Beautifully engraved specimen certificate from Illinois Central Railroad Company
printed in 1968. This historic document was printed by American Bank Note Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of two allegorical men and railroad trains. This item is over 38 years old.
Reporting marks IC
Locale central United States
Dates of operation 1851 – 1999
Track gauge 4 ft 8˝ in (1435 mm) (standard gauge)
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois
The Illinois Central (AAR reporting mark IC), sometimes called the Main Line of Mid-America, was a railroad carrier in the central United States, with its primary routes connecting Chicago, Illinois with New Orleans, Louisiana and Birmingham, Alabama. A line also connected Chicago with Sioux City, Iowa (1870). There was a significant branch to Omaha, Nebraska (1899) west of Fort Dodge, Iowa and another branch reaching Sioux Falls, South Dakota (1877) starting from Cherokee, Iowa.
The IC was one of the earlier Class I railroads in the US. Its roots stretch back to abortive attempts by the Illinois General Assembly to charter a railroad linking the northern and southern parts of the state of Illinois. In 1850 U.S. President Millard Fillmore signed a land grant for the construction of the railroad, making the Illinois Central the first land-grant railroad in the United States.
The Illinois Central was officially chartered by the Illinois General Assembly on February 10, 1851. Upon its completion in 1856, the IC was the longest railroad in the world. Its main line went from Cairo, Illinois, at the southern tip of the state, to Galena, in the northwest corner. A branch line went from Centralia (named for the railroad) to the rapidly growing city of Chicago.
In 1867 the Illinois Central extended its track into Iowa. Throughout the 1870s, and 1880s the IC acquired and expanded railroads throughout the southern United States. IC lines crisscrossed the state of Mississippi and went as far as New Orleans, Louisiana to the south and Louisville, Kentucky in the east. In the 1880s, northern lines were built to Dodgeville, Wisconsin, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Omaha, Nebraska. Further expansion continued into the early twentieth century.
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 over the past several years.