Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Euratom specimen or proof ?

Collecting bonds of intergovernmental organizations is definitely a challenge
Rather few certificates of such organizatons are seen on the collector's market. These organizations are composed of states and are less numerous than commercial organizations. They do not pursuit market shares and they are not bothered by competition. 
Wikipedia tells us there are more than 250 of them and the number is still growing. As many of  these organizations have a global influence on politics and economics, the bonds they issued, are a nice addition to any collection representing our modern history.

Intergovernmental organizations form actually one category of the so-called supranational organizations :
  • cat. 1 : international nongovernmental non-profit, e.g. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • cat. 2 : international corporations, e.g. Toyota, Coca-Cola
  • cat. 3 : intergovernmental, e.g. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN)
The European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) fits in the latter category.

detail of Euratom logo on bond certificate
logo or emblem of Euratom
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) 
It was established on 25 March 1957 by the Treaty of Rome together with the European Economic Community (EEC). At that time, co-operation in the nuclear field between states and the promotion of peaceful usage of nuclear energy was a very popular area. The Merger Treaty of 1965 set out that the EEC Commission and Council should take over the executive responsabilities of Euratom and ECSC.
Euratom's goals are related to nuclear power :
  • create a specialist market for it
  • distribute it through the Community
  • develop it
  • sell surplus to non-Community states
specimen bond of Euratom
rare specimen bond of 1 million Luxembourg Francs 11%
Communauté Europèenne de l'Energie Atomique (EURATOM)
maturity: 1984-1989/1991
Luxembourg, 1984
Only 250 certificates were to be issued.
Euratom's largest achievements are those in the field of safety : fixing of radioprotection safeguards and benchmarking standards. Safety upgrades and decommissioning programmes in the European Union (EU) have been implemented by means of Euratom loans.  
Currently Euratom participates in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a long-term controversial project with the goal of building a nuclear fusion power source that can operate without atmospheric pollutants and relatively short-lived waste. 

The making of a bond
A proof certificate is a draft,  a mockup, a prototype, a 'beta-version'. Proofs are made for printers, artists, production managers and even the final customer to help them evaluate if the product at a certain production phase meets the specifications : are the colors fine, is the text correct, is the engraving positioned in the right place, etcetera.  In other words, a proof is a tool and is meant to be discarded after a while.  Proofs are unique.

Proof of a bond certificate of the Europese Gemeenschap voor Kolen en Staal
Proof certificate for 5 bonds of 1000 Dutch Guilder
7,75% loan for the Europese Gemeenschap voor Kolen en Staal (ECSC)
Bruxelles/Luxembourg, 1983

Design based on an earlier one for the
Europese Gemeenschap voor Atoomenergie (Euratom)
As you see in the example above, proofs are not always designed from scratch. Often, the design of an earlier existing certificate will be reused in order to save costs or to speed up the delivery process. In general, proofs are marked with all kinds of corrections and directives for the next production process. In the detail images below, you'll see that content-related remarks are made in blue, and the ones related to font properties are in red.  As is also usual for proofs, embossed or printed seals are not present.

The upper detail image shows a portion of the original proof, shown above. The contents-related remarks in blue indicate that a new vignet should be provided (Dutch : nieuw vignet), and that the name of the organization should change accordingly. The red font-related remarks specify font changes such as changing the size ('18 pt') of the certificate number and whether a bold font type should be applied ('12 vet').
The resulting certificate can be seen here.

specimen bond of the European Community for Coal and Steel

De Bussy specimens are not always specimens.
Specimens in scripophily are certificates like the regular ones that are known to us collectors. However, they do not represent any underlying value or rights and serve only as an example of the real thing. 

Specimens are made for reference purposes, such as identification, detection of counterfeits, .. and also for promotional purposes. They are almost always (so exceptions exist) showing one or more of these features :
  • special numbering, e.g. A000000
  • hole-cancellations in the signatures area
  • overprinted, rubber-stamped or pinhole cancelled with the word 'SPECIMEN' (or the equivalent in another language)
The bond examples shown above are all red-stamped 'SPECIMEN', even the Euratom proof certificate !  

A few years ago, securities archives of the printer De Bussy Ellerman Harms were sold. In that sales operation, or before the event took place, the involved stock certificates and bonds were all stamped in that way without any distinction between specimen or proof. So, do not be fooled if you see a "specimen".


Do you know of any remarkable specimens or proofs ?


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