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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Old stock papers go up in value

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Old stock papers go up in value

By ZLATI MEYER

Free Press Business Writer

Male and female allegorical figures sit side by side, a gearshift and a compass at his feet and a globe and tree branch at her side. They are intricately drawn in shades of orange, matching the detailed bordering -- as detailed as the pictures on a dollar bill.

This steel-plated engraving isn't hanging in a museum; it's decorating a General Motors stock certificate.

To some people, the Oct. 11, 1950, piece of paper, representing shares of common stock bought by Reing & Co., is art, and dealers, like Lawrence Falater of Hillsdale County, sell them across the U.S.

Falater, a retired Chrysler financial adviser, is now earning money from another Detroit automaker, thanks to GM's initial public offering -- alas, paperless -- last month. He sold 500 antique stock certificates at the Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show in Lansing in October. Still in his possession, though, are three shares of preferred stock bought by Miss Jennie E. Murray on Nov. 22, 1916, when it was called General Motors Co., not General Motors Corp .

GM's stock came in at least three designs and Falater has GM certificates featuring an Art Deco-inspired etching of a car, a bus and a train, as well as a majestic woman sitting astride a lion.

"GM is the greatest bankruptcy in my lifetime," he said, noting it has improved the value of old GM stock certificates. "That's the one everyone's talking about...Some people, of course, save them, because they like the beautiful art or nostalgia."

Falater, himself a collector for 50 years, sells antique stock certificates issued by numerous car companies -- Ford, Packard, Studebaker and Moon Motor Carriage. His oldest holdings include one from New England Motor Carriage that made steam-powered cars between 1898 and 1899.

Collecting stock and bond certificates -- a subset of numismatics called scripophily (scrip-AW-full-ee) -- is history, business and art in one. Price is determined by age, condition of the certificate, the company, whose signatures are on it, type of stock, number of shares on the certificate and, of course, the artwork, among other factors.

"The engraving that adorns these certificates is really a spectacular art and is worthy of collection in and of itself, because of the beauty and the incredible detail," said the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business dean Robert Bruner, a business historian and a scripophily collector. "The intention was to add complexity to the security, so it was impossible to counterfeit."

While Falater's colorful sheets start at $5, some of the rarer ones, like a Dec. 10, 1908, Ford Motor of Canada certificate -- No. 96 for 10 shares -- signed by Henry Ford is worth about $25,000.

Among his most prized is one with the signatures of all 12 of Ford's original shareholders, believed to be one of only two in the world.

Now that companies usually issue electronic, not paper, certificates, this truly is a lost art, according to Bob Kerstein, president of the Professional Scripophily Trade Association. "Most companies didn't treasure these the way people do now," he said.

Read more: Old stock papers go up in value | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101208/BUSINESS01/12080341/Old-stock-papers-go-up-in-value#ixzz17Wmb9iZx

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Due to my interest & the significance within the whole story- I have always wanted to get a Tucker stock certificate, tho at this point they, like the cars, are outside of what I am willing to spend.

Article would have been 10 times more interesting had they bothered to get a shot of one of these stock certificates beyond a thumbnail.

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