Beautiful engraved RARE Specimen certificate from the New England Patriots Football Club, Inc
dated in 1976. This historic document was printed by Security-Columbian Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of the company logo - a Patriot football player. This item has the printed signatures of the Company’s President ( William H. Sullivan, Jr. ) and Secretary ( Mary H. Sullivan ). This is the only second specimen certificate we have seen from this football team and believe it to be quite rare.
Professional football arrived in New England on November 16, 1959, when a group of local businessmen, led by former public relations executive William H. "Billy" Sullivan, Jr. was awarded the eighth and final franchise in the new American Football League. One week later, Northwestern University running back Ron Burton was selected as the franchise’s first draft choice and Syracuse running back Gerhardt Schwedes was selected as the team’s first territorial choice.
The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats" by sports writers and fans, are a professional American football team based in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The team is part of the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The owners changed the name from the original Boston Patriots after relocating the team to Foxborough in 1971.
An original member of the American Football League (AFL), the Patriots joined the NFL in the 1970 merger of those leagues. The team advanced to the playoffs four times before appearing in Super Bowl XX in January 1986, losing to the Chicago Bears. The team also appeared in Super Bowl XXXI in 1997, losing to the Green Bay Packers.
Between 2001 and 2005, the Patriots became the second team in NFL history (after the Dallas Cowboys) to win three Super Bowls in four years (Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX), and the eighth to win consecutive Super Bowls. As Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote after the Super Bowl XXXIX win: "And the New England Patriots of the 21st century are established as an NFL dynasty on a par with the Packers of the 1960s, the Steelers of the '70s, the 49ers of the '80s, and the Cowboys of the '90s."  In 2007, the Patriots became only the second team in the modern era of the NFL to complete a perfect regular season with a record of 16-0, and the first team to do so since the introduction of the 16 game season.
On November 16, 1959, Boston business executive Billy Sullivan was awarded the eighth and final franchise of the developing American Football League (AFL). The following winter, locals were allowed to submit ideas for the Boston football team's official name. The most popular choice—and the one that Sullivan selected—was "Boston Patriots". Immediately thereafter, Phil Bisell developed the "Pat Patriot" logo (see Logos and Uniforms of the New England Patriots).
Training camp started on July 4, 1960, two months prior to the franchise's first game. On September 9, 1960, the Boston Patriots played the Denver Broncos in the first-ever AFL regular season game. The Patriots were defeated by a score of 13–10. The Patriots missed the AFL playoffs for their first three seasons. However, in 1963 the Patriots reached the AFL Championship for the first time; they lost to the San Diego Chargers 51–10. The Patriots failed to make it to the AFL playoffs for the rest of the decade. During this period, Patriots running back Jim Nance was named the American Football League's MVP in 1966.
The Patriots' second decade began with significant changes. In 1970, the Patriots' franchise joined the NFL pursuant to the merger of the AFL and NFL that had been agreed to three years earlier. The Patriots were merged into the American Football Conference (AFC), where they remain to the present day. However, the Patriots' first season as part of the NFL resulted in a record of 2–12, giving them sole possession of the newly merged league's worst record. The team lacked stability and was forced to play at four different sites. Finally, the Patriots moved into a new stadium in Foxborough (also known as Foxboro). The stadium, initially named Schaefer Stadium, became Sullivan Stadium in 1983 and ultimately Foxboro Stadium in 1990.
In February, 1971, the team was renamed the Bay State Patriots. After press, fan, and public relations backlash against the prospect of the team becoming known as the "B.S. Patriots", the franchise renamed the team the New England Patriots in March, 1971 to reflect the relocation out of Boston and desire to gain regional following.
By the early 1970s, several new players were added to the lineup, including Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett; USC All-American and Rose Bowl touchdown record holder Sam "Bam" Cunningham, and offensive lineman John Hannah, who became the first career Patriot to be elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1991. Despite the addition of these popular players, the Patriots' series of losing seasons continued into the early 1970s, during which time the Patriots were often derisively called "The Patsies" by the local fans and press.
Chuck Fairbanks was hired as head coach and general manager in 1973 after leading a top-ten program at the University of Oklahoma. Prior to the hiring of Fairbanks, New England had its sight set on Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. Paterno however, ultimately declined the move, and remained at Penn State.  Under Fairbanks, the Patriots finished 7–7 in 1974 and 3–11 in 1975, which resulted in changes to the offense. Plunkett was traded to the San Francisco 49ers and replaced by Steve Grogan.
