Beautiful engraved specimen certificate from the United Press International
dated in 1989. This historic document was printed by American Bank Note Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of the company logo. This item has the printed signatures of the Company's President and Secretary and is over 19 years old.
United Press International (UPI) is a global news agency, headquartered in the United States. With roots dating back to 1907, it was a mainstay in the press world and one of the three biggest news agencies, along with the Associated Press and Reuters.
Today, UPI is owned by News World Communications and files its news stories in English, Spanish and Arabic.
Newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps, (1854-1926), created the first chain of newspapers in the United States. After the Associated Press refused to sell its services to several of his papers, Scripps combined three regional news services (the Publisher's Press Association, Scripps McRae Press Association, and the Scripps News Association) into the United Press Associations, which began service on June 21, 1907. Scripps founded United Press on the principle that there should be no restrictions on who could buy news from a news service. This formula made UP a direct threat to the monopolistic and exclusionary alliances of the major U.S. and European wire services of the time.
United Press became the only privately-owned major news service in the world at a time the world news scene was dominated by the Associated Press in the United States and by the news agencies abroad, which were controlled directly or indirectly by their respective governments: Reuters in Britain, Havas in France, and Wolff in Germany. William Randolph Hearst entered the fray in 1909 when he founded International News Service.
The AP was owned by its newspaper members, who could simply decline to serve the competition. Scripps had refused to become a member of AP, calling it a "monopoly, pure and simple" and declaring it was "impossible for any new paper to be started in any of the cities where there were AP members." (AP appeared in 1848, when six New York City newspapers formed a cooperative to gather and share telegraph news, but the name Associated Press did not come into general use until the 1860s.)
Scripps believed that there should be no restrictions on who could buy news from a news service and he made UP available to anyone, including his competitors. He later said: "I regard my life's greatest service to the people of this country to be the creation of the United Press."
Frank Bartholomew, UPI's last reporter-president, took over in 1955, obsessed with bringing Hearst's International News Service (INS) into UP. He put the "I" in UPI on May 24, 1958, when UP and INS merged to become United Press International. Hearst, who owned King Features Syndicate, received a small share of the merged company. Lawyers on both sides worried about anti-trust problems if King competitor, United Features Syndicate, remained a part of the newly merged company, so it was made a separate Scripps company, which deprived UPI of a persuasive sales tool and the money generated by Charles M. Schulz' popular Peanuts and other comic strips.
The new UPI now had 6,000 employees and 5,000 subscribers, 1,000 of them newspapers.
Later that year, it launched the UPI Audio Network, the first wire service radio network. In 1960, subsidiaries included UFS, the British United Press, and Ocean Press. United Press Movietone, a television film service, was operated jointly with 20th Century Fox.
AP was a publishers' cooperative and could assess its members to help pay for extraordinary coverage of such events as wars, the Olympic Games, or national political conventions. UPI clients, in contrast, paid a fixed annual rate; UPI couldn’t ask them to help shoulder the extraordinary coverage costs. Newspapers typically paid UPI about half what they paid AP in the same cities for the same services: At one point, for example, The Chicago Sun-Times paid AP $12,500 a week, but UPI only $5,000; the Wall Street Journal paid AP $36,000 a week, but UPI only $19,300.
UPI was hurt by changes in the modern news business, including the closing of many of America's afternoon newspapers, resulting in its customer base shrinking. It went through seven owners between 1992 and 2000, when it was acquired by News World Communications, owner of the Washington Times. Because News World Communications is owned by the Unification Church, this purchase raised concerns about editorial independence, most notably from UPI's best-known reporter, Helen Thomas, who resigned her position as UPI's chief White House correspondent after 57 years.
Martin Walker, editor of UPI's English edition — a winner of Britain's 'Reporter of the Year' award when he was Deputy Editor-in-Chief at The Guardian — has said he has experienced "no editorial pressure from the owners."
With investment from News World in its Arabic- and Spanish-language services, UPI has stayed in business. In 2004, UPI won the Clapper Award from the Senate Press Gallery and the Fourth Estate Award for its investigative reporting on the dilapidated hospitals awaiting wounded U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq. Today, UPI is not a comprehensive news service. By 2007, UPI had fewer than 50 employees.
"From its inception, UPI was the underdog, offering young journalists little pay but a lot of opportunity. Time and again, the upstart, pocket-poor wire service managed to beat its competition. United Press editor Lucien Carr, whose roommate Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road on a continuous roll of UP teletype paper, once said that "UP's great virtue was that we were the little guy [that] could screw the AP."
(Kerouac was once speed-typing champion of the greater Boston area and complained that having to insert new sheets of paper so often slowed him down. Carr brought home a roll of UP teletype paper and Kerouac was delighted. He could put the paper into the typewriter once and type for days. The unusual manuscript brought 2.2 million at auction in 2001.)
