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What To Do With Old Stock & Bond Certificates

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AIG Stock CertificateBetween buying single shares of stock and money trivia about the $500 bill, I’ve been on a “fun money” kick lately. All too often personal finance blogs talk about boring, but important, topics like Roth IRA conversions and the best CD rates, and not enough about fun stuff like coin collecting and old stock certificates.

Well today we’re going to talk about what you should do if you find yourself in possession of some old stock or bond certificates. As we learned when we looked at buying single shares of stock, they used to issue certificates back in the day. The paper certificate in your name was soon replaced with a certificate in street name, which helped facilitate the transfer of ownership. But, like we do with paper money in winter coats, sometimes we forget where we put things… so this is what you should do if you find an old certificate.

Find Out If It’s Worth Anything

Like a financial version of Antiques Roadshow, you never know if your stock certificate might be worth something. You might not recognize the company name but over the years many companies have changed names, been acquired, acquired other companies, etc. You may have yourself a stock certificate that is worth something because the underlying shares are worth something. On the other hand, the company may no longer exist but you have something of value because it’s a piece of history or because it has someone’s signature on it.

To find out if your old stock certificate is worth anything, the SEC recommends Scripophily.com and several other paid services. I’ve never used Scripophily but if the SEC says they’re good, I have to believe they’re legitimate.

Before you pay someone to research the shares, you can save yourself some time and money by doing a quick look yourself. You can check Google Finance to see if the company is still around. If they’re not, then the certificate only has collectible value (vs. actual value). If you want to do the research yourself, this page will list all the places you can go to look up old stock certificates like Chapital Changes Reporter, Directory of Corporate Affiliates, Directory of Obsolete Securities, Fisher Manuals, etc.

Frame It

If you discover that the stock is worthless, frame your piece of capitalist history and showcase it to the world! Go to your local arts and crafts store, pick out a nice frame, and stick your shares in something you can proudly show off. I’m certain it would look cool and maybe be a good topic of conversation, as you discuss how the company was founded back in 1850 and was one of the most well respect companies in the world (if you had shares of Lehman Brothers that is!).

At best you have yourself a valuable piece of history, that you can show off or sell, and at worst a nice keepsake worth talking about.

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10 Responses to “What To Do With Old Stock & Bond Certificates”

  1. cubiclegeoff says:

    Thanks for the info. I know some older relatives that still have paper stock of some existing companies and it will be interesting in the future to see how they deal with them.

  2. Evan says:

    My Dad has a really cool framed stock certificate from a railroad in the early 1900s he received from his father. Cool stuff

  3. billsnider says:

    I had several shares in one company. I sold all but one share. the broker thought i was kidding. I framed it as a reminder of the money I made on it. Also enjoyed getting invited to shareholder meetings. They treated me like I owned the place (which I kinda did). Not sure where that share is today.

    Bill Snider

  4. zapeta says:

    I have some paper stock certificates in the lock box at the bank although I technically converted the stock to electronic shares at some point. If nothing else the paper shares are cool to look at!

    • jsbrendog says:

      this is why i wish i knew where they were (mentioned below and i left out of the comment, oops)

      i really wonder what they looked like. alas, i was too young to remember

  5. jsbrendog says:

    i recently had a huge issue with BNY mellon as they were the middle man in the privatization and purchase of all the stock i had. I didn’t know where the certificates were and was told to cash in I’d need to pay $100 to have them reproduced. Waited, called again, another rep said naaaaaaaaaaah that’s dumb you don’t need to tdo that. we’ll send you the money.

  6. eric says:

    lol I’m liking the “fun money” kick. It keeps things different.

  7. Grinebiter says:

    Old Stock Certificates can be very valuable. For old stock certificates valuation see
    http://grinebiter.com/OldStock/Certificates/Worth.html Maybe you have some old treasures?

  8. MARTINES says:

    Someone has PETCHILI CHINESE BONDS, dated 1913 of 20 Pounds for sell ? Let us know. Thanks,

  9. Roger King says:

    I am interest in Petchili bond for mutual great benefit. Need KCY and POL ASAP for immediate payment or acess to guaranted trader platform. Please promptly reply with terms and picture authenitcation.

    I am bank officers liason at large Investment Bank.


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