Nearly 20,000 Views, New Rankings!

Proxiblog’s audience keeps growing with close to 20,000 views worldwide in the past year, as bidders register to read about top coin auction houses. Speaking of which, after points were tallied for consignments, photography, lot descriptions, buyers’ fees, customer service, shipping and numismatic knowledge, we were as surprised as you might be in discovering 5 houses tied for highest scores. Listed alphabetically, they are Capitol Coin Auction, Key Date Coins, Silvertowne Auctions, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, and Western Auction.

Note: Regular postings to begin on Sunday, Aug. 5.

Beginning next week, we will do spotlight features on each of these houses, noting what makes them so special–including what practices they follow–so that bidders and auctioneers can benefit from our reviews.

Making her debut in our top rankings is Debra Johnson of Auctions Unlimited, which has one of the lowest buyer’s fees on Proxibid at 10% and which also dropped transparency notices. Midwest Coins also did likewise, and we’re happy to include this fine Iowa house in our rankings. Braden Auction Service also enters our top houses in the sidebar to the right.

While the competition in the Coins and Currency page on Proxibid continued to grow, Proxiblog’s audience also grew in the same five-month time period. Our audience is closing in on 20,000 views. The United States, by far, provided most of that audience; however, Proxiblog’s popularity is growing in Canada, Philippines, India, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The most accessed articles were “California Gold, real, replica and fake” and “Beware Dipped Coins.”

The most popular pages were “Boos and Booyahs!” and “Honor Roll.”

In the past five months we also had 18 total sponsors, with several sponsoring Proxiblog for several weeks and donating funds to our scholarship account. Sponsors include:

We thank these auction companies and numismatic publications 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

More Viewers, New Rankings

As Proxiblog grew yet again to 18,000+ views since inception, and more than 4,000 in the past three months, competition in the Coin and Currency page of Proxibid has heated up significantly with top houses improving photography, lowering buyer’s fees and securing top consignments.

As far as audience goes, most views came from the United States followed by Canada, India, United Kingdom and the Philippines, with viewers from 60 other countries logging in at one time or another in the second quarter of 2012.

The five-part series on Proxibid vs. eBay by far was the most viewed item on the site followed by our Articles and Boos and Booyahs pages.

Moreover, several auction companies have donated $1000 for scholarships for the next generation of bidders, including Auctions Unlimited, ClickCoins, Coin Update, Engstrom Auction, GreatCollections, Kaufman Realty and Auctions, James Peterson Company, Key Date Coins, Krause Auctioneering, Leonard Auction, Matthew Bullock Auctioneers, Scott Auctions, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, and Western Auction.

Those and other houses are featured on our popular “On the Block” page.

Several of those houses also vied for top spots on our rankings. We judge companies by sharp and expandable photos, quick and inexpensive shipping, accurate lot descriptions, reasonable buyers’ fees, customer service and quality consignments.

Competition has never been keener. Silvertowne Auctions, which recently instituted timed auctions to accompany its several live sessions per month, held on to first-place status, but just barely, with five other auction houses only one point behind, essentially tied in second-place.

Rising toward the top was Southwest Bullion with its zero percent buyers’ fee, good photos, flat-rate quick shipping and numismatically savvy lot descriptions.

Consistently excellent sessions with choice consignments were held by innovative houses Weaver, Western and Key Date Coins. New to the top 10 is Capitol Coin Auctions, which lowered buyers’ fees and features some of the top consignments on the portal with numismatic lot descriptions, superior photography (among the best on the portal) and excellent service.

Leonard Auction shares many of the same attributes as Capitol. Six of the top 10 companies are run by auctioneers, and four by coin dealers.

Although several new houses are coming online in the Coins and Currency pages, including ones with 10% or lower buyers’ fees and flat-rate shipping, the rest of our top 20 have been competing now for months, with Honor Roll standards and cherry consignments. Fox Valley Coins makes its first appearance on our top rankings list.

Finally, you’ll note on top of the sidebar rankings an important observation concerning our criteria. Auction houses in our top 20 do not see maximum bids or allow ghost-bidding by auctioneers or employees. All rankings are based on Proxiblog buying experience to establish informed opinion. While other bidders’ experience may differ from ours or our mini-reviews, and while all such reviews are in part subjective, we wanted our bidders to know that we are ranking companies based on actual buying 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.

