CoinWorld's Most Influential Numismatists - Profile on Ian Russell, GreatCollections
Growing up outside Sydney, Australia, Ian Russell began collecting stamps and currency as a teenager. On a visit to a downtown Sydney shop at the age of 13, he was offered a job, but turned down the offer when he thought it wasn’t serious. His father, who had accompanied him, convinced Ian that the proprietors were serious, so Ian went back the next week. The weekend job opened the door to connections. Soon, it was off to work for Stanley Gibbons Australia, a world-renowned stamp and coin auctioneer. While there, he was able to play a pivotal role in the company’s first bank note auction, advertised with a small ad in a regional newspaper. It became the start of something big that allowed Russell to gain stature.
He took a position with online coin auction house Teletrade in 2000 after moving to America. He maintained an active presence in coin shows, estimating that he attended more than 300 shows from 2000 to 2020.
Ian met and married Raeleen Endo and the couple started GreatCollections in 2011. From the start, the company has grown to a market leader in certified coin auctions. Over 900,000 certified coins have changed hands, with over $400 million in sales and a roster of 10,000 consignors. In 2020 alone, GreatCollections offered over 130,000 certified coins. The company also deals in paper money, which makes up about 10 percent of the business.
While the headlines often center on coins with the highest selling price, gratification can come at any level. Russell recalled one particularly satisfying transaction. "We sell everything from $100 coins to $100,000 coins," he said. "One that I remember most was very early in our company, around 2012 to 2013. We had a very serious collector who owns coins that are worth millions contact us. He needed a coin for his daughter. It was not an expensive coin that he was looking for and we were able to get it for him. It was amazing how appreciative he was. He has bought coins from us since, but it is that coin that he appreciates more, even though it was probably the cheapest one he bought. It was eye opening to me to see how impactful a fulfilling transaction can be."
Ian is a member of Professional Numismatists Guild with life memberships in the American Numismatic Association and Florida United Numismatists organizations. He’s still a collector at heart, collecting Australian bank notes and coins and music memorabilia.cw