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Tips for Scripophilists: Caring for your collection of old stock and bond certificates

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Once you become a scripophilist, your growing collection of old stock and bond certificates will increase in value and should therefore be maintained carefully. When acquiring old securities, the first thing we recommend is to verify if there is a need for cleaning and/or repairing. Once satisfied with the appearance of your certificates, you will want to store them in a safe place. The final step, of course, is deciding how to display the crown jewels of your collection to the world...

1. Cleaning

Tips for Scripophilists: Cleaning your collection of old stock and bond certificatesDirt. Many certificates, due to lengthy storage in dusty warehouses or attics, can be carrying a lot of dirt. The latter can be removed using a soft plastic eraser. In the case of greasy dirt, however, try white bread rolled into balls. Remember that using water for cleaning is always risky because the original ink may run if it gets wet

Glued-on Attachments. Usually found on cancelled certificates coming from a company’s original shareholder’s records, glued-on attachments can usually be removed by wetting the stuck parts. Steam from a boiling kettle is also an effective way to separate attachments, but this process makes the paper limp and can spoil the certificate. Blotting-paper is ideal to dry any part you wetted and weight (a heavy book will do) should be used to keep the piece flat while drying. Remember that leaving wet paper in the open air will often leave wrinkles...

Wrinkles and Folding Creases. Before treating wrinkles and creases, make note that most securities are engraved on paper, but documents issued in the fist part of the 19th century and earlier were printed on vellum (animal-skin). As such, a cool or warm iron may be used to flatten paper certificates, but not vellum. Always work the iron carefully on the reverse side of the document, placing the latter between two sheets of clean uncolored paper, and stay away from waxed or embossed seals. To avoid a flat, "ironed" look, many people limit ironing to corners, edges and tears.

Staples and Pins. We strongly recommend to remove any metallic insertions such as staples and pins as they tend to rust over time.

Stains. Discoloration caused by the old-style brown adhesive tape can be removed with trichloroethane, available from pharmacies. Use as little as possible and keep it away from ink.

2. Repairing

Tips for Scripophilists: Repairing your collection of old stock and bond certificatesTears and Holes. The most common type of damage found on collectible stocks and bonds are tears, splits at the folds and holes. If you wish to repair such deterioration, we recommend the use of archival repair tape or, as an alternative, fine tissue paper with a flour-and-water paste. Stay away from glue, gum or ordinary sellotape and never stick a “backing” to the damaged piece.

If you need help, you can use the services of professional paper conservationists who will often deal with tears, holes, ink stains as well as foxing. Naturally, costs will vary according to the amount of work involved. Ultimately, restoration work can make most damages virtually invisible. This will certainly enhance your pleasure of owning a piece while increasing its market value.

3. Storing

Tips for Scripophilists: Storing your collection of old stock and bond certificates Albums. As your collection increases in both volume and value, you want to use a storage method which allows easy access to your certificates and maximum protection from physical deterioration. To this date, albums with acid-free pages is still the best alternative. When choosing a size, make sure that the page dimension fits the largest piece in your collection. Once completed, your album should always be kept away from sunlight, heat and humidity...

4. Displaying

Tips for Scripophilists: Displaying your collection of old stock and bond certificatesFraming. Displaying old stocks and bonds is the pride and joy of all scripophilists and framing is still the most popular way to show a collection. For that purpose, pieces should be mounted on acid-free paper without any adhesive and the frames hanged away from direct sunlight, heat sources or humid areas. As with your albums, this will preserve both the certificates and their respective value as collectibles.

Wall Papering. If you wish to decorate a wall, we recommend mounting the certificates on a board with Masonite backing using mounting spray glue. This will enable you to remove any of the documents on display without damaging them. However, remember that using adhesives like non-removable glue or plastic will alter the collectible value of a certificate.

Be Creative. Here are some fun ideas for displaying inexpensive collectibles: Create your own custom calendar, make a montage under the glass of a display table, laminate the certificate on a piece of wood and give it as an appreciation award or use cork to create unusual table mats! Again, keep in mind that permanent attachment or alteration will reduce the collectible value of the certificate itself.

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