With the advent in 1986 and 1987 of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), consumers were given the extraordinary opportunity to be on a level playing field with dealers. PCGS and NGC, then and now, assign a world-class-informed consensus grade to coins on a one through 70 scale, where one represents a coin so well worn that you can barely identify it, and 70 is perfect. These exceptionally skilled services encapsulate coins in sonically sealed tamper-evident holders that display bar-coded inserts below the grade, making each coin trackable. PCGS and NGC provide guarantees of authenticity and grade for each of their respective certified coins.
So take one of those vintage coins in a grading-service holder…look up the coin’s exact description and grade in a price guide…and voila!—like a professional coin dealer, you instantly know the coin’s value. Look up the value on a frequently updated website or by using an app, and you know the value in real time—something very handy for coins high in precious metal (e.g. gold) content, and low in collector premium.
For years, collectors and investors had widespread access to fair market value or retail prices from the two top grading services themselves, PCGS and NGC. And popular hobby publications, Coin World and Numismatic News, also provided their own versions of fair market value, as did a number of books, including A Guide Book of United States Coins and my own, The Insider’s Guide to U.S. Coin Values.
But for a few years now, savvy collectors knew that they could find out the “dealer” prices for their wares by checking the valuable auction-price archive maintained by Heritage Auctions. Access is given in exchange for your e-mail address. Not only do the Heritage Auctions archives give the prices paid at auction for rare coins similar to—or, in some cases, exactly like—your coins, but the highly valuable wholesale values (read: “dealer prices”) of The Coin Dealer Newsletter are included for free with each online lot description. To be fair, there are other fair market wholesale and retail pricing guides. One leading entry is NumisMedia, published by a former editor of The Coin Dealer Newsletter.
But in September 2019, The Coin Dealer Newsletter sharpened its proverbial pencil and expanded its outreach by introducing a magazine-format publication, The CAC Rare Coin Market Review. CAC (Certified Acceptance Corporation) places holographic green stickers on the holders of PCGS and NGC coins that it feels are solidly graded or high-end for the grade. For a number of reasons, a multitude of buyers are very comfortable buying CAC-verified coins, which, consequently, sometimes carry astronomical premiums compared to their non-CAC counterparts.
It was often a puzzle figuring out how high a premium a CAC-verified coin should command—10%…20%…30… or more? Now buyers and sellers have an authoritative fair market value or retail guide to CAC values.
“We are endorsing The CAC Rare Coin Market Review from CDN Publishing, as it is independent. The numbers are not provided by CAC,” declared John Albanese, the highly protective founder and president of CAC, who is also a founder of PCGS and the founder of NGC.
Albanese endorsing this publication is a landmark, milestone event, as the soft-spoken, low-profile Albanese rarely sticks his neck out to endorse anyone’s product, including his own.
The CAC Rare Coin Market Review is a quarterly magazine-style price guide with an annual subscription cost of $29.99.
To understand the basics of wholesale values of certified coins, let’s look at a relatively “common” rare coin—an 1881 Morgan silver dollar from the San Francisco Mint. In Mint State 65, its Coin Dealer Newsletter “Bid” price is $96. But its CAC wholesale price listing is $115, almost 20% higher than its non-CAC price.
“CDN Publishing is the only company that publishes wholesale price information for US coins, US paper money, and modern China issues,” said John Feigenbaum, its publisher. “We operate with complete independence of outside influence.”
Feigenbaum says that he is a minority partner/owner. Other minority partners, Feigenbaum disclosed, are Steve Ivy and James L. Halperin, co-chairmen of Heritage Auctions… Mark Salzberg, chairman of NGC…and Steven R. Eichenbaum, CEO of the Certified Collectibles Group. Feigenbaum says that these minority partners have no say in the day-to-day operations and have no say or influence in adjusting prices.
“There was an obvious market demand for pricing CAC coins because these coins have a distinctly different value than their non-CAC counterparts,” Feigenbaum says.
The Coin Dealer Newsletter (also called The Greysheet), with its 7,000 paid subscribers, encompasses fair market wholesale value pricing of US coins—circulated coins to high-end, as well as modern China issues and some CAC-approved coins. This is published as a monthly magazine of approximately 130 pages per issue and costs $249 per year.
The Collector’s Price Guide (CPG) Coin & Currency Market Review offers collector or fair market retail pricing for both coins and paper money. It is published quarterly, with an annual subscription price of $29.99. The Greensheet offers wholesale pricing for US paper money. It’s a 24-page magazine-style publication published monthly, with a $119 yearly subscription cost. Members of the Congressionally-chartered, non-profit American Numismatic Association receive free rotating segments of the Collector’s Price Guide on a monthly basis.