After the string of losing seasons, the Patriots finished the 1976 season with an 11–3 mark — the best record in team history to that point — and a playoff slot for the first time since 1963. In the first round of the 1976 playoffs, the Patriots lost to the Oakland Raiders 24–21. In 1978, Fairbanks was fired as head coach when it was revealed that he had been secretly hired as the new head coach of the University of Colorado. Fairbanks was replaced by Ron Erhardt, who coached the team to a playoff appearance later that year. The Patriots lost to the Houston Oilers in the first round. The following year under new coach Ron Meyer, the Patriots were once again eliminated in the first game — this time by the Miami Dolphins. With the team unable to assemble playoff victories, the Sullivans replaced head coach Ron Meyer with former wide receiver Raymond Berry in 1984.
In the 1985 regular season, the team finished with an 11-5 record and obtained a wild-card playoff berth. The Patriots won three road playoff games on their way to Super Bowl XX — an NFL record. At Super Bowl XX, the Patriots surrendered a 3-0 first quarter lead and lost to the Chicago Bears by a score of 46-10. The following season, New England won the AFC East with another 11–5 record, but fell to the Broncos in the first round of the playoffs. Local resident Doug Flutie was a member of the Patriots during the 1987 and 1988 seasons, in which they finished with records of 8–7 and 9–7, respectively. Berry remained head coach through both seasons.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Patriots' lack of playoff appearances was underscored by personnel changes and controversy within the Sullivan ownership. The Sullivan family lost millions of dollars on investments, including The Jacksons' 1984 Victory tour. These financial losses and demands forced the Sullivans to sell the team. In 1986, Francis W. Murray arranged financing to keep the team afloat, and in return was granted an option to purchase the team. When Murray tried to exercise his option, the Sullivans refused to acknowledge his rights and Murray sued and won in court. As a result, Murray agreed to partner with Victor Kiam to purchase the team in 1988. Kiam and Murray purchased the team for $84 million — $16 million less than Sullivan claimed to have invested in the team. Although Kiam was now the majority owner, he decided to keep Billy Sullivan and his son, Pat Sullivan, as franchise president and general manager respectively. Meanwhile, paper and packaging magnate Robert Kraft, a Patriots season-ticket holder since 1972, moved strategically to gain ownership of decrepit Sullivan Stadium (formerly Schaefer Stadium) after a business analysis showed that he could not yet afford to bid on the team, but that the team could not be a financial success without the stadium revenues. He set in motion a long-term strategy to one day become the owner of the Patriots. Kraft closed on the stadium purchase on November 23, 1988. Essentially, Kraft owned the stadium and Kiam owned the team. During this leadership change, head coach Berry was replaced by Rod Rust — a change that was short-lived.
The Patriots' worst season in franchise history — a 1-15 record — came under Rust in 1990. During the season, the Patriots were thrown into the middle of a sexual harassment scandal when Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson was sexually and verbally assaulted by several Patriots players in the team's locker room and was later labeled a "classic bitch" by Kiam. Following an investigation into the scandal, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue fined the team $50,000, and players Zeke Mowatt, Michael Timpson and Robert Perryman $12,500, $5,000, and $5,000 respectively. Rust was fired and replaced by Dick MacPherson at the end of the season. The Olson scandal and the 1-15 record are cited as the two primary reasons why Rod Rust was told to leave.
In 1992, St. Louis businessman James Orthwein became sole owner of the Patriots franchise, sparking rumors of a possible relocation of the team to St. Louis. However, no move was scheduled for the 1992 season, despite a 2-14 record.
During the 1992–1993 offseason, the Patriots shifted gears by replacing MacPherson with Bill Parcells. The team's draft selections during the offseason included top overall pick Drew Bledsoe, who was quarterback of the team until 2001, and wide receiver Troy Brown who last season became the team record holder for most receptions. Troy Brown would also play as a defensive back in the Belichick era, scoring touchdowns both on interceptions and as a receiver. Despite these acquisitions, the 1993 season resulted in 5-11 record as Parcells began rebuilding, and rumors about relocating to St. Louis rekindled during the offseason. However, before he could move the team to St. Louis, Orthwein had to get out of the lease on Foxboro Stadium, owned by Robert Kraft. When Orthwein offered Kraft $75 million to buy out the remaining years on the lease, Kraft turned it down, forcing Orthwein to put the franchise up for sale.
