Cuba Trade Magazine article on Cuban Stock Exchange featuring Bob Kerstein, CPA,CGMA

March 2017

Bob Kerstein, CEO of Virginia-based holding a Cuban stock certificate

Even years after the Revolution, even after the companies were nationalized, shareholders of the Camaguey Sugar
Company of Cuba, the Cuban Portland Cement Corporation, and the 7up Company of Cuba, Inc. continued to hold
onto–and even trade-their increasingly worthless stocks and bonds. “Cuba is interesting because the bonds were still traded after Castro took over, until [the holders] realized they could never be redeemed,” says Bob Kerstein, Virginia-based CEO of scripophily. com, a company that specializes in the sale of original stock certificates. “After Castro took over Cuba the prices were way down, but they were still hoping the U.S. would invade.” Today those stocks and bonds are experiencing a small rally. Collectors seek them as valuable mementos, like baseball cards from Cuba’s capitalist past. “It’s picked up recently because of the opening of ties and our relationship with Cuba,” says Kerstein. “These are pieces of history, and they all tell a story.” sells about two dozen different Cuban financial certificates, including ones from railways, power companies, hotels, and banks, all long gone. Prices range from $9.95 for a Camaguey Sugar Company stock certificate (100 shares!) to $295 for a 100 peso bond issued in 1882 by a railroad company in Guantanamo. Kerstein says shares from sugar companies are the most popular. Kerstein is far from alone in catering to a growing interest in collectibles from Cuba’s past, and the mystique of its memories.

Leslie Pantin, a Miami-based PR professional, is also the proprietor of the annual Cuba Nostalgia show. Last year the fair attracted 30,000 visitors who came for the sights and sounds of Cuba’s past, including a chance to buy memorabilia. “With everything that is happening in Cuba there is a fascination with Cuban things, all over the place,” says Pantin, who has put on the weekend-long show for the past 18 years. “The difference now is that when we started, there were people who just sold memorabilia, something that was in their Florida room or in their garage. Now we have a lot of people who
do this as a business.”

On Miami’s Coral Way, for example, a store called the Cuban Museum sells everything from old Havana phone books to silverware from the presidential palace (now the Museum of the Revolution). The store also sells stocks and bonds, but don’t have quite the range as Kerstein. Kerstein’s catalogue of offerings includes certificates from numerous times
and places in history, but he gets a special kick out of his Cuban collectibles, which he acquires at auctions, from private individuals, and “as we come across them.” “About 15 years ago I got a lot from an old warehouse,” says Kerstein. “Victor
Astor was big in Cuba at one time, and many of them had his name on them.” And for a mere $34.95 customers can own a 100-share stock certificate issued in 1947 by Victor, son of hotel magnate John Jacob Astor, for the Vertientes-Camaguey
Sugar Company of Cuba.




Scripophily Dealers Offer Certificates For Education Through The Museum of American Finance

Two prominent dealers of historical stock certificates and bonds (Bob Kerstein and Scott Winslow) have joined forces to provide certificates through the Museum of American Finance for the benefit of students around the nation. At the request of teachers, the dealers will provide free certificates for classroom use in order to provide students with a first hand and up close understanding of the stock market and its history. Bob Kerstein of, one of the dealers working with the museum  on the program recently held a discussion at the National Stock Certificate & Bond Show held in Washington, D.C. and provided details on the initiative. The educational aspect of the pilot program aroused a great deal of enthusiasm among a sizable gathering of dealers and collectors alike.

The Museum of American Finance is the nation’s only independent museum dedicated to preserving, exhibiting and teaching about American finance and financial history. Education in finance and its history remains as a core mission for the museum along with its preservation of important historical artifacts and documents related to the American capital markets.  “We want to be a resource for the public in the New York area and beyond”, says Chris Meyers, the Museum’s Director of Education.

For those wishing more information on the program contact Chris Meyers at the Museum, Bob Kerstein at (888-786-2576) or Scott J. Winslow Associates, Inc.  (800-225-6233).


