Do coupons have value as collectibles?

I do not ascribe any value to any coupon or sheet of coupons detached from bonds.

This project DOES NOT and WILL NOT:

  • support in any way the buying, selling, or collecting of bond coupons!

This project DOES NOT and WILL NOT:

  • list any coupons in this project except those that exist as unique proofs
  • imply that coupons have value as collectibles
  • exempt coupons clipped from bonds that not longer exist
  • give safe harbor to anyone who thinks it is acceptable to damage and deface perfectly good bonds for the sake of making a few dollars, usually at the expense of unsuspecting beginners

The problems of listing coupons in this project

I understand some collectors consider coupons from long-destroyed bonds collectible. I even agree with their argument in principle. However, considering such coupons as collectibles creates two huge problems.

  • The vast majority of beginners will have limited ways of confirming whether coupons came from extinct bonds or not. They would be at the mercy of unscrupulous and/or inexperienced sellers.
  • Implying coupons have collectible value will be an open door to promoting the removal of more and more coupons from existing collectible bonds, thereby decreasing desirability of those bonds to future collectors.

Sources of single coupons

The majority of coupons I see offered online have been removed from readily available collectible bonds. It is true that some bond coupons offered on eBay might have been legitimately separated from bonds decades ago, redeemed, and cancelled as intended. My policy against listing and pricing coupons remains the same. I believe possibility of purposeful deception is too high.

Coupon chop shops

Sellers exist who obviously clip coupons from inexpensive collectible coupon bonds. They clip coupons, sometimes whole pages of coupons, and then attempt to sell singles for $5 or more. They try to convince collectors new to the hobby that coupons are valuable or rare. I call those kinds of sellers "Coupon Chop Shops," but let my readers form their own analogies.

Deception and fraud

I can predict deception and outright fraud if I were ever to catalog coupons as collectibles. Therefore, I have decided that:

  • I will NOT list individual coupons in this project, regardless of whether they were redeemed or not.
  • I will NOT imply that a market exists for coupons.
  • I will NOT knowingly contribute to the destruction of collectible bonds.

Coupons are not securities

Readers should understand that coupons ARE NOT and NEVER WERE securities. Therefore, coupons do do not qualify for listing in this project.

Coupons are not obsolete currency

Readers should also understand that coupons ARE NOT and NEVER WERE currency. They were warrants and were tradable for currency at a specific and later point in time. They never qualified as legal tender in any sense of the word. While amateur sellers may be entirely innocent in offering their coupons as "currency," fraudsters are not. This project opposes defacing collectible bonds in order to wrest money from unsuspecting beginners .

I have noticed some coupon sellers on eBay refuse to accept returns. I question that attitude. It seems to me that if sellers thought coupons had sufficient collectible value when offered for sale, those same sellers should consider them equally valuable upon return. I cannot possibly know the motivations of sellers, but I wonder what other kinds of ethical businesses refuse to accept returns as long as such items remain in the same conditions as when sold?

I will not list coupon sellers on my dealers' page

I will NOT knowingly list any person, dealer or company on my dealers' page who publicly offers coupons as collectibles.

If collectors find any such seller listed on my Dealers page, please inform me so I can remove them.

I argue that Coupon Chop Shops are destructive to our hobby. I will NOT support them.

Practically all the inquiries I have received concerning coupons have come from people unfamiliar with the stock and bond hobby. Some have politely suggested that sellers made them believe that coupons were "bonds" or some form of paper money. Rightly or wrongly, I conclude the people who sold coupons to those correspondents either, 1) knew nothing about the paper money and scripophily hobbies, or 2) were purposely intending something else.

What about coupons clipped from bonds that no longer exist?

Admittedly, some advanced collectors might ascribe some value to coupons that originated from bonds that no longer exist. I can understand their rationale for collecting coupons of such limited nature. However, I fail to reason how anyone can restrict other collectors, let alone coupon choppers, to that narrow definition.

This project is about cataloging securities issued by railroad companies and coal companies in North America. Since coupons are not securities, I deem them outside my project boundaries.

And finally, one other concern...

Are any coupons still redeemable for cash?

Odds are low, but yes!, collectors might find bonds or individual coupons that still retain cash value.

The only expedient way to confirm value and how to go about redemption is to confer with experts who research extinct securities. It is a specialized field and they charge for their services. Please see my Security Values page for names of professionals in that business.

Before you spend money on research, understand that if a coupon IS still valid and says it was redeemable for a specific amount of money on a specific date, it is probably worth that exact same amount today. I currently know of no evidence that suggests coupons or their source bonds compounded interest past their redemption dates.

Furthermore, coupons, like their source bonds, could have been declared legally worthless long ago without showing any physical evidence of cancellation. Court or corporate records prevail.

If any reader has successfully redeemed coupons – or bonds for that matter – I beg you to contact me so I can share your process with others.