Don’t mimic clueless consignors

au_huh

The auctioneer that sold this damaged lot copied the lot description from the flip, which called this damaged 1901-S Morgan dollar “almost uncirculated” and then had the nerve to quote Red Book values.



This consignor is engaging in wishful thinking. This coin is silver melt with no value except, perhaps, to the heirs of Dee Fearnus whose name is graffitied on the obverse.

Yes, only bidders as clueless as this consignor would fail to realize that the lot description was misleading. But the auctioneer still had an obligation to note the graffiti in the lot description and ignore the consignor’s wishful thinking.

While it is true that auctioneers should advocate in the client’s interest, there is also an obligation to explain why a coin as damaged as this might sell for far less than hoped.

Do you have an anecdote to share about a clueless consignor? If so, share a comment with our viewers. (No names or other identifying information about that client, though!)

Give bidders reading this some insight into what you deal with on a regular basis!

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.

Kudos to another house that read the Unified User Agreement; your lawyer should, too

a1description

Nostalgia Connection, new to the portal, is off to a great start because its policies are aligned with Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement concerning counterfeit, doctored or misrepresented items.

 

Unlike many other Proxibid houses that maintain, often in all caps–ALL SALES FINAL; NO RETURNS!–Nostalgia Connection reiterates the Unified User Agreement in one concise sentence:

We only give returns if a product is fake, counterfeit, defective or inaccurately described.

The Unified User Agreement states:

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.

We encourage all Proxibid auctioneers to read 6.3 of the Agreement, to which they are bound, which covers disputes concerning when lots are significantly not as described.

If your attorney has encouraged you to put in your service terms, “ALL SALES FINAL!,” you should encourage him or her to read the US Hobby Protection Act and US Federal Code: Chapter 25: Counterfeiting and Forgery (Sections 485-492).

Violate the Hobby Act, inform your attorney, and you can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission. Sell counterfeit coins or currency, and you will be dealing with the Secret Service. We like to remind Proxibid and its clients that national experts on counterfeiting are located right there in the Secret Service Office in Omaha, where Proxibid is located, at 2707 N 108th St.

Here’s some good news, though, for auctioneers. You don’t have to be entirely liable for fake, defective or counterfeit lots. You just have to create a contract with your consignor, as some of our best houses do, stating that all non-genuine and/or defective lots will be returned to the seller with any payment due to the auction company.

 

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 take photos on the slant!

slant

We know this auctioneer and don’t think what he is doing is intentional; nevertheless, it is bad practice. He takes his photos on a slant and then hypes a grade for a raw coin. We think he is just over-enthusiastic about his lots. But with a slant photo he is doing his customers a disservice and deserves to be called on it.



A slant photo (camera angle that avoids the straight-on shot) intensifies luster, even on cleaned coins, and so hides bagmarks and other flaws.

The auctioneer assigns a ridiculous grade–MS67 for a scarce 1991 Morgan, which would retail at $40,000 as PCGS only has one coin at that grade and NGC, none.

We bid $70 (without BP) and won the coin. We will update you about its condition when we receive it. As of now, based only on photos, we can discern flaws in the coin, depicted within circles here:

slant2

Another example: A new auctioneer to Proxibid cares so little about photography–a typical tendency with newcomers to the portal–that he doesn’t even take pains to rotate the lots:

slant1

Take care photographing coins. Make sure you get straight-on shots that truly depict your lots. And if you don’t know numismatics, don’t guess at grades; find someone to inform you before you write that lot description.

As for this 1991 Morgan, anyone purchasing it can put Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement to the test and state “SIGNIFICANTLY NOT AS DESCRIBED.” Because it is a far cry form MS67 and $40,000!

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.

Auctioneers lose customers, bidders lose $$$ with subpar photos of altered coins

noBU

Well, we finally hit our limit with this Proxibid house that features too many doctored lots with descriptions taken from flips. The photo above cannot be expanded to the extent needed to see chemical dipping and bag marks.



The scarce 1879-S reverse of 78 Morgan dollar was described as brilliant uncirculated. The photo seems to suggest that it might be, and we took the auctioneer at his word.

We can’t be sure, but this is a prime example of a coin dealer reject–a dipped, bag-marked coin worth only a few dollars over silver melt as a “hole filler” in a Dansco album. (Dipping uses chemicals to strip a layer off a coin, giving it an uncirculated appearance that gradually fades to a dull sheen, rendering the coin ungradeworthy.)