Save will Attend the 16th Annual International Stock and Bond Show on January 27-28, 2017 in Herndon, Virginia LLC, the Internet’s leading buyer and seller of authentic stock and bond certificates, will be attending the 16th Annual International Stock and Bond Show in Herndon, Virginia. The show will have dealers from all over the world and is expected to be the best stock and bond event ever.

The location of the show is the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Dulles Airport on 2200 Centerville Road and located just 21 miles from Washington DC (call 800-227-6963). The show starts on Friday, January 27th to Saturday, January 28th, 2017. The show hours are from 9am to 6pm on Friday and from 9am to 4pm on Saturday. will be offering Free Old Stock Certificate Research Services ($39.95 Value) to anyone who brings in a certificate to our booth and wants to know what happened to the company. In addition, Bob Kerstein, the Old Stock Detective and founder of will be offering free assessments of stock and bond certificates as to their collectability.

“Stock certificates make great gifts and make wonderful collectibles especially when they are historically relevant” said Bob Kerstein, Founder of “

Scripophily (scrip-ah-fil-ly) is the name of the hobby of collecting old stock and bond certificates. Certificate values range from a few dollars to more than $500,000 for the most unique and rare items. Tens of thousands of Scripophily buyers worldwide include casual collectors, corporate archives, business executives, museums and serious collectors. Due to the computer age, more and more stock and bonds are issued electronically which means fewer paper certificates are being issued. As a result, demand for paper certificates is increasing while supply is decreasing. has items on loan for display in the Smithsonian’s Museum of Financial History in New York. We have also partnered with the Museum of American Finance On Stock Giveaways for New York Area Teachers and Students.

Our company has been featured on CNBC, USA Today, Associated Press, Reuters, Nightline, Today Show, Baltimore Sun, and Washington Post and in many other media publications. The company also offers the World’s #1 old stock research service at and offers high resolution scans for publications. has over 16,500 selections on its website. /Old Company Research Service, founding member of the Old Stock Exchange, is the successor company to all material published by the Marvyn Scudders Manuals, the Robert D. Fisher Manuals, R.M. Smythe Stock Research Service, and the Herzog & Co., Inc. obsolete research services. These services have been performed continuously for over 138 years since 1880. We are the leading provider of authentic stock certificates, autographs, and old company stock research services. and Old Company Research Services was founded by Bob Kerstein ( Bob is a CPA and CGMA, and has more than 41 years of senior management experience in the Cellular, Cable TV, Satellite, Internet, Professional Sports and Entertainment Industries. Bob is also the President of the Professional Scripophily Traders Association (PSTA).

For more information on®, visit,,,, or call 1-703-787-3552

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Amalgamated Theatres Stock Certificate By Fred Fuld III,

Let Me Entertain your with an Amalgamated Theatres Stock Certificate

Handsigned by Balaban & Katz

By Fred Fuld III,,

Author of Let Me Entertain You with Antique Stock Certificates


The certificate shown is for Amalgamated Theatres Corporation, dated 1914. It is signed by two of the most important people in the early days of show business. Barney Balaban and Sam Katz. Although their names may not be well known, their contributions to the entertainment industry were substantial.

Balaban built the first movie theater with a balcony back in 1910. It was called the Circle Theatre. Sam Katz married Balaban’s sister Ida. The two men created the Balaban and Katz Theatre Chain to build a chain of movie cinemas in the Midwest. In 1917, they built the Central Park Theatre in Chicago.

They also created the first air-conditioned movie theater, with the air conditioning created by blowing an industrial fan over ice in a large bucket.

The Famous Players-Lasky Corporation paid thirteen million dollars for stock in the company in 1926, essentially taking over the company. Sam Katz ended up running the Paramount-Publix chain of theaters in New York City.

Barney Balaban became president of Paramount in 1936 and remained the head of the company until 1964. He signed on many new stars under his leadership including Bob Hope, Alan Ladd, and Veronica Lake. In the 1930’s, he produced numerous films including Little Orphan Annie, Gulliver’s Travels, and many Hopalong Cassidy films. He also produced several of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road films, including Road to Singapore.

