting information of some kind, preferably images. And preferably images of items from your collection. Black and white or color photocopies are also okay. If sending photocopies, please write notes on the back or along the edges, not across images.
Photos are okay, although because of their inevitable coloration and distortion, I will not use them online.
I know that many people would really want to help by serial numbers or images from eBay. I truly appreciate their thoughts and willingness. However, I simply do not have the time. Instead, you can help much more by sending higher quality information from your own collections.
The truth is, scans are the best way to help. And you do NOT need a large size scanner.
If sending scans, my recommendations are:
Scanning certificates is somewhat of an art. Before scanning, please read some of the valuable information in a special section of this website about scanning certificates.
If sending photocopies, reduce certificates to fit on 8-1/2 by 11 paper. Ordinary black and white copies are okay. There is no need for color copies. Make a note at the bottom about the color of your certificate. There is no need to record sizes. There is no need to copy backs or coupons.
Information about questionable
Unfortunately, I do not have the time or resources to research all the companies that might have been related to railroading. If you are a hobbyist who enjoys corporate research, please see a special page on Questionable companies.
Many of you are incredibly serious about railroading. And many of you have discovered very obscure facts about companies.
As much as I like research, I simply do not have the time to research railroads, or record every morsel of information that comes my way. Remember, my goal is to catalog certificates from every company that operated or intended to operate in North America. While those certificates are historical, my goal is not railroad history.
Yes, I keep some information about railroad companies, but it is minimal. I appreciate additional information such as:
Yes, I also record information about corporate officers and I record short articles about individual companies. Because time is limited, I have a couple minimal requirements for those endeavors.
Corporate officers. Names of presidents, chief executive officers or chairmen of boards and the exact time spans they were in office are valuable to many readers. On the other hand, single dates are not helpful.
Articles about companies. Generally, articles about individual companies should be three or fewer paragraphs and should involve one and only one company. If you are going to write about a company that operated under two previous names, then write three smaller articles. Yes, I could certainly take the time to break those kinds of articles into separate pieces. But why? If I had the time to untangle complicated histories, I would write articles myself.
Remember, this is a site about collectible stocks and bonds. Thus, articles are meant to help collectors learn general information about the companies they collect. Information about precise track alignments, accidents, corporate takeovers and intricate financing is far beyond the scope of this website. Yes, that kind of information is FUN. But think realistically. People seeking that kind of information are going to find better information elsewhere. We need a '30,000-foot view,' not a view 'from the weeds.'
Please be aware that my PRIMARY concern is time.
It is so important to me that I must say it again. Time is my absolute top priority. Every other concern is of lower priority. Consequently the more you can help me save time in this giant quest, the more fun both of us will have.
I strongly recommend buying the Cox Catalog 3rd Edition from your favorite
If they do not carry, or are out of stock, you may buy directly from me. Simply click the buy button below.
Help 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.
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.