How to Collect the Dow in Stock Certificatesthumbnail

Collecting stock certificates, or Scripophily, can be an interesting and educational hobby. Scripophily - a word combining "scrip" meaning an ownership right in English and the word "philos" which is Greek for love - is the study and collection of stocks and bonds.

Since the earliest companies formed to finance exploration of Asian and America, companies have issued stock certificates to signify ownership of shares in the business and evidence the right to collect dividends and vote at meetings. 

 Today stock certificates are fast disappearing as the stock exchanges convert to strictly electronic records. There is a limited time opportunity to acquire stock certificates of some of the world's most successful companies before they disappear for ever.

Stock certificate collectors are attracted to the artwork, history, and symbolism of stock certificates. Some collectors focus on selected industries while others try to create sets of some sort. 

This article will explain the steps to collect the certificates of the DOW 30 - the premier list of the largest and most successful of publicly traded companies.

Difficulty:  Moderately Challenging


Find a Current DOW List

The DOW Jones Industrial Average changes from time to time as companies fail, combine, rename or split. Occasionally the DOW replaces companies to re-balance the index and add new and growing industries.

As of December 31, 2009 the DOW 30 consists of (alphabetical order):

3M Co
Alcoa Inc
American Express Company
AT&T Inc.
Bank of America Corporation
Boeing Co.
Caterpillar Inc.
Chevron Corp
Cisco Systems Inc
E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
Exxon Mobil Corp
General Electric Company
Hewlett-Packard Co.
Intel Corporation
International Business Machines
Johnson & Johnson
JP Morgan & Chase & Co
Kraft Foods Inc.
McDonald's Corporation
Merck & Co Inc.
Microsoft Corporation
Pfizer Inc
The Coca-Cola Company
The Home Depot, Inc.
The Procter & Gamble Company
Travelers Companies Inc
United Technologies Corporation
Verizon Communications
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
The Walt Disney Companies

Decide on Active or Canceled

Some stock certificate investors buy canceled certificates which have only a collectible value. However, for the DOW 30, collectors can actually collect live stock certificates for almost the entire list. The advantage of live certificates are many:

a) Receiving dividends

b) Participating in DRIP's

c) The certificates represent actual shares, increasing the coolness factor.

d) Easier to find many of the certificates

Buy Direct From Companies

Some of the DOW 30 companies, like McDonalds, have direct investment programs that allow investors to buy stock directly from the company or through a contracted service provider.

Visit the webpages of each DOW 30 company to explore their Direct Investment and/or Dividend Reinvestment Program. It will be linked in the shareholder or investor relations area. Note the ones that offer direct purchase options and note the DRIP programs for later use.

Once you buy through the direct purchase program, request a physical certificate for one share of stock for your collection.

Buy from One Share Companies

Some of the DOW 30 companies do not have direct sales programs for stock. Therefore you must buy from an existing shareholder. This can be done through a brokerage company, but you may not want to buy a board lot of 100 shares or go through the significant hassle of getting the brokerage to issue a share certificate. Thankfully there is a ready made solution to this problem.

The concept of selling one share of stock was pioneered by industry leader but the service has been copied by a number of competitors. Each of these service providers sell one share at a time from a list of supported companies. Buyers get the share registered into their name, a physical certificate, and often professional framing. You will need to use several companies to assemble the whole DOW 30 list as none seem to offer the whole DOW 30.

Frame Your Collection

Display your collection in frames or perhaps in a portfolio. You will find that share certificates are a standard, but outside of share certificates rare, size of paper. If you want to have a matching set of frames, will sell you reasonably priced empty frames for certificates you get direct from companies or from other one share providers.

Decide What To Do About Certificates You Can't Get

Of the DOW 30, at least Intel no longer issues physical stock certificates and other companies are expected to stop issuing certificates soon since Delaware recently changed the regulations governing stock certificates. Options include framing a statement from the company (kind of lame), buying a active or canceled certificate privately, or just ignoring the remaining companies.

More Tips

  • A nice additional share certificate to add to your collection is the (now merged out of existence) Dow Jones Company, sponsor of the DOW. Alternatively, buy a share of News Corp the current owner of the DOW Jones operation.

  • Once you are a shareholder join each DRIP and start adding money to buy more shares in the companies you like best.

  • Buying live certificates is not cheap but you will end up with a nice little investment portfolio as you build your collection of certificates.