Legal Question in Investment Law in California

Railway equipment & Realtor company Ltd. Is the name of stick certificate that I have in my possession. Do it hold any cash value. Or just a historical document

Asked on 8/15/16, 2:52 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Most old stock certificates have value only as collectibles, with ten dollars being sort of typical, and a wide range around that figure depending upon rarity and attractiveness. They are either cancelled, or the issuing companies are out of business, or both. Also, there is the question of ownership.....a stock certificate is evidence of ownership, but most are not negotiable like dollar bills; you'd have to establish that you owned the underlying shares rather than just being in possession of the certificate in order to sell it (in most cases). I'd suggest taking the certificate to a stock broker; they can check the status of the issuer and probably tell you if the shares are worth anything today. It's rare to come across old stock certificates representing still-valuable shares, but it does occasionally happen. More likely than not, however, you have a collector's item and not a valuable security.

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Answered on 8/27/16, 2:35 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

I did some further research and believe the issuer of your stock certificate must have been Railway Equipment & Realty Co. Ltd., a Delaware corporation formed about 1930 and in existence until probably the 1950s. It was a holding company organized after the 9/29 stock market crash to hold ownership of the Key System, a Bay Area streetcar and interurban train operator that went out of business about 1958. There's a fair amount of information available on line and elsewhere about both RE&R and Key System. When I first moved to San Francisco in 1961, the Key System tracks were still on the lower deck of the Bay Bridge. Based on the amount of interest in these companies, I'd say your stock certificate is probably worth more in the $100 range, with a great deal dependent upon its attractiveness and condition. I'm 99.99% sure it has no value as stock today, but it could be a nice collector's item.

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Answered on 8/27/16, 3:09 pm

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