What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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When bidders see lot photos and descriptions, they must have sufficient numismatic skill to determine whether and then how much to bid. This particular lot description and photo have several issues. Can you identify them?

Here’s what we see:

    1. The photos are too washed out to judge luster, essential in buying mint-state Morgans because so many have been dipped and so are deemed ungradeworthy.

    2. The holdering company is Numismatic Authentification Service, an off-brand. When you do not know about a holdering company, conduct a web search that contains reviews of it. If you put this company’s name in Google, you come up with these results.

    3. The lot description contains a figure about value, but does not indicate where that figure was taken from. A little research turns up these figures: PCGS ($1765); NGC ($1775); and Coin Values ($1600). Each value, however, only applies to coins graded by PCGS, NGC, and top-tier companies (ANACS, ICG).

Each of those issues represents a warning not to bid or to place an informed bid. Do not rely on what the auctioneer states in the lot description unless you have done business with the company before, trust the auctioneer’s grading judgment, and can view clear, sharp expandable photos of the coin.


Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

Use “replica” when selling fake California gold

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We continue our fight against fake California fractional coins, especially when they are described as 19th century gold. The above replica is not from California and not minted in 1853. Calling it a “token” without the qualifier “replica” is inaccurate. As such, this lot is a SNAD (“significantly not as described”).

The replica above was described as “1853 CA Gold Token, 1/2, BU.” These replicas have been plaguing numismatics since the 19th century when the U.S. government began to crack down on them. California gold replicas are plentiful today, and the temptation is to offer them as authentic. When we spotted this one on Proxibid, the bid already was at $22. See photo below.

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That bid is about $20 more than the replica is worth.

Conversely, John Leonard at Leonard Auction–one of the most ethical auctioneers on the portal–knows how to describe these offerings. See screenshot below (click to expand):

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Leonard calls them replica tokens worth about $1-2 each. He is selling them as one lot and provides a clear photo of the reverse, showing the dreaded “bear” (which signifies a replica or counterfeit).

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We advise not to offer these fakes. Don’t obfuscate the matter, either, by calling them gold tokens or gold souvenirs. Using the word “gold” without testing the lot for the metal also is spurious. Most of these are brass or brass with gold plate. If you test for gold, note the karat.

For more information about real, replica and fake California gold, click on the most popular Proxibid post viewed more than 1000 times since 2012.


Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

Another Complaining Newby

another Proxibid newby

We marvel at Proxibid sellers who charge high buyer’s fees (this one is 21%) with opening bids on common coins as high as their intrinsic values–without buyer’s premiums and shipping figured in. Buyers need to read the auctioneer’s service terms before placing a bid on a lot. Better still, both buyer and auctioneer ought to read Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement before making any claims that may violate that agreement!


Always read service terms. Be wary of high opening bids (even when the auctioneer proclaims “no reserve auction”) coupled with high buyer’s premiums. Worse, this house complains, “Due to the exorbitant fees associated with credit card processing, [Name Withheld] DOES NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS OR PAYPAL. No credit card payments of any kind will be accepted.”

Of course the house asks that winning bidders contact a third-party shipper. Also, payment of lots must be done by bank money order or cashier’s check.

Finally, there is this: “The Auctioneer is acting as agent only and is not responsible for acts of its principals. If any dispute arises, the Auctioneer’s word is final.”

Hey, Proxibid Sales Team: Why not make the seller aware of the Unified User Agreement? Here’s a nifty clause:

  • 4.4 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials: If Seller includes any statement that a product posted for sale through the Web site is sold “AS-IS” (attempting to disclaim implied warranties), Seller must also include a clear and conspicuous description of the known defect(s) in the product (for example, “BROKEN”, “MISSING PARTS”, “FOR PARTS ONLY”). Any attempt to list a product “AS IS” without a clear and conspicuous description of the defect is a violation of this Agreement.
  • Can’t sell without noting defects!

  • 4.9 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials: “Compliance with Laws Related to Sale of Certain Products. Seller acknowledges and agrees that the promotion, advertising, sale, and distribution of certain products are subject to federal, state, and local regulations, including without limitation, firearms, Indian artifacts, recalled products, children’s products, alcoholic beverages, coins and currency.
  • Can’t sell counterfeits!

  • 5.16 Default Event Terms: “16. If, within a reasonable amount of time, Buyer gives notice in writing to Seller that the lot so sold is a counterfeit and after such notice the Buyer returns the lot to Seller in the same condition as when sold, and establishes to the satisfaction of Seller that the returned lot is in fact a counterfeit, Seller as agent for the consignor will rescind the sale and refund the purchase price.”
  • Told ya!

  • 6. Dispute Resolution: “Proxibid retains full discretion to make a decision in favor of the Buyer or the Seller based on any criteria Proxibid deems appropriate. In the event that Proxibid makes a final decision in favor of the Buyer or Seller, each party must comply with Proxibid’s decision.”
  • Guess Auctioneer’s word ISN’T final.

There are a lot more terms in the Unified User Agreement that buyer and seller may want to read before making any claims. Sellers utilizing Powered by Proxibid are held to an even playing field. Buyers are held to even more responsibility.

