Jeff Garrett: Join a Numismatic Fraternity

Posted on 7/16/2020

Love coin collecting? Make it official with a coin club membership.

One of the most impactful aspects of the COVID-19 crisis has been the amount of time individuals are spending online. People around the country are now shopping online who had resisted this trend for years. There has been an explosion of eCommerce, including numismatic sales. With coin shows being canceled around the country, dealers are finding themselves increasingly reliant on web sales to survive. Luckily, those with an active web presence are doing record business in some cases.

For collectors, the extra time COVID-19 has created in their lives can also be used for numismatic pursuits other than shopping. It’s a great time to learn more about the hobby and to explore the series in which you have an interest. I think there’s no better way to do this than to join a numismatic organization, such as the American Numismatic Association (ANA) ( or a local coin club ( in your area.

I was very fortunate to have grown up in the Tampa Bay area of central Florida in the early 1970s. My first interest in coin collecting began the old-fashioned way — filling a Lincoln Cent album. This, however, was a solitary endeavor. As my interest and knowledge in rare coins grew, I started to help in a local coin shop on occasion. Of course, my parents insisted that school-work come first, but my true passion was numismatics.

My love for rare coins was nurtured by numerous individuals around this time, but the many local coin club meetings I was able to attend were the greatest influence on me. In the 1970s, there were many very active coin clubs in the Tampa Bay area, all within a 30-mile drive. There were club meetings in Clearwater, Tampa, Largo, St. Petersburg and others. Some actually met twice a month, to give you an idea of how popular the meetings were.

Jeff (second from left) at a meeting of the Clearwater Coin Club in the early 1970s.

My father traveled a great deal when I was growing up, and my mother did not drive. Luckily, a few of the club regulars would come by the house and pick me up for the meetings each week. I am still very grateful for this kindness that was paid to a young and unproven numismatist.

One of the highlights every month was the auction held at the conclusion of each meeting. Everyone loves a bargain, and the auctions were always hotly contested affairs. Eventually, I started to consign coins, and this was actually my first taste of being a professional numismatist.

Each meeting also had an educational presentation by one of the members. I can still remember some of these talks and how coin collecting came to life during these eloquent presentations. At one point, I gained the courage to give a talk of my own. It was a terrifying thing for me at the time, but the experience has served me well, when speaking to crowds, as the years pass.

As you can tell from my fond memories, coin clubs have a special place in my heart. My company sponsors a club in Lexington, Kentucky each month. There are 25-35 attendees, and we try to have an educational speaker and, of course, the mandatory auction. Next Monday, our local club will have its first post-COVID-19 meeting (masks and social distancing mandatory). We are all excited but nervous as we try to establish a new normal going forward for the club.

To be sure, some local coin clubs around the country are struggling. The number of collectors nationally has dropped over the years, and many clubs have closed up shop. I strongly urge anyone with an interest in coin collecting to join your local coin club. This support will pay dividends far beyond the minimal dues and time required for membership. If there is not a club in your area, contact the ANA for information on how to start one.

If you are not a member, joining the ANA is the first step for you to become a member of the numismatic fraternity. The ANA website ( offers tremendous amounts of numismatic educational material. Collectors are encouraged to spend some of the extra time they now have to explore the world of coin collecting on the ANA website.

NGC has been the official grading service of the ANA since 1995.

Although so many aspects of life have been altered and diminished by COVID-19, the hobby is actually seeing growth and renewed interested during this time. Since March, the membership of the ANA has grown from 25,000 to nearly 30,000 members. It’s so exciting to see individuals discover or rediscover the hobby we all love so much.

Coin clubs, including the ANA, are an excellent place to involve young people in numismatics as well. Many, including the ANA, cater to this part of the membership with free coin giveaways and educational presentations. It is also an opportunity to provide mentorship to young collectors. I am very grateful that someone took the time to mentor my budding interest in rare coins. I probably would not be writing this today if they had not!

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