New Look, New Rankings

Proxiblog took a brief hiatus but now has returned with a new look, new rankings and new features to serve both auctioneers and bidders.


We have redesigned our site to be more viewer-friendly with larger fonts and easy-on-the-eyes color. We hope you approve!

Our rankings are becoming more consistent as our very top houses continue to offer ever choice consignments on a regular basis with reasonable premiums for buyers, quick shipping, excellent photography and other specialties, such as concise numismatic lot descriptions. You’ve seen almost every house in our top rankings for several months now, although ones at the very top continue to compete with each other based on where bidders are most likely to spend their numismatic dollars and not be disappointed when the shipment arrives at the front door.

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction was poised to be alone atop the rankings until Western Auction posted two alluring auctions in the same week with rare Morgans and other uncirculated scarce silver pieces. Winning in each auction was difficult. More than half of the lots in Weaver and Western auctions sold above retail.

Leonard Auction charges a higher buyer’s premium at 20% with a cash discount; however, John Leonard’s numismatic knowledge and terrific consignments almost always assure bidders that they will not be disappointed in their winnings. The trick here is to take the buyer’s premium into account but bid high if you really want a lot because you’ll often win it for less than your maximum.

Matthew Bullock Auctioneers continues to offer some of the best estate auction coins on the portal. SilverTowne offers regular coin auctions, both live and timed; and we bid on choice lots when we desire them, such as California Fractional Gold or holdered and raw coins. Because of the online and onsite audience, it is difficult to get steals on this site; but you will get authentic and often accurately graded coins. (Personal note: Our friend and professional numismatist, Larry Fuller, has been out of the pocket for awhile and we send him our very best wishes.)

We get to know auctioneers as friends and business clients. We know they are trying their best to keep standards high and have witnessed improvements across the portal. Sometimes, however, bidders forget that auctioneers do not make killings when they showcase coins on Proxibid. In addition to fees, consignment costs, shipping and more, even the best and most advertised sessions typically only bring $1500-$3000 or less to the auction company in profits. Hosting coin auctions is time-intensive, requires numismatic knowledge and photography skills unlike that of other collectibles auctions.

But buying coins as a hobby or investment calls for ever higher standards, and we will do our part to educate both auctioneer and bidder on the finer points.

One new feature planned this week is “Find the Flaw,” when we will depict a coin offered on Proxibid that has a flaw so subtle as to be missed. We will let you view the coin on one day and then reveal the flaw on the following day. We also will be spot-checking auctions for how they grade in their lot descriptions. We will post our first spot-check review this week on Southwest Bullion. We also will continue to do feature posts on standards and disseminate news and articles to help both bidder and auctioneer succeed in this very engaging but challenging field.

Finally, we will try to post each week day as we continue to upgrade the site. Thank you bidders and auctioneers for your patience and patronage! We appreciate you more than you know (and that appreciation also extends to Proxibid).

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.

New Rankings, Top Posts

Western Auction and Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction top the rankings this month as competition continues to become intense on the Coins and Currency page of Proxibid.

Western and Weaver continue to showcase premium consignments at frequent intervals with low buyer’s fees, sharp photography and inexpensive shipping.

We are seeing more coin auctions meeting our Honor Roll standards or offering great buys with reduced premiums. Among the latter making continuous inroads in coins include Auction Unlimited and Southwest Bullion. Auction Unlimited also has a 10% online buyer’s fee, and Southwest Bullion has the lowest on the portal at ZERO percent.

New to the rankings and scoring in the top 10 on first try are Liberty Shops, an up-and-coming numismatic house with 8% online BP, numismatic lot descriptions and reasonable shipping. Back to the Past Collectibles features another low BP at 10% with good photos, accurate lot descriptions and $5 flat rate shipping–no matter how many lots won. We anticipate more companies signing on with Proxibid with these sell-through standards.

We Care Downsizing makes its first appearance on our list. The house doesn’t specialize in coins, but always features a few choice lots–again, meeting Honor Roll standards. Jewelry Exchange also re-enters the list with regular consignments of high quality coins, 15% BP and great customer service.

Leonard Auction, Midwest Coins and Matthew Bullock Auctioneers moved up in the rankings.

Other coin-selling houses, including old Proxibid standbys, are advised to enhance their lot descriptions and photography, do flat-rate shipping, and lower online BP with an occasional special to bring bidders to your sessions.

