August 28, 2009

August Newsletter Online

Two newsletters within a month? What's up?

Well, I had a lot more to say about the concept of rarity and how it relates — or doesn't relate — to price. This time I try to point out several serious flaws in The Myth is that says "rare is valuable."

The basic idea is that just because a collectible is scarce or rare does not mean it is automatically valuable. Someone needs to have the desire to own it. And not just one or two people, but a bunch.

I was talking with one of my car-collecting buddies the other day about the concept of demand. I pointed to a one-of-a-kind bond and asked, "So how much would you pay for this baby?"
"A dollar."

"But you collect old cars and you play golf. You can afford more."

"Okay, two dollars. I don't want to piss you off."

"What if I told you it was unique? One-of-a-kind. Only one on the planet. A whole lot rarer than those old junk heaps you collect."

"Great. I don't feel so bad about upping my offer to two bucks."

This tongue-in-cheek conversation illustrates a concept we agree on 100%. And yet so few collectors fully undertstand. If a collecting hobby is small and only a few people want something, exceedingly rare items might not be worth much at all. It does not matter what a cataloger or seller thinks collectibles should be worth. And it certainly doesn't matter what collectors originally paid. Value is determined strictly by how much future collectors want things. It does not matter whether collectibles are rare or common; prices can be very flexible.

In this issue, I examine five certificates that have historically sold for about $75. I show how many serial numbers are known and I estimate how many examples might exist. I think you'll find the numbers enlightening.

This deeper examination of rarity shows a pardoxical twist.

No matter how much we understand about the flawed and indirect relationship between rarity and price, I actually don't think it is possible to change our behavior or thinking. Not even one little bit. I suggest that the very next time we evaluate a collectible for purchase, rarity will be the first thing we will think of. No matter how much we know better, I think all collectors, including myself, unconsciously believe The Myth that "rare means valuable."

Download the August 2009 Coxrail newletter.

August 25, 2009

9th Annual Stock Certificate & Bond Show approaching

I just received announcement of the next Stock and Bond show coming up in January. As before, the show will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel two miles from Dulles Airport in Herndon, Virginia, Jan 29-30, 2010.

I strongly suspect that most dealers are already informed, but if you want to set up a table at the show, you need to contact Bob Schell as soon as possible. Early bird savings end September 30.

For those of you wanting to stay at the hotel, contact Crowne Plaza at 800-227-6963 and mention the code "BON" for special rates. Again, you are advised to make reservations as soon as possible.

August 06, 2009

July 2009 issue of Scripophily mailed to members

The latest issue of Scripophily is out and is better than ever. The latest issue is 36 full-color pages chock-full of news of the stock and bond hobby. Scripophily is the publication of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS).

The publishing schedule is now three issues per year, which I think is good. Issues will be sufficiently frequent to keep readers interested in the hobby of collecting stocks and bonds, but not so frequent as to run out of stories.

Major articles this time are:

  • Australian Breweries

  • The Railway to Nowhere

  • London's River Crossings

  • Where Did All Those Cancelled Certificates Come From?

There are numerous shorter articles including:

  • How Does the Crisis Impact the Scripophily Market?

  • D-Day Discovery

  • Award for John Herzog

  • Puzzler (about a Pacific Mail Steamship printing plate)

Recurring columns include:

  • Society Matters

  • Cox's Corner

  • The Traveler

  • Auction News

  • Auction Reviews

  • Events Calendar

You will receive Scripophily with your membership which is a meager $25 per year. I know that $25 does not sound like enough. I'm pretty sure you can contribute more without receiving any major complaints.

The IBSS has honored me most graciously by naming me a member of its editorial board. Nonetheless, my opinions are my own.

I hold an extremely serious conviction that all of us take huge amounts from our hobbies. We all build collections on the countless years of experience and wisdom of collectors, dealers, researchers, authors and catalogers who have preceeded us. That means that all of us — collectors and dealers alike — owe our enjoyment and appreciation to people we can never possibly repay. Since repayment to our benefactors is impossible, our only option is to pay forward to all those unseen collectors who will follow. No, not all of us can contribute articles, research and excitement. But we can all support our hobbies through membership in organizations.

The hobby of collecting stocks and bonds is microscopic by comparison to hobbies like stamps, coins, automobiles and art. That means small organizations like the IBSS are greatly dependent on our membership. I'm not talking only about monetary involvement. I am saying that members like you and me are seriously crucial to the health of the hobby by our mere presence.

I personally ask you to please consider adding your voice and your presence to this enjoyable hobby. Join us in the International Bond and Share Society today. And receive your subscription to Scripophily in the bargain!