By Rick Bretz for Coinweek….
Coins coming from personal collections are often given a Pedigree status and this seems to be a growing trend, as almost every auction by a major auction house now promotes coins as from the “So-and-So Collection”. As a fellow pedigree collector told me in a recent conversation:
“Rick, those collections are fine. Some contain examples of truly rare and museum quality items but they also contain a bunch of just plain, common coins. None of them do anything for me because I would rather have a coin that has an interesting story associated with it. I would take a shipwreck coin over a common MS60 silver dollar from the Bass Collection any day.”
He also went on to say that all the personal collections showed “was that some guy with a lot of money built a nice collection”.
I found this an interesting position because I share his feelings. When I speak about pedigree coins at various functions, audiences are interested when they hear the story about the Champagne Lanson gold find, the Binion Collection, the Fitzgerald Collection, the Wall of Greed, etc. But when I start talking about the personal collections of Bass, Duckor or Benson, I lose 90% of the audience.
Two major problems with private/pedigree collections are:
- There’s just no story (as my friend observed), and
- They’re expanding as rapidly as baseball cards did in the 1990s.
That expansion killed the baseball card-collecting hobby. Private collections and artificially-created collections are increasing at an alarming rate. Stack’s and Heritage have numerous “Collection” sales every year and many coin dealers are adding their name or a catchy phrase to give the appearance of a pedigree.
I have to admit, my fellow pedigree-collecting friend not only got me thinking about personally-named pedigrees but also pretty much killed my desire to have private pedigrees in my collection. While I do have some that I really like, I’m not going to pay a premium for a coin with no collecting value other than having belonged to “some guy with a lot of money”.
Case in point.
Here are three coins from personal collections:
- An 1884-O, MS60, Morgan silver dollar from the Bass Collection.
- A 1943, MS66, Mercury dime from the Benson Collection.
- A 1959-D, MS63FBL, Franklin half dollar from the Duckor Collection.
Why would or should any of these coins be worthy of having a pedigree name associated with them? They are as common and plentiful as coins get. Just because it is from a private collection should not automatically classify the coin as a legitimate pedigree.
Skidaway Island Collection
In my humble and reserved opinion, there are probably around six collections that deserve a true Pedigree name or status. One that I just learned about is the Skidaway Island Collection that was recently featured in several auctions by Heritage. Here is a recap of the collection:
“Heritage Auctions introduced an exceptional collection of Bust Half Dollars to pedigree collectors at the Dallas Invitational PNG US Coins Signature Auction at the Gaylord Texan Hotel on February 26 – March 1, 2015. The collection was graded by NGC with “Skidaway Island Collection” on the label. The Bust Half Dollars have exceptional eye-appearance and are a true “collection” versus a “hoard” of coins. The collection included 437 of the Overton numbers and approximately 500 Bust Half Dollars in total. Ownership previously resided with a private collector who remains anonymous.
Some of the Skidaway Busts acquired in the Heritage (February PNG) auction are now starting to appear in the secondary market at coin shops, shows and on eBay. However, if you would like an example for your pedigree collection and don’t necessarily feel like paying the flip premium then you are in luck as the coins are still appearing in current and future Heritage auctions.”
The achievement of assembling a near complete set of all bust half varieties is clearly worthy of pedigree status. It is much more than “a rich guy with a lot of money assembling a nice collection.”