By Steve Carr
A coin’s pedigree is a listing of all known prior owners or public appearances. Sometimes, this is only the person you got the coin from. Other times, pedigree can extend back to the original owner.
Why are pedigrees important? Some prior owners are famous collectors or dealers. For a large cent collector, it is a thrill owning a coin once owned by Frank Andrews, who was the first person to identify large cent varieties for the years 1816-1857, or William Sheldon, who did the same for cents dated 1793 -1814.
Even owning a large cent once owned by Dan Holmes or Wes Rasmussen, two recent collectors who had great collections, can be an achievement.
Even a coin that was originally owned by your great-grandfather, passed to your grandmother, and then to you can be significant. Here a pedigreed coin in my collection.
This is an 1830 N6, with the medium letters reverse, that once belonged to Frank Andrews. How do I know? It came with Andrews coin envelope. The coin only grades Very Good, but it is possible Andrews used the coin when he developed his attribution guide (Andrews seldom upgraded coins). This is also proof that this coin was around in 1880. To me, that is cool!! Every time I handle it, I think of Andrews studying this coin.
Another way to determine a pedigree is through auction results. Many auction catalogs have pictures of the coins being sold. They are also described. Do the pictures and description match your coin?
One final advantage of a pedigreed coin is that its history is known back to a certain date. With the current influx of Chinese counterfeits, this pedigree can prove that the coin existed before these fake “coins” hit the market.