Information and Numismatics

Posted on 8/11/2016

Today's collectors and dealers have an amazing number of tools available to make buying and selling decisions.

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 price the coins 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.

In 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 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.

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

Jeff Garrett bio

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.