Spotlight on Western Auction

This spotlight feature ends a week of featured reviews about the top five houses in our numerical rankings. Depicted here is a copy of our score sheet. Earning a 4 or 5 in our rankings is significant, and few top 20 houses earn more than one or two maximum scores. Those earning the highest scores this month also tied for top house, with Capitol, Key Date, SilverTowne, Weaver and Western all registering the maximum 25 points. We hope that our auctioneers and bidders found the series helpful as our goal is to advance numismatic knowledge and, in doing so, to help sponsor college scholarships.

Of all our top houses, and in most of their innovations, Western Auction at one time or another thought of it first. Dave Zwonitzer instituted buyer’s fees as low as ZERO percent with inexpensive shipping and excellent photography, much like Southwest Bullion is doing today. It has settled in at 10% at the moment, one of the lowest percentages on Proxibid. Western Auction never charged above 10% nor carried transparency notices for maximum bid viewing or ghost bidding while several of our top-ranked houses either allowed the same or charged buyer’s premiums at 17%-18%. While Western’s lot descriptions are sometimes a bit too enthusiastic for our numismatic taste, the auction house balances that with excellent, expandable photography so that bidders who know coins can judge for themselves.

Bidders with numismatic knowledge often secure bargains because of Western’s trustworthy consignments and expandable photographs. For instance, we found this description of a scarce 1881-O too enthusiastic, as the coin above (click to expand) did not look like deep mirror, which reflects 14-point type at a distance of 6-8 inches. But it looked MS64, and so we bid to win the coin at $85, hoping to secure a PCGS grade worth at least twice that much. We did. (Click to expand photograph below.)

As numismatists know, PCGS has rigorous grading standards. Moreover, too many raw coins offered on Proxibid have been cleaned, dipped or otherwise doctored. (See this post about dealers flooding Proxibid auctions with inferior coins–a stance we continue to believe as we are dealers ourselves and have called some consignors on this, to their chagrin.)

In any case, by focusing on photography and choice consignments, Western offers bidders the chance to secure fine coins at wholesale prices, especially in consideration of its low buyers’ premium. Better still, the family-owned Cheyenne-based business is one of the fairest and most trustworthy on the portal. Western was one of the first on Proxibid to insist that all coin sales are NOT final if those coins are counterfeit. In this, once again, Dave Zwonitzer and his company set the standards on the portal.

We, too, have been setting the standards at Proxibid, arguing for more transparency, APN clearance, the end of maximum-bid viewing and ghost-bidding, returns of counterfeit coins, auctioneer ratings (which led to the badge system), lower buyer’s premiums, and better photography. (Now we are advocating that houses using timed sessions be denied maximum-bid viewing, and the sooner Proxibid complies, the more trustworthy it will be.)

Western Auction was the first to earn our trust on the portal. We commend its best practices. Click here to learn more about the company.

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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