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.

Requirements for
"high-resolution" images

The goal

Everyone wants good color images. My goal is to acquire a sufficient number of "publishable" images for the next edition that we can all be proud of.

Suggestions for "high-resolution" images.

Just because a certificate is scanned at 200 dpi does NOT automatically mean the image is acceptable. Certificates can be very tricky to scan. That is why some 150 dpi scans are actually better than 300 dpi images.

I think there are two good tests to discover whether scans are sufficiently good to be classified as "high-resolution" images. You should:

  • be able to read the printer's name or equally fine type.
  • not see odd pixelation in blank areas areas that lack images or type.

Some certificates just will not cooperate. There are few hard and fast rules, but here are my best suggestions:

  • Scan at 200 dpi. 150 dpi bare minimum.
  • Scan at full scale (N-O-O-O! reduction.)
  • Scan in color.
  • Turn OFF automatic exposure.
  • Turn OFF automatic sharpening.
  • Scan entire certificates, including edges.
  • Scan against white backgrounds. (Admittedly, black backgrounds show edges. Big deal! Black backgrounds make certificates look dark and dull.)
  • You may scan large certificates in pieces.
    • Scan with at least two inches of overlap.
    • Scan all pieces facing the SAME direction on your scanner.
    • Do NOT bother patching together. (I'll fix.)
  • No need to straighten images. (I'll fix.)
  • No need to scan stubs, coupons, or backs.
  • Higher resolution (400-600 dpi) scans of autographs always appreciated.
  • If sending by e-mail, save as mid-to medium-high quality JPGs.
  • If sending on a disk, save as JPGs or TIFs.
  • If sending quantities electronically, use the free service.
  • Do NOT send images embedded in emails or some other file type. (Word, Acrobat, etc)
    • Image quality suffers.
    • Extraction takes too long.

Scanning knowledge.

I have compiled a large amount of information about scanning certificates into an entire separate part of this website. You will find many tips and examples.

For collectors who already sent "high-resolution" images.

If you sent an image, but I still show the listing as "HRN" (high resolution needed), that probably means that I had to reject the image for some reason. Here is a collection of reasons why your scan might not have been usable.

I usually keep low-resolution images of every certificate that comes in. Even then, I still reject some images for use on this website.

  • I do not use images with odd coloration.
  • I do not use images from electronic cameras because of lens distortion and flash burnout.
  • I rarely use incomplete images.
  • I do not use images with hands, fingers, or price tags showing.
  • I do not use images scanned through holders or through picture frames.
  • I do not use images of certificates scanned against colored backgrounds.
Send an email message with corrections, questions or comments about this page.
(Last updated October 23, 2015)


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