Sometimes estate sales and liquidation sales by retirees can uncover fascinating cases of multi-generational coin collecting.
From a numismatic perspective, this is especially interesting because it makes tracing the provenance—or "paper trail"—of the coins much easier. Provenance is important for authenticating particularly valuable antiques and collectibles. Knowing this backstory and chain of ownership adds to a collection's narrative (in addition, possibly, to its value at auction).
This is naturally a more common and well-documented characteristic of the high-end of the industry, but even relatively modest family collections can yield wonders if kept long enough.
One such example was picked up by Coin World in November. An 89-year-old woman in Delaware (who remains anonymous) will soon liquidate a somewhat humble yet sprawling collection that was passed down through generations of women in her family.
The impressive lot of coins covers an incredible breadth of American numismatic history. It ranges in denomination from half cents to $20 gold double eagles and spans the better part of two centuries. The oldest coins are a pair of rare 1793 Flowing Hair Chain variety cents (pictured above) that are scheduled to go up for auction in March. Both coins are considerably worn, but have now been certified Fine-12 and Fine-15 respectively by PCGS.
Interestingly enough, the collection has spent decades in a box under the woman's bed. It was primarily acquired by her grandmother, though her and her mother organized and added to it over the years. Experts haven't even finished evaluating the hoard in its entirety!
Thus far, numismatists have identified the following types of U.S. coins in the collection:
- "18th and 19th century half cents and large cents";
- "2-cent coins";
- "copper-nickel and silver 3-cent coins";
- "5-cent coins from different series";
- "early Bust half dimes and dimes";
- "Seated Liberty coinage of several denominations";
- "Bust half dollars";
- "Barber coinage";
- "some early 20th century issues";
- "and a number of gold coins."
The two 1793-dated cents were set aside in a separate envelope by the Delaware woman's mother, showing she had a sense of their particular numismatic importance.
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