Take a look at the photo below. It is the same coin as the one above. We shot the coin with a smart phone, and you can see the difference.

noBU1

We also labeled this correctly. We wish the auctioneer had done so as we lost about $65 on this lot. And if we’re losing money in Proxibid auctions like this, you can bet other people are, too.

We won’t name the auction as this site is educational. Suffice to say that if you are a bidder and cannot discern a coin’s true worth, you may think you’re scoring a bargain on Proxibid when you are not. Your only recourse is to do what we have done–stop bidding on coins in that auction.

Save your funds for auctions you can trust.

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.

Identify the variety in your lot descriptions

1972DD

If a consignor sends you a 1972 double die obverse coin, even in a slab, it is worth noting that only Die 1 of the varieties is avidly collected because of the easily identified spread of the date. The one pictured here is the common Die 3. The difference in values is huge, with a gem Die 1 selling for $500 and up and a Die 3, about $50.

 

As explained in PCGS CoinFacts, to which every auctioneer should subscribe, the 1972-P Doubled Die Lincoln Cent Die 1 is readily visible to the eye. “There are over 10 different doubled dies for the 1972 Lincoln cent but only the Type 1 is considered major. … This variety is very popular and it is also strong enough to see very easily with the naked eye.”

Here’s a comparison so that you can see the much more significant spread in Die 1 vs. Die 3.

1972DD_comparison

The Lincoln Cent Resource provides photos of all varieties of 1972 double dies.

Of course, some cent variety collectors will pay big money trying to complete a set of 1972 double dies. Die #4, very difficult to identify, looks like a regular 1972 cent with a slight variation in the double die. This is rare, not because of the spread, but because there are relatively few of this type and more collectors that want to complete the set.

The more you know about coins and their values, the more bidders will trust your judgment and return to your events as regular buyers.

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 wait for consignments: Seek them in the classifieds of your local newspaper!

ebw shoutout_zero

Like Star Coin and Currency, EBW Coin not only showcases its coins but also its Internet friendly service terms that include ZERO percent buyer’s fees. How does EBW do it? We’ll explain how you can, too.



There’s no question that Proxibidders like low buyer’s fees. EBW Coins sells at zero! It’s not surprising, however. The company has a Wilmington, Mass., office that schedules appointments for anyone with coins to sell. They buy those coins so they don’t have to pay buyer’s fees.

Click here to visit EBW’s home page, which states:

    “We are buying!!! Private office in Wilmington by appointment only. We buy Coins, Currency, Tokens, Gold and Silver Bullion. Please use the links below and contact us to set up an appointment. We also do appraisals for estates and divorces. We can also advise you on investing in rare coins or bullion. … Paying 98-99% of melt on most gold bullion, 100% of melt on Gold American Eagles, and over 100% for pre-1933 gold coins.”

If you’re a typical auctioneer, you may be waiting for consignors to come to you. Or perhaps are not advertising sufficiently to buy estates. However, by placing an advertisement at least once per month in your local newspaper, inviting families with coins to sell to come to your office, you can score a major consignment, lower your buyer’s premiums and compete online with veterans like EBW Coin.

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.

Insert Your Auction’s Best Service Terms in Proxibid Lot Descriptions

description

We are showcasing Star Coin and Currency because auctioneer Jim Haver uses every character of space in the Proxibid template to tout his superior service terms. You should do the same, assuming your terms are as appealing, that is.



When you click on a desired lot in a Star Coin auction, you not only get a succinct accurate numismatic title, in the above case–“BLAZING $1 1898-O Morgan PCGS GEM MS66”–you also get that title repeated in the lot description with Haver’s appealing service terms: “LOW COST FAST DAILY SHIPPING. BID WITH CONFIDENCE. WE HAVE ONE OF THE HIGHEST FEEDBACK RATINGS ON PROXIBID. 100% return policy. If an item does not meet your expectations simply return it within 7 days of delivery for full refund. Buyer is responsible for all shipping costs. …”

Of course, if your auction house lacks such terms, you may not want to showcase them as Haver does. Let’s doctor the Star Coin screen shot with the same coin and then include the service terms of lesser competitors on Proxibid, explaining why companies with terms like these will never appear in our rankings (click photo below to expand):

description1

The frightful service terms in the illustration above–no APN, no adherence to Unified User Agreement, no shipping, high buyer’s premium, additional fees, etc.–are actually found in Proxibid auctions.

Now let’s return to Jim Haver’s lot description and the fictitious one above. Same coin. Which one do you think will attract more bids and give your onsite crowd a run for its money, literally?

