Scripophily? What the heck is that?
Well, the term may sound as descriptive name of some strange personality disorder or even deviation but in reality it refers to fairly innocent and very interesting hobby which is about collecting and researching old securities such as shares, bonds, treasury bills and other financial documents other than banknotes or coins (which are taken care of by notaphily and numismatics).
All money related instruments are highly collectable but while collecting of coins dates back to ~ XVII century and collecting of banknotes to XIX century, old bonds and shares became collectible only in early 1970-ies when the process of converting paper certificates into book entry form have begun, and paper securities started to disappear.
Even today it is fairly exotic hobby as the total number of collectors worldwide is well below 50k figure.
What's being collected?
All sorts of financial documents but share certificates are the most popular, followed by bonds (debt instruments). Then there are bills of exchange, letters of credit, promissory notes, checks, talons and other paper documents.
How it's being collected?
Well, its really up to an individual to define the scope of ones interests. Some people focus on certain industrial sectors (like banking, insurance, oil, mining, textiles, sugar, transport, automotive...), other collect anything from particular country or region, but there are also collectors who collect old shares or bonds because of their decorative properties - like the guy I know who collects anything which has a picture of a bee :-)
Why it's being collected?
To satisfy possessive instinct, that's for sure. But in fact there are also other considerations because those documents provide an insight into economic and financial history and some of them are also very well designed and extremely decorative.
What do I collect?
All financial documents which are either Polish or related to Poland (like certificates issued by foreign companies operating in Poland) but also debt instruments from all countries but only those issued by central governments (government bonds).
Majority of those documents are just collectibles and have no value as financial instruments
but this is not always the case - sometimes such old documents are actually valid securities which can be cashed. This happens very seldom but when it does it adds to the excitement.
If you want to know more about this interesting hobby check the book of Keith Hollender "Scripophily - The Art of Finance" and my own blog:
major part of which is dedicated to Scripophily.
Few more pieces from my own collection - all scans were made by myself from original documents: