Collection of Great Collections.
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This is not an original thought, but one that I have been entertaining over the years. Has anyone started a collection of coins that were once in the collection of the great collectors? I would concentrate on gold, bit others may like silver or even copper. 

For gold - who would be on your list?  

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I know that there are pedigree collectors, but I'm not one of them. It's cool every now and then to pick up a coin that was in a famous collection, if my interests happen to align with what they had. 

However, I'm focused on creating my own, unique great collection ;)

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I know the term "Great Collections" gets tossed around a bit, but how would you actually define it? The obvious Pittman, Eliasberg, Newman collections are clearly great collections, but what about more specialized and focused collections? Would you call them great, or just important? At what point does a pedigree add value to the collection? 

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Another way to collect could involve specialized labels. I was of the impression that dealers and maybe even collectors have personalized labels. I own a proof Mercury that has 'Renaissance Era' label that I didn't know existed.

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9 hours ago, physics-fan3.14 said:

I know the term "Great Collections" gets tossed around a bit, but how would you actually define it? The obvious Pittman, Eliasberg, Newman collections are clearly great collections, but what about more specialized and focused collections? Would you call them great, or just important? At what point does a pedigree add value to the collection? 

Exactly - this is the discussion I hoped would take place.  Does completeness trump quality? Do you need a unique or almost unique (or extremely rare) example in the collection? What about the collector base? Does a complete high quality collection of something so obscure that it is collected very thinly considered? Or does the total value determine whether a collection is great or not?

So what is your preference? Completeness or quality? 

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Well, I think some people throw the term "great collection" around too loosely. For example, Eliasberg was known for both completeness and quality. Newman was known for incredible depth and quality. Both of these collections had a coherent theme, with outstanding quality. 

Compare that to Pogue. Pogue had an enormous amount of great rarities..... but there was no cohesion. It garnered over a hundred million dollars, but that's because they threw a crazy amount of money at it. I wouldn't really call Pogue a great collection, even though it had a great value. Anyone with a boatload of cash and a good buyer can reproduce Pogue. That sort of thing won't reproduce Newman. 

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When I lived in New England, I knew a collector who "collected collectors." In other words he concentrated on coins that been owned by well-known collectors from the past. He even went so far as to down grade the quality of the coins he had to get duplicate coins with pedigrees.

He is the only collector I have even known who was able to pry coins out of museum collections. How did he do it? He offered to trade better coins to the museums in exchange for lower grade coins they had that had once been owned by a famous collector.

Needless to say this collector was quite wealthy, but before you feel sorry for him, his collection of medals brought recond prices when they sold at auction. A lot would open up for say $200, and it would end up selling for bids of over $30,000. This happened frequently during that sale.

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What do you think about Jules Reiver? Great, Important, Specialized or Average Joe?

Jules Reiver, Collection of U.S. Coinage, is ranked among the greatest numismatists of the Twentieth Century, Mr. Reiver established a hobby-wide reputation for his discerning eye, inquisitive mind, and generosity with his knowledge over five decades of dedicated collecting. 

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I think Reiver is a really good example. His collection was specialized, because his specialty was early US coinage die varieties. But I think it was also important because of the depth. Reiver is significant to the hobby because of the amount of effort he put into sharing it - his work is still used, and is the basis for a lot of our current knowledge. In this way, he's very similar to Newman. 

However, I wouldn't necessarily call the Reiver collection "great." Much of the collection was lower grade, from what I recall. His coins still fetch a pedigree premium, because of their attachment to him (and I'd rather have one of his coins than many other pedigrees). 

Compare this to Bass - Bass spent a lot of time and effort researching varieties in a rather specialized area, but he also managed to build one of the all-time greatest collections of gold coins. His collection wasn't as broad as Newman, but I'd consider Bass to be a "great" collection. 

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1 hour ago, tommy44 said:

Pittman without a doubt. It would be especially nice if you could get a gold coin from his collection that could also be attributed to the Farouk sale.

That would be very nice.  I could also use an Eliasberg. 

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I'm in the camp that would pay a premium for a coin owned by a numismatist in the best tradition or a collector who has been proven to have a great eye for quality. So, I'm drawn to numismatic history as well as a reputation of quality, both of which carry some premium in my mind. But, the coin comes first. I've passed on some Newman coins that I didn't find attractive even without a premium. A set of fairly common (or not if the pocketbook allows) pedigreed coins of the same series/date or type owned by different luminaries would make an interesting display and be fun to assemble.

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