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Coin Collecting Commentary: How To Invigorate The Hobby


By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……

The United States Mint forum attracted leaders from all areas of the hobby including the media, mass market sellers, numismatic artists, collectors, rare coin dealers and grading companies.

A few weeks ago Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson of the Mint held a forum in Philadelphia to discuss the state of the hobby. Hobby leaders and collectors from around the country were invited to attend. The event was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The attendance was fantastic and over 50 individuals made the trip. The event attracted leaders from all areas of the hobby including the media, mass market sellers, numismatic artists, collectors, rare coin dealers and grading companies. Among those attending was Mark Salzberg, Chairman of NGC.

There were also interesting presentations by Dr. Robert Goler, the US Mint Curator; Jon Cameron, Associate Director of the US Mint and Dr. Ellen Feingold, curator of the Smithsonian Numismatic Collection. These presentations served as an excellent background on the history of the United States Mint and laid the foundation for discussions about its future.

After hearing some of the facts about the Mint’s sales and customer levels in recent years, it quickly became apparent why the forum was held. The US Mint has far fewer customers than a decade ago. Key Mint personnel were eager to discuss ways to better serve its collector base and float ideas to grow the hobby. After the intriguing presentations, the US Mint arranged a panel discussion. The panel consisted of representatives from the media, mass market and grading companies (Mark Salzberg). I was given the privilege of leading the panel and a wide range of subjects were examined.

The panel discussions were followed by an afternoon breakout session to examine:

  • Group 1 – US Mint Packaging
  • Group 2 – Mintage/Household Order Limits
  • Group 3 – US Mint Medals
  • Group 4 – Future Customers
  • Group 5 – Developing Youth Collectors
  • Group 6 – Historic Design Reproductions
  • Group 7 – America the Beautiful (next steps)

Jeff Garrett at the United States Mint. The photobomber in the background is Peter the EagleThe subject of the last group is particularly interesting to me. The 50 State Quarters Program that began in 1999 created millions of new collectors. With the right program the United States Mint can be an incredible engine for growth of our hobby. The US Mint is eager to run an efficient operation and make its customer base happy. This is very important and hopefully some of the ideas for better packaging, order limits and so on will be successful. I believe the most important opportunity for the hobby is the creation of new collectors.

There were many ideas presented during the forum including the following:

  • Create a circulation rarity so that collectors and the general public can be given a reason to search their pocket change. Each year the US Mint produces billions of Lincoln cents. Perhaps a small quantity of a special issue could be circulated in the production runs as well. People love a treasure hunt and if the program continued for several years it would stimulate incredible interest.
  • Replace the State Quarter program with a “Great American” series. Each state could nominate its greatest citizen and this could provide a history lesson for young collectors.
  • Re-issue classic designs for circulation or collector series. Imagine the excitement of collectors if Morgan and Peace dollars were reintroduced.
  • Expand the silver medal program that proved so successful this year. The coins are beautiful and collectors love the precious metal aspect of the series. This market could be expanded tremendously with the right product offerings.
  • Create games for a young audience that has become accustomed to finding everything on a mobile device. The world has clearly gone in this direction and the US Mint and every other hobby organization needs to adapt. Developing the interest of young people is critical for the future of our hobby.
  • Produce fractional buffalo gold coins. This was an idea of Mark Salzberg. Like him, Americans love bison and there would be a lot of demand for more affordable gold coin issues.

There were dozens of other ideas and hopefully the United States Mint will implement some of them. The most exciting part of the event was the enthusiasm and apparent willingness of the Mint to work with hobby leaders to expand the hobby. I have stated many times that we cannot take the future of numismatics for granted. Everyone needs to work together to ensure that numismatics stays relevant in an ever changing world. The US Mint has taken a great first step and hopefully I can report some exciting developments in the near future.

Questions about the rare coin market? Send them to [email protected].

Jeff Garrett
Jeff Garretthttps://rarecoingallery.com/
Jeff Garrett, founder of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, is considered one of the nation’s top experts in U.S. coinage — and knowledge lies at the foundation of Jeff’s numismatic career. With more than 35 years of experience, he is one of the top experts in numismatics. The “experts’ expert,” Jeff has personally bought and sold nearly every U.S. coin ever issued. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t call on Jeff Garrett for numismatic advice. This includes many of the nation’s largest coin dealers, publishers, museums, and institutions. In addition to owning and operating Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Jeff Garrett is a major shareholder in Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries. His combined annual sales in rare coins and precious metals — between Mid-American in Kentucky and Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries in Florida — total more than $25 million. Jeff Garrett has authored many of today’s most popular numismatic books, including Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795–1933: Circulating, Proof, Commemorative, and Pattern Issues; 100 Greatest U.S. Coins; and United States Coinage: A Study By Type. He is also the price editor for The Official Redbook: A Guide Book of United States Coins. Jeff was also one of the original coin graders for the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). He is today considered one of the country’s best coin graders and was the winner of the 2005 PCGS World Series of Grading. Today, he serves as a consultant to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the world’s largest coin grading company. Jeff plays an important role at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Department and serves as a consultant to the museum on funding, exhibits, conservation, and research. Thanks to the efforts of Jeff and many others, rare U.S. coins are once again on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. Jeff has been a member of the Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) since 1982 and has recently served as president of the organization. He has also served as the ANA President and as a member of the ANA Board of Governors.

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  1. I agree 100%,…..There are a lot of coin sets “such as clad mint sets and the newer presidential dollar sets” those coins which are not made of precious metals who’s prices are simply going through the roofs for reasons that are of no real base outside of the minting numbers of the business numbers. These sets are completely beside the business strikes and have nothing to do with collceting currency out of your pocket. If it had to do with these sets being all precious metals it would be one thing but it’s not Just because Dies are taken better care of to make Clad sets doesn’t have to mean they should be more expensive in my mind. The Canadian mint does a heck of a job on business strikes compared to Mint sets compared to the US…..Pricing might actually be a factor at the mint if this was taken into consideration, This goes for collector rolls too….Proof coins and sets are a completely different thing.


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