Proxiblog Publishes New Book on Coin Auctioneering

Click book cover to place order

Online Coin Auctioneering:
for dealers, estate and eBay sellers


This book is intended for estate auctioneers considering or already selling on a portal such as AuctionZip, iCollector or Proxibid. The advice in this new work also pertains to eBay and coin dealer auctions. No matter if you are a mega-seller or beginner, you’ll soon learn that the largest and littlest online coin auctions have these things in common:

    1. They secure top consignments of the most desirable coins.
    2. They secure those consignments with no or minimal seller fees.
    3. They feature sharp, expandable photos of all lots.
    4. They fill out lot descriptions completely and accurately.
    5. They understand numismatics and do not exaggerate condition or worth.
    6. They have safe venues for use of credit cards or PayPal to make online buying secure and convenient.
    7. They have low or NO opening bids or reserves.
    8. They ship cheaply, safely and quickly.
    9. They accept returns on counterfeit and doctored coins.
    10. They focus on customer satisfaction and resolve disputes amicably.

If you’re going to sell coins online, you have to understand Internet and other considerations that you must master to vend lots via a global platform. You also must become a numismatist rather than a hobbyist or estate auctioneer because you’re selling U.S. Mint and world mint products in raw condition or perhaps holdered by any number of companies. You must know how to grade, how to price, and how to describe lots. More important, you must master digital photography—the chief component of successful online sales. Finally, you have to know the business, from fake coins to dispute resolution.

This book covers it all. Written by nationally known numismatist Michael Bugeja, who writes for Coin World, reports for Coin Update News and is a member of the Citizen Coinage Advisory Committee of the US Mint, Online Coin Auctioneering is an indispensable guide. Download a copy from Amazon Kindle today!


Decatur Coin Featured in Coin Update News

Coin Update News, one of the most accessed numismatic websites, has featured a Proxibid auction by Decatur Coin and Jewelry, noting how dealer Bennie Strumpher grades coins rather than holders, and as such, offers choice consignments from his buying trips.

Earlier this month we sent five SEGS coins for crossover consideration at PCGS, noting that they were purchased from a reputable coin dealer known for grading prowess.

Decatur Coin and Jewelry has a reputation for purchasing the best coins regardless of holder. In addition to a detailed lot description for each coin, dealer Bennie Strumpher notes that each coin came from one of his special buying trips, had “attractive high eye appeal” and “superior quality for the assigned grade.” In his coin-show searches, he and his team only buy 2 out of every 100 coins they inspect. He adds, “All of these coins we would buy for our own collections, so keep in mind that each coin offered here has to get past our eyes before it gets to yours.”

Decatur Coin is one of our trusted sellers because Bennie can grade, regardless of holder.

To read the entire article, click here.

New Rankings, New Houses, Almost 38,000 Views!

Competition among top coin-selling houses on Proxibid has been keen even by standards of our 0.5 rating system, meaning that a half point separates one seller from another. Only one scored tops in all categories: quality consignments, detailed descriptions, quick and inexpensive shipping, superior photography, expert grading, low buyer’s premium and other value-added considerations. New coin auctions are coming that promise to make competition keener. Not only is competition growing, our audience is too, approaching 38,000 views.

SilverTowne Auctions operating out of Leipsic, Ohio, in partnership with the famous coin house SilverTowne and Rick Howard’s Rare Coin Gallery, remains atop our list for the second time this year, primarily because of good grading, lightning-fast shipping and excellent consignments. Auctions are well publicized onsite and online and so you won’t be able to steal a coin here; but you can regularly snare top rarities under wholesale. The sheer number of Proxibid auctions and quality of consignments, along with numismatic grading, are keeping SilverTowne on top with a dozen more auctioneers close at its heels.

Ranked ever so close behind at 24.5 each were Capitol Coin Auctions, Western Auction, Leonard Auction, Southwest Bullion and Coin, Gary Ryther Auctioneers, Rolling M Auctions, and Weaver Signature Coin and Currency auctions. Rocketing to the top 10 are two new houses, Tangible Investments and Allen and Marshall Auctioneers.

Back to the Past Collectibles regains a slot on our list, offering more coin auctions with 10% buyer’s fee.

