Poor Coin Photos Mislead

Proxblog has purchased dozens of coins from an online auction house. Sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised. Other times, we’re disappointed. Why? Because we just cannot see what we are buying, even though the house thinks its pictures are adequate.

Here’s the problem: Photos by this auction company are taken at a slight slant, which captures light and enhances what luster the coin has. Moreover, bag marks are partly obscured.

We like this auctioneer very much–so much, in fact, that we have given him the benefit of the doubt on more than one occasion. We honestly believe he does not realize the photography problem. So we did as we do best. We’ll show you coins as they appeared photographed in a recent auction and then ours of the same coins photographed properly.

Compare his coin photos with ours, taken with a $199 ColorpixL100 Nikon Camera.

Here’s the auctioneer’s picture of an 1891-O Morgan dollar, described as choice brilliant uncirculated, which would command a value of between $300-900.We won the lot for $117.

To the right is my photo of the same coin. We would not have bid on this coin if we had seen a straight-on picture. The coin is not choice brilliant uncirculated, or MS63-64. It is almost uncirculated, AU55 or AU58, worth about $60. (Click to expand.)

Here’s the auctioneer’s picture of an 1890-CC Morgan dollar. The angle of the photo with lighting or flash enhances luster. Again, the auctioneer or consignor sets the level at MS63-64, or $800-$1400. We won the lot for $292.50.

When we inspected it, again the coin was AU50-55, worth $200-240. We would not have bid on the coin had we seen a photo like the one. (Click to expand.) As the photograph illustrates, the coin is heavily bagmarked and so unattractive that we did not send it in for slabbing.

It pains us to consider dropping this auction house. But we would rather win coins based on our ability to see them rather than to be surprised, when we inspect the coins in hand.

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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