Beautifully engraved SPECIMEN certificate from the Fingerhut Corporation
printed in 1969. This historic document was printed by the American Bank Note Company and has a
block border with a vignette of an allegorical woman holding a globe with a rural background on the left and an urban one on the right. This item has the printed signatures of the Company's Chairman of the Board and Secretary.
Fingerhut was once the nation's #2 catalog retailer (after J. C. Penney). They sold private-label and brand-name merchandise, including apparel, appliances, electronics, health and beauty products, home furnishings, jewelry, toys, kitchen wares, luggage, and sporting goods through its catalog and Web site. Federated Department Stores bought Fingerhut in 1999 for $1.7 Billion, hoping to tap the company's e-commerce capabilities and extensive customer database.
Federated's acquisition caused significant challenges which didn't result in the expected platform to enhance catalog and Internet sales. Fingerhut took Federated into a new, higher risk retailing segment that required significant expertise and controls to ensure prudent management of the risks of
extending credit to consumers in lower income brackets. Strategic
decisions taken at Fingerhut to revise its credit terms increased
its risk profile and resulted in higher than expected delinquencies in mid 2000.
In July 2002 Federated sold the majority of Fingerhut's assets to FAC Acquisition (run by former CEO Ted Deikel and his business partner Tom Petters).
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 were 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 has grown in popularity over the past several years.