We will be watching other new houses coming online at Proxibid whose reputation in numismatics promises to make competition in this category more competitive. As such, houses that aspire to favorite-seller status (admittedly, only our opinion), should consider:

  1. Lower buyer fees. Anything over 15% still is suspect.
  2. Numismatic lot descriptions. Note flaws and bone up on grading, reading our “Find the Flaw” articles.
  3. Sharp photography. Obverse, reverse and expandable digital shots.
  4. Quick, inexpensive shipping. Some companies take 2-4 weeks to ship. That’s unacceptable. Coins should be sent within 5 business days.
  5. No maximum-bid or shill-bidding. Do that, and you will not qualify for our rankings. Reason? We do not have faith in our maximum bids when we see those transparency notices, no matter the good intentions of auction houses.

Some houses fell in the ranking because of slow shipping; others, problem coins, too few auctions, or other related matter.

What surprises us in these monthly rankings is how little a house has to do to make big gains. A few of our favorite sellers just have to ship faster. Some might lower their buyer’s fees, especially since more eBay-culture sellers are migrating to Proxibid. They’re used to putting the customer first. Proxibid made a big step with the “Report this Item” link. Coupled with Proxiblog, we believe we are upholding numismatic standards.

See this post on a small improvement that Gary Ryther made, elevating his status to one of our favorite sellers.

In our opinion, slow or outsourced shipping, poor photography, inadequate descriptions and high buyer premiums (along with lack of APN), are signs that a house has not yet adapted–or is unwilling to adapt–to the Internet.

Given the convenience of flat-rate shipping with packages picked up at your door, we’re flummoxed when houses take 3-4 weeks to send out coins. If you cannot do basic photography with the type of enhanced, low-cost equipment at your disposal, including smart phones, then you are short-changing yourselves and your consignors. And you simply cannot schedule multiple coin auctions per month and then claim you are not a coin expert.

That said, our rankings are reviews of favorite houses based on our buying and/or selling experience and numismatic expertise. Your experience with our top houses may differ from ours. Our intent is to educate and praise whenever possible–to our own buying detriment, at times! We have seen when we showcase an auction house how bidding becomes more intense, often edging out our own bids.

Good news is that more auction houses are contributing to our scholarship fund. We distribute Proxiblog for free. All we ask is that those who appreciate our efforts make a small contribution to help college students defray debt. You can make the contribution directly online to the Iowa State Foundation.

Our viewership continues to grow. we had more than 4,500 views in the past three months and are approaching 38,000 lifetime views from all over the world.


The favorite and most accessed page? “Boos and Booyahs.” The all-time most favorite post? “California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake,” which gets on average 50 views per week, indicating once again that auctioneers need to take care before they label those tiny yellow tokens “gold.”

We routinely report counterfeit or misidentified coins using the “Report this Item” link. We continue to applaud Proxibid for using this function.

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.

Western Auction Stays on Top

New rankings based on February’s auctions, our participation, service terms and consignments show Western Auction on top with quality raw coins that actually grade well at PCGS, as well as 10% buyer’s fee, quick shipping, and excellent numismatic photography. Leonard Auction was a close second, with Weaver Signature Coin Auction, SilverTowne, Liberty Shops, Star Coin and Currency, Jewelry Exchange and Rolling M Auctions all rising after exciting online and timed sessions on Proxibid. And Proxiblog has also risen in viewership, surpassing 30,500 lifetime views with an ever-expanding global audience.

The quality of our top houses–those earning 24-24.5 out of 25 points–has really become a matter of taste and consignment. You can find anything from rare coins to bargains in all of the ranked auction houses. They don’t see maximum bids, and they don’t shill bid, either, providing expandable photography and often, numismatic descriptions. Some houses dropped in the rankings because of fewer sessions, which means they will rise again with their next big consignment.

We still see way too many dipped and altered coins being sent to the same auctions not included in our rankings. And newcomers aren’t always being adequately informed about what the online audience seeks in Internet bidding. Unfortunately, we still see Proxibid auction houses charging too much for shipping or using third-party shippers, seeking credit card information rather than APN clearance, and otherwise hyping lots (including fakes and replicas).

Speaking of which, the top post remains “California Gold: real, replica and fake,” which now attracts more than 50 viewers per week, indicating the extent of the counterfeit problem often found in online portals, including eBay and Proxibid.

As the chart below shows, Proxiblog continues to increase its worldwide audience with almost 18,000 views in the past year and 30,500 lifetime views from the United States and countries across continents. (Click to expand chart below.)


