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Factors that make top provenance

Here are the factors that I think make a top provenance.
Obviously, it is impossible to know the answers to all of these, but it is possible to guess on some.

What do you folks think? Any others?

The collector:
1) Amount of money spent on the collection. Very hard to know this, but a proxy for it might be the overall wealth of the collector.
2) Length of time the collector was actively buying. Time period the collector was buying.
3) Did the collector have a good eye for quality? Did they fill holes or wait for the best?
4) From where did the collector buy coins? Top dealers, direct from the mint, through auctions, etc.
5) Did the collector have good numismatic connections?
6) Was the collector a noted authority on the coins of the collection? Authored books or articles, well-known to numismatists of the day for that type of coin, etc.
7) Did the collector make any new discoveries?
8) Did the collector travel worldwide to buy coins? Or have international dealer connections? (Even if a US collection, this is important. Think of Farouk and all the great US coins handled by Baldwins in London over the years for example.)

The collection:
1) Was the collection thorough? Complete with respect it's purported goals.
2) Were all the minor and major rarities present? In what quality?
3) Were there unique coins present?
4) Did the collector upgrade when the opportunity presented itself?
5) Was care taken in storage/handling of the collection?
6) How was the collection disbursed? Big name auction house? Was there hype/buzz when it was sold? Were prices high relative to the market?
7) Were any of the coins in the collection bought en masse from other top collectors?

Comments

  • OnwardOnward Posts: 23 ✭✭

    This is excellent, @pruebas.

    Regarding the collection category, it might be good to include the additional factor of whether any of the coins prompted new discoveries, or improved our understanding of a series.

    No.7 in that part of factors might likewise highlight the kind of research Boosibri has enjoyed, i.e. the preservation of past provenance history. It is a great service to present and future numismatists when this kind of detective work is undertaken by those with the persistence for it, with more than simply monetary value at stake. I have felt dismay upon numerous occasions when the provenance history of the coins being sold was intentionally destroyed , concealed, or omitted.

    Pursuing Charles & Joanna, especially Early Series

  • Sergey74Sergey74 Posts: 151 ✭✭✭
    edited January 26, 2023 9:45PM

    And if the collector was bad man who often lied, cheated for wife, broke traffic rules and did another criminal deals his coins with bad provenance should have low prices. It's joke.

    Peace.

  • ZwiggyZwiggy Posts: 37 ✭✭✭

    That is a very interesting write up @pruebas and thank you for penning it down!

    I do think you have covered everything - IMHO, from the collectors part points 3,6 and 7 stand out as the most important for having a “great” provenance. From the collection part I’d think points 1,3 and 5 stand out.

  • WCCWCC Posts: 2,328 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Agree with your list, except that upgrading wasn't nearly as important and for really hard to complete series, they may not have been able to find a better specimen. In my primary collection, I own numerous coins which I presume were unknown to the best collections of the past. I infer this is equally true of other forum members here. Some of the best known collections still had low or really low quality coins.

    To me, it also depends upon the series. With the internet now, most series and collections are much easier to complete. This applies a lot less to world coinage outside of Europe and a few other countries, but even most of these are easier or a lot easier.

  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 4,263 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @WCC said:
    Agree with your list, except that upgrading wasn't nearly as important and for really hard to complete series, they may not have been able to find a better specimen. In my primary collection, I own numerous coins which I presume were unknown to the best collections of the past. I infer this is equally true of other forum members here. Some of the best known collections still had low or really low quality coins.

    To me, it also depends upon the series. With the internet now, most series and collections are much easier to complete. This applies a lot less to world coinage outside of Europe and a few other countries, but even most of these are easier or a lot easier.

    Obviously, the internet has changed collecting and buying. That makes the old important collections all the more special since it was much harder to acquire coins.

    I don't think every bullet point needs to be affirmative. The greater percentage of positive answers, the better the pedigree IMHO.

    I'll give you one example. The recent Pat Johnson collection sold by Stacks Bowers starting in Jan 2022. It was clear to me that once Mr. Johnson had an example of a coin, he didn't upgrade it. The coin was checked off his list. I do not have definite proof of this, but from seeing the coins and knowing roughly the time period of his collecting, I get the sense he didn't upgrade. Yes, he bought great coins to begin with, but some could have been upgraded.

