A visionary leader in the world of collectibles for nearly 40 years, Mark Salzberg’s contributions to the hobby will be felt for decades to come.
Mark Salzberg, one of the world’s most respected collectibles experts, has announced that he will retire at the end of June 2023. His retirement is the culmination of a nearly four-decade career with the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG), during which Salzberg made numerous highly impactful contributions to the world of collectibles.
Salzberg joined the Certified Collectibles Group in 1988, when it was just NGC, a coin grading startup, and immediately recognized that the expert and impartial services NGC offered would change the collecting landscape — from a niche hobby to a robust industry. A decade later, it was clear that third-party certification had revolutionized the collecting hobby.
Recognizing the ability to scale to other classes of collectibles, Salzberg partnered with CCG CEO Steven Eichenbaum in the late 1990s to expand the company’s services. Utilizing NGC’s proven platform, they established CGC as the world’s first comic book grading service. CGC quickly grew into a powerhouse in its category, and remains the industry leader with more than 10 million pop culture collectibles certified. Meanwhile, CCG continued to expand to paper money, stamps, trading cards, memorabilia, and more, and opened offices around the globe. The industry grew significantly larger as people from all walks of life gained confidence in collectibles as an asset class. Today, the CCG companies have certified more than 80 million collectibles.
“While the ‘Wild West’ early days were exciting, seeing where the business and industry are now is beyond rewarding,” Salzberg notes. “I do not take for granted how lucky I am to have been able to do something I absolutely love and have made it my profession.”
Steven Eichenbaum comments, “The collectibles industry has been forever impacted by Mark Salzberg’s vision, innovation, and hard work. He is excellent at cultivating meaningful relationships and carrying big ideas from concept to completion.”
“Mark has a unique combination of collectibles expertise, business acumen, and vision,” says Max Spiegel, president of CCG. “It has been incredibly impactful to my own career’s development to learn how he identifies an area of the market that is underserved and then works with such great passion and intensity to build a best-in-class solution.”
Salzberg is well-known for his strong leadership, particularly in the mentorship of up-and-coming numismatists. He has mentored dozens of graders at the Certified Collectibles Group, taught many classes at the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Summer Seminar, and published numerous educational pieces for numismatic journals.
“A big reason that I came to NGC from PCGS in 2002 was Mark Salzberg,” says Rick Montgomery, NGC president and finalizer. “I have very much enjoyed the years that I have spent with Mark in the grading room, not only seeing some incredible coins but also establishing a bond of mutual respect. The NGC Grading Team that we’ve built these past 20 years benefits from this shared passion, culture, and real commitment to numismatics.”
Working in the coin grading room for most of his 35 years with CCG, Salzberg has graded virtually all of the world’s most high-profile coins. He is widely credited for his central role in standardizing and promoting the use of today’s highly precise grading scales, an essential component of the collectibles industry’s development.
An ANA Life Member, Salzberg was named Numismatist of the Year by the ANA in 2006 and received the ANA’s Presidential Award in 1998. He is also a member of the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG). Education is a passion of Salzberg’s, and he helped create the U.S. Mint’s H.I.P. Pocket Change Program, designed to educate and spark youth interest in collecting. His own captivation with coins began at the age of 7, and by 11, he was already working at a coin shop. Watch this video to learn more about his fascinating career from Salzberg himself.
Salzberg has also given back to the hobby in the form of significant financial support. Under his leadership, NGC has contributed millions of dollars to the ANA and the PNG. In addition, he sponsored the Smithsonian Institution Legendary Coins and Currency exhibit, with endowment and conservation of some of the country’s most treasured artifacts.
“I am so proud of my father’s career and his legacy, which will live on in the over 40 world-class graders he has mentored over the years. He is known not only for being one of the best graders in the world, but also for building the best grading team in the world. Although he will be missed, I know that we are prepared as a business, and we are excited for him to take this next big step in his life. I have learned an immeasurable amount from my father’s business acumen, and I intend on continuing to learn from him whenever possible,” notes Andy Salzberg, CCG executive vice president.
Following CCG’s acquisition by Blackstone in mid-2021, Salzberg was able to step back from much of his day-to-day work, while maintaining a seat on the CCG Board of Directors. With his official retirement at the end of June, Salzberg will leave the board, confident in its current direction and the capabilities of the CCG executive team.
“This transition to retirement has been unexpectedly exciting and natural for me,” says Salzberg. “My wife, Donna, has been by my side as a partner and sounding board for the last four decades, and we’re overjoyed to have more flexibility to travel and spend time with family together. I’ve also been working on a mobile game with a strong collectibles component. My time and attention are inclined in that direction, as I’ve put together a world-class team to bring it to market. It has been a fantastic journey, and I am happy and humbled to see what the next generation has in store for the world of collectibles.”
And to everyone at CCG, Salzberg adds, “None of this would have been possible — my career, this company, all that has been achieved — if not for the fantastic people that worked alongside me. Together, we built a business that everyone can be extraordinarily proud of, while changing the global landscape of collecting.”
Press release courtesy of the Numismatic Guaranty Company