We have received several complimentary emails regarding our occasional sponsorship prize giveaways by Liberty Shops and Star Coin and Currency, and we thank all of our auction houses for supporting our scholarship fund.

Now for our disclaimer: Our rankings are based on our experience dealing with select auction houses, akin to “Favorite Sellers” on eBay. Your experience may differ from ours.

Another Silver Eagle Giveaway!


Another regular top sponsor, concerned about grading and replica issues, not only will support our scholarship tomorrow but also will offer a Silver Eagle to the first person who correctly provides via email the right answer after viewing a problem coin.

After Liberty Shops Auction’s success with the Silver Eagle giveaway, Star Coin and Currency has stepped up with the same challenge to our viewers. The first viewer who registers on Star Coin and Currency’s upcoming timed auction, scheduled to end Sunday, Feb. 24, who correctly identifies the primary problem with our sample coin (to be shown in tomorrow’s post), will win the Eagle.

You don’t have to bid to win; but you do have to register. Jim will provide us with the winner’s initials, as in X****9.

Check back tomorrow for more details! Better yet, be the first person to get the right answer and Eagle!

Key Date Coins Lowers BP to 8%; Other Houses, Take Heed!

Eddie Caven of Key Date Coins does everything right, from the best coin photography on the portal to superior numismatic descriptions, including varieties. He has just lowered buyers’ premium to 8%. He needs one more component to be the best coin auction on Proxibid. We don’t know if he will do that because only a few of our top-ranked houses do: and that is, 0% seller premiums.

To begin with, take a look at the digital email advertisement used as a photo for this post. If there was a Proxibid badge for Internet advertising promotions, Key Date Coins and, perhaps, Weaver Signature Coin Auction, would deserve it.

In one screen on desktop, laptop and, yes, smartphone, Eddie Caven describes the Nov. 27 auction in three lines, provides hotlinks to the auction as well as his home page, uses complementary colors, and provides email contact including access to join mailing lists, learn more about his house, and so much more. Journalism and advertising students at Iowa State University can learn much from this.

And his photographs–amazing! There are houses in our top-ranked list to the right that never rise to the top because they just cannot master digital photography, something that irritates us to no end, because we can do it with a cheap cell phone.

To see Eddie Caven’s expertise, take a look at the descriptions and 27–yes, 27 expert numismatic photos–of this Carson City Morgan. (Click to expand.)

Key Date Coins also ships within a day, and updates shipping as on eBay. Several houses will drop in the rankings next week because of slow shipping.

The only thing keeping Key Date Coins from being the best on Proxibid is the consignments. Eddie specializes in Carson City Morgans, but those are plentiful everywhere else. He needs to feature fewer common Franklins and rounds and more rare and gold coins.

He needs to use his communication and numismatic skills to attract better and more diversified consignments.

The top houses in our rankings have that variety, especially Western Auction, Leonard Auction, Capitol Coin Auction and SilverTowne. Others have good consignments, but allow too many self-slabbed or dipped coins into the mix, making buying on their sites hazardous. We have purchased much from each of our top-ranked houses, but only in a select few do raw coins actually grade reasonably well at PCGS. See this post as evidence.

We have recommended in the past that auctioneers fire–yes, fire–consignors who continue to send them dipped, damaged or problem coins. We suspect these consignors are coin dealers. We know the dealer network intimately. See this post for more information.

Every time we mention this, suspect coin dealers consigning to Proxibid houses send us emails noting that several of our top-ranked houses are owned by dealers. Yes, and for the most part, they follow ethics of the Professional Numismatists Guild.

We hesitate to mention one house with low BP, excellent shipping, and good credentials, whose house dropped dramatically in the rankings for the past several months and may not rank at all next month, because its owner believes consignors are expert numismatists who never would send problem coins. Right. Another house, which we don’t mention, features an auctioneer who in the past was an officer in an organization representing many of the houses on Proxibid. He just doesn’t want to hear that his consignors are sending problem coins. As a result, he no longer is listed in our rankings. We stopped bidding in his auctions.

Here’s a tip: It’s your business and your reputation on the line. Forget friendships. Learn numismatics if you are going to schedule regular coin auctions. That is why we are grading auction companies and posting regular features titled “Find the Flaw.”