    (Alternatively, he could have had different grading standards than the TPGs and valued certain characteristics over others. Maybe a few hairlines didn't bother him whereas PCGS would knock off 2 MS points for them.)

    I know a collector who likes PL coins. And PLs don't always grade the highest, but he values them over others with fewer marks. So to him, a PL lower graded is "better" than a non-PL higher graded coin. Nothing wrong with that.

  • John ConduittJohn Conduitt Posts: 346 ✭✭✭
    edited January 27, 2023 3:38PM

    Fair enough - very comprehensive. I'm not sure I understand the difference between Collector and Collection, as they are rather interlinked.

    For the collector, I wouldn't really consider 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 or even 2. The coin would speak for itself. Did the collector have a good eye? It doesn't matter if the coin in question is common and rough. Even a cheaper, uglier coin would be better for 6 and 7. Perhaps more so than a good-looking coin. Most academic authorities collect like museums - eye appeal is not high on the list, while interesting details are. The sign of a top provenance is it can lift the worst coins. If they found this interesting, it makes you read up about it.

    For the collection, it wouldn't be famous without some element of 1-3. I don't know if they need to have all rarities and any unique coins, but something special. 7 is important simply because it adds more provenance. 4 doesn't really matter, as the coins speak for themselves. 5 is interesting, as we'd probably consider the storage and handling of older collections to be terrible, when they thought it was the best way (cleaning coins, coating everything in wax). 6 would, unfortunately, impact on prices, but shouldn't.

  • robp2robp2 Posts: 141 ✭✭✭✭

    This is interesting, but I suspect we may have quite a divergence of opinions.

    For what it's worth, a collection will never be considered great and a provenance to chase without documentation. i.e. a major auction sale at one of the main houses or a sylloge, such as that for the Schneider collection of English gold, is a pre-requisite. I know of more than one collection to die for, but with no external knowledge of the contents - they don't exist. To be the first top grade collection to market in a particular field will ensure that it is used as the benchmark for at least the next decade or two, and with that goes provenance. To become noteworthy and a good provenance for the future, a collection must compare with the best of the past, or even surpass them.

    In my opinion, as for the contents of said collection, it will certainly need a high percentage of top coins within the chosen collecting criteria. Not always the best of each, but mostly will need to be in the top 2 or 3 of what's available. This matters more for a collection of a discrete series than for a type example collection. The former needs to be reasonably complete including varieties, but as not everything is known in high grade, allowance will be made for this by students of the series. As an example, the milled section of the Adams collection of halfcrowns was based on the coins listed in English Silver Coins since 1649 by Alan Rayner, and was approximately 80% complete, but still light years ahead of anything subsequently assembled. Most were high grade, and it included proofs and patterns.

    A type collection will need to have a lot of high grade pieces with breadth, as being a general accumulation of coins, will never become a benchmark unless it is comprehensive as well as high grade. Funding becomes an issue in this case and I think that ship has sailed for all bar a few given how prices have risen.

    Unique coins come with the territory, so are not a determining factor. There may be more or fewer depending on the series. A collector of currency coins will potentially have far fewer unique pieces to collect than someone who collects patterns.

    A collector of a series has to become an academic to some degree, as many varieties are only identifiable under glass and additionally they need to be able to identify them in passing. Waiting for people to bring coins to you is not very productive unless you are throwing unlimited funds around. Accordingly, a top collection will have good connections, as it is easier to sell to someone you know needs the coin in question. This often goes hand in hand with readily available funds

    Experience and understanding of the collecting goals makes for a good eye.

    Many of the top collections in the past have included the bulk purchase of another decent collection. Quality coins tend to assemble in the same place, so it always makes sense to buy a collection if the opportunity arises and you can afford it.

    A person who has written the definitive reference for any series will always have the collection with the provenance, as the coins will be illustrated and therefore sought after.

