Beautifully engraved Specimen certificate from the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad Company
. This historic document was printed by American Bank Note Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of steam engine moving down the track.
The St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company, was known as the "Cotton Belt Route," and was organized January 15, 1891. It origin, in 1876, was in a company organized to construct a railroad from New Madrid, Missouri to Helena, Arkansas, which company consolidated with the Texas & St. Louis. In 1885 the property passed into the hands of Colonel S.W. Fordyce as receiver, but the next year was sold to J. W. Paramore, and others, styled the Bondholders' Commitee, the road now being known as the St. Louis Arkansas & Texas Railway. August 4, 1887 the Arkansas & Southern Railway Company bought the property in Arkansas, and about the same time the property of the Little Rock & Eastern Railway Company, and the consolidated company was formed under the name of the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railway in Arkansas and Missouri, which purchased the property of a company organized to build a road from Malden, Arkansas to Delta, Missouri, opposite Grand Tower, a distance from Malden of fifty one miles. The St. Louis Southwestern proper, operated 582 miles of main track; the St. Louis Southwestern of Texas, 551 miles; Tyler Southeastern, 88 miles - total, 1,223 miles.
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.