Boos & Booyahs: Best & Bad Auctioneer Lot Descriptions

When items warrant, Proxiblog will lament and compliment best and bad auctioneer lot descriptions in this light-hearted feature meant to instruct. We will name the best, but you will have to search Proxibid for the bad. (Click pictures to expand and view lot descriptions)

In the past month we continue to see auctions with high opening bids pass item after item. In one case, only about 40 out of 460 coins sold. We wrote about this in an earlier post, “High Reserves Bring Low Hammers,” noting that Proxibid only gets a small fee when an item sells but gets nothing at all when a lot passes. This trend of setting high opening bids not only undermines the auction experience but also, in our independent view, qualifies as an abuse of the Proxibid system.

Without naming the auction companies, here are three photos from three houses whose auctions had an extraordinarily high volume of passed coins–in one instance, setting a high reserve and then inexplicably passing on the item:

  • . The house set high opening bids on slabbed coins, as in this case of an 1888-O Morgan variety, only to pass on items, an issue that Proxibid might look into as it undermines the auction experience.

  • This auction advertised “LOW” starting bids. They were high, as passed items attest, usually about 13% under retail when buyer’s fee and shipping were added. This coin has a retail value of $165. Assuming the opening bid won the item, the price plus shipping comes out to about $158. Better to advertise these as “wholesale” rather than “LOW” opening bids. Better to have no reserves at all. (Footnote: In a new auction, this house did not post opening bids at all–booyah!)

  • Opening bids in this auction were so high that only about 40 of 450 lots sold. That seems unreasonable when 18% buyer’s fee is added, plus shipping. Thankfully, Proxibidders are not patronizing these auctions to the extent that they are no-reserve sessions where bidding wars often underwrite the occasional bargain.

  • How fine to see a gloved hand holding a Morgan dollar correctly. You’ll see auctioneers holding coins to the camera in several Proxibid auctions. This is the first to show how to handle coins correctly, holding a Morgan dollar by the rim. Booyah to Matthew Bullock Auctioneers.

  • Another booyah to Bullock Auctioneers for correctly identifying artificial color! Every week in online auctions doctored coins such as this taint the auction block. If you need to bone up on artificial color, click here.

  • This house doesn’t complete the lot description sufficiently and provides too small a picture to make out the coin. If you’re selling on Proxibid, you need to master the basics for the online audience so that they can see and identify what they are buying!

  • Booyah to Silver Trades auction for this nicely depicted and described lot. Silver Trades takes great care in describing the numismatic components of each coin. The house also publishes several photos of the same lot so that bidders can view the coins from different angles.

  • We’ve written before about “Sticker Shock“–obscuring vital parts of a coin with lot number stickers and the like. Boo! In this case, the auctioneer hides the arrow feathers of an 1879-S Morgan, which could have the parallel feathers of the 1878 reverse, elevating the coin’s worth substantially.

  • Booyah to Jewelry Exchange for correctly identifying a stock photo, notifying buyers that the photo is “representational” of the lot and does not portray the actual item for sale.

Viewers can point us to other candidates for our “Boos & Booyahs!” series. Just leave a comment but follow our rules–all in good fun as a way to inspire accurate lot descriptions on Proxibid.

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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