    Going forward, it really depends on how the market appreciates and treats the prior ownership of the coins available. Obviously in the US there is a greater focus on the number, but the prevalence of slabs means that very often a provenance or tickets are lost until some nerd rebuilds it using the tools available. On this side of the pond there are many more who don't collect by number, meaning there is a greater retention of tickets. There is also a reduced danger of having wax spots removed for aesthetic reasons, as there is no pressure to 'conserve' in order to achieve a higher grade.

  • WCCWCC Posts: 2,328 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robp2 said:

    In my opinion, as for the contents of said collection, it will certainly need a high percentage of top coins within the chosen collecting criteria. Not always the best of each, but mostly will need to be in the top 2 or 3 of what's available.

    >
    This is most important for US coinage and secondarily for European and the Anglo countries. In Latin America and older Spanish series, the coins don't exist in (anywhere near) equivalent quality.

    @robp2 said:

    The former needs to be reasonably complete including varieties, but as not everything is known in high grade, allowance will be made for this by students of the series.
    >
    This is also primarily US and maybe British coinage. It's not true of Latin coinage and of the limited knowledge I have of others, not true there either. Aside from the cost, it's predominantly due to the difference in scarcity. It's not collected this way, but of the South African Union series as defined by US definition, I have never heard of even one collector attempting to collect by die variety. Part of the reason is because there isn't a comprehensive die variety reference but even if there was, the supply in higher quality is too low try it.

  • robp2robp2 Posts: 141 ✭✭✭✭

    @WCC said:

    @robp2 said:

    In my opinion, as for the contents of said collection, it will certainly need a high percentage of top coins within the chosen collecting criteria. Not always the best of each, but mostly will need to be in the top 2 or 3 of what's available.

    >
    This is most important for US coinage and secondarily for European and the Anglo countries. In Latin America and older Spanish series, the coins don't exist in (anywhere near) equivalent quality.

    @robp2 said:

    The former needs to be reasonably complete including varieties, but as not everything is known in high grade, allowance will be made for this by students of the series.
    >
    This is also primarily US and maybe British coinage. It's not true of Latin coinage and of the limited knowledge I have of others, not true there either. Aside from the cost, it's predominantly due to the difference in scarcity. It's not collected this way, but of the South African Union series as defined by US definition, I have never heard of even one collector attempting to collect by die variety. Part of the reason is because there isn't a comprehensive die variety reference but even if there was, the supply in higher quality is too low try it.

    Top coins are top coins, irrespective of grade. If it is as good as any known, then it's a top coin. Not being available in a high number on the slab, or even a number on the slab is only a problem for those who collect by number.

    Most British denominations have someone who collects by variety. Michael Gouby's volume on bronze pennies 1860-1970 by die variety has ensured there is a strong following for these. In any field, once someone has done the spadework and researched a series thoroughly and then crucially written it down, so, people will collect according to the literature. Most people are too lazy to do the basic research and so collect paying only lip service to a few previously documented varieties. A reluctance by many to spend money on books only exacerbates this.

    If you are only prepared to buy a good example in high grade, then the constraint is the collector, not the coins. Just about every academic collector has a two point grading system - acceptable and unacceptable. It is the only way you can acquire some things. A case in point being this, which I wouldn't throw out for anything other than a decent unimpaired example coming to light.

  • WCCWCC Posts: 2,328 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robp2 said:

    Most British denominations have someone who collects by variety. Michael Gouby's volume on bronze pennies 1860-1970 by die variety has ensured there is a strong following for these. In any field, once someone has done the spadework and researched a series thoroughly and then crucially written it down, so, people will collect according to the literature. Most people are too lazy to do the basic research and so collect paying only lip service to a few previously documented varieties. A reluctance by many to spend money on books only exacerbates this.

    Yes, I'm aware of the existence of a reference results in variety collecting. In my primary series (a couple of mints within pillar coinage), there has been one since at least 1999 and the most recent one is dated a few years ago.

    I doubt it will do much for variety collecting for the reason I told you. The coins are too scarce in "collectible" quality. It's one thing when the coins can be bought in the typical condition of US and British but entirely another in the quality I am talking about. I'm not as familiar with British collecting but in the US, the only series where I know US collectors consistently collect very low quality is early large cents but these are still mostly better than the ones I see for my series.

