Are you looking at a shoe box of old stock certificates wondering just how much money might be sitting there? Long before electronic trading and individual investment accounts were around to safely hold shares of companies, investors would receive physical stock certificates as proof of their purchases. The possibility that those old stock certificates have any real value, or that the company listed still exists, might be low, but there is a chance, and with a few quick inquiries, can know for sure.
How to Research Old Stock Certificates for Free
Search on the Internet to see if the company still exists. If the company is still operating under the name listed, do a web-based stock market quote search. If the company is not operating under the name listed, it may have been acquired by another company or it indeed may have ceased operations.
Call a discount or full-service brokerage house and provide the CUSIP number, which is unique to each individual stock certificate, and stock brokerages can use this number to find out exactly the status of the company. Most larger discount brokerage houses will do this search for free, but be sure to ask first.
Call a financial library or speak with a librarian who can assist you in searching for the company. The main branch of most public libraries will have information related to any sale, closure or news pertaining to the company you are researching. The assistance is usually free, but there may be a cost if you need any documents printed or photocopied.
Even if your old stock certificates are no longer traded and are therefore worthless as shares, they may still hold value to collectors. "Scripophily" is the hobby of collecting old stock certificates. Depending on the condition and the name of the company, you may be able to sell them to a collector. If they are in good condition, they can also be used as gifts or presents for anyone who might have an interest in the stock market.
- stock image by Michael Shake from Fotolia.com