Pedigrees - Why They’re Important
When buying a dog, particularly a champion, one of the most important considerations is its pedigree. The bloodline of a pedigree proves a dog’s ancestry and allows the prospective purchaser to confirm that the parents are also champions. A good pedigree certifies the value of a champion. A bad pedigree means the dog is, well, just a dog.
Similarly, in the coin world, pedigrees certify the value of a champion. A pedigree to a “name” collection can add a lot of value. Names like Maris, Spiro, Roper, Taylor, Norweb, Ford, and Garrett are important to collectors of colonial coins. U.S. coin collectors find tie-ins to the Eliasberg, Newcomer, Col. Green, and King Farouk collections especially attractive. Pedigrees from the Bass and Eliasberg collection are valuable to collectors of gold coins. Pattern collectors seek out coins from the Byron Reed, Garrett, and Bass collections. And, the list goes on.
Why are pedigrees so important?
1. Pedigrees tell us where our coins have been. The most desirable pedigrees trace the ownership of a coin all the way back to the day it was struck. For some reason (best understood by psychologists), collectors are fascinated with the notion of knowing where their coins have been every moment of their metallic lives. Collectors love long pedigrees - in fact, the longer the better. The ultimate pedigree includes a long list of “name” collections that spans decades or centuries.
2. Pedigrees establish a chain of value. A good pedigree tells us when a coin sold and for how much. Auction records and price histories help collectors establish a purchase price and, later, a selling price. If a coin sold recently, the potential buyer might feel that a slight increase is all that is appropriate as a purchase price. If the coin sold years ago, the old price may be useless, as other similar coins may have already sold for more in the meantime. The same approach applies to establishing a selling price. Thus, in almost all cases, a recent pedigree is of more value than an older pedigree in establishing prices. However, collectors are fascinated to know that that the coin they just purchased for $5000 in 2005 sold for only $1.25 in 1898!
3. Pedigrees imply a higher degree of quality. “Name” collections are famous for a reason - they’re usually the most complete or the finest quality available. Typically, “name” collectors either purchased the best coins or upgraded their coins with better ones, always seeking the best quality. Thus, coins from their collections are often the finest known.
The pedigree to a “name” collection implies excellent quality or rarity, even when a particular coin may or may not be the rarest or the finest known.
Pedigrees provide security, a confirmation of value, and a direct link to the past. Owning a coin with a great pedigree is not necessarily expensive and it’s something that every collector should experience and enjoy. That’s why pedigrees are important.
Ron Guth - February 21, 2005
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