January 12, 2010

New Clinton Hollins catalogs

Those of you who buy exclusively through eBay really need to receive Clinton Hollins' catalogs.

You see, Clinton has such a monstrous selection of certificates that he often sells certificates below prices realized on eBay. In fact, many of the certificates you see for sale on eBay have moved through Clinton's hands at one time or another.

As I've mentioned before in this blog, Clinton's catalogs are no-frills – no fancy photos, no slick paper, no insistent promos. Just simple descriptions and great prices. Each catalog is 32 pages on 5½ x 8½ white paper. Clinton normally offers special prices for those collectors who like to buy multiple color varaties. He also offers great prices for small dealers wanting to buy multiples for inventory. Make sure to check out his "Bargain Lots" catalogs, as well as his "Railroad" specialty issues.

You can see much of Clinton Hollins' inventory online at ClintonHollins.com. Contact him at

Clinton Hollins
PO Box 2711
Springfield, VA 22152-2711

January 06, 2010

New certificate rarity system now online

After several years of development, I have just rolled out a new rarity system for railroad stocks and bonds. You may see it in action by searching for any certificate in your collection.

After many conversations with dealers, collectors and authors, I decided to use a 7-point system arrayed from most common to most rare.

The system is arranged like this:
R1 = likely to appear more than 10 times per year
R2 = likely to appear 4 to 10 times per year
R3 = likely to appear 1 to 4 times per year
R4 = likely to appear once every 1 to 3 years
R5 = likely to appear once every 3 to 5 years
R6 = likely to appear once every 5 to 10 years
R7 = likely to appear less than once every 10 years

R? = Rarity unknown. I reserve this designation for certificates priced under $50 which are suspected of being substantially scarcer than their prices would otherwise indicate. For instance, I would use this designation in the case where a certificate has been seen only once or twice in 30 years, but it sold for only $15. Why so cheap? Is there an unreported hoard somewhere? Was the $15 sales price a very lucky fluke for some collector?

The system does not measure populations. We can NEVER know the numbers of certificates that exist. Instead, the system measures historic appearances over the last thirty years. It gives you hints on rarity by estimating how often certificates come up for sale. The system is database-driven, so rarity estimates represent appearances as recently as the last database upload. There are currently about 980,000 appearance in the database.

See http://www.coxrail.com/Rarity.htm for a further discussion of the system and its accepted shortcomings.