  • @WCC said:

    @robp2 said:

    Most British denominations have someone who collects by variety. Michael Gouby's volume on bronze pennies 1860-1970 by die variety has ensured there is a strong following for these. In any field, once someone has done the spadework and researched a series thoroughly and then crucially written it down, so, people will collect according to the literature. Most people are too lazy to do the basic research and so collect paying only lip service to a few previously documented varieties. A reluctance by many to spend money on books only exacerbates this.

    Yes, I'm aware of the existence of a reference results in variety collecting. In my primary series (a couple of mints within pillar coinage), there has been one since at least 1999 and the most recent one is dated a few years ago.

    I doubt it will do much for variety collecting for the reason I told you. The coins are too scarce in "collectible" quality. It's one thing when the coins can be bought in the typical condition of US and British but entirely another in the quality I am talking about. I'm not as familiar with British collecting but in the US, the only series where I know US collectors consistently collect very low quality is early large cents but these are still mostly better than the ones I see for my series.

    I think there is a big difference between collecting modern and medieval/ancient. With modern coins, you can know the varieties and collect them. With medieval and ancient, someone has made up the varieties - they weren't necessarily manufactured as varieties, while other varieties have been grouped together that perhaps shouldn't be. But since the dies are hand engraved, every die is different and decisions need to be made. The person who makes those decisions is, by definition, likely to have a top collection, since they decided which coins are different and rare, and which ones aren't, even though 'rarity' might just be the luck of the draw from the categorisation.

  • AbueloAbuelo Posts: 1,754 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Impressive provenance? @pruebas

  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 4,263 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Kuenker's latest marketing e-mail discusses provenance. It's a good read.

    Provenance – A Coin’s Fourth Dimension

    Albert Einstein introduced time as the fourth dimension in physics. Of course, we all know that a three-dimensional coin is a tangible testimony of the past and thus creates a direct connection to the time when it was minted. However, when dealing with a coin, we often forget about all the decades in which it was part of a collection. Although we read the names of previous owners in catalog descriptions, they are nothing but names to us as we do not know anything about their lives. Therefore, we endeavored to find out more about the biographies behind these names. You will be amazed to learn about the incredible people that share your hobby of coin collecting!

    Here you can read the article.

  • coinkatcoinkat Posts: 22,653 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Does a provenance diminish if that collector was astute to collect quality for the grade? I see this as a slippery slope for World coins in that the so-called best coin to some may simply not have the look of quality. This is a challenging and perhaps an unpopular view. An astute collector may have the knowledge and wisdom to accept one of two choices...

    This is the best that I can afford... or

    This is truly the best representative example that I likely think exists for the date//mint//denomination.

    Experience the World through Numismatics...it's more than you can imagine.

  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 4,263 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've seen some rare dogs with a good provenance bring great money. :o

    I think after a while, the market (or at least serious players in a particular market) learns which provenances are worth extra money and how much.

    As an example, I've heard @Boosibri say that he doesn't value the "Whittier Collection" name. I agree. Why do you think that is?

    In my opinion, that collector bought lots of coins, and some were really rare and nice, but it seemed generally to be quantity over quality.

    Whereas Norweb or Pittman had great eyes and bought among the finest coins (or upgraded to them as they became available). Eliasberg on the other hand, may have had nice US coins, but his world coins weren't anything special (except the gold which was bought en masse from Clapp and was choice).

    Market players gain a feel for which provenance they would pay extra for.

  • NapNap Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting discussion.

    Apart from some extremely old provenances or those tied to people famous outside of numismatics, which are interesting in their own right, I find that the only thing that really makes a provenance valuable is whether the coins were considered very high quality. Otherwise, while it's nice to have an old provenance, it doesn't add much value. It does add to the presumption of authenticity to have an older provenance, and this has some value too, but an old sale record does essentially the same thing, irrespective of who owned it.

    Most collectors, even those of extraordinary means, have to ultimately choose between a comprehensive collection and one that is focused entirely on quality. The highest quality collections get the valued premium when they sell, even if the comprehensive collections are just as impressive (if not more) as a feat of collecting.

  • robp2robp2 Posts: 141 ✭✭✭✭

    @Nap said:
    Interesting discussion.