Using the stadium lease as leverage, Kraft was able to buy the Patriots in January of 1994, paying a record (at the time) $200 million for the team. More importantly, in the view of the region's media, he immediately announced that the team would stay in New England.
Kraft made a commitment to Patriots fans that he would bring a Super Bowl and a state of the art facility for the team to New England. On the day the NFL approved his purchase, the fans responded by buying almost 6,000 season tickets en route to selling out every game for the first time in the team's 34-year history. Every home game has been sold out since.
Despite the marketing successes, the relationship between Kraft and Parcells was strained. It got worse with time as new owners with their net worth on the line were unwilling to give carte blanche to Parcells' spending on the football side. The Krafts believed in giving management plenty of space, but not carte blanche without questions and answers. Parcells felt Kraft was interfering with his prerogatives and with what was needed to run a successful winning football franchise, especially in light of the new NFL salary cap which took effect in 1994. The result was a management stalemate with declining good will that eventually led to Bill Belichick, the newly hired Assistant Head Coach, having to mediate between the two during the 1996 season. The management conflict also led to the distracting and disruptive rumors that Parcells was leaving the franchise; rumors that dominated the news prior to the team's participation in Super Bowl XXXI (as double-digit under dogs), despite the fact that Parcells was under contract through the 1997 season. At one point prior to the AFC title game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough, who had excellent relationships with both the Krafts and Parcells, actually maneuvered the two into a meeting to settle their differences (January 12th, 1997—the morning of the AFC Championship game). Team president Jonathan Kraft is quoted by writer Michael Holley in Patriot Reign as saying "It was a very, very strange time, and when you are not an expert at this business—you know we were still very new to the business—it can be educational. Big Bill had kept us in the dark on a lot of things. He probably misled us on some things. And we didn't know how to go about questioning it."
New England entered the 1994 season after drafting defensive end Willie McGinest, the first round and fourth overall pick, who would later play linebacker on all three Super Bowl-winning teams. The 1994 club struggled to 3-6 but rallied to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in overtime and finished the season with a record of 10-6. Although the team lost in the first round of the playoffs and finished the 1995 season with a 6–10 record, Kraft decided to keep Parcells; however, Parcells was forced to give up control of player personnel, creating a divided structure Belichick would later put an end to—but not until 2001. In 1996, the Patriots finished with an 11–5 record and won the AFC East division championship, advancing to Super Bowl XXXI, where they were double-digit underdogs and lost to the Green Bay Packers 35–21.
Due to rising tensions between Parcells and Kraft, Parcells resigned and was replaced by Pete Carroll in 1997. Meanwhile, the Patriots and the New York Jets began switching players and coaches, including Parcells and running back Curtis Martin. Nevertheless, New England finished with a 10–6 record and took first place in the AFC East. The Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 17–3 at home in the opening round of the playoffs before losing against the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 7–6. In the 1998 season, the Patriots finished 9–7 and lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the playoffs. A subpar 1999 season followed in which the Patriots jumped to a 6-2 record but collapsed after their bye week to finish 8-8. The second half of the season resulted in Carroll's firing.
After Carroll was fired, Bill Belichick, hand-picked to be Parcells' successor with the Jets, quit after one day as Jets head coach to join New England. Belichick's first season in 2000 resulted in a 5–11 record. In 2001, quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured in the second game of the season and was replaced by Tom Brady, a sixth-round draft pick, who then led the team into the playoffs with an 11–5 record. The Patriots defeated the Oakland Raiders in the so-called "The Tuck" game played in a driving snowstorm in Foxborough (it was also notable for being the final game in Foxboro Stadium), followed by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. That set up the team's third trip to New Orleans and Super Bowl XXXVI, where they defeated the St. Louis Rams on a last-second field goal by Adam Vinatieri. In New England's first Super Bowl victory, Brady drove his team 48 yards in 1:21 with no timeouts to set up the winning field goal, and was selected Super Bowl MVP. An estimated 1.5 million people turned out in Boston for the Patriots' first victory parade. In the 2002 offseason, Bledsoe was traded, in an unusual move, within the division, to the Buffalo Bills.
