Last week we spoke or corresponded with four trusted Proxibid auctioneers who have sold us problem coins in the past, and we were stunned to learn that all of them either relied on coin dealers for their consignments or actively sought their coins so that they would have enough lots for regular auctions.
It’s time to set the record straight on coin dealers as consignors.
Ask yourself: Why, for Pete sake, would a coin dealer ever consign to an auctioneer prime, choice or rare coins when he has dozens of dealer and customer outlets to sell his wares? Answer: Most likely, he’s selling you junk and problem coins, ones that have been dipped or doctored or otherwise rendered upgradeable if sent to NGC or PCGS. The cleverer dealers will consign a prime coin or two to cover their tracks.
If you’re accepting coin consignments from out-of-town dealers, you’re probably a target, with the dealer unloading his junk and problem coins under the theory that you or your bidders will not be numismatically savvy enough–or your photos will not be good enough–to capture the flaws.
Many dealers are trustworthy. Some, like Silvertowne, Capitol Coin Auctions or Fox Valley, are dealers themselves and follow Professional Numismatic Guild practices of describing problem coins accurately. Others, like Matthew Bullock Auctioneers and John Leonard Auctions, sell estate coins or have consignment policies that protect the reputation of their houses.
Proxiblog is in the process of buying fewer coins from a wide range of Proxibid auctions because of the flood of bad coins. In the past, auctioneers would schedule Proxibid sessions when they received coins in an estate auction or actually purchased the coins themselves. Because they want to schedule regular coin auctions, they are actively accepting or even requesting coin dealer consignments.
That’s an open invitation to out-of-town dealers to send you their problem coins.
Worse, many auction houses lack the photo equipment to capture the detail or luster of a coin. So their photographs cannot discern the doctoring or dipping. A camera has to be able to pick up luster and detail. Here’s an example of one that does just that by auctioneer Matthew Bullock.
Rather than consign our problem coins, purchased from Proxibid–as many as 30 per month–we take them to Iowa coin dealers and suffer 60-80% losses. That happened again just last week. We asked the dealer what he was going to do with the coins, and he said, “We put them into auction.” He named the auction. It sells on Proxibid.
Eventually, this is going to taint Proxibid’s reputation, especially when one of its biggest fans (Proxiblog) is buying less and questioning more on what is being sold on the portal.
If you are going to continue auctioning coins by dealers, remember that you set the rules. Not them. Never agree to “grey sheet” reserves unless the coin is slabbed by NGC, PCGS, ANACS, ICG or PCI or is in a GSA holder (for Morgan dollars).
If you are going to accept consignments from out-of-town dealers, get a local numismatist to go over the lots with you and describe the condition accurately. Local dealers have to live with you. Out-of-town dealers just find somewhere else to consign.
Invest in a light box and better camera. For experienced bidders, digital photography is the only recourse to sniff out dipped and doctored coins. This photo box is $72. You can use these lights for coins, jewelry and other smalls. Cost is only $94.
Before accepting a consignment from any dealer, ask him point blank if he is giving you dipped or problem coins. Share this post with them, and our stern warning about PNG ethics. Proxiblog is dedicated to serving the hobby. That’s our motive. What is the dealer’s motive?
Finally, YOU are in charge. YOU call the auctions. YOU call the shots.
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.