As Proxibid’s reputation grows, so does Proxiblog’s, with new sponsors, increasing audience and popular pages. Top posts for the week include our ever-popular “Boos & Booyahs” page, followed by “The Block,” “Feedback Loops” and “More Auctions Spur Competition.”

We also take this opportunity to thank our scholarship sponsors who donate funds for the next generation of auction bidders. To read why this is important, see this article.

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.

More Auctions Spur Competition

By our count, Proxibid coin auctions have increased by more than 30% this year over the same time period in 2011. But there’s more good news. Pictures are improving across the portal as well as consignments. And we have other statistics, too.

We monitor every coin auction on Proxibid every week. We never bid in some auctions because their terms of service or buyers’ fees and shipping are prohibitive. And we purposely avoid three auctions because we question their business practices.

As always, we don’t name the auctions we shun, as ours is an educational site that promotes what auctioneers are doing well.

And wow, are they!

In the past year, we praised 110 auctions in our most popular page, “Boos and Booyahs.” Booyahs–a slang term for “Way to Go!”–outnumbered Boos by two to one, with only 54 in the negative category. What’s more, in the past six months, Booyahs outnumbered Boos by 70%, indicating that auctioneers are spending time honing their photos, lot descriptions and consignments for the Internet as well as onsite crowd.

We have seen incredible consignments at Capitol Coin Auction, Leonard Auction and Western Auction. We have seen numismatically accurate lot descriptions and fine consignments at Weaver Auction, SilverTowne and Key Date Coins. Rolling M Auction and Kaufman Auction are improving on all levels with each auction. Southwest Auction’s zero buyer’s fee, quick and cheap shipping, is causing a stir with sell-throughs above wholesale and even retail on occasion.

There is just so much to tout that we could go on and praise a dozen or more auction houses. We’ll save that for another day.

We credit Proxibid’s quality control, customer service, increasing competition … and, well, this blog with more than 20,000 views and two dozen sponsors within the past year.

Booyah to everyone!

Badge for Bidders?

While we’re happy about the new badge system for auction companies, including the gold ribbon for a strategic partnership, we’re hoping that Proxibid may soon honor or reward the lifeblood of its portal: the bidder.

Bidders on eBay get stars and, more important, eBay Bucks. Teletrade bidders get Gold Rewards. We know Proxibid has much to handle, coordinating all those auctions; but sometimes we feel that all Proxibidders get are credit card bills, email blasts, and reminders to spend more.

Maybe we’re biased. We do bid a lot now and then. But let’s look at it from the auctioneer’s perspective. While badges and partnerships are good for bidding, the portal is relying on auctioneers to offer specials–and we’ve seen far too few of those lately. In fact, it’s been months since we wrote about that in this post.

In the past Proxibid gave away prizes. That was fun. But it also was a promotion and did little to encourage return bidders and ever higher rollers.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. For each new registrant, award $10 in Proxibucks.
  2. For each $1,000 spent on the portal each month, award 1% cash back on the next single auction purchase of $500 or more.
  3. For each $10,000 spent on the portal each quarter, award 2% cash back for the next single auction purchase of $1,000 or more.
  4. For each $100,000 spent on the portal each year, award 3% cash back.

If Proxibid doesn’t want to do cash, then offer free tickets on this Proxibid site.

We think encouraging return and ever higher bidding will be a bonanza for Proxibid as it has been for its rivals. (This week’s posts are sponsored by Teletrade; watch for its specials announced tomorrow–a chance to win gold coins for everyone who bids in the auction.)

We appreciate Proxibid’s focus on quality control. And we honestly feel this is the a terrific place to purchase coins and find bargains. But it’s time to honor bidders with something more than “Congratulations! You are approved to bid in this 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.

New Badge and Partnership

A handful of our top houses received what they deserved, and that is, a new gold-ribbon Preferred Partner badge for the highest levels of ethics and service.

Several Proxiblog houses have received the gold-ribbon badge, including Jewelry Exchange, Midwest Coins, Weaver’s Signature Coin and Currency Auction, Meares Auction Group, and K&K Auction (Krause), among others.

We believe the badge system is important to frictionless bidding on the portal. We especially like this new badge because it highlights service and ethics, two key components in our own rankings.

