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The Value of a Pedigree, Part 5

In the late 1960s, after Stack’s was chosen to sell the Adams Family Collection coins, my cousin Norman Stack and I went to Boston and were taken down to the area where the coins were stored. We worked with the curators to select a representative collection that could be retained for display purposes, if so desired, in the halls of the Society.

We then made an inventory, packed the coins carefully, and sent them in a large group of special trunks to New York for cataloging and eventual auction. The entire Stack family was thrilled to handle this great American numismatic treasure, realizing the historical importance of its link to the Adams family. It was like being a part of history knowing that for over 150 years these coins had remained first in one family and then housed under their direction in one of the oldest museums in America.

The collection was so vast that we used several catalogs to sell them at Public Auction. Each of the lots were put into 2X2 envelopes, stating it was from the Massachusetts Historical Society Collection sold at public auction, then the date of the sale and the lot number. On the rear flap of the envelope it said Stack’s New York.

By putting the name of the society, the date of the sale, the lot number, and the auctioneer on the envelope, we established the pedigree of each coin being sold. If the new owner retained it with the coin, this envelope provided a way for the pedigree to continue into the future. Those who attended our first sale in 1970 and the sales that followed speak of the historical importance of the offering and how the retention of the pedigree added to both pride of ownership and the coin’s value.

Since then, many catalogs (ours as well as others) offering coins from this historical collection, have noted the envelope to enhance value of the coin.

As a final note, the documents that were preserved and saved by the Massachusetts Historical Society became a source for an extensive book about the Adams family. In turn, this book led to a series on Public Television that told the story of the Adams family as revealed by the documents saved and kept by the Society.

Working with and cataloging the coins from the Adams Family Collection and learning about the historical items the Adams family passed on, was among the most exciting and satisfying happenings of my numismatic career.

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