In the 3+ years we have been buying on Proxibid, we began to notice trends. Some houses wonder why they fall or are unranked in our evaluations. The answers are simple: your consignors, poor photography, slow shipping.

If Key Date Coins had the consignments of Western, Capitol Coin Auction and Leonard Auctions, his house would emerge as the preferred coin buying place on the portal. It’s not only about the buyer’s premium. We would rather bid in an auction with high premiums and honest-to-goodness gradable coins than in one with zero percent that sells inferior products or doesn’t note flaws or problems.

We just lost another $1000 in one of our favorite houses because the auctioneer did not mention problems with dipping. The pictures seemed to indicate dipping in this case, but we decided to trust the auctioneer. This is the second time in a month this has happened to us, setting back our scholarship fund at least six months.

Recommendations for Key Date Coins and other houses looking to enhance consignments?

  • Offer 0% seller fees for choice consignments. (Competitive bidding will increase your bottom line.)
  • Do not accept “junk” consignments with a few choice lots as cherries on dung piles.
  • Advertise regionally to secure consignments from estates or travel to estate auctions and make purchases yourself.

We hope this post informs current houses and helps Key Date and others secure the consignments that attract competitive bidding.

To view two recent auctions that did just that, take a look at Fox Valley Coins and a newcomer who made a big splash this weekend, Braxton Auctioneering. Seldom do we see a newbie online house like Braxton do everything right–well, almost everything (as we have yet to evaluate shipping).

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.

Registered Mail is Slow … But Secure

One of our favorite auctioneers sent us a note last week concerning a bidder complaint that shipping was slow, requesting a tracking number. The package contained more than $1000 in won lots, so the auction house sent it registered.

“This package was sent Registered Mail so that in itself slows down shipping,” our auctioneer told us. “It was a $1320.00 order, so we felt it was better to go Registered. We don’t charge extra to ship–whatever the Post Offices charges is what we bill–and we have no control over that.”

The auctioneer added that many people have encountered shipping problems buying on eBay “and are worried about their packages. I understand that. However, with a major storm in this guy’s part of the world, the auction only being last Wednesday and it shipping Registered Mail it’s going to take a little longer.”

Registered mail has to be signed off and handled at each postal station. That makes it secure because the Post Office knows exactly where it has been and who has handled it.

Bidders on the receiving end will have a difficult time understanding why they cannot track those packages with a Registered Mail number as they might with “delivery confirmation.”

USPS is very careful with Registered Mail. It doesn’t want a third party waiting to intercept your goods. So you’ll get delivery confirmation once the package is safely in your hands.

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.

Proxiblog’s next to last rankings of 2012 shows the level of competition by some of the best houses on the portal. Our rankings are based on our personal experience. Your experience may differ from our reviews. That said, let’s look at the innovations being made on Proxibid.

So very little separates our top 10 houses. Western claims the sole #1 spot because of superior consignments that grade well with the most rigorous holdering company in the business, PCGS. Speaking of PCGS, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction sold a rare Regency holdered Morgan, which we won in a bidding war and which is being profiled in an upcoming edition of Coin World!

Whenever Leonard Auction and Capitol Coin Auction host a Proxibid session, you can be sure of some of the best consignments being offered with PCGS-accurate grading … and intense bidding. Auctioneers John Leonard and Brad Lisembee rank among the most knowledgeable and competitive coin sellers in the business. You can count on their photography, too. We’re never disappointed.

Sean Cook and Larry Fuller also are consummately professional graders. Cook manages Liberty Shops Auctions, a house that continues to rise in the rankings because of 0% buyers’ premium and fine photography with inexpensive, quick shipping. We’ve touted Larry Fuller of SilverTowne more than any other grader on the portal. Larry had to take a short break in the past few months. We didn’t realize that but saw a small decrease in grading. That’s how we found out about the hiatus of our friend, who is back and grading again, for which we are thankful.

SilverTowne also has scheduled regular timed auctions. Some real bargains can be had there.

We also appreciate Darron Meares of Meares Auction, one of the most knowledgeable and accomplished auctioneers in the country. He’s making innovations again in lower buyer’s premiums and catering to the seller in stiff competition. We bid often in his auctions, but we do so wholesale, as our intent is to slab and sell our coins and help our scholarship fund. But we have a hard time winning anything wholesale in Meares’ auctions because he’s an expert at drumming up competition. Our hat’s off to him!

