Sitting at the bottom of many file cabinets and dusty chests of drawers may lay a little treasure for the unsuspecting. While your portfolio may have dwindled during the latest bear market, your old stock certificates may be worth more than the original stock they once represented.
Old stock certificates have become quite valuable. Electronic record keeping has made the issuance of stock certificates by most companies quite rare. And as investors trade in their paper certificates for electronic shares they are most often destroyed by the transfer agent making their numbers even fewer.
Older stock certificates can be works of art, often done with colorful illustrations, making them unusual and interesting objects of art in any business or home. Like many antiquities, many vintage stock certificates also tell a unique story that cannot be captured in the electronic shares issued today. As such, they have become sought after by hobbyists, Wall Street collectors, and people looking for unique gifts.
Sports Team Certificates Some of the Most Sought After
Some of the most sought-after, and difficult-to-find, stock certificates on the market today are those of professional sports teams. Very few U.S. professional sports teams have ever “gone public” or issued stock certificates. Most sports organizations in the United States are operated as franchises with strict ownership rules.
The major professional sports leagues including the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League, have each adopted stringent rules and regulations that determine whether a team can go public. Needless to say, this is a tight club and they guard admittance vigilantly.
The Green Bay Packers are the only publicly owned NFL team that has issued stock. The Packers’ ownership group was grandfathered into the current policy that all-but restricts public ownership. The Green Bay Packers issued stock in 1923, 1935, 1950, and 1997. There are about 112,000 shareholders, who have no voting rights and cannot redeem shares for cash. Basically, each of these shareholders purchased a historic piece of memorabilia. Even though these shares held no intrinsic value, they have become quite valuable as a collectible. A 1997 issue can sell for up to $1000 in today’s market. Older issues are very difficult 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 and subsequently sold to private investors in 2001. (One certificate sells for about $300 – $500)
Boston Celtics (NBA): became the first major sports franchise to go public (NYSE) in 1986 only to go private in 2003. (One certificate sells for about $150-$175)
Cleveland Indians (MLB): became the first Major League Baseball Team to go public in 1998. They were quickly purchased and turned private in 2000. (One certificates Sells for about $200-$250)
Many sports-related stock certificates also valuable
While “pure play” sport stock certificates are rare, other issues that may interest 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 look for minor league franchises and foreign sport stock certificates. Other countries, such as Canada, have many major-league-publicly-owned sport companies.
Sure, many major league franchises are owned by large corporations, but they are but a mere speck on their balance sheet. Which stock certificate would you rather have the Dodgers or Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp? So check your file cabinets and storage units. Those old stock certificates could be worth more than you think.