“Our badging system was born out of two necessities,” says Jason Nielsen, Proxibid’s quality control officer. “Our buyers want to be able to easily identify those sellers who excelled in specific areas, and our sellers who excel in specific areas want to be showcased on the site. The Preferred Partner badge highlights those sellers who meet the highest standard of service and who have formed a strategic partnership with Proxibid.”

The strategic partnership means that the auction company has signed an exclusive contract with Proxibid. This strategic partnership provides the auction company with perks others don’t receive such as access to a Client Services Manager, more auction management tools and special discounts.

The only badge left now is one for photography, the most important component for successful online bidding.

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.

Should Proxibid Require Reserve Policies in Terms of Service?

Our first installment in the series below analyzed the pros and cons of reserves. A second post looked at the issue of hidden reserves from the bidders’ perspective, and our third profiled the reserve policy of a top coin auction house. This last post asks Proxibid and our viewers to weigh in on whether reserve policies should be included in terms of service.

Why not? We routinely get news releases from auction houses soliciting us for coins and sharing their reserve policies with us, either informally via email or formally with a contract. Sometimes, as with RJ’s Auction Service, we learn about reserve policies in a news release.

Some reserves are set with opening bids. Those are transparent. In such case, the auction company had better have a consignment policy that charges sellers fees for unsold lots. Otherwise, the auction company stands to lose revenue.

Some reserves are hidden, with minimum bids set as low as $1, even though a reserve may actually be $300. The goal here is to inspire bidding so that bidder competition hits the reserve. In that case, the auction company also should have a consignment form that sets buyback fees or an agreement with sellers that the auction company has a right to sell lots at any price at its discretion.

And a few reserves are ghost-bid by auction companies that allow maximum-bid viewing. Proxibid allows those to engage in the practice, which we discourage, because of transparency notices–showcased in the terms of service, by the way (and for good ethical reason).

Some online auctions set high opening reserves on all except on 5-10% of select lots, luring viewers with bids and then, shortly before the live auction, setting equally high opening reserves, a practice that Proxibid should disallow pursuant to the Unified User Agreement. (See this post.)

A few timed auctions allow maximum-bid viewing–a combination we find suspect, by the way–because Proxibid’s technology should be running the show. Again, this is a practice that Proxibid should ban, even if the auction company believes it is harmless, because it sends a chilling message. Why view bids if your auction is timed? Just wait until it is concluded, and you’ll see how lots sold!

Finally, we understand that the auctioneer’s primary concern is pleasing the consignor. That can be done in a variety of ways, other than ceding your rights to reserve. You can advertise. You can invest in superior photography. You can learn how to write accurate numismatic descriptions. You can advertise in your local newspaper for coins, purchase them, and then offer them in Proxibid auctions, completely bypassing the consignor.

That said, we wonder how our viewers–both auctioneers and bidders–feel about reserve policies being listed in terms of service. Should Proxibid require this? Is it the bidders’ right to know?

We think it is. Proxibid’s brand functions on one word, and one word only: TRUST. Trust requires transparency.

What’s your opinion?

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.

RJ’s Auction Posts Reserve Policy

Our first installment in the series on reserves analyzed the pros and cons of reserves. A second post looked at the issue of hidden reserves from the bidders’ perspective. This post looks at a Proxibid auction house’s reserve policy, and our final post speculates whether reserve policies should be included in terms of service.

One of our top-ranked coin auction houses, RJ’s, recently sent us a news release explaining reserve policies, one of Proxiblog’s main concerns during the past year. Some reserves are set with opening bids. Some are hidden. And some are ghost-bid by auction companies that allow maximum-bid viewing.

Reserves come with risks to the auction company. That is what this series of posts is about.

As we always recommend, RJ’s makes clear that sellers must pay for reserves. Nothing can be more discouraging to bidders than winning a lot only to learn that the auctioneer has passed on the coin.

Some auction companies, like RJ’s, have set policies on reserves. Here is RJ’s as shared by Richard H. Garvin, Manager and Senior Auctioneer:

    Reserves will be allowed on any item under the following condition. The number of lots with reserves will be restricted to twenty percent of the total number of lots in your consignment (no exceptions). Please note that if you place a reserve on a lot there will be a seven-dollar ($7.00) “Marketing Fee” per lot that does not sell or sells at your reserve.

