An area of numismatics that some find interesting is scripophily and notaphily. Scripophily is the collection of study of stock and bond certificates. Notaphilly is the collection of paper money or bank notes. Checks, while commonly classified as scripophilly is actually a part of notaphilly. Both areas spotlight the beauty of the engraving and the originality of the vignettes that adorn these paper items.
Just like other areas of numismatics, there is no “correct way” to collect scripophilly. Collectors look for items based on theme, age, historical significance, signatures, printer of the paper, paper quality, type of engraving, the beauty of the engraving, and so on. Themes can be developed for any collector to appreciate. For example, I own examples of the Monopoly railroad stock set. Other popular themes are automobile companies, high tech companies, popular food service companies, beverage companies, and more.
I was introduced to other areas of notaphilly when someone gave me US Military payment certificates (MPC) that would be used in the on-base post exchanges (PX). While historically interesting, I was intrigued by seeing a check signed by then New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt to pay a bill from an Albany-area merchant.
A common theme of these paper examples were the use of fine engraving to better secure the documents. The fine engraving attempted to discourage hand copying and be too fine for the evolving technology of photography from being able to image this paper. The idea was why create mundane designs when they can be made beautiful. This resulted in people wanting to collect these items for their beauty, history, and the function they represent.
The American Banknote Company is this country’s oldest security printing company. Tracing its history back over 200 years, ABN produced the country’s first postage stamp, US and world banknotes, and stock certificates for many companies. Some of the most beautiful and interesting security printing was created by ABN. ABN has maintained an archive of the items they have printed over the years. Now with the advent of new technologies, including digital printing services, ABN has been selling its archive in public auctions.
This week, H.R. Harmer, the auctioneer who sold Franklin D. Roosevelt’s stamp collection, announced they will be auctioning the final lots from the ABN archive. The auction will consist of over 1,400 lots of stock certificates and samples from world bank notes that will include examples from many well know companies.
The auction will be held January 31, February 1 and 2 in West Caldwell, New Jersey and as a live auction on eBay. You can view the items for auction on eBay or via H.R. Harmer’s catalog website. This should be fun!