Other popular films under his leadership include:

Holiday Inn

For Whom the Bell Tolls (nominated for Best Picture)

Going My Way (Won Academy Award for Best Picture)

The Lost Weekend (Won Academy Award for Best Picture)

Sunset Boulevard (nominated for 11 Academy Awards)

The Greatest Show on Earth (Won Academy Award for Best Picture)

Roman Holiday (nominated for Best Picture)

White Christmas

The Ten Commandments

Some interesting trivia is that Balaban purchased one of the 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights and donated it to the Library of Congress in 1945.


Czech Scripophily: A Story of Love, Beer and Broken Promises

Czech Scripophily: A Story of Love, Beer and Broken Promises By Jeremy Monk, AKRO investiční společnost, a.s.


By Jeremy Monk, AKRO investiční společnost, a.s.
More than Just a Pretty Picture!

Scripophily isn’t the name of some rare disease, but rather a specialised branch of numismatics focused on the study and collection of old stocks and bonds. The word is derived from the English word “scrip” which represents an ownership right and the Greek word “philos” means to love. At AKRO, we have adorned the walls of our offices not with photos or paintings but with old stock and bond certificates. Such furnishings seem particularly fitting for a mutual fund group whose activities are focused on such investments.

Over the years, thousands of companies have at one time or another issued share and/or bond certificates. It is therefore possible to focus on almost any theme to start a collection. The railway and automotive industries are particular favourites amongst Scripophilists. Thematic collections can include anything from corporate scandals (Enron, Global Crossing,) to erotica (Nevada brothels, Playboy Inc., Beate Uhse). I will confess that my collection at AKRO, and at home, is rather eclectic in nature; a mixture of the decorative and the historically interesting. It includes some lavishly illustrated foreign certificates issued by Louis Bleriot, Claridges Hotels, The Port of Bruges, and Societe Paris-France S.A. The majority of the collection is however focused on old Czech certificates.


Czech Collectors: Spoilt for Choice

The Czech Republic represents a fruitful source of old shares and bonds. In countries such as the US and UK, old certificates are only normally available in companies that:

  1. Went into bankruptcy (and the owners just kept the certificates);
  2. Whose shares, when cancelled upon sale, were for whatever reason never destroyed by the transfer agents;
  3. And shares where specimens (of what was printed) and poofs (of what will be printed) have survived.

In the Czech Republic, on the other hand, political change under communism meant most shareholders just kept their shares in the their bottom draw in the hope that one day they would have some value. As a consequence, at lot of certificates remain in numerous Czech companies. Czech collectors are therefore spoilt for choice!


Left: Certificate from the Compagnie Des Installations Maritimes De Bruges issued in 1904. The company was formed in 1895 to construct the port installations and a canal at Bruges. Widely acknowledged as one of the most beautiful certificates ever made. Source: – The Gift of History

Right: Paris-France S.A., issued 1927, and illustrated by Alfonse Mucha. Paris-France S.A. was incorporated in 1898 to establish a shop in Paris to sell high quality clothing and other items. Alfonse Mucha was retained to illustrate their certificates. Source:

Top: Cheers! Smichov Brewery, issued 1939. Featuring a large vignette of a seated King holding a beer. The company was formed in 1869. Its products can still be enjoyed today. Source: Author’s private collection.

Do these shares have any value?

To some extent, it rather depends how you define value. Certainly many have considerable aesthetic value whilst others may be regarded as of historic value. In some cases, old stocks and bonds may even have some intrinsic value. Like most collectibles overall scarcity and condition also play a part with regard to value.

Old certificates can be purchased on general websites such as ebay or aukro. Specialist websites and auctions also exist, e.g., International auction houses, such as Spink and Bonhams, have also held Scripophily auctions. Interesting certificates can be bought for a few hundred or a few thousand Euros. Rare certificates can, however, fetch significantly more.

The Aesthetic Value

Old Certificates, particularly those issued during the nineteenth and early twentieth century are usually beautifully illustrated. Like banknotes, intricate engravings were used to limit the scope for forgeries. Indeed, many of the same printers, engravers and artists were used in the production of stock and bond certificates as for banknotes and postage stamps. It was also felt that an elaborate illustration was a sign of good things to come! An early form of corporate promotion. Unfortunately, not all certificates have the artist’s name. Czech artists whose work appears on certificates include: Alfonse Mucha, Josef Herčík, Emanuel Bohač, and Cyril Bouda.

