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If you want to find out the value of some old penny stock certificates, and you don't mind spending a few dollars, you can visit StockCertExpert.com.
I believe it costs around $24 per certificate, depending.
Or, You Can Do The Work Yourself
You have a certificate for a penny stock company and you'd like to determine if your shares have value. The basic information you will need should all be on the certificate itself, and is as follows:
Your first goal is to determine the current status of the firm. Likely, you'll find that just about all old penny stocks are:
The first step would be to see if the company is trading on a listed exchange.
Yahoo.com offers a symbol lookup feature Symbol Lookup which will tell you if the firm is still trading under the same name.
Call or write the transfer agent that is listed on the front of each certificate. A transfer agent handles transfers of stock certificates (regular and penny stocks) and should be able to advise you on their value.
If the transfer agent no longer exists or cannot help you, try to contact the company directly. The stock certificates should show the state where the company was incorporated. Contact the Secretary of State in that state, and ask for the Business Corporations Section. They should be able to give you a history of the company. From there you can contact the existing company (if there is one) to find out the value of your stocks.
If the firm no longer exists (in any form) your certificate may have value as a collector's item, but at this point most hope is lost. A site like Scripophily is one of the largest dealers of certificates on the internet.
If you don't want to do the research yourself you can always hire one of the many firms on the internet that will research the shares of your penny stocks (or hopefully now large cap stocks) for you.
You can attempt to deposit your certificates with a brokerage firm. The firm has to determine the value of the shares.