AUCTIONEER ALERT: Bad Consignments

Tomorrow we will run a post on a Proxibid auction company hyping bottom-tier slabs, almost always encasing a problem coin and touting it as MS66-67, or super gems, rarely seen in numismatics. Now we’re seeing bottom-tier slabs with lower grades on otherwise scarce coins with problems, including scratches, puttied over with a silver compound.

You cannot tell from even an excellent photograph like the one above that there may be filled and smoothed damage on this 1889-S Morgan. We paid $130 for it plus a buyer’s premium, believing that we had enough evidence to take a chance on a scarce coin. We were wrong.

If we can be fooled, so can you.

When held at a downward slant, the putty can be seen within the circle where the thumbprint seems to have pressured the mix into the damage. If we cracked open the holder and used a penknife, we believe we could have flaked off the compound.

As we disclosed, our practice is to purchase coins at greysheet or lower and then consign or sell those coins to raise funds for our Iowa State University scholarship account. We could not send this coin to our preferred auction house because the numismatist there would have rocketed it back with a harsh note.

But not all auctioneers are as expert as he in numismatics. We also care deeply about several of our auctioneer friends who have been receiving subpar, doctored consignments.

One auction company fell dramatically last month in our top rankings because the owner doesn’t know numismatics and relies on “friends” who purportedly do know coins to send her regular consignments. She trusts them. Two other top auction companies will drop next month because consignors took advantage of them. We do not routinely complain to Proxibid because we know the company’s badges are important. Neither do we interfere with business partnerships. Our site is educational.

In that vein, and embracing our free-speech right of fair comment, we caution auctioneers once again to be wary about coin dealers who send junk. We know coin dealers are reading this post, and we also realize that several dealers are in our top rankings, such as SilverTowne, Liberty Shops Auctions, Southwest Bullion, Capitol Coin Auction and Midwest Coins. Their practices are in line with Professional Numismatists Guild standards.

But we also know dealers who sell choice or cherry lots in their shops, and then use coin dip like Jewel Luster on sliders and send those to auctions, knowing they are ungradeworthy now because a layer of metal has been stripped. Some of them buy estates collections that have self-slabbed coins by bottom-tier companies. Those go to auction houses, too, because dealers do not want them in their shops.

We also know auctioneers on Proxibid who are also expert numismatists–John Leonard is one of them of Leonard Auctions–whose practices actually exceed PNG norms. But in the end, auctioneers do not necessarily have to be coin experts to sell coins; but they do have a responsibility to evaluate consignors who place substandard coins with them and who may be unintentionally damaging the house’s reputation.

What can be done?

Just as in the restaurant business, when dishes are returned regularly to the chef because the food is substandard, auctioneers need to “fire” consignors when those sellers consistently send problem coins. The mainstay of auction houses is the estate collection, not a dealer’s sell-offs. And as for those bottom-tier coins, most are self-slabbed with fancy sounding numismatic names.

Ask yourself why those coins aren’t in NGC or PCGS slabs. Or ANACS or ICG holders.

You also can take a reasonable chance with:

  • ICCS International Coin Certification Services
  • NTC Numistrust
  • PCI
  • SEGS Sovereign Entities Grading Service Inc.

Answer: With any other holder company, beware. There may be a problem.

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.


2 thoughts on “AUCTIONEER ALERT: Bad Consignments

  1. As much as I would like to sell more coins, I am glad I am out of the loop of selling for dishonest sellers or seller’s victims of dishonest sellers passing the coins along. Most of the coins I have sold have come from estates where the coins were ‘saved’ not ‘collected’, looking towards building our coin business I need to really consider accepting coins from sellers who are in the resale business. Are there just a few bad apples in the world? Or does everyone fell entitled to lie and cheat? Ignorance is one thing, dishonesty is another. PROXIBLOG is a great asset for both bidders and sellers in striving to protect the coin collecting industry. I enjoy your post and information.

  2. Thank you so much, Ron. You are an auctioneer of integrity, and I have benefited from knowing you. The reason for so many tainted, altered and fraudulent coins on the Proxibid portal is the lack of safeguards, such as eBay has imposed, on where the junk is coming from. You know that I’m an numismatist and therefore know a lot of dealers. Many are honest to a fault. But too many dip coins for fake luster and dump self-slabbed coins on auctioneers. Tomorrow’s post shows a vivid example. Stay tuned, and thank you for your patronage, Ron.

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