Czechoslovak Commercial Corp

Left: Czechoslovak Commercial Corporation of America, issued 1926. Illustrated by E. Bohac. The company aided the emigration of Czechs to America. Note the symbolism of the Czech figures on the right with their luggage, the rich and fertile land that awaits them, and the Statue of Liberty that beckons. Source: – The Gift of History

Historic Value

Through surviving certificates it is possible to trace the evolution of our modern capital markets from their origins in the seventeenth century to the present day. In many cases, these certificates are the only tangible remains of enterprises, great and small, successful or failed, and the colourful personalities often associated with them.

Some of the most sought after shares are those issued by The Dutch East India Company, which was Holland’s biggest trading company during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was also the world’s first joint-stock limited liability company with freely transferable shares. The public share subscription ended on September 1st 1602. It is a share in The Dutch East India Company, dated 1606, which is regarded as the oldest known share in existence. The ultimate success of the Dutch East India Company, and other similar companies shortly thereafter, secured the limited liability company as the foundation stone of modern finance. Whilst Czech certificates are not so old, many also have historical significance.

The availability of historic bonds and shares tells us a lot about the relative historic importance of industries to countries. Given the vast expanse of America, not surprisingly, old railroad shares are very easily found in North American reflecting the railway boom of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Africa, Australia, Canada, mining shares predominate. What then of the Czech Republic? Well, you guessed it, for Czech Scripophilists, by far the most represented industry, measured by the availability of historic shares, is the brewing industry! Not surprising given the historic importance of the beer industry to the Czech Republic. Indeed, in 1931, tiny Czechoslovakia was ranked 6th in the world in terms of beer production being home to some 430 breweries.

The Czech market isn’t just about collecting brewery shares. As one of Europe’s most advanced economies almost every industry is represented, from automobiles (Skoda) to banking (Zivnostenka banka). Furthermore, in the era before electronic signatures, old stocks and bonds often bear the signatures of yesteryear’s entrepreneurs. For autograph collectors, old certificates can be valuable source of authentic signatures.

Anton PuppHeinrich PuppGrand Hotel Pupp

Anton Pupp, 1841-1907                   Heinrich Pupp 1850-1931              Grand Hotel Pupp


The signatures of Anton and Heinrich Pupp appear on share certificates, issued in 1898, to finance the building of the Hotel Grand Pupp in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad). Source:,

With the recent popularity of ‘crowdfunding’, it is worth reflecting on the fact that the Czech Republic has a rich and proud history of public subscription to projects deemed of national significance, be it the National Theatre, the repair of St Vitas Cathedral or Petrin Tower. The internet has merely given new life to an old idea.

Petrin certificatePetrin PhotoCity of Carlsbad

Left and centre: Public subscription to finance of the View Tower on Petrin Hill, issued 1891, was an example of successful Crowd funding. In March 1891 the building of the tower started for the General Land Centennial Exhibition. It was finished in only four months. The building of The National Theatre and the renovation of St. Vitus Cathedral were financed in a similar way. Source:, Wikipedia

Right: City of Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary) municipal loan, issued in dollars and linked to the gold price. One of the pre-war bonds subject to a 1984 agreement. Source: Author’s private collection

On a less uplifting note, securities linked to the scandalous voucher privatisations of the 1990’s act as a reminder of the endemic deceit and fraud that has so undermined trust in the Czech capital market.

Intrinsic Value

Just because a security is old doesn’t mean it has no intrinsic value. In a previous article, I noted the recent repayment of debt by the UK government that originated from the South Sea Bubble of 1720! The very oldest active bond is a perpetual bond issued by the Dutch Water Board of Lekdijk Bovendams on May 15, 1648, to finance the repair of a dike. Now owned by Yale University, the bond still pays interest.

