Boos & Booyahs: Best & Bad Auctioneer Lot Descriptions

It’s important to be in sync with the Proxibid technology to showcase your photos, hone your lot descriptions, and highlight your consignments for top bids on the leading portal! In the latest installment, Proxiblog laments and compliments best and bad auctioneer lot descriptions during the past week. We will name the best, but you will have to search Proxibid for the bad. (Click pictures to expand and view lot descriptions below.)

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One Big Booyah! to SilverTowne’s Dave Nauert for identifying flaws in this otherwise attractive coin.


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Boo! to this unnamed auction house maintaining this bagmarked slider is a super gem. If you don’t know how to grade, don’t hype.


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One Big Boo and then Booyah! (or several) to this auction house that featured a fake California gold piece and then retracted it when informed. Watch for a post on this soon.


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Boo! to this unnamed auction house for hyping ridiculously high this common silver lot worth $28-30 and not thousands.


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Boo! to this auction house that has the nerve to label what may be the ugliest flawed silver melt dollar “an investment.” The $19.95 shipping rate is about the worth of this coin.


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Boo! to this auction company that doesn’t know where to look for the mint mark. Bidders can rob consignors blind when this happens, and it happens too often.


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Boo! to this long-time Proxibid auction house that refuses to show both sides of a coin. Would you buy a car, or any item, if you saw only half of it?


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Booyah Traders Cottage! for noting this Peace dollar is polished. Always note flaws, and gain trust with bidders.


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Booyah Jewelry Exchange! for noting this coin has been cleaned, often hard to cipher from online photos.


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Booyah Liberty Shops Auction! for taking the time to note varieties on coins, which add to value.



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Booyah Southwest Bullion and Coin! for taking the time to note values on lots, using the right price guide for the coin in question.


Viewers can point us to other candidates for our “Boos & Booyahs!” series. Just leave a comment but follow our rules–all in good fun as a way to inspire accurate lot descriptions on 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.

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“Report Item!” Link Latest Proxibid Enhancement

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Buyers can now call attention to items in Proxibid auctions using a new “Report this Item” link, allowing bidders to identify items that may be counterfeit, illegal, inappropriate or offensive.

With this new feature, the company is living up to its brand of trust.

We cannot wait to flag this item:

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And this item:

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To see why, read our most popular post–30 hits per week–titled, “California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake.”

Other enhancements include a new tool to scroll to the top button, allowing bidders to return easily to the top of a page without going through dozens of items. (See tool below.)

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There is also a seller/buyer toggle login, making that easier, too.

We’re excited about the counterfeit tool. Are you, too?


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 California Gold Replicas on Proxibid

We continue to see fake, plated and replica California Gold misidentified as authentic on Proxibid, eBay and other portals. It’s time something is done about the problem.


A few Proxibid auctioneers continue to offer fake, plated and replica California fractional gold, often without knowing how these so-called tokens have undermined the hobby. The replicas are essentially worthless, or worth a few dollars. Often, however, they are billed as rare and valuable pioneer gold from the 19th Century U.S. West.

The coins below were listed on Proxibid using language from CoinFacts whose president, Ron Guth, has been interviewed by Proxiblog about the problem on eBay, Proxibid and other portals. Watch for a Coin World column quoting Guth.

(Click photo below to expand and read auctioneer’s descriptions.)

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You can read the language about authentic California coinage by clicking here on a CoinFacts page citing BG numbers for authenticity. “BG” are the first initials of surnames of Walter Breen and Ron Gillio, authors of California Pioneer Fractional Gold.

CoinFacts:

    Throughout the early years of the California gold rush there was a constant need for coinage to satisfy the commercial needs of a booming community being based on gold dust. … Over 450 varieties are known to exist, some undated but most bearing dates between 1852 and 1882.

Proxibid Auctioneer:

    Throughout the early years of the California gold rush there was a need for small denomination coinage to satisfy commercial needs. Over 450 varieties of these California Gold Tokens are known to exist, most bearing dates between 1852 and 1882.

If you are going to take language from CoinFacts, you might as well go the extra step and verify the BG number, which in this case, the auctioneer cannot do because these have bears on the reverse and are most probably replicas. (A few tokens with better images of bears–as opposed to ones that look like pigs or rodents–are copper replicas and were sold from a booth in 1915 at the Panama Pacific exposition; but these are scarce and need to be authenticated by PCGS or NGC because replicas of these, made of goldine, base metal or plated copper were sold as souvenirs in 1948 and 1972.)

