A year ago Coin World was among the first to report that eBay no longer would allow replica coins on its portal (see “Ban on replica coin sales starts Feb. 20”). Yet eBay sellers continue to offer fakes and replicas not stamped “copy” in violation of the US Hobby Protection Act. Worse, many of those sellers are consigning to Proxibid. At any time you can find a half dozen such fakes on Proxibid and dozens more on eBay.
We’re talking about plated base metal or brass replicas being labeled California fractional gold.
The most popular post on Proxiblog is this one on distinguishing real from fake fractional gold. Soon we will post another more comprehensive article. You’ll also see expanded articles in Coin World and later this year in Coin Update News.
For now, this post challenges Proxibid and all of its registered auctioneers to set the standard by adopting these guidelines:
- Do not label lots with the words “California,” “fractional,” “gold” or “coin” unless you or your consignor can identify the Breen-Gillio number as found on CoinFacts.
- Do not use the word “token” or “charm” unless those words appear in a slab by PCGS, NGC, ANACS or ICG. Unfortunately, many other slabbing companies cannot tell the difference between real and fake fractional gold.
- Test the lot for “gold” before using that word on any lot or you will be found in violation of the Unified User Agreement for not describing the fake accurately.
Why are we taking such a stand? Because real fractional gold sells for hundreds and thousands of dollars, and we have seen certain bidders (ones that try buy all lots marked “gold” in any Proxibid coin auction) paying hundreds of dollars for near worthless brass and/or gold-dipped brass plate.
These scams have been plaguing the coin world for about a century, and they keep on being perpetuated because the counterfeit tokens are extraordinarily profitable—pennies for twenties—dollars that is.
Proxibid has the chance to set the standard by taking a stand on this before eBay, which banned replicas on Feb. 20 last year and which continues to flood the market with fakes.
We just checked eBay and found more than 20 fakes. We checked Proxibid and found these suspicious-looking ones below.
We won’t identify the auction companies because we believe that they do not know about fake and replica California gold. Real fractional gold has a denomination “cents” or “dollars” abbreviated in some issues. If you don’t see a denomination, it’s usually because the manufacturer didn’t want to be charged formally with counterfeiting by the US government, which has gone after these fakes since the late 19th century.
Also, a bear on the reverse is almost always a fake.
We hope this post will help bidders and auctioneers alike in the future because we care about them and Proxibid, too:
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.