I have a number of world coins from renowned collections and it is a privilege to be their current custodian however most of these are raw - so how do I prove it?
I do have the original invoice which demonstrates when and where I bought the coin but do people really provide a copy of this should they sell the coin to keep the provenance intact? Apart from 'flagship' coins where each individual is well documented it is only recently that auction catalogues have included pictures of most of the coins in a sale but then these are not always of sufficient quality to confirm a match. Graded coins include a reference number which would be an obvious way to track a coins history however not all auction houses include this is in the description or include a picture of the holder in addition to that of just the coin.
Provenance included on the label of graded coins is very useful in this regard and I have some coins that highlight their pedigree this way (D. Moore Collection, E.P. Newman etc) however there is limited space on the label so for coins such as a very rare English Charles I halfcrown* which appeared at auction a few weeks ago, this is not the solution either as it would not be possible to include all this information on the holder, it is also impractical that labels will be updated each time a coin changes hands anyway. However I think it would be useful for this information to be added to the TPG databases and be available when looking up a certificate number. The grading company could verify the invoice etc, thereby protecting the personal details of the owner and thus attach valuable provenance to an individual coin (already done as part of adding provenance to a label?). In addition it would also be possible to attribute other important information associated with a coin such as whether it was used as a plate coin in reference texts etc, the wonders of modern technology means that this information could easily be updated.
With new legislation, such as the German Cultural Assets Protection Act, starting to appear across the globe restricting the sale/export and/or ownership of such things as coins I consider a documented, unbroken, provenance critically important for current and future collectors and as such my major goal for 2019 is to try and sort out all my invoices, photograph/scan of all my coins and generate an electronic record of everything in a format such that my family can easily find things should I not be able to!
*ex Mrs Street Collection, ex Hon. Robert Marsham Collection, ex Hyman Montagu Collection, ex J. G. Murdoch Collection, ex Virgil M Brand Collection, ex Richard Cyril Lockett Collection, ex John G Brooker Collection - abbreviated list!, I expect I am not the only one who views coins like this at auctions even though their value means they are never going to form part of my collection but it is nice, just the once, to have held them in my hand.