We Applaud Proxibid’s Quality Control Badges

Increasingly online portals whose entire livelihood relies on the Internet audience will have to exert greater quality control over auction houses catering to onsite audiences or taking numismatic shortcuts. To combat those and other negative attributes–and to keep up with eBay’s ever stricter quality controls–Proxibid has tolled out quality control badges noting APN Clearance, Shipping Policies, Low Buyer’s Premium, Lot Description Accuracy, and Complaint Rate

APN Clearance is as important as ever in using credit card purchases with ease and security. (Watch for a post on the downside of using PayPal.) Shipping, Low Buyer’s Premium, Lot Description Accuracy and Complaint Rate have been quality control issues that Proxiblog has monitored since launching this site in May 2011.

We now are approaching 20,000 views because of our focus on quality control for both auctioneer and bidder, in addition to our numismatic knowledge as a buyer and seller on Proxibid.

We applaud Jason Nielson, quality control exec, and his Proxibid team for instituting these much-needed badges. And one more thing: Because Proxibid now is covering with badges much of what we covered in our Honor Roll page, we now will include superior houses with higher than 15% buyer’s fees in our sidebar rankings. We’re putting a greater emphasis on quality of consignments, shipping, customer service and lack of transparency notices. Watch for a post on that in the near future.

Our reasoning is simple: While we advocate for low buyer’s fees, some of the best numismatic catalogs are being posted by Leonard Auction, Capitol Coin Auction, Scott Auctions, Fox Valley and others. They will qualify for our Best on Proxibid rankings.

Beginning next week, however, we will exclude from our sidebar rankings all auctions that see maximum bids or allow auctioneer/consignor bidding. There is just no place for either. Auctioneers should know grey sheet values. If a bid doesn’t reach it, they can pass on it. An auctioneer should NEVER ghost-bid (raise the bid even though no buyer has). And finally, a house can allow a consignor to bid on an item, but if the consignor wins, he bought it, meaning he has to pay both consignor and buyer fees. That will discourage shell-bidding entirely.

We’ll end with photos of each badge and the Proxibid description:





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 Reflect Competition

Recently Proxibid reported a 29.3% increase in coins auctions from 2010 to 2011, with a 36% increase in the number of coin auctions in the first quarter of this year. More competition has led to new rankings, as newcomers offer choice consignments with low buyer’s fees and specials. How will your house respond?

Gone are the days when Proxibid auction houses could dictate terms online, ghost-bidding lots, hyping descriptions, posting blurry photographs of only one side of a coin, and charging as much as 22% online fees while lacking APN clearance and using third-party shippers.

In part, Proxiblog has played a role in numismatic quality control. Proxibid also has done its share in creating more of an even playing field, posting APN buttons and transparency notices to alert bidders to houses that see maximum bids or allow consignor and auctioneer bidding.

As a result, we have seen competitive houses such as Silvertowne drop maximum-bid viewing, reclaiming its third-place slot behind Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction and Western Auction, which finally has overtaken Weaver based on slightly better photography (showing luster) and equally choice consignments.

Breaking into the top 10 are Bennett Auction Service with a 9.5% online buyer’s fee, good photography, APN clearance, cheap shipping, and no viewing maximum bids or allowing consignor bidding. However, the house doesn’t specialize in coins, and a consideration in our rankings is the number of coin auctions each house schedules in a month. Silvertowne is among leaders in that category with the best lot descriptions on Proxibid because of veteran numismatist Larry Fuller.

Kaufman Realty also has broken into the top 10 with increasingly accurate lot descriptions, regular coin auctions and improved photography.

Also in the top 10 is Back to the Past Pop Culture Warehouse. This house offers a 10% buyer’s fee, $5 flat rate shipping on coins and good photography. After it viewed Proxiblog, seeing that we advocate for photos on both sides of a coin, Creative Director Scott Lovejoy immediately posted reverses of all coins before an upcoming auction and quickly rose in our rankings.

Our Honor Roll houses now number 88 offering low buyer’s fees, good photography and reasonable shipping. In May 2011, only 11 houses on Proxibid met these criteria.

Other newcomers have risen in our top 21 slots, including Auctions Unlimited and Brian’s Auction Service.

Not all Proxibid coin auctions have responded favorably to the new competition. We no longer purchase coins from them because they refuse to upgrade photography, clinging to harsh service terms and hyping lot descriptions.

