Top consignors rely on sharp photography

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It baffles us. Auctioneers usually will go the extra mile to earn an extra dollar, except when it comes to coin photography. Don’t they know that top consignors partner with houses that have mastered coin photography?

Compare the luster of the 1883-CC Deep Mirror Prooflike, which we won from Fox Valley Auctions, with the photo below of an Isabella Commemorative Quarter that a Proxibid auctioneer describes as having “great luster”:

greatluster_note

The Fox Valley Coin boasts sharp numismatic photography. The Isabella quarter does not. Both are worth about the same in uncirculated condition with prooflike mirrors. Which do you think will draw the most bids?

Now look at the photo below. We dropped this otherwise successful Proxibid house (as well as several others) from our rankings because it has refused to upgrade photography. The auctioneer claims this 1889-S Morgan is proof-like, but the photography is dull, showing no luster whatsoever:

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Digital cameras have never been better in capturing luster. We photographed this below with a Samsung smartphone. We didn’t use a camera stand or any special lighting, and we uploaded the photo in seconds to the web:
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For a few hundred dollars auctioneers can buy a professional coin photography kit consisting of a tripod, two light sources, a light box and special bulb.

Invest time and funds in photography, and the caliber of your consignments will rise (along with your profits).

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.

Thank-you message attracts new business

rollingM

Rolling M. Auctions, one of the best marketers on the portal, sends out a thank you noting realized prices after one of its large, advertised auctions. The gesture not only is good business practice; it also attracts consignors.



Often good customer service–a thank-you, for instance–is yet another opportunity to tout your auction and attract consignors in the process. Rolling M. Auctions sent this email blast to all who registered for the auction and, perhaps, to all in its database of former customers.

In this instance, the company announced that its online attendance had set a record. The gesture is especially important because Internet bidders are the target audience for a thank-you message like this.

A good thank-you message with marketing savvy has these components:

1. Sincere thank-you for the business.
2. Realized prices.
3. Any record-breaking statistic, including a high price for a rare coin.
4. A notice for potential consignors.
5. Date of future auction.
6. Contact data for the company, including email and phone.

Every contact with your bidder is a chance to attract more business. Every auction is a chance to attract return customers, especially if you have mastered photography, lot descriptions and customer service.

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.

Why do timed auctions need to see maximum bids?

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Yesterday we ran a post questioning so-called “no reserve” auctions on Proxibid wherein the auctioneer sees maximum bids and is allowed to shill bid based on the portal’s “transparency” notice. Why is the Omaha-based company allowing timed auctions to see maximum bids when there is no legitimate reason to do so?



This is where the rubber hits the road with Proxibid when compared to eBay. Most of eBay’s auctions are timed. Sellers are forbidden to see maximum bids. Why would they want to, anyway, unless … well, you can figure it out?

EBay does not allow sellers to see maximum bids and quickly shuts down any seller assumed to be engaged in such practices. You can read about shill-bid prevention on eBay by taking the company’s tutorial on the topic.

Policies like this gain our trust. Moreover, we have reported shill bidding suspicions on eBay. The company has checked IP numbers and bingo, the seller was shut down.

But we see no kind of due diligence on Proxibid’s part when it comes to timed auctions that want to see maximum bids.

EBay specifically notes that shill bidding hurts all sellers because it raises suspicions about the entire portal. We wish Proxibid would take a lesson from eBay and ban this and all other spurious practices. Look at it this way: Proxibid has grown in numbers and profits. If it truly wants to live up to its brand of trust, then it has to take action on practices such as these.

Otherwise eBay will continue to gain sellers, especially since its smart-phone technology is vastly superior to Proxibid’s (which continues to develop but not to launch mobile digital access).

We know that our recent posts have criticized Proxibid, which we support. Our intent is not to hinder the company’s progress, but to strengthen its quality control and thereby earn the brand of trust.

We hope auctioneers reading these posts make that case to the company. It’s in their interest as more bidders, including us, buy from eBay.

