One of the more difficult things to explain to a new collector is how much a coin is worth. A common misconception is that an older coin is worth more than one struck later. Although I wrote two blog posts about coin pricing (links to Part I and Part II), the next question is, ”How much is my coin worth?”
Collectors will turn to price guides to understand how much the coin is worth. Two popular price guides are the Guidebook to United States Coins (the Red Book) and the Coin Dealer’s Newsletter (the Greysheet). The Red Book is a book and requires the collector to purchase one. But for under $20, collectors can have the complete price guide of all United States Coins in their hands.
The Red Book does not have the most up-to-date coin values as a physical publication. But it gives the collector an idea of the value of their coins and is an excellent general reference.
Until recently, the Greysheet offered collectors their retail price guide to anyone visiting their website. While the website’s interface was more artistic than usable, the information was available to collectors.
Last week, Greysheet CEO John Feigenbaum sent an email to subscribers of their mailing list that announced the end of the free access to the retail price guide.
To access the retail price guide, collectors will have to create an account on their site to access up to 10 prices per month. After making 10 free queries, users will have to subscribe to their service for $7.99 per month, a price Feigenbaum says is “about the same as a Starbucks Frappucino — and a lot less calories.“ I prefer a tall three-shot latte that costs less and has fewer calories.
The fallacy of Feigenbaum’s argument is that they collect and publish the data regardless of the way they grant access. What has changed is that the cost of printing has risen. Instead of raising the prices for the printed version of the Greysheet and sister publications for the old dealers that are past their prime, the company passes the costs to collectors.
The Greysheet is a private company and can do what they want. As a collector who does not benefit from paying a monthly subscription to access retail price guides, it is time to add other online coin guide pricing tools. There are alternatives for the average collector. For example, NGC and PCGS publish price guides for coins in their holders. Find these price guides at:
When the need is for general online coin guidance, here are two good resources:
- NumisMedia Collector Fair Market Value Guide can be found at numismedia.com/rarecoinprices/fmv.shtml.
- USA Coin Book has a lot of coin information and collectors buy and sell coins, and each coin page includes pricing information. Find their site at usacoinbook.com.
Even if the Red Book is not immediately accurate, it should be part of your library. As an essential reference, there is no comparable book.
Thank you to the Greysheet for providing the service in the past. But as it is time for you to move on, it is time for the ordinary collector to find other resources.