Conversely, there are houses whose consignments and in-house practices are so trustworthy that we eagerly await their auctions. These include Leonard Auction and Capitol Coin Auction. While they charge online buyer’s fees between 17-20%, they offer the superior consignments and lot descriptions that stand up to PCGS standards.

Nonetheless, if they took a chance in an auction and reduced their online fees to 15%, we believe their bottom lines would rise significantly in a few months’ time.

Finally, coin auctioneers should realize that mega houses such as Teletrade and Great Collections are in the process of competing with each other and Proxibid. Teletrade offers no-reserve, 0% buyer’s fees on Tuesdays. Great Collections offers 10% with “Buy Now” specials and other enticements.

In an Internet world, like it or not, you are competing with the likes of megahouses (including Heritage). We advise to embrace the competition and figure out creative ways to attract return customers, offering specials and treating online buyers with the same courtesies as your onsite crowd.

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, Improved Service

Ranking our Honor Roll auction houses is becoming increasingly difficult because each house seems to be making improvements in a competitive spirit that speaks well of the auction business.

We read terms of service. We evaluate consignmnents, lot descriptions, shipping and customer service. Our top houses are as professional and numismatically savvy as they come anywhere on the portal or online, for that matter.

We’re seeing top-notch email advertisements. We’re emailing regularly with auctioneers who answer questions about coins. We’re seeing a lot more “Booyahs!” than “Boos” in our regular installment of that popular feature.

This is credit to Proxibid’s continual emphasis on improvement (and a little nudge now and then from Proxiblog).

Holding steady in our rankings is Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction in our No. 1 slot for the past several months. Dave and Cheryl Weaver continue to attract top consignments and innovate, whether it is with a 10% buyer’s fee, expert photography, customer service, quick shipping or just plain numismatic prowess.

Western and Silvertrades, consistent top houses, continue to hold upper slots.

Breaking into the top 5 are Matthew Bullock Auctioneers and Gaston and Sheehan Auctioneers.

Matthew Bullock Auctioneers is the best timed coin auction on Proxibid. Auctioneer Matt always seems to find excellent consignments. His photography is sharp, and he goes out of his way to make things right for his clients with fine customer service.

Gaston and Sheehan Auctioneers, a Texas firm, does US Marshall Service auctions, so you have to read the terms of service carefully. This is one of the top auction houses in the country. You’ll be bidding against major dealers, whales, and well-off hobbyists. But if you can weather the competition, and fill out the advance and after sales forms (including a $1000 pre-bid cashier’s check), you might get a wonderful deal.

Thank you again to our Honor Roll auctioneers who are confident in competition, conscientious about fees, continue to attract top consignments, and work proactively with clients and sellers alike.

Top 10 Best Practice Tips

Top-ranked Proxibid auctioneers are mindful of standards that bring return customers. Here are 10 standards used in our rankings and met at present by only a few of our best houses (see rankings to the right). How many does your house meet?

Top-ranked Proxibid auction houses all share common features:

  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 APN clearance so that credit card use is convenient.
  7. They have low or NO opening bids or reserves.
  8. They ship cheaply, safely and quickly.
  9. They use Proxibid audio and/or video to enhance the auction experience.
  10. They accept returns on counterfeit and doctored coins.

We rate auction houses on these standards. Some of our top houses provide all of the above but fall short on numismatic knowledge, labeling choice coins “gem” (MS65 or better), almost uncirculated coins “choice” (MS 63-64), and extra fine coins “uncirculated” (MS60-62). If you’re going to sell coins, describe their conditions accurately, because sooner rather than later current return customers may stop patronizing your auctions or bidding high for low-ball coins.

Make it a point to know and meet the above standards. Then compare sales receipts. We think you’ll earn more than a good reputation. You’ll earn 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.

Best Coin Photos on Proxibid

These six auction houses provide needle-sharp straight-on coin photos on Proxibid, surpassing standards so that numismatists can check for varieties and condition.

Proxiblog spent part of this week analyzing photography on all coin-selling sites on Proxibid. The test was a comparison of breast feathers on an uncirculated Morgan dollar, which requires our Honor Roll standards of clear, expandable obverse and reverse photos. However, an added analysis to test the photography was the clarity and size of the expanded photograph and whether the viewer would be able to discern a variety such as an 1880-CC VAM-4 Reverse of 78 Overdate, required by some set registries.