    Apart from some extremely old provenances or those tied to people famous outside of numismatics, which are interesting in their own right, I find that the only thing that really makes a provenance valuable is whether the coins were considered very high quality. Otherwise, while it's nice to have an old provenance, it doesn't add much value. It does add to the presumption of authenticity to have an older provenance, and this has some value too, but an old sale record does essentially the same thing, irrespective of who owned it.

    Most collectors, even those of extraordinary means, have to ultimately choose between a comprehensive collection and one that is focused entirely on quality. The highest quality collections get the valued premium when they sell, even if the comprehensive collections are just as impressive (if not more) as a feat of collecting.

    Collecting has changed in the past 50 years. Prior to that, the vast majority of 'famous' collections were comprehensive in nature, simply because the coins were available at affordable prices. Yes they were built by people who weren't short of a bob or two, but the prices paid were not excessive for those of relatively modest means. As a result you rarely saw collections with a narrow focus. Today, wealth is spread around to a greater extent meaning more have the means to collect, as well as population growth which has further exacerbated the question of supply and demand. This has resulted in far more focused collections and improved documentation has resulted in greater depth within this constraint.

    Prior to WW2, the cost of illustration was not insignificant, so any sale with a good number of plated coins went hand in hand with quality. To put it into context, the cost of the illustrated Bruun sale catalogue in 1925 was one guinea (£1/1/-). Lot 769 was an Oxford Triple Unite which sold for £40/10/-. Today that would sell for for more than £40K. Who would pay thousands for a current sale catalogue? Any illustrated sale from this era will be special for whatever reason. As an extreme example, the Whitehead sale of 1898 included a Gold Cromwell Crown, Petition Crown, Reddite Crown, Gold 1820 £5, Gold Gothic Crown and a Una and the Lion. Despite all being in mint state or as good as was available, none were illustrated, only the Roman and Medals section. Today, all of these are 6 figure coins.

    Today, collections have become focused out of necessity, with quality and completeness across the collection the determining factor when looking at a modern provenance.

    From a personal viewpoint, today's more impressive collections are not those assembled by people with so much money they can just thrown unlimited funds at the problem, but the person who has the patience and takes the necessary time to assemble something comprehensive. The late John Hulett's collection was sold in 21 parts at DNW. It wasn't full of spectacular pieces (he had some best knowns), but he collected from Edgar reform (973) to the end of hammered coinage (1662), with Charles I collected by die variety, and outside that, anything different (mints, bust, legend varieties etc). I have his last wants list here, and it only runs to six sides of A4, with most being either obscure or obscenely expensive varieties. That was over 70 years of dedicated collecting, and respect is due.

  • I don't think provenance has much to do with quality. You can see quality for yourself. If you can't, then you shouldn't be buying very expensive coins on the basis that someone else may or may not have thought them the 'best' (which we don't know). Not least when they hadn't seen most of the existing coins, half of which have been found in the last 50 years. This is a bit like people buying coins based on their grade from a TPG. It isn't necessarily better.

    Provenance has more to do with who owned it. A football used in the World Cup Final is worth more than one used in Wrexham v Chesterfield, even if it's exactly the same type of ball from the same factory. A coin owned by someone notable or used as a plate coin is more valuable than one that isn't.

    If an esteemed collector or academic in a particular field owned the coin, it shows they were interested in it. It could be ugly, but interesting. The coin then becomes more interesting. It has a life beyond it's time in circulation. Similarly, if it was found in a hoard, or by the Thames, or in a Norfolk field, I now have some information on how it was used and by who. It's not just a lump of metal that vanished from the mint 2000 years ago until it appeared at CNG. That is what provenance adds.

  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 4,263 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It’s great to hear the wide-ranging thoughts on this.

  • OnwardOnward Posts: 23 ✭✭

    @John Conduitt said:
    I don't think provenance has much to do with quality. You can see quality for yourself. If you can't, then you shouldn't be buying very expensive coins on the basis that someone else may or may not have thought them the 'best' (which we don't know). Not least when they hadn't seen most of the existing coins, half of which have been found in the last 50 years. This is a bit like people buying coins based on their grade from a TPG. It isn't necessarily better.

