Know Coins, Lose Transparency Notices

This is the last in a series about auctioneers seeing or increasing bids. The first post discussed absentee vs. maximum bids. The second discussed absentee bidding service terms. This post questions the need to see or raise bids if auctioneers know coins in the first place.

We are baffled, truly so, as to why some of our top houses–whose auctioneers or employees know coins–allow maximum-bid viewing and consignor bidding. There is no need for this with numismatic houses (or houses that regularly schedule coin auctions).

The reasons are simple:

  • Allow consignors to bid on their lots but then charge them on both ends if they win “buybacks.” In other words, if a seller bids on his own Morgan dollar worth $75 and wins the coin for $100, he pays a 15% buyer’s fee, 5% seller’s fee, and must cover postage and insurance for the return of his goods. That will put a damper on any seller trying to manipulate the system.
  • Allow “buybacks” by specifically stating that in the consignment form, asking sellers at what level would they wish to buy back their coins. For instance, in the case of that $75 Morgan, the seller states he will pay a 5% buyback fee if the bidding fails to reach that per-designated level. In that case, the seller gets the coin back for $78.75 ($75 + $3.75 buyback) and also pays shipping fees.
  • Auctioneers who know coins (or who ask numismatists to write lot descriptions) do not need to see maximum bids or increase bids themselves. All they have to do is know the Grey Sheet or wholesale value of that coin and decide whether to let it go at that price.

Concerning that last practice, it is unfair to Proxibid for an auctioneer to state that a coin has been sold “onsite” when it actually only has been taken off the block. Right now Proxibid is losing thousands of dollars each month because of this practice which, at the core, is ethically questionable. We encourage Proxibid to institute a new rule concerning this, allowing auctioneers to remove an item from the block under a “no sale” category, with a low $1 fee per lot. That will encourage honesty and further enhance the reputation of both the company and the portal.

A $1 “no sale” fee also conveys to the seller that her or his reserves come with consequences. The “no sale” notice serves as a buyback with the same 5% seller fee charged to the consignor, allowing the company to pay the Proxibid fee and discourage high reserves by sellers in the process.

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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