Collector Advisory: Beware of Bargains Online

Here’s a press release I just received from The Professional Numismatists Guild. The full title was Collector Advisory: Beware Bogus Bargains Online In Rare Coin Bull Market, but that was a bit too long for my tastes.

(Fallbrook, California) – The multi-billion dollar rare coin market continues to climb with record prices reported virtually every month; however experts caution that prudent buyers should be careful about inaccurate descriptions that could drastically affect the market value of their purchases. Many rare coins are listed in online auctions as “certified,” but not all authentication services use the same criteria for determining the grades (condition) of coins.

In some cases, the “certified” coins actually may be counterfeits.

“The value of a rare coin is highly dependent on its specific grade – its state of preservation. Often, very small differences in quality translate to very large differences in value,” advises Jeff Garrett of Lexington, Kentucky, President of the Professional Numismatists Guild, a nonprofit organization founded in 1955 and composed of many of the country’s top rare coin dealers.

“In looking at online coin auctions, we’ve recently counted references to nearly two dozen different numismatic certification companies. Many collectors and investors are under the potentially-costly false assumption that all of these certification services abide by similar criteria for judging the authenticity and grade of United States coins. Not all grading services make the grade. That results in bogus bargains: coins that are over-graded and over-priced, or not even genuine,” warns Garrett.

“Even though there are nearly two dozen companies issuing opinions about the authenticity and grade of U.S. coins, the major numismatic publications usually only track the values of coins graded by three or four of those companies. That should be a strong caution signal to buyers about how the marketplace values the opinions of some authentication and grading services more than others,” says Garrett.

PNG Executive Director Robert Brueggeman emphasizes there is no substitute for knowledge: “If you don’t know rare coins, then you’d better know your coin dealer.”

All PNG members must adhere to a strict code of ethics in the buying and selling of numismatic merchandise, and demonstrate knowledge, responsibility and integrity in their business dealings. PNG members must agree to binding arbitration to settle any unresolved disagreements over numismatic property. An online directory of PNG members is available at

For a copy of the informative guides, “What You Should Know Before You Buy Rare Coins For Investment” and “The Pleasure of Coin Collecting,” send $1 to cover postage costs to: Robert Brueggeman, PNG Executive Director, 3950 Concordia Lane, Fallbrook, California 92028. Phone: (760) 728-1300. Fax: (760) 728-8507. E-mail: [email protected].

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