Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hunt down your collectible with Google Images

A picture is worth a thousand words.

In this article you will learn about an alternative and easy way to seek information about your collectible. The method is applicable to any object such as a coin, a banknote, a postage stamp, et cetera. And because scripophily is the main subject of this blog, I'll use a share certificate as an example in the procedure explained below.

Sine Laboratory Compay Limited
Share certificate, 1948, Shanghai
double-click image to enlarge

When conventional search methods yield nothing at all
Do you recognize this situation? I 'google' for a company name that appears on a share certificate and find no results. Then I retry the search with other search engines. OK. Now I initiate a search operation on my local computerfiles and hope some Excel or PDF document will show up in the results. Alas. I do not want to give up yet. Next I check out my bookcase for any reference books in which the name might appear in their indexes. As I was beginning to fear : nada, nothing, rien de knots, niente. When this happens, well .. %&$#?@!  ... there are no words for it. Stuck with a certificate I know nothing about, I end up storing it in an album and hope another attempt,  maybe next year, will yield better results. 

Google Images
Most of us already know how to use Google Images : you enter a search term and the result shows images that correspond to the term or phrase entered. However, in 2011 Google came up with a new feature. It allows you, instead of entering a search term, to upload an image. Any image, therefore also an image of your collectible. Holy smokes!

You can take out that untraceable certificate from its album, the one you put away a year ago. Scan it, or take a picture of it with your smartphone, and upload the image to Google Images. Unless your certificate is a rare piece, Google will likely find you similar images and links to corresponding webpages. It doesn't matter if the text on your share is in your familiar alphabet or not.

Procedure for searching by image
Using Google Images in this way is very simple. Go and try it for yourself. For the sake of completeness, I wrote out the procedure here below. Double-click the images to enlarge them.

Step 1 : Click Images on the Google home page, or navigate directly to Google Images.

Step 2 : Click the camera icon in the input field.

Step 3 : Click Upload an image

Step 4 : Click the Choose file button (in Dutch : Bestand kiezen)

Step 5 : Browse for your image on your computer, select it, and upload it by clicking the Open button.

Here you are! There is a good chance that Google finds information about your item by using its image.

Here is also a 42-second YouTube video, showing the procedure in a nutshell, including a 'drag and paste' method. 

Was this procedure useful for you ? Honestly, somehow I forgot about this retrieval method. It was my friend, John, who brought it back under my attention. Thanks, John !



  1. Pretty useful post, Franky. I've got a few certificates that I've not been able to decipher at all so far. Hope this tip help my search. Grateful. Kind Regards from Madrid.

    1. Thank you for the feedback! Regards, F.L.

    2. Again thank you Franky. I forwarded your useful tip to all our EDHAC follower www.edhac.ev.de Hans-Georg Glasemann

    3. Hallo Georg, thank you for the encouraging words !
      Herzliche Grüße, F.L.