We like the policy on limiting the number of reserves to 20% of the consignment because it assures that the majority of lots have the potential to spark bidder competition and inspire return customers. We think the $7 fee is lenient and recommend that reserve-buybacks be the same percentage as Internet buyers’ fees, or 15% in RJ’s case.

We understand that policies like the one we suggest above might discourage consignments. But in those cases, auctioneers can compensate by lowering consignment fees to less than 10% in a tiered system based on the total of sales in any auctions. We know many top-ranked Proxibid auctions that feature tiered systems of 5-8% and a few that even waive seller fees for premium coins.

RJ’s tiered system is as follows: Commission rates for selling coins and related items (non-gold, non-platinum) are $1 up to and including $400, 10%; $400.01-$600, 9%; $600.01 and up, 8%. Gold, platinum and bullion coins have a 4% commission fee.

The policies seem to be working.

RJ’s Auction remains one of the top houses as evidenced by these statistics:

    We recently completed our July Coin and Currency Auction. … We had 27 registered bidders that came to our auction facility and another 116 bidders that registered with Proxibid – our on-line Internet hosting partner since October 2008. Of the 301 lots consigned 299 of them sold during the auction. The remaining 2 lots were sold later that night to an on-site buyer. [S]ince January of this year 43.99 % of the lots sold have sold online and 37.1% of the total dollar volume sold has sold online.

Stats like this only underscore RJ’s Auction’s commitment to the online as well as onsite audience. Its next Proxibid auction is slated for Friday, August 17, 2012.

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 this week was sponsored by


Leonard Auction

Leonard Auction is conducting another high-quality coin auction on Aug. 17. Check the company’s Proxibid page for the latest catalogs and Leonard Auction’s home page for consignment deadlines. Those wishing to sell coins should download consignment forms by clicking here.

Leonard Auction, located in Addison, Illinois, is a premiere Chicago auction house and estate liquidation firm that has won multiple awards on Proxiblog in such categories as photography, lot descriptions, consignments and overall best house. Leonard Auction also has detailed consignment policies that secure some of the best coin lots on the Proxibid portal. The company not only knows numismatics but also protects buyers, as this post illustrates, noting the Leonard policy on coin authenticity and emphasizing why Leonard Auction ranks among the most trusted on Proxibid.

Leonard Auction has a reputation for experience, integrity, and superior technology–core values of founder and appraiser John Leonard–that propelled his house to the top echelon of auctioneering. The company’s first auction house in Naperville, Ill., opened in 2006. Business boomed, prompting the company a year later to relocate to its current site in Addison, Ill., featuring more than 8,000 square feet for ample display.

Leonard Auction’s onsite prowess combines with digital savvy to bring the excitement of an auction to coin buyers on Proxibid. The company conducts a series of auctions each month, generally on the third weekend. Its Friday night Coin & Currency auctions feature 300-400 lots of high-end collectible coins, currency, gold, silver, platinum and stamps.

We thank John Leonard and Leonard Auction for sponsoring Proxiblog’s scholarship fund to help ease student debt and create the next generation of auction-house bidders! If you would like to sponsor a week’s worth of Proxiblog, email mjbugeja@yahoo.com

Spotlight on Western Auction

This spotlight feature ends a week of featured reviews about the top five houses in our numerical rankings. Depicted here is a copy of our score sheet. Earning a 4 or 5 in our rankings is significant, and few top 20 houses earn more than one or two maximum scores. Those earning the highest scores this month also tied for top house, with Capitol, Key Date, SilverTowne, Weaver and Western all registering the maximum 25 points. We hope that our auctioneers and bidders found the series helpful as our goal is to advance numismatic knowledge and, in doing so, to help sponsor college scholarships.

Of all our top houses, and in most of their innovations, Western Auction at one time or another thought of it first. Dave Zwonitzer instituted buyer’s fees as low as ZERO percent with inexpensive shipping and excellent photography, much like Southwest Bullion is doing today. It has settled in at 10% at the moment, one of the lowest percentages on Proxibid. Western Auction never charged above 10% nor carried transparency notices for maximum bid viewing or ghost bidding while several of our top-ranked houses either allowed the same or charged buyer’s premiums at 17%-18%. While Western’s lot descriptions are sometimes a bit too enthusiastic for our numismatic taste, the auction house balances that with excellent, expandable photography so that bidders who know coins can judge for themselves.

