Jeff Garrett began collecting coins in 1969, when a family friend gave him a Lincoln cent board. Since then, coins have been the focus of his life. Growing up in the Tampa Bay area in Clearwater, Florida, Garrett became very active in several local clubs, serving as a junior officer of the Clearwater Coin Club in the 1970s. He was mentored at an early age by many of the area’s dealers, among them Ed French and Jeff Means. Garrett attended his first American Numismatic Association (ANA) convention in 1974 in Miami with Ed French and has not missed one since. He has been a member of the ANA for more than 25 years, with life membership number 3124.
At the age of 17, Garrett was offered a position with Florida Coin Exchange, one of the dominant firms of the day. Two years later, he became a partner. In 1984, Garrett founded Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, which continues to operate today. He is also co-owner of the Sarasota Rare Coin Gallery. During the 1980s, he was a partner in Mid-American Rare Coin Auctions, which sold many important collections and earned Catalogue of the Year in 1986 from the Numismatic Literary Guild. Several years later, Garrett organized the Bluegrass Coin Club in Lexington, Kentucky. Because local coin clubs were so important in his early life, Garrett wanted to foster the same atmosphere of enthusiastic collectors that he enjoyed as a youth. Today, the club is very healthy, with more than 30 members in attendance each month.
Garrett describes his expertise as being a "dealer’s dealer." With a network of professionals he has established over 25 years, he helps with financing, research and acquisitions sales. Over the course of his career, he has handled nearly every US rarity. During the American Numismatic Convention in 2003, he was one of the experts called upon to authenticate the long-lost 1913 Liberty Head nickel. In 2004, Garrett handled one of the greatest gold collections ever assembled, the famed Dukes Creek set of Georgia gold, which sold for nearly $4 million.
Another important aspect of his career is his membership in the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), to which he has belonged since 1982. Today, Garrett is a former president of the prestigious organization. In 2003, the PNG awarded him the Abe Kosoff Founder’s Award, that organization’s highest honor, for work promoting the hobby and organization. In 2003, the first edition of 100 Greatest US Modern Coins was given the highest awards of both the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and the PNG. In 2013, he received awards from the NLG for the second edition of 100 Greatest US Modern Coins and his articles in the NGC Weekly Market Report. Although he spends most of his time buying and selling coins, Garrett enjoys research and the study of rare coins. He is coauthor of the Official Red Book of Auction Records and of the award-winning Encyclopedia of US Gold Coins 1795–1933, a project done in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution. Garrett is valuations editor for A Guide Book of United States Coins (the "Red Book"), published annually by Whitman.