An antique Chinese bond, nominally worthless in the financial market, was sold at auction today for $14,000. The buyer was one of a growing number of so-called scripophilists who collect and trade old securities for their artistic and historic rather than their monetary value.
The purchase, made by sealed bid, was for a Swiss collector who was taking advantage of lower prices in the nascent U.S. market for such memorabilia. Based on previous London prices, the auctioneer, Stanley Gibbons Galleries, had estimated the multicolored 1898 Imperial Chinese bond would sell for $25,000.
The second-highest price of $7,500 was paid for a 1912 City of Nikolaef Russian bond. A German collector picked it up for half its estimated value.
Scripophily experts admit prices for Chinese, Russian and European securities have become overvalued in the past two years, so a softening of prices was not unexpected. But if the fallen securities went for less than anticipated, American ones exceeded their presale estimates by about 25 percent.
American Confederate, railroad and famous autographed securities did particularly well. The top price was $1,200 for an 1878 certificate for $100 shares of Standard Oil Company, signed by John D. Rockefeller. The certificate lost its nominal value in 1882 when the owner exchanged it for shares of the Standard Oil trust.
A 1925 Edison Photograph Distributing Co. certificate autographed by Thomas A. Edison, went for $425. Three dollar-denominated bonds issued by the Irish Republic in 1866, sold for $500. CAPTION: Picture, One of three bonds issued by the Irish Republic in 1866 which sold for $500.