We are as happy as the auctioneer when numismatic photography is enhanced at some of our favorite houses so that we can see varieties or devices clearly before placing our bids. Today we praise auctioneer C. Scott Lovejoy of “Back to the Past Collectibles” for working diligently to provide sharp, expandable photos for Proxibid viewers.
The dual photo above of similar quality 1924 Buffalo nickels shows a before and after effect of enhanced photography. The photo on the left was taken last month, and Lovejoy has labored to perfect his lighting and camera selection over the past several weeks, continuously experimenting until he found the right combination.
“There are so many guides out there about macro photography and in particular about coins,” Lovejoy says. “We just kept at it, looking for the right combination of camera settings and lighting to make it work for us. Took three cameras, three different equipment setups and four different lighting setups before we settled on the current state, and we’re still watching for ways to improve.”
The sharper the photographs, the higher the bids, especially if you have cherry consignments. Some of our favorite auctions have not learned that lesson. (We bid mainly on holdered coins there because of that, as we cannot trust raw ones photographed improperly.)
Here is an example illustrating how photos play a role in bidding:
Hobbyists look for full bell lines that add a handsome premium for Franklins. The abbreviated designation “FBL” indicates a strong strike especially on the reverse of a Franklin Half so that the two lines on the bottom of the bell run unbroken to the crack. (To learn more about that topic, click here.)
Take a look at this photograph of the reverse of a Franklin half from one of Proxibid’s “top sellers.” (Click to expand all photos in this post.)
It is impossible to tell full bell lines.
Take a look at these two Franklin half reverses in Back to the Past’s March 8 auction on Proxibid; to see how sharp photography enhances the bidding experience.
Despite its glowing luster, which conceals flaws and devices when photographed poorly (not the case here!), this lot does not contain full bell lines:
This one does:
Without the enhanced photography, buyers would not fight for this lot in a bidding war.
Lovejoy understands the value of that. “The primary lesson learned, as far as I am concerned, is how important it is to not only seek industry expert feedback, but also remain open to the criticism and keep looking for the best result. People I respect (like you!) had some not kind things to say about poor photos as we worked out the kinks, but we’re far the better for the honesty.
“When I think about how far we’ve come since we started doing coins on Proxibid, it’s pretty amazing.”
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.