Coin Prices – Information and Numismatics

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

Today’s collectors  have an amazing number of tools  to establish Coin Prices when buying and selling.

In the last few weeks I have been very busy preparing for the ANA World’s Fair of Money. This includes pricing all of my inventory properly for resale. Obviously, the goal is to have coin prices as high as possible, but at a level that will give them the best opportunity of selling. This can be incredibly tricky business. The last thing any dealer wants is to have their coins sit in the cases because they are overpriced. On the other hand, if the coins are flying off the shelf you are probably underpricing your coins. The goal is pinpoint pricing–not too high, not too low. Having the proper tools for the exercise is incredibly important.

gold_pricesIn the 1960s and 1970s the main tool for coin pricing was the annual edition of the Guide Book of United States Coins (Redbook). I can remember visiting coin shops and hearing dealers state that they were waiting for the new edition before offering material for sale. This was also decades before anyone had conceived of the idea of third-party grading and the resulting population reports. Everyone’s perception of rarity was much different than it is today. In the late 1970s we all thought common-date MS 65 Morgan Silver Dollars were rare and elusive!

Today’s collectors and dealers have an amazing number of tools available to make buying and selling decisions. This week’s preparations for the ANA show included the purchase of a new Apple iPad. I wanted the device loaded with the recently announced platform that is being offered by CDN Exchange. Luckily I have a couple of young interns in my office that were able to get me up and running with my new toy. Now I can run around the show buying coins with the latest pricing information at my fingertips. This includes NGC population information, CAC information, Greysheet and Bluesheet prices and auction records. The same information can be used to convince buyers that my coins are accurately priced.

Transparency and accurate information is incredibly important to the hobby of numismatics. It has probably been the most important factor in the growth of coin collecting in the last two decades. Without pricing information buyers do not have the confidence to spend large sums for rare coins. Over 20 years ago I helped develop one of the first auction records system for rare coins. We hired college students to enter prices realized into Excel spreadsheets. The project was started to provide me with information to help with numismatic research. I soon realized the commercial value of the information. Having the information when no one else did was a huge advantage. The rest of the numismatic community soon realized the value and importance of this information as well. The concept was expanded and soon auction houses offered the information as well. Heritage does this extremely well and this feature is one of the cornerstones of their success in my opinion. Years ago one of the largest collectors of United States pattern coinage ever told me that without the auction records we had created he would not have begun his collection. Having records of actual sales for scarcely traded material was crucial to his collecting strategy. I have heard similar statements from dozens of collectors over the years.

Coin Prices

Collectors today have an incredible amount of information available to assist them on their numismatic journey. In addition to the many electronic pricing tools available, there has also been a renaissance of numismatic research published in the last two decades. There is a specialty book for nearly every segment of the rare coin market. Whitman Publishing has done an amazing job in this area of numismatics, and in my opinion have been an incredible positive influence on our hobby. (Full disclosure–I am a Whitman author and valuations editor of the Redbook). An amazing amount of numismatic research can also be found online, including

Regardless of your age or computer skills I strongly encourage you to explore the many tools available for today’s rare coin collector. Not all information is free, but the price is usually a bargain compared to the advantages you will have in your next numismatic transaction. Everyone knows that Internet technology can help you find rare coins, but not everyone uses the many options available to ensure getting great value for your money spent. Do not be afraid to ask for help. If my mother, who recently discovered Facebook can use a computer, I’m sure you can too!

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

Jeff Garrett Biography

Jeff Garrett

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 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. We urge everyone who visits Washington, D.C., to view this fabulous display.

Jeff has been a member of the prestigious Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) since 1982 and has recently served as president of the organization. In 2009 and 2011, Jeff ran successfully for a seat on the Board of Governors for the American Numismatic Association (ANA), the leading numismatic club in the world. and he is currently the ANA President.


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  1. I know you work for NGC but do you think we actually believe you don’t use the PCGS pop reports and pricing information from CoinFacts as well? Anyone who knows anything uses info from NGC and PCGS as well as the sites you mentioned.


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