Learn Grading: Pedigrees

Posted on 11/10/2020

The NGC certification label may include important information relating to the history of a coin after it was struck.

The language of numismatics can sometimes seem daunting to new collectors. NGC has created the Learn Grading series of articles to help both new and seasoned collectors who want to learn more about how coins are graded and described.

Here we explore pedigrees, important information that can be found on the NGC certification label. Although a pedigree is not part of the NGC grade, it can provide useful information about the history of a coin.

In numismatics, a coin’s provenance can be an important factor in determining its authenticity, and a coin that was once part of a famous collection may be more desirable to some collectors. Accordingly, a pedigree is generally used to indicate a coin’s past or present ownership.

NGC pedigrees will typically be the current or previous owner’s surname followed by the word “Collection.” In the case of a few very select collections, the word “Collection” is omitted on the NGC certification label. These include well-known and widely publicized collections such as Garrett, Eliasberg, Pittman, and Norweb.

LEFT: 1787 Figure Right Connecticut Copper graded NGC VF 20 BN and pedigreed to the Norweb and Partrick Collections. RIGHT: 1861 Confederate Half Dollar graded NGC PF 40 and pedigreed to the Newcomer and Green Collections (below the grade) as well as the Eric P. Newman Collection (at the bottom of the label).
Click images to enlarge.

For the renowned Eric P. Newman Collection, an unparalleled group of thousands of rare coins certified by NGC, the Newman pedigree was incorporated into the label design itself. Pedigrees to other famous collections were printed onto these labels as applicable.

Pedigrees are not limited to famous collections. For instance, in 2017, NGC pedigreed a group of 178 coins to Hubert Lariviere, the former chief engraver of the Monnaie de Paris. The coins were mostly modern patterns from France and its former colonies. NGC also pedigreed a couple of vintage Chinese specimens to Richard Bagge, a Swedish diplomat working in China over a century ago; this provenance helped shed light on the history of the coins.

LEFT: Polynesia 1976 Essai Nickel-Brass 100 Francs graded NGC MS 68 and pedigreed to the Hubert Lariviere Collection. RIGHT: China 1903 Chihli “Period After Yang” L&M-462 Silver Dollar, graded NGC SP 65 and pedigreed to Richard Bagge.
Click images to enlarge.

Coins can be pedigreed to estates, companies and other institutions. Examples include the estate of US Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber, the W&B Capital Collection and the Birmingham Mint Museum.

LEFT: 1869 Pattern Dime J-696 graded NGC PF 63 and pedigreed to the Charles E. Barber Estate. RIGHT: (1899) China 50 Cents graded NGC MS 67 and pedigreed to the W&B Capital Collection.
Click images to enlarge.

NGC can include a pedigree that indicates a coin was part of a hoard, like the Atlanta Bank Board, or a famous shipwreck, such as the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet that was lost in a hurricane off the coast of Florida.

LEFT: 1878-CC Morgan Dollar graded NGC MS 63 and pedigreed to the Atlanta Bank Hoard. RIGHT: A 1695 Royal 8 Escudos, graded NGC MS 65 and pedigreed to the 1715 Fleet.
Click images to enlarge.

NGC will attribute most sets issued by the US Mint as well as sets issued by select other mints. The recognition of a set pedigree is at NGC's sole discretion, and not all sets may be attributed on the NGC label.

LEFT: A 2019-S Silver Eagle pedigreed to a Limited Edition Set sold by the US Mint. RIGHT: A Canada 2019 Silver $5 Maple Leaf pedigreed to a Pride of Two Nations Set sold through the US Mint.
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A coin that is the first example known of a newly discovered variety may be labeled "Discovery Coin" on the NGC certification label. NGC may also be able to confirm that a coin has an important historical background, such as "One of First 10 Coined."

LEFT: A 1795 No Pole Thick Half Cent graded NGC VG Details and pedigreed as the Discovery Coin. RIGHT: An 1878-S Morgan Dollar graded NGC SP 64 and pedigreed as One of First Ten Coined.
Click images to enlarge.

A submitter to NGC may request that NGC pedigree a coin to his or her own collection on the NGC certification label. For example, Michael Beeston's collection of 200 modern error coins is pedigreed as the Beeston Collection. A collection of gold coins minted in Dahlonega, Georgia that Thomas Leverette McMullan assembled were pedigreed as the Reed Creek Collection.

LEFT: An (2015) Great Britain Two Pounds graded NGC Mint Error MS 66 and pedigreed to the Beeston Collection. RIGHT: An 1861 Dahlonega Gold Dollar graded NGC AU 58 and pedigreed to the Reed Creek Collection.
Click images to enlarge.

Coins pedigreed to a famous collection may sell for a premium or be more desirable, but this varies based on the coin, collection and market conditions. Many pedigrees do not add any premium to a coin's value. It is important to fully understand the meaning of a particular pedigree and research coin values before any purchase.

Coins pedigreed to certain significant shipwrecks, hoards and Mint sets are listed separately in the NGC Census, but most other pedigrees are not listed separately and are instead counted in the coin's regular NGC Census listing.

Pedigrees are available by request for an additional fee. To learn more about NGC Pedigrees, click here.

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NGC’s Learn Grading series

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