We give Proxibid auctioneers the benefit of the doubt in cases like these. Nonetheless, sale of these replicas as authentic may violate the U.S. Hobby Protection Act, which states:

  • The manufacture in the United States, or the importation into the United States, for introduction into or distribution in commerce of any imitation numismatic item which is not plainly and permanently marked “copy”, is unlawful and is an unfair or deceptive act or practice in commerce under the Federal Trade Commission Act [15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.].

See how Cece’s Sales correctly lists similar coins in the photo below. (Click photo to expand.)

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See how Engstrom Auction correctly lists plated replicas. (Click photo to expand.)

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For more information on fake California gold, see the most accessed article on Proxiblog by clicking here.

If you are a bidder who has purchased a replica billed as authentic, you might contact Proxibid, which has been proactive and helpful in cases such as these. Proxibid wants authentic coins sold on its portal with proper descriptions. Anything else may be a violation of these clauses in the Unified User Agreement:

  • Buyer gives notice in writing to Proxibid with documentation from a reputable authenticator or provides a police report that the lot so sold is a counterfeit, Seller will rescind the sale and refund the purchase price including all fees. At such time, Proxibid will refund any fees paid by the seller to Proxibid for the lot sold.
  • Proxibid will generally require the Buyer to ship an item that the Buyer claims is Significantly Not as Described back to the Seller (at the Buyer’s expense), and Proxibid will generally require a Seller to accept the item back and refund the Buyer the full purchase price plus original shipping costs. In the event a Seller loses a claim, the Seller will not receive a refund on his or her APN or Proxibid fees associated with the transaction. If Seller loses a SNAD Claim because the item sold is counterfeit, Seller will be required to provide a full refund to the Buyer. Seller liability will include the full purchase price of the item and original shipping cost (and in some cases, Seller may not receive the item back).

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.

Proxibid Can Set Standard on Fakes

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A year ago Coin World was among the first to report that eBay no longer would allow replica coins on its portal (see “Ban on replica coin sales starts Feb. 20”). Yet eBay sellers continue to offer fakes and replicas not stamped “copy” in violation of the US Hobby Protection Act. Worse, many of those sellers are consigning to Proxibid. At any time you can find a half dozen such fakes on Proxibid and dozens more on eBay.

We’re talking about plated base metal or brass replicas being labeled California fractional gold.

The most popular post on Proxiblog is this one on distinguishing real from fake fractional gold. Soon we will post another more comprehensive article. You’ll also see expanded articles in Coin World and later this year in Coin Update News.

For now, this post challenges Proxibid and all of its registered auctioneers to set the standard by adopting these guidelines:

  • Do not label lots with the words “California,” “fractional,” “gold” or “coin” unless you or your consignor can identify the Breen-Gillio number as found on CoinFacts.
  • Do not use the word “token” or “charm” unless those words appear in a slab by PCGS, NGC, ANACS or ICG. Unfortunately, many other slabbing companies cannot tell the difference between real and fake fractional gold.
  • Test the lot for “gold” before using that word on any lot or you will be found in violation of the Unified User Agreement for not describing the fake accurately.

Why are we taking such a stand? Because real fractional gold sells for hundreds and thousands of dollars, and we have seen certain bidders (ones that try buy all lots marked “gold” in any Proxibid coin auction) paying hundreds of dollars for near worthless brass and/or gold-dipped brass plate.

These scams have been plaguing the coin world for about a century, and they keep on being perpetuated because the counterfeit tokens are extraordinarily profitable—pennies for twenties—dollars that is.

Proxibid has the chance to set the standard by taking a stand on this before eBay, which banned replicas on Feb. 20 last year and which continues to flood the market with fakes.

We just checked eBay and found more than 20 fakes. We checked Proxibid and found these suspicious-looking ones below.

We won’t identify the auction companies because we believe that they do not know about fake and replica California gold. Real fractional gold has a denomination “cents” or “dollars” abbreviated in some issues. If you don’t see a denomination, it’s usually because the manufacturer didn’t want to be charged formally with counterfeiting by the US government, which has gone after these fakes since the late 19th century.

Also, a bear on the reverse is almost always a fake.

We hope this post will help bidders and auctioneers alike in the future because we care about them and Proxibid, too:

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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.

