Beautifully engraved SPECIMEN certificate from the Virginia Coal and Iron Company
. This historic document was printed by the Security Banknote Company and has an ornate border around it with a vignette that depicts the Roman Goddess Virtus representing the spirit of the Commonwealth. She is dressed as an Amazon, a sheathed sword in one hand, and a spear in the other, and one foot on the form of Tyranny, who is pictured with a broken chain in his left hand, a scourge in his right, and his fallen crown nearby, implying struggle that has ended in complete victory. Virginia’s motto, Sic Semper Tyrannis (Latin for "Thus Always to Tyrants"), appears at the top.
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.