These six were chosen because of the needle-sharp images and more than 200% expansion of those images allowing fine details to be seen, such as overdates, hairlines, rubs, cleanings, doctoring, artificial coloring and so much more:

    Matthew Bullock Auctioneers. (Click to expand the Bullock photography of the Morgan reverse to the left.)

    Capitol Auction. (Click to expand the Capitol Auction photography of the Morgan reverse to the right.)

  • Chaparral Coin Auction. (Click to expand the Chaparral photography of the Morgan reverse to the left.)
  • Dixon’s Auction. (Click to expand the Dixon photography of the Morgan reverse to the right.)
  • Leonard Auction. (Click to expand the Leonard photography of the Morgan reverse to the left.)
  • Western Auction. (Click to expand the Western Auction photography of the Morgan reverse to the right.)

CONGRATULATIONS to these six auction houses!

Postscript: Several auction houses came close to top photography standards. Others had acceptable photography. Honorable mentions go to Culpeper Auction, Engstrom Auctions, Furlo Auctions, Gold Crown Auction, Hall’s Auction, Jackson’s Auction, James Peterson, Key Date Coins, Linkous Auctioneers, Jewelry Exchange, Kreuger Auctions, Meares Auction, Midwest Coins, Scott Auctions, Silver Trades Auction, and Weaver Coin and Signature Auctions.

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.

Honor Roll Auctions Approaching 50!

When Proxiblog launched in May, one of our goals was to persuade auctioneers that a 15% or lower online buyer’s fee would spark competition. At the time, only 11 auctions that regularly sold coins met our Honor Roll standards–low buyer’s fee, expandable pictures of obverse/reverse, and quick inexpensive shipping. Now 44 do. Booyah!

Auctioneers know about competition. It’s the lifeblood of the industry–so much so, that the Discovery Channel televises a reality show, “Auction Kings,” chronicling the entire process from consignment to sale.

Proxibid has expanded the auctioneering experience by adding online bidders to the customer base offsite around the world. Now competition is not only about scheduling a sale at the right time for maximum attendance, hiring a caterer or staffing a concession stand, and canvassing newspapers in search of estate sales (although these activities are still mainstays, to be sure); it is also about allowing online bidders to compete for high-price lots without worrying that the buyer’s fee is exorbitant.

If you’re still catering to the onsite crowd by not charging a buyer’s fee, even though physical set-up costs and advertisements may justify it, then you’ll be selling your high-priced items to local folks who had better have deep pockets given the rising price of gold and silver. An onsite bidder will pay melt value of $1600 for a low mint-state Saint Gaudens Double Eagle whereas an Internet bidder would pay $1920. Better for the Internet bidder to shop at the local coin store or order bullion direct from the US Mint!

However, if the onsite crowd is charged a 10% buyer’s fee and the Internet clientele a 15% fee, that rather evens the playing field and invites competitive bidding. You probably won’t get the $1920 for that coin. But you’re apt to get higher bids approaching or surpassing $1800.

Do the math: $1600 to an onsite bidder in a session without a fee compared to $1800 from an Internet bidder with a modest buyer’s fee.

We explained this to an established auction house, Dudley’s Auction Service, a few hours before her live Proxibid session began this week. To our surprise, the house posted this notice:

    5:13pm-BUYER’S PREMIUM JUST LOWERED to 15%!!! The auction is in 2 hours and we have JUST lowered the online buyer’s premium from 17% to 15%! Don’t miss out on this great deal 🙂

We wish other houses charging 18% would consider lowering their fees to spark competition, such as Dudley’s just did. Some yet unlisted Proxibid auctions that sell coins regularly also have large staffs canvassing the country for the best consignments. They have big advertising budgets augmented by expert use of social media. Their competition is Heritage Auction, Teletrade and other up-and-coming start-ups, such as Great Collections.

Skilled at numismatics, they’re banking on getting choice consignments of the most popular series, denominations and ultra rare coins. There’s always a market for that, so they can charge 18%. (Note: Heritage and Teletrade charge 15% and Great Collections, 10%. Also, Teletrade features no-buyer’s-fee auctions every Tuesday.)

They’re taking business away from high-buyer fee houses on Proxibid.