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.

No Reserve Auctions That Aren’t

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This so-called no reserve auction has three strikes against it: It’s a timed auction that allows the seller to see maximum bids and raise those bids. The third strike is against Proxibid for allowing this, undermining its brand of trust.



Star Coin and Currency runs genuine “no-reserve” auctions. Jim Haver, owner of Star Coin, states: “We do not view or have access to bidder maximum pre-bids. We also do not allow or bid on lots to increase amounts. All our auctions are $1 start, absolute, no reserve auctions. All items sell to the highest bidder.”

That’s the excitement of an auction, and Proxibid’s technology is programmed to bring that to you in your home.

But auctions like the one in question today not only undermine the purpose of Proxibid’s technology; they undermine tenets of a no-reserve auction.

First of all, a no-reserve auction is just that: all lots start out at $0 or $1 (no high opening bids). Consignors must rely on the auction house to generate an audience where bidders vie for lots on an even playing field.

Second, why does a seller have to see maximum bids in a timed auction, especially if that is labeled “no reserve”?

Third, shill-bidding is one of the worst practices allowed by Proxibid. The company’s service terms prohibit shill bidding; but it relies on its so-called “transparency” policy to sidestep the prohibition. In other words, as long as the bidder is informed, the practice is legal. This would be fine if the company’s brand wasn’t “trust.” To allow it in a timed auction is downright questionable and only hurts Proxibid and other sellers in the end.

As we have reported numerous times this year, Proxibid cannot claim to have a brand of trust and allow these practices. And again as we said it eventually hurts everyone, especially houses like Star Coin and others in the left sidebar, because disgruntled bidders migrate elsewhere, especially to eBay, which acts swiftly when informed its polices have been violated.

Proxibid is content to have a hand’s-off policy on issues like this. Too bad for everyone on the portal.

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.

Don’t Call Counterfeits Replicas

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This is a prime example of a Chinese counterfeit that is being sold as a replica without the word “copy,” indicating the auctioneer knows about the U.S. Hobby Protection Act.


If your consignor sends you a counterfeit coin and calls it a replica, don’t be fooled. Replicas must have the word copy on the obverse to be in compliance with U.S. Hobby Protection Act. Also, the US Mint has specific instructions on the manufacture of replicas.

We strongly recommend that all auctioneers create a consignment agreement that specifically states that sellers are responsible for all counterfeit coins returned for reimbursement.

Several auction houses already have such contracts. Here is such a clause from Leonard Auctions:

REPRESENTATION OF GENUINENESS. Consignor represents and warrants each item to be genuine. Consignor agrees that any item found to be non-genuine within 30 days of the auction date, will be returned to the Consignor, and upon return, Consignor will pay Leonard Auction, Inc., the net proceeds of the returned item.

Sometimes it takes 2-3 months to prove that a coin is counterfeit. For instance, last year we purchased one that was so skillfully done that we had to send it to NGC for authentication because we would not have been able to prove it was a contemporary copy of an 1869 coin. That cost us $70 in NGC fees, but it was worth the money.

The Proxibid auctioneer took back the coin, to his credit.

In general, the consignor and not the buyer should be held liable for all doctored, counterfeit or otherwise altered coins. Create a contract protecting you rather than focusing on the “All Sales Final” mantra of auctioneers. That does not relate to U.S. Coins and Currency.

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.

When “Report the Item” Fails, It Affects Your Bottom Line

1889-O

It is one thing to report the item and another to rely on the auctioneer to change a misleading lot description. If Proxibid’s “report the item” is going to work, the company has to enforce it on easily verified mistakes. This auction company committed several of them. We reported the items multiple times. Nothing was fixed.


If you’re an ethical auctioneer, especially one of our favorites in the left sidebar and think this doesn’t apply to you, keep reading this post to the last paragraph and you’ll see how Proxibid’s failure to enforce changes of this type affects your bottom line.