    Provenance has more to do with who owned it. A football used in the World Cup Final is worth more than one used in Wrexham v Chesterfield, even if it's exactly the same type of ball from the same factory. A coin owned by someone notable or used as a plate coin is more valuable than one that isn't.

    If an esteemed collector or academic in a particular field owned the coin, it shows they were interested in it. It could be ugly, but interesting. The coin then becomes more interesting. It has a life beyond it's time in circulation. Similarly, if it was found in a hoard, or by the Thames, or in a Norfolk field, I now have some information on how it was used and by who. It's not just a lump of metal that vanished from the mint 2000 years ago until it appeared at CNG. That is what provenance adds.

    Thank you @John Conduitt for sharing your perspective. A number of exceptionally fine observations on the subject of provenance in each of your contributions to this discussion.

    Your comment today reminded me that reflecting on who owned a coin and why offers insight into what we as numismatists should value most in relation to this topic.

    Pursuing Charles & Joanna, especially Early Series

  • koincollectkoincollect Posts: 446 ✭✭✭

    For me personally the older the provenance the better since I rely on it just for authenticity. With a lot of coins now being faked, any coin coming from a very old collection tells me about the authenticity. I was looking at one Soho mint coin recently which is available as a fake on Aliexpress and wondering whether to buy it since the characteristics did not match any known coin-- rather the ones of Aliexpress, but it had an old provenance which told me that it was actually a pattern!

    Apart from the authenticity aspect, historical references add value at least for me. For a collector of Soho mint products, the Watt or Boulton family provenance adds value.

    I personally do not value any coin for a provenance by a famous collector/cataloguer, but do note that the market preferences and will buy the coin with such a provenance over the one with none if the quality is the same. :-)

  • SimonWSimonW Posts: 549 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Many of the things discussed here are very interesting and wonderfully described, I won’t touch on most of my thoughts about it because I’d just be repeating someone else.

    I will say this. I always thought we coin collectors have it backwards in some ways. We love the history! We love the thought that these coins lived a life, were part of adventures and still survive! This little hunk of metal was part of a pirate shipwreck and that one was possibly held by Benjamin Franklin himself! …. But, we tend to collect the nicest and best coins we can find. Most of which have very little history except that it was put aside in a drawer shortly after minting.

    It’s very evident with the US Morgan dollar series. The worn coins tended to circulate in the American west! The mint state coins spent their lives in bags stored in dusty old vaults…which coin is truly the interesting one? I would say the one that people gambled with in Dodge City or was carried across the planes to Oregon.

    One thing provenance does is it takes these highly preserved coins and gives them a history, gives them a story. That taps into our desire to connect with a coin. Most of the most valuable coins have very rich provenances. People love that history, KNOWN history, not just presumed history. It gives highly preserved coins that rich history, where otherwise it may not have much of an interesting past…

    —This coin was presented to King Farouk, —that coin was part of the largest coin litigation in history
    —another, part of a clergyman’s collection in the fifteen hundreds!

    We love history and we love a good story. That’s part of what provenance does, I think.

    I'm BACK!!! Used to be Billet7 on the old forum.

  • neildrobertsonneildrobertson Posts: 1,170 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 28, 2023 2:44PM

    @John Conduitt said:
    I don't think provenance has much to do with quality. You can see quality for yourself. If you can't, then you shouldn't be buying very expensive coins on the basis that someone else may or may not have thought them the 'best' (which we don't know). Not least when they hadn't seen most of the existing coins, half of which have been found in the last 50 years. This is a bit like people buying coins based on their grade from a TPG. It isn't necessarily better.

    Provenance has more to do with who owned it. A football used in the World Cup Final is worth more than one used in Wrexham v Chesterfield, even if it's exactly the same type of ball from the same factory. A coin owned by someone notable or used as a plate coin is more valuable than one that isn't.

    If an esteemed collector or academic in a particular field owned the coin, it shows they were interested in it. It could be ugly, but interesting. The coin then becomes more interesting. It has a life beyond it's time in circulation. Similarly, if it was found in a hoard, or by the Thames, or in a Norfolk field, I now have some information on how it was used and by who. It's not just a lump of metal that vanished from the mint 2000 years ago until it appeared at CNG. That is what provenance adds.

