Since 1963, the Coin Dealer Newsletter (CDN) has been in the information business. Our weekly "CDN" publication, affectionately nicknamed the "Greysheet" (due to its grey paper), fills a very special need in the coin business: current, accurate wholesale information on the BID and ASK levels of U.S. coins. Bid is the amount that one dealer is willing to pay another dealer to purchase a needed coin; Ask is the price a selling dealer is asking for his coins. Why do dealers around the world trust us so? They know that only in the CDN can they find unbiased, accurate, current price information - information that they know is independent, because the CDN staff neither buys nor sells coins, only information.
Bid and Ask, although wholesale figures, are naturally related to the retail price that a dealer might charge a customer for a coin, but retail price negotiations are between a dealer and his customer. Prices listed in the CDN assume that the transaction is sight-seen; that is, the bidding dealer is willing to pay that price to buy a coin that he is given the opportunity to inspect prior to concluding the transaction (more about sight-unseen bidding later!). If the dealer is not pleased with the coin, or disagrees with the seller's grading, he is under no obligation to buy it. CDN prices also assume that the coin is graded according to accepted industry standards, as exemplified by PCGS and NGC. The CDN also considers information on coins that are "raw" (that is, the coins have not been examined by one of the certification services), but that are properly graded. Since coins certified by PCGS and NGC are such an important segment of the coin market, bids for these coins are an important consideration in the CDN pricing evaluations.
Since the CDN started as a publication for dealers, we assume that our subscribers know how to grade; if they know the grade of the coin, we give them the current price. Since the Greysheet comes out weekly, the information is always up-to-date, and it is easy to take anywhere it's needed. As the grading definitions changed over the years, the Greysheet changed to reflect appropriate prices for Bids using the new definitions. Presenting tens of thousands of prices accurately every week requires the cooperation of many people. Our senior staff has over 100 years of coin business experience, and every day we get information from hundreds of people trading coins. We watch the computerized networks and pay special attention to dealers "wanted to buy" lists, as well as auction Prices Realized.
The front page of the Greysheet features two columns: The Market in Depth is a market commentary on current events and trends; This Week's Market is a distillation of the Bids and comments received from hundreds of dealers each week. Current Bid and Ask prices for U.S. Gold coins are also found on the front page, since they are so important to dealers. The CDN reports on 16 different Types of gold coins in 7 different grades, ranging from Very Fine to Mint State-67. Since the price of gold influences the coin market, affecting both gold and non-gold coins, the CDN also lists prices for some common bullion "coins", like the Canadian Maple Leaf and the American Eagle Gold pieces.
For several years, the front page of the CDN has also featured the Coin Dealer Newsletter: Certified Coin Market Indicator. The Indicator takes selected pricing information out of our specialty publication for certified coins, the Certified Coin Dealer newsletter, and presents it in condensed form to our CDN readers. Certified coins sell at vastly different price levels according to which service certified them (this is explained more fully in the section on our Certified Coin Dealer newsletter). The Indicator takes a sampling of prices for ten different series (and two grades within each series) and compares these prices to the same coins as reported in the CDN. Out of the twenty ratios developed, we report the highest, the lowest, and the average of the twenty. We do this for each of the main certification services. We are especially proud of this feature, which severely impacted the telemarketing abuse of selling coins from one service at levels appropriate to a different service.
Commemorative coins (special Legal Tender issues produced by the government for the collector market, but seldom found in circulation) are priced for all of the single issues, Types, and Sets, in five different grades, from XF to MS-65. These are the grades in which Commemoratives most often trade. Commemoratives are especially popular with collectors (both Type and Date). Their different designs produce a pleasing array of art styles, as well as commemorating many different events in American history, and special places throughout our country. Subjects range from Queen Isabella to the contributions of Booker T. Washington. We also list current prices for the Gold Commemorative coins, all the way up to the big $50 Panama-Pacific Round and Octagonal coins.
Since the government began to issue commemorative coins again in 1982, we have a special section for the many different Olympic, Statue of Liberty, Constitution and other modern issues. Because of the many ways that these coins were packaged and marketed, it can become very confusing for collectors and dealers alike.
BU Roll prices have been an important part of the dealer's market since we started in 1963, and we still monitor those transactions carefully. Rolls of common date circulated coins are also important to dealers who cater to beginning collectors. Our roll price section enables date collectors of modern series to calculate appropriate prices for individual specimens to fill all of those holes in their albums.
One and a half pages of information are devoted to Silver Dollars; this is a small measure of their continuing popularity among collectors. We list every date and mintmark, and many of the varieties, in eleven different grades! All the way from Very Good to MS-65, with special listings for Deep Mirror Proof-Like (DMPL) Dollars (those Dollars whose fields are as reflective as mirrors). How to determine a DMPL, versus a less reflective Prooflike (PL)? If you can read your Greysheet prices reflected in the coin's fields, you have one! The mirror-like qualities of some Deep Mirror Proof Likes is so great that they approach the reflective nature of the Mint's PROOF specimens - remember that PL and DMPL coins are business strikes, while Proof coins are specially prepared from polished dies and planchets.
Also popular with collectors, especially novices, are modern Proof Sets and Mint-issued Uncirculated Sets. Uncirculated coins are just that -- coins which have never been released into circulation; Proof coins are prepared from specially polished planchets (coin blanks), and stuck with specially polished dies that give them a mirror-like appearance. The CDN covers modern Proofs (1936 to date) and Mint Sets (1947 to date). There is a general feeling that buying coins directly from "the source" is the best way to get in on the "ground floor" of rising coin prices. I formerly compared this to getting into an elevator in a one-story building (of course, that was before the price of 1986 Mint sets escalated from $6.50 to $27 in less than 9 months). Generally speaking, the Mint produces as many 'collector' coins as they can sell. This unlimited annual supply means that there should be little unfulfilled demand to drive prices upward for many years. Generally. Additional demand may sometimes appear relatively quickly; sometimes years later; sometimes the demand continues, sometimes it evaporates. Coin pricing is never dull.
Our last pages of prices (and many would argue the best) in the weekly CDN follows Type coins. Remember, the Type collector tries to assemble a collection bearing just one example of every different design or style of coin. We list prices from Good through MS-65 for regular issues, and Proof-60 to Proof 65 for the proof examples. Mercury Dimes and Walking Liberty Halves also receive weekly coverage by date and mintmark. In our Greysheet, you can find Bid levels for coins ranging in price from 30¢ to $250,000; coins ranging in age from the Eighteenth Century to modern U.S. Mint Gold & Silver Eagles.