Provenance vs. Pedigree. Understanding the difference

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Provenance vs. Pedigree. Understanding the difference

Postby JPhil » Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:30 am

The word “provenance” is a popular catch phrase in recent years in the collector car hobby. Unfortunately it has joined another popular and overused phrase “barn find” in misinformation.
To avoid rehashing what many believe they already know, let’s just cut to the chase of which is which.

“Pedigree” is a rarely used collector car phrase simply because it is lumped into the “provenance” conversation.

Pedigree is defined as “ The origin and history of something especially when it is good or impressive.” K codes, Shelby, Boss 429’s etc. that were built new from the factory have “pedigree”. These cars were originally built “above the norm” and likely in smaller numbers than majority of other Mustangs of that time period. Build sheets, special documentation/paperwork, titles etc. all reflect and support “pedigree”. This “pedigree” only solidifies a particular cars origin.

Here is where many get confused.

“Provenance” is defined as “the origin or source of something. The history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature.” Obviously we are talking cars not art or literature here but you may be asking yourself “aren’t both definitions the same?” The answer to that is no.

For this argument I present this to you. Was your K code any more or less “good or impressive” than any other when it was new? Could anyone else buy one with more or less options, paint, add-ons etc. at that time if they wanted to? The answer of course is yes, if they had the means to do so. This would not change the cars “Pedigree”.

Provenance” is the history of a “valued object”. Yes, your K code is valued but how would your k code coupe stack up against the “one of” HF deuce coupe at sale? That of course isn’t a fair fight but that is an example of “provenance”.
So what does “provenance” consist of? As an owner you no doubt have stories & photos, possibly your own or from previous owners, and a drawer full of restoration receipts. This is first person “provenance”. But what about 20, 30, 40 years ago? What makes this car special? Did it win a major race? Did Carroll Shelby own it? Is it a 15 time MCA concours show winner? Was it a HotRod test mule or appear in every major magazine for the past 25 years? Any Ford press back in the day? What makes your car more “valuable” than the rest and more importantly, can you prove it?

Provenance is fact with ORIGINAL or available original proof, not copies & not stories told to you or previous owners.
This is widely known as "secondary provenance".

The value of “provenance” can vary greatly but regardless the car must be a high quality example with proven history, events and ownership.

Pedigree is not provenance, it is an ingredient.

Knowing the difference is key.

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Re: Provenance vs. Pedigree. Understanding the difference

Postby SixT5HiPo » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:42 am

Another good read, JP.
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