For those unfamiliar with the term, “junk,” in the numismatic sense, the word is not derogatory (as in “junk silver”), basically meaning coins with little more value than face or melt. Dealers accumulate hoards of these coins, and often look to the online audience to “dump their junk,” usually below their own cost, because the wares take up too much shop space.
Some bidders hunger for junk coin auctions, scooping up common mint and proof sets, monster wheat cent bags, mason jars of buffalo nickels, and the king of junk–40% silver Kennedy halves–and hoarding them until values rise above their cost. Dealers, however, cannot afford to hoard because of their large inventories. Both meet on Proxibid and other portals and buy and sell, with auctioneers often paying large shipping fees.
If you plan on scheduling a “junk coin auction” and are an auctioneer, consider the cost of shipping. USPS flat rates are ideal for this with delivery confirmation rather than insurance.
To entice more bidders to your auctions, don’t just slate junk lots but insert every 10 lots or so a gold or rare coin to lure others to your session. In fact, begin the session with several rarer coins and then intersperse junk lots at intervals throughout your auction.
The reason is simple. If your regular online auctions attract 25-75 bidders, a junk auction without rare coins might lower that to fewer than 25. Experienced numismatists (as opposed to junk hoarders) will inspect the mint sets for errors and the proof sets for cameos. But they won’t attend without the more pricey coins. Here are other tips in disposing your junk:
- Add gold and rare coins to cover your Proxibid and APN fees; otherwise, your auction could run into the red.
- Do not schedule consecutive junk auctions, or your house will get a name for cheap coins not worth checking out in the future.
- Limit your junk sessions to 200-250 lots rather than trying to dispense with 800 lots in a 24-hour auction.
- Consider timed auctions with reasonable opening bids at 60% of retail, decreasing labor costs of a simultaneous onsite auction.
- Inform bidders you intend to ship flat rate with delivery confirmation for ordinary purchases, unless otherwise advised by your winning customers. (And then charge handling fees.)
- Consider purchasing fewer such sets and coins at estate sales and appraisals because in the long run the warehousing of these items, often contained in elaborate packaging and boxes, may not be worth the time later on … to dump the junk.
Junk auctions have their place, to be sure. But unless you follow the above advice, and weigh the benefits vs. the fees, an auction of inexpensive coins may not be the best venue online because so much of the stuff is being sold on any given 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.