Placing many cupboards and chests of drawers at the bottom with dusty drawers can be a little treasure for the unsuspecting. While your portfolio shrank during the most recent bear market, old stock certificates may be worth more than the original shares they once represented.
Old stock certificates have become quite valuable. Electronic record keeping has made it quite rare for most companies to issue share certificates. And, as investors trade their paper certificates for electronic shares, they are most often destroyed by the transfer agent, making their number even smaller.
Older stock certificates can be works of art, often made with colorful illustrations, making them unusual and interesting works of art in any business or home. Like many antiques, many vintage certificates also tell a unique story that cannot be captured in the electronic actions issued today. As such, they have become sought after by hobbyists, Wall Street collectors and people looking for unique gifts.
Sports Team Certificates Some of the most sought after
Some of the most sought after and hardest to find stock certificates on the market today are those of professional sports teams. Very few professional sports teams in the US have ever “made public” or issued stock certificates. Most sports organizations in the United States operate as franchises with strict ownership rules.
The major professional sports leagues, including the National Basketball Association, the Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Football League, have each adopted strict rules and regulations that determine whether a team can go public. Needless to say, this is a tight club and I watch the entrance with vigilance.
The Green Bay Packers are the only NFL public team to issue shares. The Packers’ group of owners has been adopted into the current policy, which restricts only public ownership. The Green Bay Packers issued shares in 1923, 1935, 1950 and 1997. There are approximately 112,000 shareholders, who do not have the right to vote and cannot redeem shares in cash. Basically, each of these shareholders purchased a piece of historical memory. Even though these shares have no intrinsic value, they have become quite valuable as a collection. A 1997 issue can sell for up to $ 1,000 on the market today. Older numbers are very hard to find and are rarely offered for sale.
Other major league sports teams that have issued shares over the years are:
Florida Panthers (NHL): went public (NASDAQ) in 1996 and was later sold to private investors in 2001. (A certificate sells for about $ 300 – $ 500)
Boston Celtics (NBA): became the first major sports franchise to go public (NYSE) in 1986 and became private in 2003. (A certificate sells for about $ 150 – $ 175)
Cleveland Indians (MLB): became the first Major League baseball team to go public in 1998. They were quickly bought and turned into private in 2000. (A certificate sells for about $ 200- $ 250)
Many sports-related stock certificates are also valuable
While certificates of “pure play” sports are rare, other issues that may interest collectors in this category include the World Wrestling Federation, Madison Square Garden, Broadway Joe’s (former restaurant owned by Joe Namath) and short-lived XFL . Also, make sure you are looking for minor league franchises and foreign sports stock certificates. Other countries, such as Canada, have many major league sports companies.
Of course, many major league franchises are owned by large corporations, but they are just a mere stain on their balance sheet. Which stock certificate do you prefer to have Dodgers or Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp? So check the cabinets and storage units. Those old stock certificates might be worth more than you think.