Beautifully engraved SPECIMEN certificate from the Manchester Ship Canal Company
dated 19XX. This historic document was printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson & Company Limited no later than 1920 and has a vignette of a ship in the open waters.
Formally opened by Queen Victoria in May 1894 amidst scenes of great ceremony and popular enthusiasm, the 'Big Ditch' as it was affectionately known, brought deep sea shipping all the way to Manchester and lead to the creation of the thriving industrial community of Trafford Park. Today it is still a seaway for 3000 ships annually carrying no less than 8 million tonnes of cargo.
The Manchester Ship Canal Company owns and operates the Manchester Ship Canal, a 56-kilometer port connecting Irish Sea harbors at Liverpool with central Manchester. As a subsidiary of Peel Holdings, the company also leases land in the port area for industrial development.
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.