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.

Master Catalog Descriptions

catalog_billboard

Proxibid catalogs are accessed when a bidder clicks on the “Coin Category.” This is your chance to lure buyers to your sessions. Don’t blow it.

This catalog copy scares away bidders, laying down rules. Click photo to expand:

catalog_anegative

Descriptions reads:

    NOTE: TO ALL BUYERS ITEMS MUST PAID OR PICKED-UP WITHIN 3 DAYS OF INVOICE. ALL ITEMS SOLD AS IS. ALL SALES FINAL!


This catalog header simply states:Don’t miss this auction!
catalog1_nodescription
For those of us who know Mascari, that may be enough. For new bidders, probably not.


Engstrom Auction features a key gold coin in its billboard with a full description of the catalog … and also touts its excellent shipping.

catalog1_keycoin_description

Huge collection of coins from the estate of an avid and long time coin collector! High number of quality, rare, and unique coins with a wide variety for everyone! Guaranteed to ship next day!


We know it takes a lot of time and energy to post a terrific catalog. But don’t short yourself by skimping on the title page of your auction!

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.

Engstrom’s Four Sizes of Photos

Engstrom Auction, long a favorite Proxiblog seller, shows four sizes of lot photos so that online buyers can make an education decision on how to bid. Several other of our favorite houses also provide the same courtesies. .



thumbnail

The photo above, originally taken in large pixel size, appears as thumbnail and expansion for the first two sizes. Click on the photo, and it expands again:

thumbnail1

    Because the photo is large enough as a file, you can use the Proxibid full expansion button on the lower right side of the photo for a final fourth expansion, necessary to identify varieties and flaws.

    thumbnail2

    Add to these features a 13% buyer’s fee, quality shipping and fine service, and you can see why we patronize Engstrom Auction.

    Would that other coin auctions on the portal learn from this example to increase sales and gain return customers.

    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.

California Gold Replicas, Fakes Keep Selling on Proxibid

fakecoin

Unlike eBay, which banned the sale of replicas like this (though they keep appearing), Proxibid does little to remove these items from its portal. What good is the “Report this Item” link if auctioneers persist in selling these abominable fakes?

Next month one of our favorite sellers, alerted multiple times about selling replica California gold (no, you can’t escape a counterfeit by calling it “token”), will be removed from our sidebar. We also no longer will bid in his sessions. When you see a “bear” on the reverse, you can be sure that the item is a modern replica or, at best, and older counterfeit:

fakebear

We reported the item, and Proxibid alerted the auctioneers’ sales rep. That, it seems, is as much the company can do (and we appreciate that). But if auctioneers persist, the lots remain. All an unhappy buyer can do is come to his senses and dispute the fake as significantly not as described. How many will go through that procedure when months or even years after the fact they are informed about the authenticity of the replica?

What we cannot understand is how auctioneers would rather lose a major buyer like us to continue to sell these replicas that have plagued coin collecting since the 19th century when the U.S. government cracked down on them.

There are jewelers’ token sold in the 1930s. These are not fractional gold but often depict a western scene and are, in fact, low-grade gold. At least McKee Coins, an Iowa coin dealer, attributes that in this lot, noting there is no denomination on the reverse–a telltale sign of a replica (click to expand photo):

fake1

We have been sounding the alert on these fakes on Proxibid for more than three years. This is our most popular post, which enjoys 100+ hits per month.

For a more in-depth article, click here.

For an in-depth article featuring quotations from top numismatist Ron Guth, president of PCGS CoinFacts, click here.

For those buying and selling small denomination gold coins, PCGS CoinFacts is indispensable. It contains a regularly updated, comprehensive list of authentic types with photos to identify variety and value.

We recommend that Proxibid require sellers to list the “BG identification number” for small denomination gold coins. The “BG” refers to Walter Breen and Ron Gillio, authors of California Pioneer Fraction Gold. That book is pricey ($300); best to get a subscriptiuon to CoinFacts. If you cannot find the BG number, you most probably have a fake. If you see a bear on the reverse, you have a fake. If you do not see a denomination–1/4 dollar, 1/2 dol., dollar, etc.–you have a fake or a jeweler’s token (with western scene).

We just reported another fake on an auctioneer site from which we have bought coins in the past. If it is not taken down in a few days, we no longer will bid there as well. Reason? How can you trust an auctioneer who would rather sell a fake than take it down for a favorite buyer?

The more these fakes appear on Proxibid, the more they will erode the company’s brand of “trust.”


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.