There are many ways to earn a profit selling coins to onsite and online bidders. We just happen to think a few small enhancements, such as Dudley’s Auction did this week, coupled with excellent customer service, is less costly, more effective and, in the end, profitable.

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 Back With New Rankings

After a short break, we’re publishing again–showcasing a new Proxibid client. Our audience is growing–thanks to new subscribers and Honor Roll auctioneers meeting or exceeding our standards–15% or lower buyer’s fee with clear, expandable pictures of obverse and reverse, as well as inexpensive, quick shipping.

Shortly before we went on hiatus, Proxiblog registered with Krueger Auctions. Soon after, we received this email:

    Thanks for registering for the Krueger & Krueger Coin & Currency Auction at Madison, WI on July 17th. Here’s a bit of good news for all early registered Bidders: On-Line Buyers Fee is just 5% … Not 15%! We hope that is OK, with you!

Proxiblog’s excited about Krueger–not only because of the low buyer’s fee–but also for the knowledge of numismatics and a wide array of choice consignments. New to Proxibid, as there are no archived auctions for this house, Krueger is doing everything right, with clear pictures and accurate lot descriptions, such as this 1921 Peace Dollar accurately graded as extremely fine with a helpful notation about cleaning. (Click to expand.)

Reviewing the past week on Proxibid, we’ve noticed many enhancements on the portal, especially its new bidder application, which immerses Internet clientele in the auction experience while allowing multitasking during live sessions.

However, even in a few of our Honor Roll companies, as well as several other houses with lesser standards, we’ve also seen a disturbing trend to set opening bids way above retail, which typically results in “passed” lots and disappointed clients who may decide not to be returning ones.

Watch for a new post on that next week!

As more dealers and coin-consigning houses join Proxibid, rapidly becoming known for coin and currency auctions, competition will become more intense, requiring auctioneers to know more about numismatics while living up to high customer-service standards for which this particular portal has become known.

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, Brief Hiatus

Proxiblog has updated its auction rankings, with Silvertowne Auctions overtaking Western Auction, due to top consignment as well as buyer’s policies.

Silvertowne, concerned about securing top-quality consignments for its bi-monthly auctions, has one of the best seller policies on Proxibid, with low and even zero fees for coins that bring good hammer prices. Western Auction, still one of the best online and onsite companies in the business, at one time featured a 0% buyer’s fee, increased that to 5%–still the lowest on Proxibid–but recently upped that to 10%.

At 5% fees, Western Auction still would be doing well. Its July 6 session brought amazing hammer prices, with this 1893-S PCI-graded Morgan bringing $2950, or a realized price of $3245, still a bargain for all parties–auction house, seller and buyer.

Silvertowne, operated by Rick Howard of Howard’s Coin Shop in Leipsic, Ohio, features similar high-end items. In its last auction, this raw 1893-S sold for $3200, or $3680 realized, with 15% buyer’s fee. While that fee is on Proxiblog’s high end, Silvertowne makes up for that with expert coin grading and consignment policies. (Note the accurate description on the 1893-S coin pictured here.)

Proxibid will be taking a brief hiatus until mid-month. In two months we have posted more than 30,000 words in several categories, hoping to enhance your summer reading on best practices and more for your auction company.

In closing, we’d like to acknowledge our Honor Roll houses for their standards and practices on Proxibid:

Abal Auction

Arneson Auctions

Auctions Unlimited

Auctions by Wallace

Battermans Auction

Beatrice Auction Service

Beloit Auction/United Country

Black and Gold Auction

C.B. Kaye and Associates

Carden Family Auction Service

Carrick Auction

Crawford Family Auction

Culpeper Auction

Dave Kaufman Realty and Auctions

Furlo Auction Service

Garrison Auctioneers

Gavin Pope Auction and Appraisal

Gold Crown Auctions

Grey Ghost Auction Service

Grubaugh Auction Service

Hi-$ Auctions

Hidden Treasures

United Country/Hudgins

Key Date Coins

Kraft Auction Service

Krause Auctioneering

Krueger and Krueger

Jewelry Exchange and Auctions

Johnny’s Estate Auction Service

Lippard Auctions/United Country

Meares Auction Group

Massart Auctioneers/United Country

Midwest Coins

Phil Cole Rare Coin Auctions

RJ’s Auction Service

Scott Auctions

Silvertowne Auctions

United Country Shobe Auction

Sullivan Auctioneers

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction

Western 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.