Know your steel cents

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There are eight avidly collected issues of steel cents–1943, 1943 Experimental Planchet, 1943 Bronze, 1943-D, 1943 D/D, 1943-D Bronze, 1943-S and 1943-S Bronze–but only five are affordable. Chances are you have a copy of any 1943 cent that looks like copper or bronze.



During World War II, the United States needed copper and so switched the composition of the cent to zinc-coated steel.

The lots above, described as proofs, probably are re-plated with zinc, which also can appear to be double die because of the additional overlay.There are no proof steel cents. Zinc is a bluish silver metal. That’s why the telltale “rainbow” appears on re-plated coins.

If a consignor brings you a 1943 cent that appears to be copper, use a magnet. Your fake will be attracted to it. If not, you probably have a 1948 cent with the 8 cut in half to resemble a 3.

There is only one complete 1943-era set. You can read about that here.

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Yes, it is true that miraculous finds may still be in the public domain. The question you as an auctioneer have to ask is, “Am I really that lucky?”

When in doubt, have a trusted numismatist describe the coin for you before you stretch the truth by guessing.

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.

Note Flaws on Gold Coins

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Gold is a soft, malleable metal prone to scratches, test cuts, damage when removed from jewelry, and other details that decrease its worth as a collectible coin. In the photo above, Capitol Coin Auction notes scratches and marks from being poorly stored for more than a century.


The best houses on Proxibid take pains in lot descriptions to describe flaws in coins, and when it comes to gold, there are many.

In the 1880s, coin scammers tried to pass plated 1883 nickels, or racketeer nickels, as $5 gold, chiefly because the US Mint neglected to put a denomination on the coin other than the Roman numeral V. There were also plated fractional gold, coins holed or bezeled for jewelry, polished gold, and harshly cleaned gold.

All of these and other flaws should be mentioned.

Jewelry Exchange does a great job with this in its lots descriptions. Because the firm deals regularly in gold, it knows the range of damage that can occur. In this example, the lot description notes a $1 gold coin that was removed from jewelry, polished and soldered:

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Another lot in the same auction included jewelry loops that left the rims of quarter eagle damaged:

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This auctioneer routinely ignores damage on gold coins. This one is obviously cleaned and, as such, worth a small premium over the worth of its metal:

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Bidders not only seek gold for its metal content but also for their collections. These buyers are worth more to you than bullion seekers because they buy gold when the price is high or low. Give them the courtesy of an accurate description, and they’ll become return clients and, perhaps, consignors one day.

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.

Proxiblog is sponsored by …

Capitol Coin Auction


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Check out Capitol Coin Auction’s upcoming auction slated Saturday, Oct. 25, on Proxibid. This is one of the finest Capitol auctions in recent memory. We’re bidding on multiple lots that have wide appeal.

Capitol Auctions, located in Evansville, Indiana, specializes in coin auctions. The company has more than 35 years’ experience in collecting, investing, and grading rare coins. Moreover, Capitol has numismatic quality photographs and accurate lot descriptions so that seller and bidder are informed transparently about value. Because Capitol relies in part on estate consignments, each Proxibid auction is an event, with top-quality silver and gold coins open for bidding.

Proxiblog has won lots from Capitol for the past three years, and its service is quick and professional. Raw coins purchased from Capitol, accurately described as grade-worthy, typically holder for us at PCGS. That said, bidding is always keen because of the desirability of the lots as well as the legwork that the company does for consignors, ensuring an audience and adding to the excitement online or onsite.

In addition to sharp photos and concise lot descriptions, Capitol publishes a catalog showcasing coins and informs bidders via an extensive mailing list. For large consignments, Capitol advertises in national periodicals like Coin World and Numismatic News.

Finally, Capitol Auctions is committed to providing a safe auction experience for buyers and sellers. It has a comprehensive privacy policy and its employees are trained to honor safeguard measures and the importance of confidentiality of personal information.

We thank Brad Lisembee and Capitol Coin Auctions for sponsoring Proxiblog’s scholarship fund to help ease student debt and create the next generation of auction-house bidders! If you would like to sponsor a week’s worth of Proxiblog, email mjbugeja@yahoo.com

Allen and Marshall Shoutout

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Viewers of Proxiblog often see posts about self-slabbed and bottom-tier coins hyped by auctioneers to be worth thousands rather than pennies. Often our Honor Roll auctioneers set the record straight in their lot descriptions about these typically overgraded coins.

