Beautifully engraved SPECIMEN certificate from the Consolidated Oil Corporation
. This historic document was printed by the Security Banknote Company in 1935 and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an oil refining plant between an allegorical man and woman. This item has the printed signatures of the Company’s Vice President and Secretary.
During the decade of the 1920's, the Sinclair organization became involved in the Teapot Dome controversy. A contract to develop naval oil reserve lands in Wyoming was awarded in 1922 to Mammoth Oil Company to operate in Teapot Dome. Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation, as the holding company was known then, traded 250,000 of its common shares for a 25 percent interest in Mammoth, with an option on sufficient additional stock to assure ultimate control. In 1924, Sinclair Pipe Line Company (50 percent owned by Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation) extended its system 700 miles to Wyoming, at a cost of about $21 million. Under Mammoth's obligation to the government, oil terminal facilities were constructed at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Navy Yard costing $1,340,000.
Alleging fraud in the award of the Teapot Dome contract, the government sued in 1924 to cancel the arrangement with Mammoth. The trial court held the lease legal and dismissed the complaint; but in 1927 the U.S. Supreme Court, on appeal, voided the contract on technical grounds, though finding "no direct evidence of fraud." A jury which deliberated only forty minutes acquitted Mr. Sinclair of a criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud. The use by Mr. Sinclair of private detectives to keep the jury under observation during the trial drew a sentence for contempt of court. During the long controversy, Mr. Sinclair gave 175,000 words of testimony before twelve legislative committees, disdaining the fifth amendment; but for refusing to answer one question which his counsel considered not to be pertinent to the legislative inquiry, Mr. Sinclair was held to be in contempt of the Senate. On the contempt citations, he spent six and one half months in the Washington, D.C. House of Detention in 1929.
Specimen Certificates are actual certificates that have never been issued. They were usually kept by the printers in their permanent archives as their only example of a particular certificate. Sometimes you will see a hand stamp on the certificate that says "Do not remove from file".
Specimens were also used to show prospective clients different types of certificate designs that were available. Specimen certificates are usually much scarcer than issued certificates. In fact, many times they are the only way to get a certificate for a particular company because the issued certificates were redeemed and destroyed. In a few instances, Specimen certificates we made for a company but were never used because a different design was chosen by the company.
These certificates are normally stamped "Specimen" or they have small holes spelling the word specimen. Most of the time they don't have a serial number, or they have a serial number of 00000. This is an exciting sector of the hobby that grown in popularity and realized nice appreciation in value over the past several years.