As the Certified Collectibles Group® (CCG®) celebrates the milestone of 75 million collectibles graded, CCG Chairman and founder Mark Salzberg sat down with CCG’s Brittany McManus to share his extraordinary collecting journey and thoughts on the dynamic collectibles markets. The far-reaching conversation spans the chance encounter that piqued his interest in coins to CCG’s development as a global collectibles powerhouse.
Salzberg recently achieved a personal milestone: 35 years with CCG. He joined the company in 1988, when it was just NGC®, a coin grading startup. He immediately recognized that the expert and impartial services NGC offered would change the collecting landscape — from a small hobby to a robust industry, growing significantly larger as people from all walks of life gained confidence in collectibles as an asset class.
During the conversation, Salzberg shares not only how he became interested in collecting, but also how he learned from the ground up, starting with a job at a coin shop at age 11. By his early teens, he was already dealing in coins, when there was no third-party certification and “knowledge was everything.” With the decision to concentrate on high-end material, he was well on his way to making coins, and eventually collectibles, his career.
But the choice to stop dealing and dedicate himself to grading was a difficult one. NGC was founded on the principle of complete impartiality, so there would be no more buying and selling. The focus was now on grading and ultimately bringing transparency and security to the marketplace.
A decade later, it was clear that third-party certification had revolutionized the coin collecting hobby. By that time, eBay was on the scene, and it was a “wild west” except for certified coins, which could be bought and sold with confidence. Third-party certification was needed to protect the integrity of the other collectibles categories, and so the expansion began.
Salzberg partnered with Steven Eichenbaum in the late 1990s to bring about this expansion, first to comic books, and then paper money, stamps, trading cards, memorabilia and more. CCG was established to combine the services within each collectibles category. The company also expanded geographically, and now has offices in London, Munich, Shanghai and Hong Kong, in addition to its expansive Sarasota footprint.
A conversation with Mark Salzberg is an opportunity to hear firsthand how CCG has evolved over the years, and how Salzberg himself has been a key part of the growth of CCG and the collectibles industry.