I've been wanting to scan some of my specimens stocks for a while and I finally got to it tonight. Imho, this is the most intriguing area of my collection. A few of these have already been posted on another thread, but I decided this would make a good stand-alone article. Specimens are considerably rarer than most issued stock certificates (often only a handful were printed), but until the last decade or so, prices did not reflect this. In the '80s and '90s you could still find some specimens for $5 and under. They were produced for a variety of reasons, but usually surviving examples are those that were kept in the files of the issuer or the bank note company. Most of the specimens I own were printed by the American Bank Note Co., which printed the vast majority of engraved U.S. stocks and bonds over the last century. But there were also many smaller bank note firms, most of which were eventually bought by larger companies. I'd like to show some examples of these here, along with a bit of historic background. Excelsior Bank Note Co. - This is the oldest specimen in my collection (circa 1880) and the only one marked with a hand-written "Sample". Though it may not look like much, it is probably my rarest piece, too. In 30+ years of collecting I've only seen one specimen representing EBN -- this one. The company was only in existence for about 10 years. American Bank Note Co. - ABN was the premier U.S. banknote company, from its formation in 1858 until 1990. It remained the industry leader through the stellar work it produced … and by buying up the competition. Here are several of my favorite ABN specimens. At the top of the Texas Pacific Coal stock you'll see the notation "Last Specimen--Reserve '0'. This indicates that this particular specimen was the reserve copy kept on file in the American Bank Note archives. The stock specimen of the West Virginia Coal & Coke has two holes punched at the top; these appear on many certificates, most likely for inclusion in a salesman's two-ring binder. This particular specimen shows the official embossed seal of approval on the back and a genuine signature of the company secretary matching the facsimile on the front. (You can also see the colored security planchettes (small dots) embedded in the paper.) And I wanted to include a later ABN specimen, from Mary Kay Cosmetics. You can see how much the typical layout had changed by the 1980s, along with the way "specimen" was applied to certificates. May Kay herself commissioned the portrait, engraved by Kenneth Guy, which is held up as one of the finest works of bank note engraving in the last 50 years. Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. - This is the only foreign specimen bond I own. BW&Co in London was founded in 1856 and was a major player in European bank note printing for more than a century. The company was acquired by ABN in 1903, but continued to use its own name until closing shop in 1990. This specimen bond from the Bank of Peru & London bears a maritime vignette very similar to one engraved at ABN.