Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Poll results - Number of scripophily collectors in the world

"of all human collecting species, the Homo Sapiens Scripophilius, is the hardest to find"

International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT)
Domestic share certificate for less than 100 shares, 1959

Results of the poll
This was the question : How many scripophily collectors are there worldwide ?
  • less than 1000
  • between 1000 and 2000
  • between 2000 and 5000
  • between 5000 and 10000
  • between 10000 and 20000
  • between 20000 and 50000
  • between 50000 and 100000
  • more than 100000
Only 10 votes were made, including mine. I agree, a low number of votes. But to those who made the effort : thank you for voting !

And here are the results :

As you can see, there is no pronounced winner.
My vote ? Between 20000 and 50000.  Actually, I estimate the number of collectors at 30000. Let me explain why I think so.

There are more collectors than we think there are
Currently, the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS) counts 16 Belgian members. The Belgian Association for Scripophily (BAS) counts 50 Belgian members. The Norsk Selskap for Scripofili (NSS) counts over 200 Norwegian members with 7 of them currently joining IBSS too. Two hundred is about the number of IBSS members from the USA.  Wait a minute! The USA has a population that is about 60 times larger (over 300 million) than the Norwegian population (5 million). We learn further from the IBSS Membership Directory 2010 that there is one Chinese member and 2 from Russia.

It would be naive to think that all Belgian collectors are members of the BAS. Similar, it would be naive to think that most scripophily collectors are IBSS members but I admit : the idea sounds great. Doubtless, our planet counts more scripophily collectors than most of us think there are. But where are they ?

Honeywell Inc.
specimen certificate 100 shares, 1968

Cities are the most likely habitats for scripophily collectors
First of all, I think a scripophily collector is likely a person who became passionate about antique stocks and bonds
  • after collecting similar objects like coins, banknotes, stamps, ephemera, ..
  • or, after seeing certificates on a flea market or online auction sites like eBay : love at first sight
  • or after been dealing with certificates in a professional way, e.g. a bank clerk
Surely, it must be easier to find such a person within the city limits than on the countryside. This thought is the reason why I will further focus on city populations.

Wall Street Computer Corp.
Less than 100 common shares of $.01, 1973

A "collectors per million people" constant
I assume half of the Belgian scripophily collectors are member of the BAS. This would bring the hypothetical number of collectors in Belgium to 100. In order to estimate the number of collectors in the world, I need some formula that somehow relates to the population in cities. 

Next, I make an abstraction of my country's population taking into account only the larger cities with more than 1 million people (where there is much chance to find a collector). I consider the population within the city limits, not the metropolitan area around the city which is much wider. In Belgium we have only 1 such city : Bruxelles, counting 1 million people. This brings me to a number of 100 collectors for 1 million people in Belgium's large cities : my constant. 

The formula looks like this :
population in millions of a country's large cities
x 100
= number of collectors in that country

Some examples:
  • The US counts 9 cities like this with a joint population of 23.5 million people. This brings our estimate for the US on 23.5 x 100 = 2350 collectors.
  • Russia counts 13 cities with more than 1 million people, aggregating to a population of 28 million people. My estimate for the number of Russian collectors is 28 x 100 = 2800 .

North American Rockwell Corporation
More than 100 common shares of $1, 1972

Number of stock and bond collectors in the world
Applying the calculation for the other large regions in the world, results in the following approximations :

A complete list of considered places is mentioned below.

Is the outcome of 30000 ridiculous or realistic ?
  1. My calculation does not include populous countries with a  scripophily rich history such as Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Egypt, ... 
  2. The formula can only be applied to large world regions, not to small individual countries. Applying the formula to Norway would lead us to zero collectors in that country because there is no Norwegian city with 1 million people or more within the city limits.
  3. Somehow my approach likely underestimates the regions with a longer tradition in collecting and overestimates the emerging regions. The numbers for India and China are high, but so are their number of large cities, and that's where we should find more collectors.
Maybe the number of 30000 collectors sounds ridicoulously high, yet this number is tiny when we compare it to other disciplines. Stanley Gibbons estimated in a recent press report, see here, that there were about 60 million stamp collectors in the world. What about coins or bank notes ? Some sources on the Internet, which I could not verify (someone can ?) , speak of 100 million coin collectors.

David Attenborough, the best known modern naturalist, would probably say "of all human collecting species, the Homo Sapiens Scripophilius, is the hardest to find".
You can post your reactions or further inputs via the comments link below.


PS : The images, shown above, depict an allegorical woman or man with a globe. The shares are from American companies that have been active also in the field of computing. Double-click to enlarge for details.

Reference: list of cities included in my calculation (Wikipedia)
  • US
    • New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas
  • Europe
    • London, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Paris, Bucharest, Hamburg, Budapest, Warsaw, Vienna, Barcelona, Sofia, Milan, Munich, Prague, Brussels, Birmingham, Cologne
  • Russia
    • Moscow, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Omsk, Kazan, Chelyabinsk, Rostov-on-Don, Ufa, Volgograd, Perm
  • China
    • Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tianjin, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Chongqing, Nanjing, Fuzhou, Harbin, Xi'an, Chengdu, Changchun, Dalian, Hangzhou, Jinan, Taiyuan, Qingdao, Zhengzhou, Shijiazhuang, Kunming, Lanzhou, Zibo, Changsha, Nanchang, Ürümqi, Guiyang, Anshan, Tangshan, Wuxi, Jilin City, Fushun, Suzhou, Baotou, Qiqihar, Xuzhou, Hefei, Handan, Shenzhen, Luoyang, Nanning
  • India
    • Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Kanpur, Jaipur, Lucknow, Nagpur, Patna, Indore, Thane, Bhopal, Ludhiana, Agra, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Vadodara, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Rajkot, Meerut, Kalyan-Dombivali, Navi Mumbai, Amritsar, Varanasi, Aurangabad, Solapur, Allahabad, Jabalpur, Srinagar, Ranchi, Visakhapatnam, Chandigarh, Mysore, Howrah, Jodhpur, Guwahati, Coimbatore

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