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It's hard to believe that almost two years have passed since our last club elections. But, in a few months, it will again be time to elect Officers to the WINS Board of Directors. In advance of the elections, we'll be seeking candidates for those offices. Announcements will be made at the appropriate times. When you get a chance, please review the WINS Bylaws on our web site. The Bylaws outline the Officers' duties and the election process. I ask that members consider running for a seat on the WINS Board, or at least nominating a good candidate for office.
Time will be provided for a little campaigning, and those interested members will have the opportunity to submit biographies and campaign platforms for the benefit of the electors. WINS needs good, dedicated leadership; members who are willing to devote that extra time and effort to help WINS retain its excellence and remain the best internet coin club in the world. So, if you're willing to take that step, don't hesitate to throw your hat into the ring and have a chance to help govern our club for the next couple of years. More election information will be posted to the email lists and the WINS CoinTalk forum in the upcoming months.
What is a coin pedigree? Well, basically, it's an historic attribution associated with a given coin that reflects previous, or sometimes current, ownership. Every coin has a pedigree. But the pedigree of most coins is not known, nor is it documented. Who really cares who owned or possessed that common Lincoln Cent in you pocket change? More important to coin collectors are those rarer coins which have been in the cabinets of famous coin collectors. Once a coin has been owned by a famous person, there's usually a stronger desire for future collectors to want that coin in their collection. Thus, a pedigree begins.
Depending on the rarity or desirability of the coin, the pedigree may begin to accumulate additional collectors' names. In other words, if a given coin is owned by 'big name' collector John Doe, it may eventually acquire a pedigree known as the "Doe Specimen". But when subsequent 'big name' collectors own that coin, their names may also be added to the pedigree. So when Bob Smith purchases that coin next, it might be referred to as the Doe-Smith Specimen, and eventually the Doe-Smith-Jones Specimen after Mike Jones acquires the coin.
Arguably just as important as the stated pedigree is the documentation of same. Many years ago, coins were pedigreed by word of mouth or by simple written documentation such as a hand-written letter or a purchase receipt. Today, in our world of third-party certification, pedigrees are noted right on the slab inserts from the grading companies. Well-pedigreed coins seem to be highly sought by collectors.
In my opinion, a known pedigree will always add at least some value to the normal price of a coin. I say 'known pedigree' because some slabbing services will pedigree a coin to virtually anyone upon request. Good examples of this are the current Registry Sets sponsored on the PCGS and NGC web sites. The Registry Set owners have the automatic ability to have their set-coins re-slabbed and pedigreed as such. Another example of lesser-known pedigrees might be plate coins which are depicted in current variety publications and books. But, the more famous the pedigreed names, the more potential value that's added to the coin. The Eliasberg collection is a profound example. Eliasberg is a well-recognized name in numismatics. So, the potential added value to an Eliasberg-pedigreed coin is huge. But, like anything else, a coin with an Eliasberg - or other famous pedigree - must be marketed to the right crowd in the right setting to realize its full potential.
Some collectors wouldn't give anything extra for an Eliasberg pedigree. Some others, however, might offer a considerable premium - especially if there are several who desire that coin in a setting such as an auction. In my opinion, a higher value coin with a pedigree will usually garner a higher percentage increase than a lower value (more common) coin with a pedigree. But, in general, pedigreed coin values seem to be all over the board. Unfortunately, there's no rule of thumb to follow (such as a normal percentage increase), nor is there a published price guide strictly for pedigreed coins.
I was recently informed of the sale of a common-date, Eliasberg-pedigreed 1945 dime in an NCG MS-66 holder for $52. This was a very nice coin. But, without the Eliasberg pedigree, this coin is readily available for about half of that price. The coin readily sold to an interested collector for roughly double the normal market value because of the pedigree. Not a bad deal for the right collector.
Now, let's play a little comparison game. When the initial Eliasberg collection was being auctioned by Bowers and Merena several years ago, I bought a common item from that collection just so I could have a piece of the history. The item I acquired was a 1967 Special Mint Set which was specially packaged, certified and pedigreed to Eliasberg by Bowers and Marina Galleries. I paid $69 for that privilege. That's roughly 10 times what a regular 1967 Special Mint Set was worth at the time.
The price I willingly paid would seem to imply a value of 10 times the basic worth. But I'm not holding my breath! I know I likely overpaid for my little piece of numismatic history. But I didn't care. I wanted the item to enjoy and reflect upon in the future. And that's what pedigrees are really all about. A piece of authentic history to have and to hold; to enjoy and to cherish. So, if you pay a bit more for a pedigreed coin, that's OK. Enjoy it. And even if it never realizes a fortune for you, you'll have the satisfaction of being the interim, historical caretaker.
Ralph J. Huntzinger
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