News people who worked for UPI are nicknamed "Unipressers". Famous Unipressers from UPI's past include journalists Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, Howard K. Smith, Eric Sevareid, Helen Thomas, Pye Chamberlayne, Frank Bartholomew, Hugh Baillie, Vernon Scott, William L. Shirer (who is best remembered today for writing The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich) and The New York Times' Thomas Friedman.
UPI (and AP) photographers saw their work published in hundreds of publications worldwide, including Life, LOOK, and other magazines, as well as newspapers in the United States. Under their work, the only credit line was "UPI". Not until after the 1970s, when their names began appearing under their pictures, did a number of UPI's photographers achieve celebrity within the journalism community. UPI photographers who won Pulitzer Prizes for their work included Andrew Lopez (1960), Kyoichi Sawada (1966) Toshio Sakai (1968), and David Hume Kennerly (1972). Tom Gralish won a Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 1986 after leaving UPI for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Dirck Halstead founded "The Digital Journalist"; Books about UPI include Gregory Gordon and Ronald E. Cohen's"Down To The Wire," (1990); Richard M. Hartnett and Billy G. Ferguson's "Unipress" (2003), and Gary Haynes' "Picture This! the inside story of UPI Newspictures" (2006). Well-known photographers from UPI include Joe Marquette, Darryl Heikes, Carlos Shiebeck, James Smestad, and Bill Snead.
Richard Harnett, who spent more than 30 years at UPI, recalls what is often considered its greatest achievement: Merriman Smith's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of John F. Kennedy's assassination. "Smith was in the press car...When he heard shots, he called in to the Dallas office and sent a flash bulletin," Harnett says. "The AP reporter started pounding on his shoulder to get to the phone, but Merriman kept it from him." (Quoted - Brill's Content, April 2001)
Arnaud de Borchgrave, Newsweek's chief foreign correspondent for 25 years, covering more than 90 countries and 17 wars, is currently UPI Editor-at-Large He began his journalistic career at UPI in 1946.
U.S. employees of UPI are represented by the News Media Guild.
In 1908, UP pioneered the transmission of feature stories and use of reporter bylines.
In 1914, Edward Kleinschmidt invented the teletype, which replaced Morse code clickers in delivering news to newspapers. Press critic Oswald Garrison Villard credits United Press with the first use of the teletype.
In the 1920s and 1930s, United Press pioneered its financial wire service and organized the United Feature Syndicate.
Founded in the 1930's was "Ocean Press", a news service for oceanliners, comprised of copy from United Press and later United Press International. This ship-board publication was published by a separate corporate subsidiary of Scripps, but essentially under one roof with UP/UPI at the Daily News Building in New York. The subheadline under the "Ocean Press" logo was: "WORLDWIDE NEWS of UNITED PRESS . . . TRANSMITTED by RADIOMARINE CORPORATION OF AMERICA" ... which appears to have been a subsidiary of RCA. Some mastheads were labeled "UNITED PRESS - RCA NEWS SERVICE."
In 1935, UP was the first major news service to offer news to broadcasters.
1945 saw it launch the first all-sports wire.
In 1948, UP Movietone, a newsfilm syndication service, was started with 20th Century Fox.
In 1951, United Press offered the first teletypesetter (TTS) service, enabling newspapers to automatically set and justify type from wire transmissions.
In 1952, United Press launched the first international television news film service.
The 'UPI March', as written and performed by the Cities Services Band of America under the direction of Paul Lavalle, debuted at the Belasco Theater in New York on December 9, 1952. The UPI March was also played at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
In 1953, UPI had the first, fully automatic photo receiver, UNIFAX.
In 1958, it launched the UPI Audio Network, the first wire service radio network.
In 1974, it launched the first "high-speed" data newswire - operating at 1,200 WPM.
On April 19, 1979, UPI announced an agreement with Telecomputing Corp. of America to make the UPI world news report available to owners of home computers. Later, UPI was the first news service to provide news to dial-up services such as Prodigy, CompuServe and world-wide web search pioneers Yahoo! and Excite.
In 1981, UPI launched the first satellite data transmissions by a news agency.
In 1982, UPI pioneered an eight-level Custom Coding system that allows clients to choose stories based on topic, subtopic and location. It developed one of the first news taxonomies.
In 1984, UPI descended into the first of two Chapter 11 bankruptcies. In this period, a series of owners and managers tried launching several new products, while downsizing the original service.
In 1988, UPI broke the "all or nothing" news service tradition by introducing component products.
In 1993, UPI closed its bureaus and dismissed nearly all of its longtime employees, leaving them without pensions and medical benefits.
In 1998, UPI sold its broadcast operations to AP Radio, which shut it down and converted clients to its own service.
In 2000, UPI launched a multi-lingual editorial and content management system CMS.
On October 14, 2005 UPI launched a direct-to-consumer web site.
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.