February 24, 2009

Counting cancellation types

I am conducting a census of types of cancellations that appear in pictures of stock certificates. I hope to do the same with bonds sometime later this year.

So far, I have had time to examine only about 3,500 images. I hate to admit it, but I had never really noticed the large percentage of certificates that are cancelled by multiple methods. It appears that about 45% of all stock certificates are cancelled by two to as many as four different methods. For instance, the current census shows 27% of all stocks show both punch cancellations and rubber stamp cancellations.

By the time I examine another couple thousand certificates, I hope to learn if there are any trends of types of cancellations by date. It appears pen cancellations were the only method of stock certificate cancellation until the 1850s or 1860s. I am not sure, however, when pinhole cancellations first appeared.

One of the things I have already discovered is that “machine-gun” cancellations (rows of punch cancels) were used very, very sparsely on stock certificates, while they seem relatively common on bonds.

hand punch cancellations
machine punch cancellations
pinhole cancellations
pen cancellations
crayon or china marker cancellations
rubber stamp cancellations
hole cancellations
cut out cancellations
typed cancellations

I have a special page on Coxrail.com where I explain the different types of cancellations seen on collectible certificates.

There are a large and unknown number of stock certificates that are cancelled by essentially invisible methods. For instance, a huge number of Chicago Burlington & Quincy stock certificates were cancelled by series of three 'V' shaped cut cancellations. I have a good picture of these cancellations on my cancellation page. While those cancellations are quite severe, they do not appear in any photographs or scans. Note also that many of these CB&Q certificates are rubber-stamped 'Cancelled' on the backs, not the fronts. To the scanner, many appear completely uncancelled.

Hammer cut cancellations and spindle cancellations are equally hard to see in ordinary images. For that matter, pinhole cancellations are sometimes very difficult to see and are probably undercounted in my census.

I would like to get a handle on the percentage of hidden cancellations. Perhaps the best way is to ask you to report certificates and serial numbers that show these types of hard-to-see cancellations. Please contact me through the Coxrail.com web site. By locating your certificates in the online database, you can report cancellations for specific certificates very easily. You may also find a link to my email at the bottom of every page.

February 01, 2009

Poor's Manuals Online

    For those of you who enjoy researching the companies you collect, sooner or later you will need to look at Poor's Manuals of Railroads.
    Henry Varnum Poor was an early writer on railroads and corporate investments. Starting in 1868, he issued an annual volume specifically dedicated to railroads. The actual title of the volume changed over time, but the layout and type of content stayed remakably uniform.
    Today, the early editions are pricey, especially if they are in good condition. Some people like to buy distressed volumes and have them rebound.
    At long last, some of the volumes are becoming available online. The largest collection can be found at "Internet Archive". Two additional volumes can be found at Google Books. (Thanks to Pete Angelos for bringing these to my attention a couple months ago.)

  • 1868 (vol 1, at Google Books)

  • 1874 (vol 7, at Internet Archive)

  • 1876 (vol 9, at Internet Archive)

  • 1877 (vol 10, at Internet Archive)

  • 1878 (vol 11, at Internet Archive)

  • 1880 (vol 13, at Internet Archive)

  • 1881 (vol 14, at Internet Archive)

  • 1882 (vol 15, at Internet Archive)

  • 1884 (vol 17, at Internet Archive)

  • 1885 (vol 18, at Internet Archive)

  • 1887 (vol 20, at Internet Archive)

  • 1891 (vol 24, at Internet Archive)

  • 1892 (vol 25, at Internet Archive)

  • 1893 (vol 26, at Internet Archive)

  • 1894 (vol 27, at Internet Archive)

  • 1895 (vol 28, at Internet Archive)

  • 1896 (vol 29, at Internet Archive)

  • 1897 (vol 30, at Internet Archive)

  • 1898 (vol 31, at Internet Archive)

  • 1899 (vol 32, at Internet Archive)

  • 1901 (vol 34, at Internet Archive)

  • 1902 (vol 35, at Internet Archive)

  • 1903 (vol 36, at Internet Archive)

  • 1917 (at Google Books)