We certainly understand that typos and unintentional misidentified lots occur on the portal. Auctioneers or their assistants spend a lot of time typing lot descriptions. What we don’t understand is why some auctioneers won’t change mistakes when they are pointed out via Proxibid’s “report the item” link.

Once again, this doesn’t happen on eBay. The lot is taken down. Proxibid’s persistent “hand’s off” policies–if we notify auctioneers, then we have done our job–does little to affirm its brand of trust.

Here’s another misidentified lot that we reported twice:

1889-S

The auctioneer didn’t change the misidentification.

We think Proxibid did send the notifications.

What can be verified is the auctioneer’s terms of service: “All items sold AS IS WHERE IS, all descriptions provided are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as creating any representation or warranty.”

Are you kidding? Does that service term allow an auctioneer to describe base metal as gold? Of course not. These errors fall under Proxibid’s service term “Significantly Not as Described.”

By the way, the 1889-O description was not changed on Proxibid during the auction. It sold for $120, about twice as much as an NGC MS63 1899-O was worth. See the evidence:

1889-O_sold

What’s the easier route, Proxibid? To go through dispute resolution or to require the auctioneer to fix easily identified errors in lot descriptions?

Here’s another thing Proxibid has to think about. The auctioneer may have corrected the wrong date for the live onsite crowd but not the online audience. If so, that meant Proxibidders were bidding up the lot that sold onsite for $120.

Because we care about numismatics and Proxibid, we need to go on record with this final statement: Failing to require fixes of this sort undermines Proxibid’s brand of trust.

And when that happens, our favorite auctioneers in the left sidebar suffer because hobbyists migrate to eBay. We don’t want to see that for best-selling auctioneers or Proxibid, either. We support both.

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.

Auction Empire Corrects Flip Info on Cal Gold

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Ignoring the hyped information on the flip, proclaiming this replica as “gold” and “rare,” Auction Empire correctly labels this $1 value gold-plate fake a “replica.”

On this day in all the Proxibid auctions, you will not find a fake or replica California gold being labeled as the genuine thing. These brass and/or plated counterfeits have been giving the Secret Service fits since the 19th century. They are worth $1 or less. But we have seen phony lots sell on Proxibid for hundreds of dollars.

Our most popular post–California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake, which gets 100 hits per week–set the record straight on Proxiblog a few years ago. Among its recommendations is the requirement that all auctioneers cite the BG number from the Breen/Gillio Book on California Gold.

Brad Lisembee of Capitol Coin Auction shows how it’s done:

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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.

What To Do If You Buy a Fake Coin Online

What should you do if you purchase a fake coin on Proxibid or eBay and discover it when your options have run out–a few months, or even years, after the sale? What if you buy a counterfeit in a private coin dealer auction online? Or an Internet estate auction?

Portals like Proxibid and eBay have service terms that prevent the selling of fakes. Yet, you can spot dozens on eBay, especially California Gold. You can read about that in Coin World.

In fact, some bloggers routinely post about fakes being sold on eBay. Check out this one.

We buy on Proxibid as well as eBay. Some Proxibid sellers announce that all of their lots are genuine. Here’s an example:

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We especially like “Auctions by Wallace” (screen shot above) because its owner Sheena Wallace understands that all lots must be authentic and that Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement forbids fake coins on the block.

Unfortunately, Auctions by Wallace is the exception on Proxibid. Too many auctioneers on Proxibid and Internet estate and coin sales warn bidders “All Sales Final–No Warranties” in their service terms. When it comes to Proxibid, these auctioneers and their attorneys might read clause 5.16. of Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement:

If, within a reasonable amount of time, Buyer gives notice in writing to Seller that the lot so sold is a counterfeit and after such notice the Buyer returns the lot to Seller in the same condition as when sold, and establishes to the satisfaction of Seller that the returned lot is in fact a counterfeit, Seller as agent for the consignor will rescind the sale and refund the purchase price.