That’s why we endorse Proxibid’s brand of trust … and remind everyone via Proxiblog to trust no service term that conflicts with the Unified User Agreement.


Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

Improve lot descriptions via coin design


By learning basic coin design, and the numismatic terms associated with it, you will appreciate your collection more and be able to describe consignments with insight and eloquence. Price is only $7.99 through Amazon KINDLE. With each purchase, you will be contributing to the scholarship fund at Iowa State University.

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Michael Bugeja, columnist for Coin World and reporter for Coin Update News, shares results of a comprehensive study of all U.S. Mint circulating coinage. Dr. Bugeja is a member of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Citizen Coinage Advisory Committee and works with other appointees in determining coin design for the U.S. Mint. His study does not represent the views of the U.S. Mint. They are his own.

Dr. Bugeja uses empirical methods to identify the placement and artistic effect of dates, denominations, legends, mottos, symbols and other devices of all circulating coinage, from the 1792 half disme made from Martha Washington’s silverware to 2011 modern commemorative coinage. View sample datasheets below, clicking to expand.

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The result is a startlingly helpful analysis of basic design questions, such as “How to Tell Heads from Tails” (difficult on some coins) or “Why the Morgan dollar is the most popular collected coin.” The book has two sections, one devoted to the study and the other a detailed discussion of basic design elements, such as the privy mark or the three-sided canvas of a coin (obverse, reverse, edge). Learn coin design from a top numismatic writer and enjoy the hobby of collecting from an entirely different and enlightened perspective.

Better still, author Michael Bugeja will donate out of every sale to his Media Ethics Scholarship Fund at Iowa State University, which will underwrite scholarships for the next generation of bidders.


CLICK HERE FOR PURCHASE

Shipping: You’ve Got to Be Kidding!

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CLICK PHOTO TO EXPAND

This auctioneer has baffled us with his “formula” for shipping. We cannot understand why shipping is such a big deal for many Proxibid auctioneers.

The “formula” reads:

  • We ship for the price quoted in the item description. We combine shipping using the following formula: add all item shipping quotes not including the quote for the item with the highest shipping. Multiply that total by .40, and add to the quote for the item with the highest shipping. …

Say what?

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If the US Postal Service can figure out “flat rate shipping” so that it is fast and convenient, then auctioneer businessmen should be able to do the same.


Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

What happens when bidders … “report the item”


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This is what Proxibid sees when a bidder reports the item. The report here is a common typo, PR 67 instead of 63 (indicated on the PCGS label). Click photo to expand.

The “Report the Item’ link goes directly to Proxibid’s Risk Management team, which forwards the information to the seller, keeping the buyer anonymous. Soon the “Report the Item” link will automatically be forwarded to the seller (while still keeping the buyer identity anonymous).

We applaud the company for making the portal interactive. We hope bidders use the “Report the Item” link to inform auctioneers of common mis-identifications to more serious issues, such as suspected counterfeit coins.

Always be factual. Keep it courteous, too.


Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

New Rankings, New Highs for Posts

Proxiblog’s Coin and Currency category has three additions to its monthly rankings, welcoming back Mike Peterson Auctioneers, Ritmar Exchange and Braden Auction Services, all continuously working on improvements. The rest of our list remains relatively stable with the top 15 or so houses featuring good consignments, quality photos and excellent customer service. Some of our favorite houses are falling in the rankings because the infrequency of their events, a factor in our tallies.


Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction shares the top spot with Capitol Coin Auction, scoring a full 25 points. Dave Weaver continues to describe coins’ conditions accurately, noting flaws.

Also moving up is Fox Valley Coins, which just hosted one of the highest bid auctions of the year, with more than 1200 lots of mostly superior coins. Leonard Auction, a long-time favorite, holds its slot. Back to the Past Collectibles continues to work hard on photo enhancements, and so is enjoying greater bids and more return customers.

As stated earlier, we are happy to welcome back to our rankings Ritmar Exchange, Mike Peterson Auctioneers and Braden Auction Service. These houses continue to work on behalf of consignor AND seller.

As you can see by our numbers, ranging from 23.5-25 point, very little separates one auction house from another. Many of those lower on the scale are not working sufficiently on photography or offering mediocre consignments. A few dropping even further are not scheduling events. After four months, those houses will drop off our lists.

Keep in mind that these houses rank among our most favorite. Your experience may differ from ours.

As for Proxiblog, we have exceeded 50,000 page views. Last week a post enjoyed more than 200 viewers, “Some PVC Coins Can Be Cleaned.”

We’re increasingly global with top views from the USA, Britain, Canada, India, Russia, Germany, Australia and the Philippines.

Continuing as our most popular post is California Gold, real, replica and fake.

Below is a graphic that you can click to expand, seeing where our viewers are most likely to navigate.
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We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Please consider making a donation. We post every weekday and do this for educational purposes, informing viewers about numismatics as well as funding scholarships for Iowa State University students.

Fortunately, we have several of our top houses donating funds to our scholarship account. You can also buy our Basic Coin Design book on Kindle. We are extremely grateful. Won’t you consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Iowa State Foundation so that we can continue publishing? Thank you for your consideration!

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.


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