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Old Stock Certificates Can Fetch Major League Prices
Sitting at the back of many dusty filing cabinets and dressers can be a little treasure for the uninformed. Although your portfolio may have shrunk during the last bear market, your old stock certificates may be worth more than the original shares they once represented.
Old stock certificates have become very valuable. Electronic record keeping has made the issuance of stock certificates by most companies quite rare. And since investors exchange their paper certificates for electronic shares, they are most often destroyed by the transfer agent, further reducing their number.
Older stock certificates can be works of art, often done with colorful illustrations, making them unusual and interesting pieces of art in any business or home. Like many antiques, many vintage stock certificates also tell a unique story that cannot be captured in electronic shares issued today. As such, they have become sought after by hobbyists, Wall Street collectors, and people looking for unique gifts.
Most Wanted Sports Team Certificates
Some of the most sought after and hard to find stock certificates on the market today are those of professional sports teams. Very few American professional sports teams have ever “go public” or issued stock certificates. Most sports organizations in the United States are operated as franchises with strict ownership rules.
Major professional sports leagues, including the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, and National Football League, each have strict rules and regulations that determine whether a team can go public. Needless to say this is a tight club and they guard admission vigilantly.
The Green Bay Packers are the only public NFL team to issue stock. The Packers ownership group has been grandfathered in the current policy that virtually limits public ownership. The Green Bay Packers issued stock in 1923, 1935, 1950, and 1997. There are approximately 112,000 shareholders, who do not have voting rights and cannot redeem shares for cash. Basically, each of these shareholders has purchased a historic piece of memorabilia. Even though these stocks had no intrinsic value, they became very valuable as a collectible. A 1997 issue can sell for up to $1,000 in today’s market. Older issues are very hard to find and rarely offered for sale.
Other major league sports teams that have issued stock over the years are:
Florida Panthers (NHL): went public (NASDAQ) in 1996, then sold to private investors in 2001. (A certificate sells for around $300 to $500)
Boston Celtics (NBA): Became the first major sports franchise to go public (NYSE) in 1986 only to go private in 2003. (A certificate sells for around $150-$175)
Cleveland Indians (MLB): Became the first Major League Baseball team to go public in 1998. They were quickly bought out and went private in 2000. (A certificate sells for around $200-$250)
Many sports-related stock certificates are also valuable
Although “pure play” sports stock certificates are rare, other issues likely to be of interest to collectors in this category include the World Wrestling Federation, Madison Square Garden, Broadway Joe’s (former restaurant owned by Joe Namath) and the short-lived XFL. Also be sure to research minor league franchises and foreign sports stock certificates. Other countries, such as Canada, have many major league-owned public sports corporations.
Sure, many major league franchises are owned by big corporations, but they’re just a speck on their balance sheet. Which stock certificate would you rather have Rupert Murdoch’s Dodgers or News Corp? So check your filing cabinets and storage units. Those old stock certificates might be worth more than you think.
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