Of Coins and Pedigrees
Welcome to my latest Market Report. With the combination of Stack’s, and Bowers and Merena, things have been busy here, transitions and the like. One of the plans is to resume regular issuance of our Rare Coin Review, or perhaps we’ll call it the Numismatic Sun. Either way, this is always fun to create and stirs up a lot of interest with readers. It is hard to imagine that well over 150 Rare Coin Reviews and nearly 20 Numismatic Suns have been published over the years. Someday I’ll have to sit down and look through them all and reminisce.
Time was when a number of different rare coin dealerships in America issued magazines with things for sale, news, and the like. Today in 2011, these have all but disappeared, replaced by the Internet perhaps. The magazines that are published tend to be more like brochures soliciting business, rather than containing news. I hope to be able to tell you soon when the next issue of our magazine will be ready.
In reviewing a recent auction consignment of Proof dimes hailing from the Dr. Christian A. Allenburger Collection, sold by B. Max Mehl in 1948, I could not help but think how rare it is today that coins keep their pedigrees. This particular consignment is very well pedigreed, mostly to the Allenburger Collection, but also to others, including Will W. Neil. It would be nice if purchasers kept track of the sales and the lot numbers from generations ago, as these add quite a bit of interest.
It is not the general practice to keep pedigrees for Liberty Seated silver coins, but, in contrast, collectors of Early American cents, 1793 to 1814 in particular, are very enthusiastic about this. An important coin lacking a pedigree—say a 1793 Chain AMERI. in EF grade, is a rallying call for anyone seeing the photograph to pore through old catalogues and listings and try to identify it. When pedigree chains are formed, they are subject to tweaking and alteration.
In our sale of the Eliasberg Collection, 1996, the famous Abbey 1799 cent was pedigreed back through many owners. No sooner did that listing appear, than corrections were made to it. Similarly, 20 or so years ago, Carl W.A. Carlson tracked the pedigrees of a number of important rarities, a pioneering effort, but since then many gaps have been filled in, and certain of his conclusions have been changed. One difficulty with tracing pedigrees is that for a long time, particularly in the 1940s and 1950s, some leading firms, including Coin Gallery and B. Max Mehl, used “stock” pictures, which are of no use in attributions. In any event, pedigrees, when they can be found, certainly add interest in my opinion.
The deadline is nearing for consignments for our auction to be held next month in connection with the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore. If you have some choice single coins, sets, or your entire collection, we’d be happy to showcase it. Just call 800-566-2580 (New York) or 800-458-4646 (California) and speak to our consignment specialists about how to include your material. Baltimore has always been a dynamic venue—one of the most active convention cities in the United States.
Here in New Hampshire, where I write these words, we have had more than our share of snow lately—this past week bringing more than two feet, on top of a generous supply already on hand. Ski resorts are delighted, of course, and the rest of us are as well, for the most part. That is, once the roads and highways are cleared. If you are reading this in the sunny South, you can appreciate more than ever the palm trees and sand.
Here’s wishing you the best until next time.