Pedigree technology advances|
December 14, 2017
Concerned the lack of a provenance for your coins might put your collection in the cross hairs of foreign governments demanding the return of antiquities they deem as part of their cultural patrimony? The German auction house of Künker Numismatics AG is taking steps to calm those concerns, becoming the first such firm to utilize the research capabilities of Ex-Numis.
Founded in 2016 by Dr. Jonas Emmanuel Flueck and his wife Pauline, Ex-Numis offers coin collectors and dealers, museums and now auction houses professional research into the provenance of their coins. Flueck holds a doctorate in ancient history and archaeology. He is a coin dealer and has experience with an auction house in Zurich, Switzerland.
Ex-Numis uses digital image recognition to identify the pedigree of ancient coins that have appeared in auctions as far back as the late 19th century. According to Flueck, his company has a database of about one million coins. Künker will be the first auction house to offer clients access to the Ex-Numis archive prior to bidding at their next auction. Any coin in the auction registered with Ex-Numis will be linked to an archive image.
Ex-Numis plans to record auction results including descriptions, value estimates and comparison to inflation-adjusted hammer prices. This feature is going to be available exclusively to users of Sixbid.com, a portal to online coin auctions.
The increasing number of laws and regulations on the ancient coin trade are becoming a concern to collectors, dealers and museums alike. For this reason, documenting the provenance of a coin is becoming increasingly important. Documentation on the origin of coins found recently is also important to ensure the discovery and export of the coins was done legally.
While Ex-Numis is focusing on ancient coins, the pedigree or provenance of more modern coins is of importance as well. There is a greater challenge to finding the forgotten provenance of a modern machine-struck coin since, unlike hand-struck coins, many individual coins can only be differentiated by a blemish or through well-documented toning.
The importance of provenance shouldn’t be understated. As Ron Guth put it in a Feb. 21, 2005 article published online by Professional Coin Grading Service: “In the coin world, pedigrees certify the value of a champion. A pedigree to a ‘name’ collection can add a lot of value.”
Guth names several renowned collectors from the past in his article. While most coins with a provenance may benefit from that prominence, it isn’t always true. Among the collectors named by Guth is King Farouk of Egypt. Farouk pedigreed coins are a good example of buyer beware. When the Palace Collection, as it was called, was auctioned in 1954, it was learned that many of the coins had been cleaned or lacquered. A 1971 Hans M.F. Schulman catalog containing Farouk coins notes, “He put powder on coins to keep them from tarnishing in the hot climate. Some have his red pencil mark.”
Pedigrees can reveal potential problems. This can include if the coin has been tampered with. For this reason “coin doctors” like to ignore a known pedigree, since they will alter the appearance of a coin.
The provenance of a coin can also establish a history of the past prices for which that coin has been sold. A pedigree may imply a higher degree of quality. This is referred to as the “brag factor” in an April 25 article on the pedigree of modern coins posted on the website of Mullins Coins.
In the article Mullins says, “Today’s collectors can create pedigree themselves by building interesting collections that will pique the interest and admiration of other collectors. Any collector who makes a name for him or herself in the coin collecting world is automatically increasing the value of his own collection.”
According to the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation website, “Submitters to NGC may request that a coin formerly owned by a famous collector be pedigreed to that collector on the NGC certification label. NGC must receive sufficient evidence to confirm the requested pedigree ... A submitter to NGC may request that NGC pedigree a coin to his or her own collection on the NGC certification label. Companies may also request to add their name to an NGC certification label.”
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