Jeff Garrett: Finding a Numismatic Mentor

Posted on 12/14/2022

As coin market values continue to rise, so does the need for professional advice from trustworthy and experienced dealers, like the numismatists from PNG.

Over the years, one of the most constant pieces of wisdom that I have suggested is to find someone you can trust for advice. Numismatics can be complicated and full of risks, especially now that rare coin prices have, in many cases, entered the stratosphere. We live in an information age, but there is no substitute for experience.

Most dealers are more than willing to share their vast knowledge with collectors. You just need to know whom to ask, and I recommend the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG).

The Professional Numismatists Guild was founded in 1955 by legendary dealer Abe Kosoff and several others. Its motto — “Knowledge. Integrity. Responsibility.” — still holds true after nearly 70 years. The PNG started as just a handful of the top dealers in the United States. Today, most major rare coin dealers belong to this prestigious organization. There are PNG dealers in nearly all geographic locations of the country.

I have been a member of the PNG for nearly 40 years and even served as President of the organization. Recently, I became involved at the board level again to help grow the organization and the hobby. No other numismatic organization offers collectors the level of consumer protection and pool of expertise as the PNG.

When the late great coin dealer David Akers passed away several years ago, his personal collection contained an original copy of the PNG Code of Ethics dated May 1, 1956. The document is now part of my collection of numismatic memorabilia. Its basic tenants of protecting collectors are still reflected in the modern version below.

An original copy of the PNG Code of Ethics from Jeff Garrett's collection of numismatic memorabilia.
Click image to enlarge.

Each PNG member takes the following pledge:

  • To furnish sound advice to my non-professional customers on numismatic matters to the best of my ability.
  • To deliver coins that I sell promptly unless otherwise agreed between myself and my customer.
  • To pay for coins I have purchased promptly unless otherwise agreed in writing between myself and my customer.
  • To refrain from misrepresenting the prices, quality or guarantees attached to my merchandise or that of my competitors.
  • To assist governmental authorities in investigating and prosecuting dealers in numismatic items when appropriate.
  • To refrain from knowingly dealing in stolen numismatic items, or buying and selling known modern counterfeit coins, currency or other numismatic materials that are, by law, not legal to possess.
  • To refrain from knowingly participating in, abetting or dealing in altered, repaired or “doctored” numismatic items, contemporary counterfeits, electrotypes, or published forgeries, without fully disclosing their status to my customer and/or making any attempt to deceive. Coin doctoring refers to the alteration of any portion of a coin, when that process includes any of the following: 1) Movement, addition to, or otherwise altering of metal, so that a coin appears to be in a better state of preservation, or more valuable than it otherwise would be. A few examples are plugging, whizzing, polishing, engraving, “lasering” and adding or removing mint marks. 2) Addition of any substance to a coin so that it appears to be in a better state of preservation or more valuable than it otherwise would be. The use of solvents and/or commercially available dilute acids, such as Jeweluster, by qualified professionals is not considered coin doctoring. 3) Intentional exposure of a coin to any chemicals, substances, or processes which impart toning, such that the coin appears to be in a better state of preservation or more valuable than it otherwise would be. Naturally occuring toning imparted during long-term storage using established/traditional methods, such as coin albums, rolls, flips, or envelopes, does not constitute coin doctoring.
  • To grade coins accurately to the best of my ability and in accordance with recognized industry standards (or disclose fully my particular grading standards and how they may differ from recognized industry standards).
  • To refrain from any of the following in dealing with non-professional customers: (a) buying or selling at unreasonable prices; (b) using high pressure sales techniques; (c) using misleading performance data; (d) comparing coins graded by a fringe grading service with those graded by an industry-standard, independent grading service in a way calculated to create an inaccurate impression; (e) intentionally misrepresenting the origin, provenance or pedigree of a coin; (f) intentionally misrepresenting the weight of a coin; (g) intentionally misrepresenting the value of a coin; (h) intentionally misrepresenting the investment potential of coins; (i) intentionally misrepresenting an affiliation between myself and any Government agency.
  • To make an oral or written disclosure to my retail customers that (a) the coin market is speculative and unregulated; (b) many areas of numismatics lend themselves to third-party grading and authentication; (c) certification does not eliminate all risks associated with the grading of coins; and (d) as a PNG member, I am obliged to arbitrate any dispute relating to the purchase, sale or trade of coins and numismatic items.
  • To respect my contracts with all parties to numismatic transactions, whether written or oral.
  • To respect my fellow members’ contracts with third parties and not knowingly interfere with same.
  • To freely exchange non-proprietary information with my fellow members when requested to do so.
  • To refrain from intentionally defaming the character of a fellow member or the quality of that member’s products or services for commercial advantage.
  • To give evidence at PNG arbitrations upon request.
  • To honor the provisions of PNG arbitration awards to which I am a party.
  • If I am in the business of conducting public auctions of numismatic items, to abide by guidelines issued from time to time by the PNG Board.

PNG dealers must undergo a background check and meet requirements for net worth and numismatic experience. They are also subject to the rules and regulations of the guild, which include binding arbitration for resolving disputes between buyers and sellers of numismatic properties. Other groups may suspend members for misconduct, but binding arbitration is completely different. Binding arbitration can save huge amounts of legal fees, and dealers are bound by the decisions of the arbitration panel. No other numismatic organization offers collectors this protection.

Numismatic Guaranty Company™ (NGC®) has been the official grading company of the PNG for over 25 years, and together they have been strong partners involved in protecting and expanding the hobby. The PNG logo can be found on the back of the holder of every coin that NGC certifies. Both organizations have a strong commitment to ensuring and promoting integrity in the hobby.

There are over 300 PNG dealers around the country, and they can be easily located on the PNG website. Nearly all these dealers have decades of experience and are willing to help you with your numismatic endeavors. You can also look for PNG dealers at nearly all major coin shows, many of which display the PNG logo at their booths. Having a chance to meet dealers in person is one of the greatest benefits of attending coin shows.

There are many options when buying coins today. You could surf the internet and buy nearly every coin ever made. But in the long run, having someone to help you make purchase decisions is well worth the investment.

There are thousands of coin dealers in the country to choose from, and membership in the PNG is just one of the factors you should consider when finding the ideal “numismatic mentor.”

Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to the free NGC Weekly Market Report.

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.