Sheena Wallace guarantees her lots are genuine not because of the above clause but because it is the ethical auctioneering thing to do.

Many Proxibid auctioneers (as well as eBay mega-sellers and auction houses) are members of the National Auctioneers Association. Before they post service terms, they might want to read their Ethics Code, particularly this. …

For the rest of the article, click here.

One House Changes Lot Description; Another Keeps Calling Paramount Dollar “Redfield”

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Yesterday we reported that there were two Paramount dollars and one genuine Redfield dollar being sold on Proxibid. The lot above is a Paramount dollar, still listed on Proxibid as a “Redfield.” Redfield dollars are worth a much larger premium than Paramount dollars but because the latter are holdered in the same type of card and plastic, many Proxibid auctioneers call all such dollars “Redfield,” when they are not. We sent multiple warnings to the auctioneers in question, using the “Report the Item” link. Top house SilverTowne changed the lot description. The other auction house did not.


Here is the SilverTowne screenshot with the changed lot description:

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Here is the auction house that did not change the lot description:

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We’re not going to name the auction, but you can find it out by searching for the above coin.

Our site is educational. We hope this has been of service to you. And we’re proud of SilverTowne for realizing its numismatic error and correcting it, as we knew it would. The other? Perhaps the auctioneer is out of town. Or otherwise engaged. We don’t know. All we do know is that we sent multiple alerts to him using the “Report the Item” link.

We also believe Proxibid has an obligation to bidders–not to mention its own brand of “trust”–to require auctioneers to change obviously erroneous lot descriptions–wrong date, mint mark, etc. In this case, calling a Paramount dollar a “Redfield” is unfortunate, especially if the lots sell with a high but undeserved premium.

This is how a genuine Redfield dollar should look, featured on Weaver Auction (known for accurate lot descriptions):

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For more on Redfield dollars, see this article published in Coin World.

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.

Distinguish Paramount from Redfield Dollars

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At the time this post was written, there were two Paramount dollars and one genuine Redfield dollar being sold on Proxibid. The lot above is a Paramount dollar. Redfield dollars are worth a much larger premium than Paramount dollars but because the latter are holdered in the same type of card and plastic, many Proxibid auctioneers call all such dollars “Redfield,” when they are not. The issue today is once being informed about the mistake, using the “Report the Item” link, will the auctioneer change the lot description?



In this case, as we would anticipate with Dave and Cheryl Weaver–typically our top-ranked house on Proxiblog–they get the lot description correct. See the genuine Redfield dollar below:

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The Weaver lot above came from the 407,000-coin stash found behind a false wall in the basement of Reno, Nev., investor LaVere Redfield. The hoard was acquired for $7.3 million in 1976 by Steve Markoff of A-Mark Coin Corp. Markoff chose Paramount International Coin Corp. as a primary distributor of coins from the hoard.

Paramount slabbed the coins in attractive plastic holders with green, red or black inserts. Green is for coins grading above MS65. People pay hundreds, and sometimes thousands, for coins in that rare holder. The other two common inserts, red and black, define two grades respectively, Mint State 65 and MS-60, the only two grades used at the time.

The Redfield dollars sold so well that Markoff decided to slab other Morgan dollars in his special holders–without the designation “Redfield.” Those simply state Paramount. These do command a small premium, but nothing like the Redfield pedigree.

Here’s the second Proxibid auction erroneously describing the lot:

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Anyway, the purpose of this post is to see if the two auctioneers who incorrectly described Paramount as Redfield will change the lot description. We used the “Report the Item” link every day for the past four days. We checked this morning, Monday, Sept. 15. The two auction houses with erroneous lot descriptions had not fixed those descriptions.

So this is a test not only of numismatics but also on the effectiveness of the Proxibid link. Will the two auctioneers change their erroneous descriptions?

Stay tuned.

For more on Redfield dollars, see this article published in Coin World.

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.