About Scripophily

Scripophily is the study and collection of stock and bond certificates. It is commonly considered as a specialized field of numismatics. Scripophily is an interesting area of collecting due to both the inherent beauty of many of these documents as well as their interesting historical background.

Mainly stock and bond certificates are the core interest of scripophily. They are very different financial instruments and are issued by corporations for different reasons. Stock certificates (‘shares’, or ‘parts’, ‘acciones’ and ‘Anteile’ in non-English) indicate part ownership of a company, society or association. Bond certificates represent a debt of a company, society or federal, statal or municipal authority. The most common bonds are debentures, treasury notes, obligations or just bonds. Many bonds have been secured by mortgages or future tax income. War or governmental bonds occasionally are combined with lotteries.

Besides bonds and stock certificates cheques and promissory notes usually are considered as scripophily items but only a small number of collectors work in that field. Member certificates are treated as scripophily in some cases, e. g. for societal/cooperative companies. Insurance papers usually are not collected by scripophilists but in auctions we see 16th century French ‘rente viagere’ (eternal live rent) for decades (at low prices..). Also usually offered in greater auctions are indentures who are issued by or issued to famous historical persons, mostly of noble origin. Normally an indenture is a private treaty and thus not considered scripophily.

Our hobby has a wide ‘natural’ border to the large field of banknotes: Bond coupons have been functioning as paper money in certain historic eras like the Russian revolution or the Confederate war (Louisiana baby bond, see below).

Scripophily, the collecting of old stocks and bonds, gained recognition as a hobby around 1970. The word “scripophily” was coined by combining words from English and Greek. The word “scrip” represents an ownership right and the word “philos” means to love.

As paper certificates are no longer issued, scripophily can be defined as ‘closed’ field of collection and therefore is bound to gain in attractivness and rising prices of the pieces.

If you want to discuss this definition with us we invite you to do so in our forum.

If you want to learn more about scripophily we strongly recommend our “Scripophily Guide” by Howard Shakespeare. It provides a comprehensive study on the hobby with a narrow but comprehensive focus on bonds and shares only. The document has 32 pages (PDF, 3 MB).

For a Chinese translation of the definition of ‘scripophily’ from Wikipedia view about scripophily in chinese (thanks to our member Abe Tse).