What is Scripophily?
Scripophily, which is pronounced Scrip-o-fil-ly, is the name for
collecting old Stocks and Bonds.

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The first shares (and trading in them) go back to 2000 BC, but trading in the
sense we know it dates from around 1000 AD, in the Italian port of Amalfi,
where maritime ventures were divided into shares, which could be bought
and sold. This form of maritime share continued until the 19th century, and
was the basis for the initial finance of companies such as the East India

Bonds were first issued in Italy; those of the City of Florence were certainly
traded before 1328. The earliest companies did not issue ownership
certificates, but entered holdings in a register, just issuing a receipt for the
money, and often a certificate of entry in the stock register. The 16th century
saw bonds from England, France, Holland, and Germany, and the first
exchanges for organised trading. The first such exchange was in Antwerp,
and others soon followed in Amsterdam and other major cities in Europe.

The earliest 'joint stock company' is believed to be a Swedish Mining
Company formed in the 14th century, but few others appeared before 1600.
About that time, the first of the great trading companies were founded in
Holland, England, and France. The earliest collectible bonds and shares,
mainly from England, France, Holland, and Italy, date from the late 17th
century. More collectible material exists from the 18th century, almost all of it
from these four countries and Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the U.S.A.

The period 1800-1940 is the source of the great majority of the pieces we can
collect. Fine certificates illustrate graphically the development of Railroads,
Oil, Aviation and the Automotive Industry in the United States, Banking,
Insurance, Shipping, Canals and Railways in Europe, Metal Mining in the
Americas and the British and French Empires and consumer businesses
such as Brewing, Sugar Production, Tobacco and Textiles. The investments
of great financiers and 'robber barons' can be traced through the stock
certificates they owned.

Collectors also seek the occasional modern share, if of particular interesting
design or a well-known company name. Printed shares today are gradually
being discontinued in line with modern electronic trading practice.

(The above is an extract from the forthcoming I.B.S.S. publication, Scripophily
Guide. Copyright is retained by the International Bond & Share Society,
London, 1998).