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What is a Bearer Bond?

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Pick any action movie ever made and chances are someone is trying to steal a boatload of bearer bonds. My first introduction to them was in the Bruce Willis classic Die Hard but my favorite movie involving guns and bearer bonds was Heat. As a kid, all I knew was that bearer bonds were valuable. Very valuable.

They were so valuable that guys would arm themselves with automatic weapons and assault rifles just to steal a bunch of them. As a kid, and honestly that’s all you needed to know to understand the plot, I thought bearer bonds were the bee’s knees. Move over Benjamins, I want some bearer bonds.

Only later did I learn that, while still awesome, bearer bonds were just bonds… and bonds are actually quite boring.

What is a Bearer Bond?

We all know what a bond is, a debt security issued by a government or other organization, and a bearer bond is one where there is no registered owner. The bearer of the bond, that is the person who produces it, is considered the owner of the bond. If you sell it to me, we don’t have to transfer any records or record it anywhere.

The appeal is in its simplicity – no records, no red tape, just hand over the piece of paper and we’re done. The risk is that if you lose it, either because of theft, fire, or act of God, it’s gone. Kaput.

So if you ever see a bearer bond, snatch it up… possession is actually ten tenths of the law.

Now you can see why bearer bonds are so appealing to thieves. :)

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13 Responses to “What is a Bearer Bond?”

  1. Daniel says:

    Um, die hard was a great movie, I can’t believe anything would be out for such a specific category of “movies that involve bearer bonds.”

    Still, I had no idea about bearer bonds, it’s good to know. What do they look like? I’d have no idea what to look for.

    • billsnider says:

      They were an official looking piece of paper with seals and logos on them. On the bottom were little tear off coupons. When the interest was due, you clipped the coupon and took them to a bank, the issuer or any agency that accepted them for cash.

      Seems silly today in the electronic age, but then years from now people will think that this electronic age is silly.

      Bill Snider

  2. dividend says:

    They were quite common years ago when you have to go with your papers to receive the cupons, but know almost all the new ones are registered somewhere.

  3. moljacks says:

    Bearer bonds are one of those things that we all know about and yet know nothing about! Thanks for the info!

  4. cubiclegeoff says:

    I’ve never heard of them, but I can see the appeal for thieves.

  5. Andrew says:

    Pretty interesting insight Jim! Now it makes total sense why these are so prominent in some of these movies! Awesome!

    • Jim says:

      I’m just going through all the money “mysteries” from my childhood… bearer bonds was just one of those things I never really thought.

  6. Matt K says:

    die hard > heat. sorry to disagree :)

  7. jsbrendog says:

    so are these bonds prevalent these days or kind of a dinosaur of the (not too distant) past?

  8. zapeta says:

    How interesting, I can see why you’d want to steal these. Makes for an interesting movie plot at least.

  9. just saw that you can’t purchase them anymore


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