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Jeff Garrett: Learn Things New and Ancient at ANA Summer Seminars

Coins Old and New

Education is essential to succeeding as a coin collector


By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
During my 40-plus-year career, I have handled about every coin in the Red Book. My knowledge of United States coinage is extensive, and I spend a considerable amount of time doing numismatic research. But there is always something new to learn and new discoveries are being made constantly. Just last year, a previously unknown 1854‐S half eagle was discovered.

Unfortunately, my expert numismatic knowledge is pretty much limited to United States coinage. I have a general knowledge of other parts of the market, but I usually need to consult someone when offered a rare piece of currency, ancient coin, world coin, token or medal.

When I was having lunch with a young protégé recently, I told him that one of my biggest regrets was not becoming more proficient in other parts of the numismatic market. I encouraged him to continue to learn as much as he can about United States coinage but not to ignore other fields of numismatic knowledge. Any young person who wants to become a professional numismatist would be leaving a lot of money on the table if they ignore these specialties. Over the course of a long career, having in‐depth knowledge of paper money, world coins, ancient coins, and exonumia can pay huge dividends. I can think of very little advice for someone just getting started that would be more valuable.

For years I have bought and sold ancient coins with minimal expertise. The subject of ancient coins is complex and covers centuries of production. Ancient coinage began around 600 BCE and continued into the Byzantine era. Tens of thousands of different coin designs exist. Grading ancient coins also is complicated because the coins are hand-struck and every coin is different. Obviously, condition is very important with anything numismatic, so that is one constant.

Knowledge is power. I have decided it’s time for me to at least learn the fundamentals of ancient coin grading. I am going to take my own advice in a mini-seminar on ancient coins. The class will focus on the complex factors that come into play with grading coins of the ancient world. I have a lot of questions about grading ancient collectibles, and I’m very excited to learn as much as possible.

I encourage all collectors and dealers to learn more about numismatic subjects they are unfamiliar with. The American Numismatic Association (ANA) does a wonderful job with numismatic education and offers many opportunities. The ANA frequently offers two-day grading seminars at coin shows for coins and paper money. These seminars are very popular and usually sell out well in advance.

The biggest annual ANA educational event is its Summer Seminar. Each year, over 300 students and instructors (many of them NGC employees) descend on Colorado Springs for a week of numismatic immersion. Many students return year after year to improve their numismatic skills and knowledge. Most also enjoy the camaraderie, and many make lifelong friends.

The ANA and several other organizations offer scholarships to attend the Summer Seminar. My first one was in 1974 after winning a full scholarship to study Colonial coinage with my longtime mentor, Ken Bressett. I can accurately state that my week of numismatic study in 1974 changed my life forever.

Information about the Summer Seminar and scholarships can be found at money.org.

The Summer Seminars are held in two sessions over two weeks in June or July; this year’s were held June 15-20 and June 22-27. Tons of activity happens between the classes and at night. An exciting coin show is held in Colorado Springs between the sessions.

The following is a partial list of classes that were at this year’s ANA Summer Seminars:

  • Grading United States Coins (beginner, intermediate and advanced)
  • The Business of Being a Coin Dealer
  • Detecting Counterfeit and Altered Coins
  • Detecting Counterfeit World Paper Money
  • World Numismatics
  • Collecting Roman Coinage
  • Numismatic Paper Money of Early America
  • Numismatic Publishing
  • The Modern Minting Process
  • Introduction to Numismatic Photography
  • Coin Carving: Modern Hobo Nickels
  • Collecting Mexican Coinage
  • Creating a Winning Numismatic Exhibit
  • Collecting United States Type Coins
  • Medals in America
  • Collecting Morgan Dollars
  • Early American Copper Coins

Also, several mini-classes and evening lectures are held on a variety of numismatic subjects.

One of the highlights of each session is a massive library sale of numismatic books that helps raise money for scholarships.

Please visit the link above and download the full course catalog when it becomes available. Whether you attend a short course during a coin show or travel to Colorado Springs for the full experience, these numismatic education opportunities will be among the best money you ever spend as a collector.

Numismatic education is vital to be a successful collector. The more you know about the area of the hobby you have chosen, the more you will enjoy collecting.

You will also do much better financially when it comes time to sell.

Jeff Garrett bio

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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