Suffice to say we had never heard of “Premier Certified Coins.” But we have heard of price guides.

Retail price for a 1909 VDB Red MS67 is $1350. Value of a 1943 MS68 steel cent is $2650.

Even without a blow-up photo, we see hairlines on the 1909 VDB above and spots on the 1943. Our value? About $25 for both coins, and that’s retail.

Kudos to Allen and Marshall for this lot description: “Draw your own conclusions on the grading.”

Which we just did here!

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.

Due Diligence: Another Weaver Auction Trait

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Folks wonder why Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction typically tops our rankings and why the company is often featured on Proxiblog. Here’s a perfect example.


The majority of auctioneers on Proxibid would not have mentioned the scratch, even if it is on the flip (which indicates a quality consignor, by the way). They would take a photo of obverse and perhaps reverse without the trademark sharpness that is essential in telling a coin’s true condition. Moreover, several Proxibid auctioneers would hype the coin as being worth hundreds of dollars at MS 65 … or MS 67 … or even MS68, like this unnamed auctioneer:

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No, Dave Weaver never hypes coins. In fact, in this case, he takes another close-up shot of the scratch so that bidders can see what, exactly, they are bidding on:
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As long as Weaver Auction takes these extra steps, they will earn more than commissions. They will earn trust and return customers.

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.

Add Signature to Packages $200 and Up

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What is the best USPS shipping for coins won in auctions? The question was posed to us by one of our top houses. We provide the answer below.



One of our favorite auctioneers asks:


    “Recently we changed our shipping policies with signature required from $200 to $500.00. But here’s the rub, if someone says they did not receive their coins all we have to do to fight a charge back is show the tracking info showing it was delivered. However, just because I can show it was delivered doesn’t mean that it wasn’t stolen out of a mailbox, not actually delivered etc. We also don’t want to run off bidders because they don’t have time to run to the post office. But more importantly we want people to get their coins. Any advice?”

To which we replied:

    “Use signature required for all packages of $200 or more and send priority mail, flat rate. You’ll be insured for $100 with flat rate, have the signature in addition to the tracking. We consign coins all the time and this is what we do. Remember, consignors don’t want their coins delivered and then taken, perhaps, by someone in the auction house or even an employee, claiming the coins never arrived. When dealing with coins it always makes sense to take that extra step. Be sure to include this in your service terms.”

We probably send on average 300 packages per year and receive as many. USPS has on occasion sent the package to the wrong address, but has never in our experience lost a package with signature authority.

Do you agree with our recommendation? What has been your experience?

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.

Hyped Coins Taint Reputation

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Look closely at the Peace dollar above. You’ll see it is harshly cleaned. How much would you pay over silver melt? $10? $30? How about $60,000? That’s what this Proxibid auction house suggests in its lot description.

Auctioneers who sell coins need to know how to cite value. PCGS values are high because its standards are among the most rigorous in the industry. NGC, also considered a top-tier company with high standards, commands premiums for its coins. However, its standards differ from those of PCGS, so it is also inappropriate to cite PCGS values for NGC coins.

ANACS and ICG are second-tier, mostly reliable grading companies. You should cite Red Book prices for them.

Here are the URLS:

Treat all other slabs, even PCI and Numistrust and so-called third-tier companies, with caution before stating any values.

In this case, we’re dealing with three levels of hype. Let’s start with how this coin appeared on Proxibid:

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The first hype is the slab itself, boasting that a harshly cleaned 1928-S is MS66. The second hype is the description that cites PCGS values at $60,000. The third hype is Proxibid’s lack of standards when it comes to values cited in lot descriptions.

As we have written in past posts, if you spot gross inaccuracies like the one above, report them to Proxibid and ask the company to alter the Unified User Agreement “4.4 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials” (OUR RECOMMENDATION IN ALL CAPS):

    Seller shall not knowingly misrepresent any items. VALUES OF ITEMS SHOULD BE BASED ON VALID APPRAISALS OR VERIFIABLE DATA. All catalog descriptions must accurately describe the items for sale, and all photos must be original. If Seller uses stock photos, Seller must disclose so in the catalog description as well as in the Special Terms of Sale for the auction.

Until Proxibid cracks down on these practices, as eBay has done, bidders will suffer, and so eventually will the reputation of auction houses that persist in these questionable practices.

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.