Product Review - Online Australian Coin Values, Green Sheet, Blue Sheet, and Red Sheet

March 23, 2009

Not too long ago, Walter Eigner released a new online value system for Australian Pre Decimal coins. Walter runs an online coin business, a grading service, a coin imaging service and I think is the current president of the ACT Coin Club. He must have lots of energy because there's no way I'd have time for all of these things! The interesting thing about his new online price reference for Australian coins is that it is continually updated on the basis of actual sales of slabbed Australian coins (he monitors sales of PCGS graded coins, NGC and his own CGAU graded coins on Ebay and several other major sellers of Australian coins). This means, that in theory, that the prices his guide puts forward are much more current than those found in the most commonly used catalogue, Greg McDonalds Pocket Book of Australian Coins and Banknotes.

The online coin value service comprises three offerings:

  • The Blue Sheet - the selling prices of Australian coins, this is what you can expect to pay for a given coin of a given grade.
  • The Green Sheet - this is the price at which coins of a given grade are marketed at by dealers who generally use the adjectival grading system.
  • The Red Sheet - this is what you might expect sell a coin for of a given type or grade. He calls this the 'wholesale' price.

Each of the services is a subscription service, you can subscribe for a period of a month or more, and can bundle each of the services up for discounted pricing. For example, you can subscribe to the 'collector plus' service which gives you access to all three services plus allows you to enter a want and sell list for AU$25 for a month.

In addition to the up to date pricing the services also provide a number of useful tools for collectors and dealers. These include:

  • PCGS and CGAU certification number lookups
  • Being able to create a want list for other subscribers to see
  • Being able to create inventory for sale for other subscribers to see
  • Being able to add sales events to the catalogue to allow the sale value to reflect on the current pricing of that coin / grade
  • Being able to view coin values in a number of different categories
  • Finally, the system is also available as a mobile service so you can see catalogue values via a mobile device like a phone or handheld PC.

Now onto the service itself. I spent sometime browsing through each of the services with
a collector plus subscription. The interface of the system is clean and easy to use. Most pages have explanatory notes at the bottom describing the purpose of each page and how each of the tools might be used. The catalogue pages themselves are laid out by denomination and each year and strike type has it's own line. So, for example, the 1910 3d has a line for the circulation strike and a line for the specimen strike. Each line contains the mintage and values for the coin in grades from F12 to MS65. The greensheet does not provide sheldon grading but rather Australian adjectival grading. I can only assume this is because almost all Australian dealers still sell coins using this grading standard even if a coin is slabbed.

For a lot of the coin types there are notes and remarks by Walter himself on the coin, it's general level of strike and availability and other collector tips. These are very useful information to the new collector. If there is any sales history, want list, or inventory list for a coin of a given type and year then you can click on the year of that coin and view this information. For example, for the 1910 Florin, at time of writing, the following information was presented:

Retail Offer: December 2008, PCGS MS 63, $4750.00, Walter Eigner Numismatics
Retail Offer: January 2009, PCGS AU 55, $800.00, Ebay
Sale: February 2009, PCGS XF 40, $252.00, Ebay
Retail Offer: March 2009, PCGS AU 55, $999.00, Private

So, reviewing this we can see that three PCGS coins have been offered up for sale in the last 4 months, I assume the Private offering is a subscriber of the service, the Walter Eigner offering is dealer stock, and the others have been entered into the system as they were seen on Ebay. Now, if we examine the CV's for AU55 1910 florins in his service we see $1450 on the green sheet, $950 on the blue sheet, and $750 on the redsheet. This suggests that you could find an AU 1910 florin for sale on a dealers list for $1450, but this would be graded AU58 (generally) in a slab. An AU55 coin could be had for $950 and would expect to sell one for $750. It's all quite clear and presumably related to the actual sales and offer history somehow.

It's worth commenting on some quirks of the interface of the system. Firstly, sometimes (for whatever reason) the system wants you to login twice. This is probably a simple programming issue but should still be fixed up. Secondly, the systems dont work well if you are logged into all three price guides at once, so when you are logged into the bluesheet and the redsheet you'll always see the blue sheet pages whatever you do. This could be easily fixed up by using a different set of cookies for each site and should definitely be addressed.

Now I'll comment on the usefullness of the service. Firstly, it needs to be understood that the market for certified and graded Australian coins is still thin, which means that the prices for a lot of the coins do not update very often at all, simply because there's no sales history. Secondly, while the want list and dealer sales inventory are admirable tools they again rely on a critical mass to make them really worthwhile, and it doesn't seem as if right now that critical mass exists. Those things out of the way, the set of tools and catalogue prices are genuinely useful to the Australian coin collector. And the monthly subscription model makes it a bargain priced option if you are wanting to do some research on what your collection is worth or what you should be paying for that graded coin you have your eye on. If you're contemplating spending more than $100 on a coin why wouldn't you pay $3 for a months access to the system? Those lousy three bucks could save you tens or hundreds of dollars by simply seeing how much the coin you want has been selling for in the past!

Walter is to be commended for his effort here. The three price guides appear to be useful research tools for the collector and coin purchaser. The prices of the service are such that it's almost a no brainer to subscribe for a month. Unless you're a dealer I dont really see the point of subscribing for more than one month at a time. That being said it's only $26.95 to subscribe for a year to the collector level service so you're not going to go broke even if you do subscribe for longer. The tools are well worth the look, if you haven't seen them yet go take a look now.

Posted by mnemtsas at March 23, 2009 12:05 PM
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