I discussed coins from the SS Republic shipwreck in an article a couple months ago and how they fit into the “pedigree collecting” world. I also mentioned different approaches for collecting examples from this shipwreck and how I found the collection of recovered 1861-O Seated Liberty half dollar varieties as an interesting approach. The two things I enjoy most about pedigree collecting are the stories associated with the pedigree and unique examples from the pedigree.
First, let me refresh memories on the SS Republic shipwreck:
SS Republic: The SS Republic was a Civil War-era side-wheel steamship operating between New York and New Orleans when it was lost in a hurricane on October 25, 1865. The ship contained a fortune in gold and silver coins meant to assist in the rebuilding of New Orleans after the Civil War. Discovered in 2003 off the Georgia/South Carolina coast. Authenticated and Graded by NGC.
There is a lot more to the SS Republic story and the internet is full of articles covering the history and obstacles in the recovery. For those interested in more details, have fun in your research.
Now back to the unique examples. The 1861-O Seated Liberty half dollar has an amazing story having been minted by 3 governments and all being found in one shipwreck. I thought I would never find a more interesting and unique option for collecting pedigree examples from the SS Republic, but then I stumbled upon something known as a “Founders’ Edition Set”. As I understand it, investors in the SS Republic exploration/recovery were given priority in acquiring some of the first coins recovered from the vessel. The coins were sealed in an NGC slab with a special label that showed the NGC certification number and also a unique number for the coin as well as the Founders’ Set population. And to top off the Founder’s Edition Pedigree, the coins were packaged in a wooden presentation box with the name of the recipient and number of the coin. Please see the photo’s below.
The Founders’ Edition Set feels like it brings you one step closer to ownership in the pedigree and the story. While the Founders’ Edition Sets are not often found in the secondary market, from time to time they do appear. I have seen them in both Heritage Auctions and Ebay auctions. You just have to work a little harder to find them.
So now the dilemma, do you want the 1861-O Seated Liberty varieties or the Founders’ Edition Set for your pedigree example from the SS Republic? Here I will reference the 2003 inspiration movie “Radio” starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. When the waitress asked Radio which kind of cobbler did he want, peach or blackberry? Without hesitation, Radio replied, “both”. This sounds like a sound strategy for a true pedigree collector.