The hobby of collecting paper stock certificates is known as Scripophily. Now some will ask why bother to collect these but like any collection, if you have to ask why, then it likely wouldn't interest you.
I began collecting these many years ago when they were issued to you for your ownership in the specific equity. As I purchased shares in various companies, I noticed that some companies really produced very nice certificates, very detailed and intricately designed and quite colorful, far more than what was necessary to merely be functional. The extent of design and color which went into some certificates is quite impressive, especially considering these were often produced well before the technology made this type of production much easier.
I presently have approximately 10,000 different certificates in my collection. They vary from enterprises involving the ownership of the Titanic, the infamous Pullman Car Company which made luxurious rail cars and also held one of the most violent responses to an organized labor strike to automotive companies which were arround for a very limited time in the early 1900's. I have an extensive collection of Air Line certificates and we quickly forget many of the airlines which came and went along the way. For example, Eastern, Pan Am Air, Trump Air, Hughes Aviation and many others.
I also collect life insurance company policy documents from prior to the 1940's. I have contracts which were entirely written in a calligraphy style writing by hand, from the first word / page to the very last. My collection of these is much smaller and less than 30 total documents. The oldest document I have was issued in the 1870's.
The other odd thing I have taken to collecting is Encyclopedia Sets, and I have complete sets starting in the 1890's to the 1970's. My goal was to have a set of encyclopedias for each decade. They are really interesting to read through and see the changes such as the remapping of Europe numerous times. The way they provided information, for the most part, was very factual and certainly not politically biased as things are today. Many young people today have never seen a set of encyclopedias and are pretty clueless to using them the way many of us did as we grew up.
The old Life Insurance policy contracts are much more difficult to locate than stock certificates as the issuing companies often required the beneficiary surrender the original issued contracts back to the insurance company upon the filing of the beneficiary claimants statement. The reason for this practice was to prevent someone from finding the contract, years after the initial death claim was paid and then inquiring with the Life Insurer about the validity of the contract.
Back in the "old days", it was a time consuming administrative task to check on the status of a policy which someone "found" many years after the claim was paid and the original file was "dead filed". That is the term used for old files held after their required IRS record retention period post death claim payment. Now of course, it merely takes seconds to verify the status.
So please, tell us about anything you collect, besides tractors. This should be interesting....Thanks for responding.