President George W. Bush poses with the New England Patriots during a ceremony honoring the 2004 Super Bowl Champions in the Rose GardenIn 2002, Robert Kraft opened the new Gillette Stadium after privately funding its construction. Initially getting no support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to build a new stadium, Kraft made a deal to move the team to Hartford, Connecticut in 1998. However, environmental cleanup problems with the Hartford site, combined with Massachusetts' eventual willingness to loan $57 million for infrastructure costs around Foxboro to be repaid through parking revenue, led to a reversal of the Hartford deal. As a result of threats of lawsuits by Connecticut Governor John Rowland, Kraft paid $2.4 million to Connecticut to avoid any future litigation. The state-of-the-art stadium is widely considered to be one of the premier stadiums in the NFL.
The Patriots missed the 2002 playoffs. The team finished with a record of 9–7 and lost the division title to the New York Jets via a tiebreaker. In 2003, the Patriots started 2–2 but finished with a 14–2 record after fourteen straight wins on their way to Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers. The Patriots won by a score of 32–29; the final three points came from another Adam Vinatieri field goal. Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the second time in his career.
In 2004, the Patriots broke the NFL all-time regular season consecutive winning streak record of 18 straight wins with a victory against the Miami Dolphins. Later in the season, the Patriots lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, which halted their winning streak at 21 games. However, the NFL only counts regular-season wins in determining the consecutive wins record, so the Patriots' streak officially stands at 18 games.
After finishing the 2004 season with a 14-2 record, the Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers en route to Super Bowl XXXIX. The Patriots went on to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 24–21. The victory made the Patriots the first team in six years to repeat as NFL Super Bowl champions, and the second team ever to win three Super Bowls in four years. After the 2004 season, Belichick's top two coordinators, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, left the team to pursue head coaching positions. Significant players moved on as well, including longtime Patriot cornerback Ty Law. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi missed half of the 2005 season while recovering from a mild stroke. During the 2005 season, the team lost several starters to injuries. The Patriots won the AFC East with a 10–6 record, then defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 28–3 in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Denver Broncos 27–13.
The 2006 off-season saw the departure and arrival of several personnel. The team finished the 2006 regular season with a 12-4 record and won the AFC East for the fourth consecutive time. The Patriots went on to defeat their rival the Jets 37-16 in the wild card round. In the following game, Brady, despite throwing 3 INTs, engineered a 4th quarter comeback to defeat the San Diego Chargers by the score of 24-21. They faced the Colts in the AFC Championship but lost 38-34 after leading 21-3 midway through the second quarter.
During the 2007 offseason, the Patriots traded for wide receiver Randy Moss of the Oakland Raiders and signed linebacker Adalius Thomas of the Baltimore Ravens.
The 2007 New England Patriots season kicked off against the Jets. During the game, NFL security confiscated a video camera and its tape from a New England Patriots video assistant, Matt Estrella, who was filming the Jets coaching staff's play signals on the team's sideline. On September 13, Belichick was fined $500,000, and the Patriots fined $250,000. Additionally, the Patriots will forfeit their first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft because they reached the playoffs (had the Patriots not made the playoffs, they would have forfeited their second- and third-round selections).
Wikinews has related news:
New England Patriots go undefeated in NFL regular seasonThe Patriots finished the 2007 season with a 38-35 win over the New York Giants on December 29, making their record 16-0. With the win, they now join the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears and the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to go undefeated in the regular season, and the 1st team to go 16-0 in the regular season (the other teams played 13, 11, and 14 games, respectively).
The team's on-field performance and attendance has drastically improved since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994. In the 34 years prior to the arrival of Kraft, the Patriots had won the AFC East three times, made the playoffs six times (including their AFL Championship berth in 1963), and went to the Super Bowl once. Since Kraft, the Patriots have won the AFC East eight times, made the playoffs nine times and have been to the Super Bowl on four occasions, winning three. From the 1996 season onward, every Patriots home game has sold out, both at Foxboro and Gillette stadiums, including preseason games.
History from Wikipedia and OldCompanyResearch.com (old stock certificate research service).
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 over the past several years.