Hyped Coins Taint Reputation

1928S_harsh

Look closely at the Peace dollar above. You’ll see it is harshly cleaned. How much would you pay over silver melt? $10? $30? How about $60,000? That’s what this Proxibid auction house suggests in its lot description.

Auctioneers who sell coins need to know how to cite value. PCGS values are high because its standards are among the most rigorous in the industry. NGC, also considered a top-tier company with high standards, commands premiums for its coins. However, its standards differ from those of PCGS, so it is also inappropriate to cite PCGS values for NGC coins.

ANACS and ICG are second-tier, mostly reliable grading companies. You should cite Red Book prices for them.

Here are the URLS:

Treat all other slabs, even PCI and Numistrust and so-called third-tier companies, with caution before stating any values.

In this case, we’re dealing with three levels of hype. Let’s start with how this coin appeared on Proxibid:

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The first hype is the slab itself, boasting that a harshly cleaned 1928-S is MS66. The second hype is the description that cites PCGS values at $60,000. The third hype is Proxibid’s lack of standards when it comes to values cited in lot descriptions.

As we have written in past posts, if you spot gross inaccuracies like the one above, report them to Proxibid and ask the company to alter the Unified User Agreement “4.4 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials” (OUR RECOMMENDATION IN ALL CAPS):

    Seller shall not knowingly misrepresent any items. VALUES OF ITEMS SHOULD BE BASED ON VALID APPRAISALS OR VERIFIABLE DATA. All catalog descriptions must accurately describe the items for sale, and all photos must be original. If Seller uses stock photos, Seller must disclose so in the catalog description as well as in the Special Terms of Sale for the auction.

Until Proxibid cracks down on these practices, as eBay has done, bidders will suffer, and so eventually will the reputation of auction houses that persist in these questionable practices.

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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Note Retoned vs. Toned

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Dave Weaver of Weaver Auction uses the correct word in describing the 1881 Morgan dollar above: “retoning.” That has specific meaning in numismatics. It depicts a coin that has been cleaned and then retoned over several years. Do not call a coin like this “toned.” You would be misrepresenting the lot if you did.


Genuine rainbow toning is not washed out like the Weaver example. Colors that retone typically come in shades of dull blues, reds and purples that have a bleached look to them. Colors blend rather than bleed into each other or seem painted on artificially, as in this silver eagle below:

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A true toned coin features glossy colors that blend into each other in a rainbow array, as in this lot:

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Auctioneers and bidders alike need to distinguish among these three examples. Retoned and artificially toned coins can possess beauty and may be worth bidding on. But naturally toned coins that develop patina overtime without cleaning really are spectacular and demand premiums.

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.

Not using APN? Explain your payment system thoroughly

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Proxiblog has supported the Auction Payment Network for years now because of its excellent security, especially important in the numismatic trade. If you don’t subscribe to the service, or use PayPal, then you have to explain your payment system and let bidders know that it is secure.



Several auctions on Proxibid ask that you call in your credit card numbers. We recommend that you do not. You don’t know who is taking those numbers or how they will be stored, perhaps in a company computer that may be hacked in the future, undermining your credit.

We think such practices are irresponsible. We never bid in those auctions. However, we would consider bidding in Numisphere Auction because it has spelled out its credit system, providing a link to a secure payment network.

We also like the 3% discount on its already low 10% buyer’s premium for bidders who prefer to send checks to the company.

If you don’t use APN or PayPal and lack a secure payment system, you are doing your bidders a disservice. No matter what your payment protocol, you need to explain it thoroughly in your service terms.

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.

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”:

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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.