On occasions, even hitherto defaulted bonds can also turn out to have some intrinsic value left in them. My first experience of this was in 1987, when the Chinese government quietly paid-off the British holders of Chinese government bonds issued before 1949, when the communists came to power. The most prominent was a GBP25m sterling bond issued in 1913, indexed to the price of gold, which was to mature in 1960. The desire of the Chinese government to issue new bonds in the late 1980’s prompted the settlement. Traditionally, The London Stock Exchange has refused to list securities issued by defaulters therefore providing an incentive for a settlement.

Settlements in eastern-Europe have included: Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. Many Czech pre-war dollar denominated bonds were subject to a settlement in 1984/6. However, many of these bonds would appear not to have received the payment indicated in the agreement. The evidence suggests that the Czechoslovak government never fully honoured the agreement.

What can we learn from Scripophily?

Old stock and bond certificates often represent extremely decorative pieces of commercial art illustrated by the leading contemporary artists of their day. However, old stocks and bonds are also important because they represent tangible reminders of our financial history. The successes, failures, booms, busts, entrepreneurs, fraudsters, ongoing controversies, are all represented. Hopefully, by reflecting on past experience, today’s investors can make better decisions. How can investors commit to buying a long-dated Czech government bond without first noting the ongoing treatment of bondholders subject to a bond-holders agreement signed 30 years ago?

For more than 400 years, ever since the successful formation of the Dutch East India Company, public subscription to joint stock companies has been the foundation stone of modern corporate finance. On the whole, it has been a story of economic success and progress. However, it is sobering to think that most old certificates represent investments that, for one reason or another, are now worthless. The reasons for their failure are manifold: politics, war, new technologies, economic decline, incompetence, fraud or just plain bad luck. Investors who blithely ignore these risks, and focus just on the present, ignoring history, are worse investors because of it.

A surprisingly high number of bonds, especially sovereign and municipal bonds, even after default, ultimately yield at least a nominal return. For example, since its formation in 1933 until its effective demise, the Foreign Bondholders Protective Council brokered more than 50 settlements. The message is clear, never ever, throw away a seemingly worthless certificate. In the future, it may well have some artistic, historic or even intrinsic value. You never know your luck!

For investors and collectors alike, Scripophily is indeed about more than just a pretty picture.

Jeremy Monk

Investment Director

AKRO investiční společnost, a.s.

19th April, 2016

I would like to a acknowledge the help of Vladimir Gutowski (, Jiří Jaroš (, Bob Kerstein ( – The Gift of History) and Jitka Markusová (Grandhotel Pupp) for kindly letting me illustrate the article with photographs from their websites. A special thanks to Stanford University Libraries who provided me with copies of the 1984 and 1986 original signed agreements between the Foreign Bondholders Protective Council and Czechoslovak state.


This article does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AKRO investiční společnost, a.s. Examples of the certificates illustrated in this article are held in the author’s private collection including the pre-war Czech dollar denominated bonds issued by the Czechoslovak State, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) and City of Greater Prague.



By Brent Brown

A very rare example of a woman running a mining company, and this was over 100 years ago. The Crystal Peak Gem Company was a Cripple Creek mining company run by Anna M. Saunders as president in 1912.



Crystal Peak

The Crystal Peak Gem Company mined semi-precious stones on Crystal Peak, in Teller County, Colorado. According to the 1917 Biennial Report issued by the Colorado Bureau of Mines, small quantities of semi-precious stones were mined in Colorado each year. These included Amazon-stone, smoky quartz, rock crystal, orthoclase, topaz and phenacite. They were then sold in curio stores in Denver and Colorado Springs.

The Crystal Peak Gem Co. ran mine tours and sold fine native cut stones and jewelry, along with geological curios and district ores at their store at 508 Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek. Bennett Avenue was the main street in Cripple Creek.

In 1906, Ms. Saunders was listed in the Colorado Business Directory as the proprietor of the Burlington House at 101 W. Masonic. The Burlington House might have been a rooming house. It was located just a block or two from the Red Light District in Cripple Creek.

Anna Saunders signs the Crystal Peak Gem Co. stock certificate as president in 1912.