    I agree with this. All of the factors surrounding and contributing a collection's quality and legacy build up the collector and my desire to own one of their coins.

    It's hard to imagine that a collector in the past would have had access to all of the coins we have access to now by virtue of the internet and international trade. I think any collector alive now could surpass just about any past collector independent of any financial constraints. The only advantage folks had in the past is that they could build certain collections at a much lower cost.

    IG: DeCourcyCoinsEbay: neilrobertson
    "Numismatic categorizations, if left unconstrained, will increase spontaneously over time." -me

  • @SimonW said:
    Many of the things discussed here are very interesting and wonderfully described, I won’t touch on most of my thoughts about it because I’d just be repeating someone else.

    >

    I encourage you and everyone here to always share your considered opinions. Your way of seeing it and saying it may connect with one of us in an important way and generate a new thought.

    One thing provenance does is it takes these highly preserved coins and gives them a history, gives them a story. That taps into our desire to connect with a coin.

    This comment brings us very close to the heart of it now. Coins are time travelers. We happen upon them. Like a living person, their encounter with us changes us. The coins we study bear the same message century after century. The question is, what are we hearing?

    Pursuing Charles & Joanna, especially Early Series

  • coinkatcoinkat Posts: 22,653 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This comment brings us very close to the heart of it now. Coins are time travelers. We happen upon them. Like a living person, their encounter with us changes us. The coins we study bear the same message century after century. The question is, what are we hearing?

    Please don't clean and destroy my natural patina...

    Experience the World through Numismatics...it's more than you can imagine.

  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 4,263 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @neildrobertson said:

    @John Conduitt said:
    I don't think provenance has much to do with quality. You can see quality for yourself. If you can't, then you shouldn't be buying very expensive coins on the basis that someone else may or may not have thought them the 'best' (which we don't know). Not least when they hadn't seen most of the existing coins, half of which have been found in the last 50 years. This is a bit like people buying coins based on their grade from a TPG. It isn't necessarily better.

    Provenance has more to do with who owned it. A football used in the World Cup Final is worth more than one used in Wrexham v Chesterfield, even if it's exactly the same type of ball from the same factory. A coin owned by someone notable or used as a plate coin is more valuable than one that isn't.

    If an esteemed collector or academic in a particular field owned the coin, it shows they were interested in it. It could be ugly, but interesting. The coin then becomes more interesting. It has a life beyond it's time in circulation. Similarly, if it was found in a hoard, or by the Thames, or in a Norfolk field, I now have some information on how it was used and by who. It's not just a lump of metal that vanished from the mint 2000 years ago until it appeared at CNG. That is what provenance adds.

    I agree with this. All of the things surrounding a collection build up the collector and my desire to own one of their coins.

    It's hard to imagine that a collector in the past would have had access to all of the coins we have access to now by virtue of the internet and international trade. I think any collector alive now could surpass just about any past collector independent of any financial constraints. The only advantage folks had in the past is that they could build certain collections at a much lower cost.

    They had one other advantage. Norweb and Farouk, for instance, had a large network of the best and most connected dealers looking for coins for them. In those days, not as many coins went to auction, so dealers handled a larger share of the best coins vs. today. Someone like Fred Baldwin or Andre DeClermont or even John Ford would have saved their best coins for favored (and rich) clients.

    Additionally, after WWII, many coins were available rather than in collections. Europe and Asia were generally destroyed from the fighting, and those folks weren’t seeking rare coins. So the coins were often in the hands of dealers who could “place” them in collections.

  • neildrobertsonneildrobertson Posts: 1,170 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @pruebas said:

    They had one other advantage. Norweb and Farouk, for instance, had a large network of the best and most connected dealers looking for coins for them. In those days, not as many coins went to auction, so dealers handled a larger share of the best coins vs. today. Someone like Fred Baldwin or Andre DeClermont or even John Ford would have saved their best coins for favored (and rich) clients.

    I've always assumed the equivalent thing is occurring now with the most affluent collectors and dealers, even though I'm not personally exposed to it.

