The Division of Securities occasionally receives inquiries regarding the status and/or value of old stock certificates. Please note that the division is unable to determine the validity or value of stock certificates. Researching old stock certificates can be challenging and we’ve listed some resources below that you may find helpful. If the certificate is found to have no investment or redemption value, you may find the certificate itself has value as a collectible.
Where to start your search:
- You can start by searching the records in the state where the company was incorporated which should be listed on the stock certificate. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institution's Corporations Bureau might be able to provide information on the status of the company, but not the valuation of the stock certificate. Keep in mind, the company may have merged with another company or changed its name. For businesses registered in Wisconsin, we recommend you search corporate records by performing an "advanced search” of the company name. You can also contact the Corporations Bureau by phone at (608) 261-7577 or by email at DFICorporations@dfi.wisconsin.gov.
- If you find no record by searching Corporation Bureau records or find the company is no longer in existence (dissolved, merged or withdrawn prior to July 1, 2001), the incorporation papers and charter documents may have been retired to the State of Wisconsin Historical Society. You can search the Historical Society’s Wisconsin Corporations Index to determine if a record can be found. The website has information on how to review records if a result is found. You can contact the Wisconsin Historical Society at (608) 264-6460 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If a transfer agent is listed on the front of the stock certificate, you can try contacting the transfer agent.
- If you currently do business with a brokerage firm, you may want to ask your broker-dealer if they can assist in researching the certificate.
- The Wisconsin Department of Revenue Unclaimed Property may have information on unclaimed stock that was escheated to the state. Search for unclaimed property on Department of Revenue website.
- There are many resources on the internet. Some resources will trace the history of stock certificates and companies to determine whether or not the stock certificate has any value. Some resources provide research services for a fee.
- The business reference section of a public library may have publications to assist with researching old stock certificates. Some publications are listed below.
- Robert D. Fisher Manual of Valuable and Worthless Securities by R. D. Fisher
- Directory of Obsolete Securities: Annual Guide to Stocks by Financial Information, Inc.
- Financial Stock Guide Service by Financial Information, Inc.
- Moody’s Industrial Manual and Moody’s OTD Industrial Manual by Moody’s Investor Service
- Security Owner’s Stock Guide by Standard & Poor’s Corp.
The division does not endorse any of the organizations or publications above. The materials are provided as a resource and may be useful to research old stock certificates.
Lost, Stolen or Missing Stock Certificates
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has established a Lost and Stolen Securities Program database for financial institutions or transfer agents to report a stock certificate that has been lost, stolen, or missing. Visit the SEC's website
for guidance on the process of reporting the stock certificate lost, stolen or missing.