New Rankings Reflect Competition

Recently Proxibid reported a 29.3% increase in coins auctions from 2010 to 2011, with a 36% increase in the number of coin auctions in the first quarter of this year. More competition has led to new rankings, as newcomers offer choice consignments with low buyer’s fees and specials. How will your house respond?

Gone are the days when Proxibid auction houses could dictate terms online, ghost-bidding lots, hyping descriptions, posting blurry photographs of only one side of a coin, and charging as much as 22% online fees while lacking APN clearance and using third-party shippers.

In part, Proxiblog has played a role in numismatic quality control. Proxibid also has done its share in creating more of an even playing field, posting APN buttons and transparency notices to alert bidders to houses that see maximum bids or allow consignor and auctioneer bidding.

As a result, we have seen competitive houses such as Silvertowne drop maximum-bid viewing, reclaiming its third-place slot behind Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction and Western Auction, which finally has overtaken Weaver based on slightly better photography (showing luster) and equally choice consignments.

Breaking into the top 10 are Bennett Auction Service with a 9.5% online buyer’s fee, good photography, APN clearance, cheap shipping, and no viewing maximum bids or allowing consignor bidding. However, the house doesn’t specialize in coins, and a consideration in our rankings is the number of coin auctions each house schedules in a month. Silvertowne is among leaders in that category with the best lot descriptions on Proxibid because of veteran numismatist Larry Fuller.

Kaufman Realty also has broken into the top 10 with increasingly accurate lot descriptions, regular coin auctions and improved photography.

Also in the top 10 is Back to the Past Pop Culture Warehouse. This house offers a 10% buyer’s fee, $5 flat rate shipping on coins and good photography. After it viewed Proxiblog, seeing that we advocate for photos on both sides of a coin, Creative Director Scott Lovejoy immediately posted reverses of all coins before an upcoming auction and quickly rose in our rankings.

Our Honor Roll houses now number 88 offering low buyer’s fees, good photography and reasonable shipping. In May 2011, only 11 houses on Proxibid met these criteria.

Other newcomers have risen in our top 21 slots, including Auctions Unlimited and Brian’s Auction Service.

Not all Proxibid coin auctions have responded favorably to the new competition. We no longer purchase coins from them because they refuse to upgrade photography, clinging to harsh service terms and hyping lot descriptions.

Conversely, there are houses whose consignments and in-house practices are so trustworthy that we eagerly await their auctions. These include Leonard Auction and Capitol Coin Auction. While they charge online buyer’s fees between 17-20%, they offer the superior consignments and lot descriptions that stand up to PCGS standards.

Nonetheless, if they took a chance in an auction and reduced their online fees to 15%, we believe their bottom lines would rise significantly in a few months’ time.

Finally, coin auctioneers should realize that mega houses such as Teletrade and Great Collections are in the process of competing with each other and Proxibid. Teletrade offers no-reserve, 0% buyer’s fees on Tuesdays. Great Collections offers 10% with “Buy Now” specials and other enticements.

In an Internet world, like it or not, you are competing with the likes of megahouses (including Heritage). We advise to embrace the competition and figure out creative ways to attract return customers, offering specials and treating online buyers with the same courtesies as your onsite crowd.

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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