The latest interview published on Coin Update News is with Jeff Garrett, the president of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries. In the course of his career, he has handled nearly every United States rarity. He has served as president of the Professional Numismatic Guild and currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Numismatic Association. In 2003, he received the Abe Kosoff Founders Award from the PNG, and in 2009 he received the PNG Art Kagin Ambassador Award. He is the author of many popular numismatic references such as 100 Greatest U.S. Coins and the Encyclopedia of United States Gold Coinage and serves as a valuations editor for the Redbook.
So, how did you get your start in numismatics?
I began the old fashioned way; collecting Lincoln cents in Whitman albums. I was very fortunate that my area (Tampa, Florida) had lots of coin clubs to spur my interest.
What is your favorite coin that you currently own and can you tell us about it?
Good question! I currently have an 1850 Baldwin 10$ Cowboy in stock. The coin is an incredible, tangible link to the California gold rush.
Your company, Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Inc., has been in business for over thirty years and is one of the most prestigious companies in business today. How were you able to grow your business into the multi-million dollar company it is today?
This one is simple; business is about relationships, and I have forged some incredible friendships in the industry over the years.
It was fun at the time, but after a while I realized sitting in a dark room grading all day was not for me. I enjoy trading. The best part of the job was seeing all of the incredible coins that come through the door at a major grading company.
You’re an integral part of the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Department; can you tell us some more about what you do?
I have been involved with research in the collection for several years. We are currently working on a complete census of the United States portion of the collection. I have also been very active with fund raising.
You are quite the established author with some of your works including 100 Greatest U.S Coins and Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coinage. Out of all the books that you have authored, which was your favorite?
The Encyclopedia of US Gold is my favorite. It is extremely comprehensive, and most importantly I learned a tremendous amount about gold coinage writing the book. It was also done in conjunction with the Smithsonian.
You recently co-authored Gold: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Sell Today with Q. David Bowers. What was the influence behind the book?
Whitman Publishing wanted a book on the shelves that gives buyers and sellers of gold more information. It is a very hot topic, and the public needs help making the right decisions when selling or buying gold.
What to consider to be your best trait when it comes to numismatics?
I’d say my diversity of knowledge. I have handled almost every coin in the Redbook. If I don’t know what a coin is worth, I know who to ask!
What would you say is your favorite aspect of your job?
Every day is different. You never know when the phone call rings if the deal of a lifetime is going to offered for sale. Some days just fly by and I truly love what I do.
Do you have any advice for young numismatists who may be trying to enter the dealer field?
Find a good mentor to help with your interest, someone in your area of interest that can give you advice and encouragement. Finally, remember knowledge is power- the more you know, the more you will make!