I will assume that most people who have found this page are collectors of stocks, bonds and related documents. I further assume they want to scan their certificates as easily as possible without risk of damage to their certificates. I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to scan several hundred thousand maps, geophysical logs, laboratory sheets, monstrous reports and, of course, stocks and bonds. I have owned and used several different kinds and models of scanners. I do NOT claim to be any sort of expert, but I can share somoe of my experience.
What type of scanner?
My suggestions for collectors, arrayed from highly recommended to acceptable:
- flatbed scanner: commonly available in platens (flat glass areas) of 8½" x 11.7" (A4) and 12" x 17" (A3)
- book edge scanner: commonly available in platens (flat glass areas) of 8½" x 11.7" (A4) and 12" x 17" (A3)
- multipurpose printer/scanner: usually typical 8½" x 11" format, but some larger 11" x 17" models available; usually combined with color laser printers; usually combined with document feeders
- oversize flatbed scanner: models up to 50" x 36" (A0) size (excellent but very expensive); hard to justify on the basis of scanning certificates
- book scanner: numerous sizes, complexities and prices; usually imaged with cameras (very expensive); hard to justify on the basis of scanning certificates
- wide format scanner: usually 36" and wider (very expensive); hard to justify on the basis of scanning certificates; paper moves through scanner and therefore adds risk of damage
Type of cover
I strongly recommend using flatbed or book edge scanners with removable covers. Combination printer/scanner machines are okay if collections are primarily limited to stock certificates and miscellaneaous documents.
Prices for multipurpose printer/scanner combos are very good because manufacturers make their greatest profits from inks and toners. The inability to remove covers hampers their usability for scanning bonds.
The advent of high-quality cameras in smartphones drove another nail in the coffin of the flatbed scanner market. The number of scanners available today is much less than 15 years ago, Before getting overly attached to any great-sounding scanner, make sure it is still being manufactured. A serious number of scanners have been discontinued in recent years
Theoretically, all these devices should be repairable. They aren't.
About the only thing that wears out are the tiny bulbs that light documents. The glass platens on devices with document feeders get scratched after a year of moderate use, especially if users forget to remove staples.
It is true that servicers for professional-grade machines can be found in large cities, but I have been unsuccessful in finding repair people for inexpensive machines. If repairability is an issue, some manufacturers have links to service centers around the U.S. and around the world. Record the model number of the device you are interested in and check that manufacturer's website.
I hate to say it, and I am not guaranteeing it, but the more you pay for a scanner, the more likely it will be repairable.
I suspect many of my readers will consider multipurpose machines with document feeders, especially if they anticipate using the scanner for ordinary documents. I have a an HP LaserJet color printer/scanner myself. The setup is harder than I would like, but the machine is excellent. The document feeder works great, but the downside is that the cover cannot be removed. It is okay for scanning stock certificates, but bonds are out of the question.
If users get a scanner with a document feeder, I beg them to N‑E‑V‑E‑R feed a stock or bond through the feeder. Yes, it looks harmless. But mis-feeds do happen. They may be successful any number of times, but they will be flirting with disaster every time they do so.
Where to buy
Search for "where to buy" "flatbed scanners" using Google WITH the quotes exactly as written. (It is okay if you like other search engines, but Google is the only one that allows you to search for specific strings of words to help you narrow your choices better.)
Look through at least a hundred entries to see all your choices. Most of your best options will NOT be found on the first one or two pages. Top-of-mind sources usually have the best prices for the popular products. All have very limited selections of flatbed scanners, if any.
I suggest looking much deeper to find 20 or more U.S. sellers plus several more international suppliers. "Big box" stores like BestBuy, Staples and Office Depot used to have decent selections of flatbed scanners, but they are no longer found in "brick and mortar" locations. You will have much better chances buying online.
Here are some of the manufacturers you will find which make flatbed scanners:
- Konica Minolta (BizHub copier/scanners)
Used and refurbished scanners
Some truly excellent discontinued, but workhorse scanners are still being sold on secondary markets (eBay, Craigslist, etc.), particularly the Epson Expression 10000XL and 120000XL series scanners. If buying sight-unseen, try asking for sellers to send you scans of current magazine covers to see if there are any dead spots in the scanner bulb. If looking expensive scanners, like the Epsons just mentioned, check around for servicers in your local area before buying. Even if those kinds of scanners need work, repair might be a way to pick up a great scanner at a bargain price.
You might also consider searching for "refurbished flatbed scanners" for price comparisons. Most refurbished machines usually have guarantees. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) software is commonly available, but might be available. If not VueScan certainly has software that will work. (Silverfast might also.)
If buying ANY older scanner, even in an unopened original box, you should assume that the original manufacturer software will NOT work with a current operating system, either MAC or Windows. On the other hand, It is a good bet that software from a third-party vender (VueScan or Silverfast) will work, but absolutely CONFIRM before purchase. Scanners seem to last forever and I have discarded only one scanner. That was because I could not find anyone who would replace the bulb.