HomeUS CoinsThe Red Book Changes Hands: Jeff Garrett

The Red Book Changes Hands: Jeff Garrett

2024 Red Book
The 2024 Red Book. Image: Whitman Publishing.

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

Jeff Garrett, Courtesy Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC)About two weeks ago, the numismatic world was stunned to hear the announcement of the sale of Whitman Publishing to CDN (Coin Dealer Newsletter, publisher of the Greysheet). Whitman has been serving the numismatic community since 1932, and its history closely mirrors the evolution of the hobby through the decades. A huge number of serious collectors started out by filling a Whitman album in their youth. My own numismatic journey started in 1969, with a Whitman Lincoln Cent folder for coins 1941 to date.

Since 2003, when the Anderson family purchased Whitman Publishing, they have greatly expanded the number of specialty numismatic books for United States and World coins. They have published hundreds of titles, of which many have been widely acclaimed and award-winning. Their prodigious output has meant a boon of information for modern collectors and has undoubtedly stimulated the rare coin market over the last two decades.

Several years ago, after being sold to its current owners, the long-running Coin Dealer Newsletter (the Greysheet) went through a radical restructure and update. They decided to eliminate the weekly sheets of years past and publish magazines: one for retail pricing and another with the standard wholesale prices they have published for decades. The new formats have been well received and the current form of the Greysheet is greatly improved, with vastly more pricing information. The Greysheet has transformed from a simple weekly flyer to a suite of numismatic publications. CDN has also invested considerably to develop an internet strategy.

The Guide Book of United States Coins (the Red Book) is the crown jewel of Whitman Publishing. It is by far the most widely distributed numismatic book and is available in bookstores around the country. Nearly everyone starts collecting coins starts with a Red Book in hand. Its basic information about numismatics is vital to anyone new to the hobby.

I have been the Senior Editor of the Red Book since 2019; however, my involvement with the Red Book dates back another decade before that, when I started helping Ken Bressett with the annual pricing. His mentorship has prepared me for the role as caretaker of one of the most important brands in the hobby.

Although surprised by the announcement, I am excited to see what the next chapter brings for Whitman Publishing. In an ever-changing world, even the most iconic brands need to adapt to remain relevant. It will be thrilling to see what new tools and ideas CDN can bring to the table for the Red Book and its dozens of other products and brands. Information is one of the most impactful elements in the hobby today and, together, Whitman and CDN have become the new powerhouse for numismatic information.

There is a long history of information impacting the hobby. Some of the oldest rare coin price guides for U.S. coins began in the mid to late 1800s. There was a boom of collector interest in U.S. coinage when the United States Mint stopped making Large Cents. A few of the greatest collections ever assembled were started at this time. Over the generations, rare coin price guides changed very little. Slowly, conditions became more of a factor in pricing, but with only one or two grades listed for most coins.

In late 1946, the first edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins was published. This became the bible of numismatic pricing for the next 75 years or so. I remember times in the 1970s when dealers would not price coins in inventory until the latest edition of the Red Book was distributed. Most of my early knowledge of rare coins came from memorizing as much as possible of the Red Book.

We now live in the information age, and coin collectors have been a huge beneficiary of this new trend. Because of the many price guides, auction records, and population information, the hobby is now more transparent than ever before. In my opinion, this has been one of the biggest drivers for increased collector demand in the last 20 years.

Regardless of their budget, collectors want accurate pricing information before making a purchase. This may sound simple, but I can assure you it is not. For one thing, rare coins are not commodities. Nearly every rare coin is different in appearance – even in the exact same grade. We have discussed this many times over the years. Eye appeal and general appearance can greatly impact the value of a coin. This is very hard to convey in price guides.

Most price guides list prices for the imaginary “average” coin for the grade. Therefore, actual coins can trade over a wide price range based on appearance. This can be easily observed by attending any major rare coin auction.

There is also much discussion about what constitutes wholesale and retail prices for rare coins. Many have a hard time defining the term “retail”. Because of the abundance of pricing information available to most retail collectors, the standard markups of times past are hard to sustain for many retail companies. I can safely state that there has been a huge blurring of the line between what is wholesale and what is retail in today’s marketplace.

Many consider price guides to be a problem for the hobby, and I have heard dealers complain about too much information being available to collectors. In my opinion, it is not much different than the pricing pressures nearly every retail company in the United States faces. Consumers can price-shop with a few clicks of their phone for everything from socks to automobiles. In the long run, this transparency will greatly increase volume for many players, but profit margins will continue to be squeezed. Rare coin consumers are the winner.

There are now more tools than ever for the average or advanced collector. With the purchase of Whitman Publishing (and therefore the Red Book) by CDN, there will be new and improved pricing information available to collectors at all levels. Because of the resources being devoted to numismatic information, now is the best time in the history of the hobby for collectors to buy coins at the lowest possible markup. Be sure to use the information you now have available to your fullest advantage.

Jeff Garrett bio

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Rare Coin Gallery

 

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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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4 COMMENTS

  1. Have a 1963 p certified by the international numerastic bureau as a deep cameo gym proof what would that coin be in a NGC folder or pgs folder as a grade thank you for your information

  2. On page 186 of the 2023 Red book under Washington quarters, it says at the top: “note: uncirculated mint sets for 2005 to 2010 were made with satin finish coins not included in the listings here”. On page 192 at the bottom It says: “b. For its 225th anniversary the mint issued a special set of enhanced uncirculated coins from the San Francisco mint these are not included in the listings here”. Then on the next page 193: ” b. In 2018 the US mint issued a special reverse proof set in honor of the 50th anniversary of the San Francisco mint these coins are not included in the listings here”. My question is, why not? why aren’t they included in the listings? They are part of the Washington quarter series, they are collectible and need to be included in any complete Washington quarter set so therefore they should be in the listings with the other Washington quarters.

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