Bidders with numismatic knowledge often secure bargains because of Western’s trustworthy consignments and expandable photographs. For instance, we found this description of a scarce 1881-O too enthusiastic, as the coin above (click to expand) did not look like deep mirror, which reflects 14-point type at a distance of 6-8 inches. But it looked MS64, and so we bid to win the coin at $85, hoping to secure a PCGS grade worth at least twice that much. We did. (Click to expand photograph below.)

As numismatists know, PCGS has rigorous grading standards. Moreover, too many raw coins offered on Proxibid have been cleaned, dipped or otherwise doctored. (See this post about dealers flooding Proxibid auctions with inferior coins–a stance we continue to believe as we are dealers ourselves and have called some consignors on this, to their chagrin.)

In any case, by focusing on photography and choice consignments, Western offers bidders the chance to secure fine coins at wholesale prices, especially in consideration of its low buyers’ premium. Better still, the family-owned Cheyenne-based business is one of the fairest and most trustworthy on the portal. Western was one of the first on Proxibid to insist that all coin sales are NOT final if those coins are counterfeit. In this, once again, Dave Zwonitzer and his company set the standards on the portal.

We, too, have been setting the standards at Proxibid, arguing for more transparency, APN clearance, the end of maximum-bid viewing and ghost-bidding, returns of counterfeit coins, auctioneer ratings (which led to the badge system), lower buyer’s premiums, and better photography. (Now we are advocating that houses using timed sessions be denied maximum-bid viewing, and the sooner Proxibid complies, the more trustworthy it will be.)

Western Auction was the first to earn our trust on the portal. We commend its best practices. Click here to learn more about the 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.

Spotlight on Weaver Coin and Currency Auction

This week we begin a series of spotlight reviews on the top five houses in our numerical rankings. Depicted here is a copy of our score sheet. Earning a 4 or 5 in our rankings is significant, and few top 20 houses earn more than one or two maximum scores. Those earning the highest scores this month also tied for top house, with Capitol, Key Date, SilverTowne, Weaver and Western all registering the maximum 25 points.

Our viewers know about Weaver Coin and Currency Auction because its owners, Dave and Cheryl Weaver, are two of the most innovative, creative and experienced auctioneers operating on Proxibid. We have featured the house numerous times on Proxiblog for a variety of progressive, interactive enhancements, from digital advertising to tiered buyer’s premiums.

Weaver Auction has been our top-ranked house for more than a year since 2011, briefly losing that position to front-runners Western Auction and SilverTowne, whose own best practices of late helped claim the first-place slot in recent months. As you might anticipate, the Weavers are back on top with a maximum tied score of 25 in our August rankings.

Weaver Auction is known for so much; however, perhaps best of all is its culture of continuous improvement. Here is the evidence:

And if that is not enough, Weaver Auction has been featured in Boos and Booyahs more than any other auction company for identifying cleaning, tooling, dipping, damage, false plating, whizzing, correct California gold designations, varieties and more, including a 5% buyer’s premium on large gold coins, spurring competition between onsite and online bidders.

One of the highlights of the house is its focus on customer service. If you have a question about a lot, you can email and anticipate an answer.

As Cheryl Weaver states, “When a buyer or seller contacts us, they are dealing with Dave or Cheryl, not an employee. For the last 18 years we have built this business based on honesty, respect, and trust. We have employees at live auction but the rest of the time it’s a two-person team.”

Perhaps best of all, from an online perspective, is the respect that both Dave and Cheryl Weaver have for the Internet audience. They show this at each onsite auction using Proxibid audio and video. These are experienced auctioneers and numismatists who strive to be honest and fair to everyone.

As you’ll read about soon in Proxiblog, Weaver Coin and Currency Auction recently joined the Proxibid Pinnacle Program with an exclusive contract. “This program is by invitation to companies that have demonstrated a commitment to providing the best online buyer experience for buyers in the Proxibid market,” Cheryl says

We also admire the Weavers’ sustainability stand on shipping. “We take your consignment/purchase thru every step ourselves,” Cheryl says. “We work hard to ship in the best box or package to keep costs down & product secure.” The Weavers use shredded paper for packing “We know it’s messy but it’s part of our personal recycling program. Plastics or Styrofoam do not decompose well plus we’re going to shred our customer’s personal information for security reasons.”

We encourage our viewers to become more familiar with the company’s impressive operations. Click here to visit its contact page.

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.