    I guess you are also saying that it was possible to garner an "unfair" advantage over other collectors if you were successful at building strong relationships with top dealers. And there seems to be an implicit idea that auctioning off material is a way of dispersing high end material that's more fair.

    IG: DeCourcyCoinsEbay: neilrobertson
    "Numismatic categorizations, if left unconstrained, will increase spontaneously over time." -me

  • NapNap Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robp2 said:

    >

    Collecting has changed in the past 50 years. Prior to that, the vast majority of 'famous' collections were comprehensive in nature, simply because the coins were available at affordable prices. Yes they were built by people who weren't short of a bob or two, but the prices paid were not excessive for those of relatively modest means. As a result you rarely saw collections with a narrow focus. Today, wealth is spread around to a greater extent meaning more have the means to collect, as well as population growth which has further exacerbated the question of supply and demand. This has resulted in far more focused collections and improved documentation has resulted in greater depth within this constraint.

    Prior to WW2, the cost of illustration was not insignificant, so any sale with a good number of plated coins went hand in hand with quality. To put it into context, the cost of the illustrated Bruun sale catalogue in 1925 was one guinea (£1/1/-). Lot 769 was an Oxford Triple Unite which sold for £40/10/-. Today that would sell for for more than £40K. Who would pay thousands for a current sale catalogue? Any illustrated sale from this era will be special for whatever reason. As an extreme example, the Whitehead sale of 1898 included a Gold Cromwell Crown, Petition Crown, Reddite Crown, Gold 1820 £5, Gold Gothic Crown and a Una and the Lion. Despite all being in mint state or as good as was available, none were illustrated, only the Roman and Medals section. Today, all of these are 6 figure coins.

    Today, collections have become focused out of necessity, with quality and completeness across the collection the determining factor when looking at a modern provenance.

    From a personal viewpoint, today's more impressive collections are not those assembled by people with so much money they can just thrown unlimited funds at the problem, but the person who has the patience and takes the necessary time to assemble something comprehensive. The late John Hulett's collection was sold in 21 parts at DNW. It wasn't full of spectacular pieces (he had some best knowns), but he collected from Edgar reform (973) to the end of hammered coinage (1662), with Charles I collected by die variety, and outside that, anything different (mints, bust, legend varieties etc). I have his last wants list here, and it only runs to six sides of A4, with most being either obscure or obscenely expensive varieties. That was over 70 years of dedicated collecting, and respect is due.

    In the old days, I would think that a greater percentage of available coins were from hoard finds, so perhaps the overall quality was finer. Nowadays, many coins are metal detecting individual finds, which are more likely to be lower grade, damaged, etc.

    I agree that the collectors were more likely of means- coin collecting has become a more accessible hobby and that's a good thing.

    I have great respect for collectors like Hulett. Also Marvin Lessen, Lord Stewartby, Stewart Lyon, Jim Sazama, Arthur Fitts, and others who put a lot of work into relatively modern comprehensive collections in their field. I certainly love to see their provenance on coins in my collection. But I don't know that I would pay a premium for their provenance. Would you? The quality of the collections were mixed. I am not judging, the quality of my collection is also mixed. I respect the collector. But it's hard to assign a premium to the collection's provenance. Maybe it's just because their coins were sold too recently. Time may change that opinion.

  • robp2robp2 Posts: 141 ✭✭✭✭

    I will pay a premium for a provenance that goes back in time and preferably was illustrated in old catalogues, because at that time these coins were definitely in the top few examples of the type or particularly rare. There was a piece of Tudor gold in a Goldberg sale a few years ago that I happily chased up to way over book because it was illustrated in Montagu (but not attributed because it was in a slab, and not MS either), but still managed to come second. It now resides in the Tyrant collection.

    As for more modern provenances, for me, any enhancement of value probably lies in the completeness of a dedicated study of a series, e.g. the Mass collection of Short Cross pennies - this I appreciate. Or for that matter, Tim Everson's work on the copper farthings of James I and Charles I. They aren't high value items, but he did the study and wrote the book.

    Today, with the ability to buy across the world thanks to the internet, a collection of high quality can be readily assembled and regurgitated within a few years as XXXX collection, but this is frequently only a case of throwing money at a problem and dare I say it, investment, rather than a love for the hobby.

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