Beautifully engraved specimen certificate from the American Graphophone Company
dated 190_. This historic document was printed by International Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an old horn Graphophone.
In 1887, the American Graphophone Company was organized by Philadelphia capitalists to develop the improved product. A small plant, having a capacity of three or four machines a day, was established in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Records, at this time, were almost exclusively of the popular-novelty-comedy variety. Because of the emphasis on volume of sound, a loud voice was more important than a finely cultivated one.
Early in 1887, Jesse H. Lippincott acquired from the American Graphophone Company the exclusive right to rent or sell the Graphophone under the Bell and Tainter patents. A little later, Mr. Lippincott purchased the Edison Speaking Phonograph Company and set up the North American Phonograph Company to promote the sale of both products nationally.
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.