A petroleum stock certificate’s vignette often is an important part of its value for scripophily – the buying and selling of certificates as collectibles after they have no redeemable value as a security.

Ornate vignettes and borders like those on this Civil War era Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company certificate have value to collectors.

Although the society’s budget prevents researching frequent requests regarding company histories (time consuming), a society volunteer may have information.

To begin research, look for your company in the extensive research posted on Is my old Oil Stock worth Anything? 

You are then invited to post questions about your certificate in the comments section on our Stock Certificate Q&A Forum.

Also, check with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has a small post about Old Stock and Bond Certificates.

Below is information about several fee-based research sources, noted by the Michigan Corporations Division. Contact your certificate’s similar state financial agency.

Please note that the American Oil & Gas Historical Society does not recommend or endorse these entities, their personnel, or their products or services.

Available at some libraries, the Directory of Active Stocks and Obsolete Securities is published by Financial Information, Inc., Jersey City, N.J.

Moody’s Industrial Manual and Moody’s OTC Industrial Manual. Published annually by Mergent Company, the guide offers brief summaries of companies’ histories, backgrounds, mergers and acquisitions, subsidiaries, principal plants, and properties.

Robert D. Fisher Manual of Valuable & Worthless Securities – a list of companies whose securities are worthless, have been liquidated, or exchanged. Available from R.M. Smythe Co., Inc., New York, N.Y. The rights to the manual belong to Scripophily.com, which provides research services through subsidiary Oldcompany.com.

Editor’s Note - for detailed contact information for these and other resources, see the useful Washington State Department of Financial Institutions website, Oil Stock Certificates.

Find this helpful? Please donate to the historical society!

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This vignette is from a Shell Oil Company engraved certificate printed by a banknote company and issued in 1977. The certificate’s value to collectors is about $40.

Because the following is a summary (and includes information for articles), the society seeks companies interested in sponsoring additional research.

For certificate collector research, there are “scripophily” companies that offer fee-based answers:

• Did the company fail?
• Is it in business under a new name?
• Was it acquired by another company?
• How do I contact the current company?
• Does the certificate have collector value?

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Have a question? You are invited to submit your query in our Stock Certificate Q&A forum section – where everyone can share their research.

However, as an admonition from one volunteer researcher-poster explains:

Many requests include so little information about the stock certificate or company in question as to make replies of any worth impossible. It is not enough to Post, “I have a stock certificate for the (name) Oil Company dated (date) — Does anyone know anything about it. What is it worth?’ This will rarely lead to anything worthwhile. Please peruse prior posts.

Also note that your stock certificates themselves are printed with a wealth of information that helps identify and research “what happened?”

Post the certificate’s state of incorporation, dates, CUSIP – Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures – number (if available), Company President and other Officers or any clue could very useful. Without this kind of information, little can be found.

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