Eddie Caven of Key Date Coins provides some of the best coin photography on the portal. He’s been specializing in MS63-65 Carson City dollars, which always brings a crowd, as well as an assortment of older mint sets and uncirculated Franklin halves, among other denominations.

Mark Murphy of Rolling M. Auctions draws competitive onsite and online crowds and offers a good selection of slabbed coins from top companies. We also like Kaufman Realty Auctions whose consignments are nifty. Shipping is a tad slow, though; but if you’re patient, this is a great place to acquire Morgans and uncirculated rare silver denominations.

Back in our top companies is Jackson Auction, which recently had a terrific session with Morgans and slabbed coins from superior grading companies. Auctions Unlimited has a low 10% BP and has offered of late a good selection of mint sets, including rarer prestige ones.

And then there is the slow riser, Back to the Past Collectibles, creeping up from the lower ranks to the top tier of our rankings. We’re seeing increasingly delectable consignments, acceptable photographs and low buyer’s premiums.

We’re also buying from Midwest Coins, which has relaunched with new emphasis on bidders. Owner Charles Commander is a numismatist who ships quickly and is always on the hunt for good consignments.

Consider these top companies Proxiblog favorite sellers, much like you might find on eBay. We’ll continue to bid with new houses and patronize ones in our rankings to cover as many old and new coin auctions on Proxibid. As we state regularly, you may have a different experience as auctioning coins is complex, requiring numismatic skills, labor-intensive photography, and target marketing.

We remain amazed at how our top houses continue to produce, month after month, and serve the hobby.

And as always, we thank sponsors of Proxiblog. You keep us posting, and your generosity is appreciated. Sponsors are invited to showcase their companies, and we only invite those houses whose practices we have known in the long term. We reserve that right. We don’t advertise. We don’t accept payments to us personally as all donations go through the Iowa State Foundation’s scholarship fund.

Finally, we thank Proxibid, especially Jason Nielsen for establishing ever stronger quality control measures. We are an independent site, dedicated to covering the company which, we believe, offers the best coin buys of any portal, including eBay.

What’s with DMPL photos on Proxibid?

We have become so annoyed at awful photos of proof-like deep mirror coins on Proxibid that we threw a few coins on a table, took out a smart phone, and captured DMPLs far better than several houses.

Here are Proxibid photos of DMPLs (click photo to expand):

Here are smartphone photos:

The latter shows a true DMPL, able to catch a mirror reflection 8 inches away from object. If you’re not capturing DMPLs, you’re doing your consignors a disservice. As for bidders, don’t place a maximum unless you see the mirror.

Please show the mirrors of Morgans and the cameos of Franklins. See this article for more information.

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.

Grading Southwest Bullion

We will run occasional grading checks on Proxibid auctions so you can see how we bid based on condition. These coins are from Southwest Bullion’s Oct. 1 auction. We grade on PCGS standards as found on Photograde, admittedly more conservative than grading of most auctioneers but still the standard in numismatics.

We call a coin:

    “GEM” if will grade at NGC or PCGS at the MS65 level or higher. This is a “gem” silver eagle.

    CHOICE MINT STATE” if it would grade at NGC or PCGS at MS63-64. We agree with the Southwest Bullion grade here.

    MINT STATE” or “UNCIRCULATED” if it would grade MS60-62. We agree with the grade here.

    ALMOST UNCIRCULATED” if it would grade AU50-58. We call this AU55 and not uncirculated as listed on the flip.

    EXTRA FINE” if it would grade EF40-45. No grade was listed on the flip or lot description.

    VERY FINE” if it would grade VF20-35. This coin was described as EF40; we call it VF20.

    FINE” if it would grade F12-15. This coin was described as “very fine”; we assign F12.

    VERY GOOD” if it would grade VG8-10. We agree with this grade.

    GOOD” if it would grade G4-6. We agree with this grade.

    Anything less than that would grade poor 1, fair 2, about good 3. We agree with this grade.

    All in all, we agree with most of the grades designated by Southwest Bullion. A few coins not mentioned here had flaws such as cleaning or erosion that were not noted in the lot description. Most lot descriptions were reliable. However, we found instances of overgrading based on PCGS standards.

    Grading is in part subjective, and is difficult to do via online photographs. Our designations are based on how we bid and why. Thus, the overall grade on Southwest Bullion’s grading based on our criteria: B.

    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.