Did you find old stock certificates in a relative’s home or safe deposit box? Did you recognize the decorative pieces of paper as what they are?
Stumbling on old stock papers could feel like you hit the lottery of forgotten investments. Before you try to cash in on them, make sure you do your research.
While paper certificates were once the only way to prove ownership of your stock investments, the practice has almost entirely transitioned to electronic formats for buying, selling, and maintaining ownership of stocks. Keep reading to learn five important things about stock certificates!
1. They Could Be Valuable in Other Ways
Old stock certificates were once a valuable way to build your wealth. As proof of purchase, you received official pieces of paper showing the value of your stocks. Depending on each certificate and how many shares you owned, a stack of stock papers could be worth a significant amount of money.
Today, the value of old stock certificates depends on a variety of factors. The biggest thing to find out is if the company that issued the certificates still exists.
If not, your old certificates could be valuable as a collectible—but nothing more. Curious to learn more about the value of old stocks? Find more info here.
2. They Make Good Wallpaper
During the stock market crash of 1929, stocks became worth less than the paper used to make the certificates. During that time, people often used their worthless stock certificates to wallpaper their homes.
It was both practical to make use of the paper, as well as a tribute to former signs of wealth.
3. They Were Used as Currency
Using stock certificates to make large purchases was once common practice. Rather than take out a loan or write a check, if you had the funds available through stocks, you could sign over your certificates and complete a purchase.
Only three companies in the U.S. could legally print certificates, much like the country’s official currency must come from a federal mint.
4. They Have Eye-Catching Designs
A company’s stock certificates were highly recognizable by the eye-catching design that went into creating the “official” papers. Companies extended their branding through distinctive artwork that made their certificates as desirable as the impression of wealth that came with owning the stock.
5. They Have Identifying Information
While the certificate itself might not be worth much, researching the stock can be an adventure. Every official certificate contains critical pieces of information that make it valid:
- The company’s name
- A CUSIP number
- The location of incorporation
Use the CUSIP number to find out if your stock has any value other than as a collectible.
Stock Certificates Are a Valuable Piece of History
If you find old stock certificates, you have a valuable piece of history! Whether your certificates still have value as a stock or not, you have a unique item to show off with friends or family!
We hope this information was helpful! Be sure to check out more of our articles.