Compete for Consignments

More than 50 houses are selling coins this month on Proxibid, but only a handful of auctions have top-quality coins and only a fraction of those know precisely what they are selling.

Demand for rare coppers, silver dollars and gold coins is keener than ever. Also competing for those consignments are local coin dealers, antique mall owners and traveling road shows.

Many auctioneers have established local businesses and come across coins as a normal part of that business. But there are other venues to secure consignments to serve the growing market for rare and precious metals.

1. Learn about numismatics so that you understand what you are selling. Don’t use words like “shiny” when you mean “mint state” or “condition as shown.” That’s a tip-off to any family member knowledgeable about coins to send a consignment elsewhere or to sell that locally to a coin dealer. And for Pete’s sake, don’t proclaim–“We are not coin experts!”–which will attract fraudulent consignors selling doctored and counterfeit coins.

2. Write accurate descriptions of coins. If you know little about numismatics, hire a local expert to write the descriptions for you. An accurate description accompanied by clear and expandable photos of obverse and reverse is, in itself, an advertisement for your next consignment.

3. Advertise for consignments. Most auctioneers advertise only after securing a consignment. That’s important, of course; but don’t overlook advertising in the search of the best coins for your clientele. Place classifieds in national publications like Coin World and local and area newspapers. Make sure you post “coins wanted!” ads on your own website.

4. Collect data about your coin sales. Publicize the total dollar-amount your last coin consignment earned and send that figure–along with anything else special about the last auction–in an email blast to your clientele. This, in itself, can attract consignments from your customers or their friends and associates.

5. Correspond with your top coin buyers, asking if they would be willing to send you a consignment. After all, that is how the big houses such as Heritage and Teletrade get a good portion of their consignments. Auctioneers tend to know their buyers on a more personal basis, establishing trust.

6. Use online technology to help you locate bigger consignments. Establish a presence on Facebook. Learn how to tweet.

7. Compete for consignments by offering low seller fees. A handful of our top auctioneers, such as Silvertowne Auctions, charge zero or nominal fees, insuring top consignments.

In the past, auctioneers have been concerned about sparking competition among bidders. You still must do that. In the digital age, however, you are also competing against houses across the country using the above techniques to steal consignments you normally would have received without too much effort. That is why we created Proxiblog and publicize our Honor Roll houses, supporting ethics codes of both the American Numismatic Association and National Auctioneer Association.

Adopting our measures and methods cannot ensure success. Competition is risky. But ignoring competition is even riskier.


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