Proxibid vs. eBay, Part V: Best Coin Portal

This is the last in the five-part series on Proxibid vs. eBay. Our first post covered our initial bidding experience. The second post compared shipping between the two portals. The third installment covered IT functions and payment options. The fourth discussed consignments and lot descriptions. This tallies the results and announces where Proxiblog will do more business in the future.

    When it comes to photography, eBay is the clear winner. We encourage Proxibid sellers to continue enhancing their photos, the most important component in online bidding. Rare is the auction house on Proxibid that has numismatic quality photos. Currently among the best are Key Date Coins, Matthew Bullock Auctioneers and Capitol Coin Auctions.

    When it comes to shipping, eBay again is the clear winner. We encourage Proxibid to hold auction houses to shipping standards rather than the hit-and-miss service terms currently on the portal. To its credit, Proxibid is doing all it can in this category with a new partnership announced May 22 with uShip. Currently among the fastest Proxibid shippers with quality numismatic packing are Key Date Coins and Silvertowne Auctions. Many others ship within a week. Sellers on eBay often ship for free within days whereas Proxibid auctioneers generally resent anything to do with shipping, one of the key factors hindering Proxibid’s popularity in numismatic circles. Bad photos and worse shipping drive buyers to eBay.

    When it comes to IT considerations, we prefer Proxibid since it has fixed remaining glitches from the recent redesign, especially on browsers meant for speed rather than pop-up security precautions (i.e. Internet Explorer). eBay’s IT is just too cumbersome given the vast coin consignments by sellers requiring numerous attempts at narrowing searches. It is possible not to find lots on eBay even though they are there unless the bidder guesses the precise word combinations–often complicated by eBay quality control rules on lot descriptions and sellers’ general ignorance (“tarnished” silver eagles rather than “toned,” for example). Moreover, Proxibid’s Customer Service and IT divisions work collaboratively to fix technical problems for bidder and seller alike.

    When it comes to payment options, Proxibid’s APN clearance is vastly superior and less intrusive than PayPal. PayPal is invasive, tapping into bidders’ bank accounts after $2000 has been reached on credit cards. Many coin buyers use credit cards for the reward points. Moreover, PayPal takes longer to correct problems and sometimes causes problems itself, as happened to us regularly in the past and as happened once again within the first two weeks of buying on eBay. (We paid using PayPal; eBay stated that we paid; but the seller never received payment, forcing us to repay again and then comb bank accounts for double billing.) If bad photos and worse shipping drive Proxibidders to eBay, then PayPal should drive buyers to Proxibid. Auction houses on Proxibid that use PayPal need to think twice about that because we hesitate every time we see that on service terms. (Sellers on eBay with credit card options are our favorites.)

    When it comes to quality consignments, it’s a tie. While eBay has vast consignments in every numismatic category, it would seem to outshine Proxibid’s 70 or so coin auctions per month. But the problem is two-fold on eBay: First, you have to find the item by searching titles and descriptions–increasingly narrowing searches when the default is “all categories” (a veritable nightmare of lots; and eBay’s IT, search options and subpar quality control hinder bidders, especially if you are searching for bargain coins at best prices, such as might be found in the eBay-banned PCI or SEGs holders, for example.)

Finally, when it comes to bargains–the most important consideration for coin buyers searching online for acquisitions–Proxibid beats eBay, time after time. eBay items often open with bids over retail (with “best offers” considered). Also, because there are thousands of bidders at any second on eBay, using sophisticated “sniper” programs to steal coins at the last moment, lots usually are won over wholesale and often over retail. Ironically, however, Proxibid surpasses eBay only if buyers are numismatically savvy and have the education and/or experience to overcome hyped lot descriptions and poor photography viewed too frequently on the portal and displayed for all to see on our “Boos and Booyahs” page.

Of course, those shortcomings explain why we created Proxiblog in the first place in May 2011. We wanted to protect the hobby adding detailed quality control to complement Proxibid’s then mostly hidden standards. At times we argued with Proxibid, we challenged its quality control, and we continue to hold auction companies accountable, praising best practices and exposing worst. And in the process, Proxibid’s quality control has taken step-after-step to even the bidding playing field and to be more transparent about auctioneer practices. We applaud Jason Nielsen in particular for overseeing quality control and taking measures into hand to rate auction houses with badges and even charge auction houses for violations of the Unified User Agreement.

Finally, a viewer of this blog asked about problem resolution. True, eBay has made strides in that, complicated at times with PayPal. Its community rules are transparent for all to see. Proxibid’s rules are less transparent, but can be found in the Unified User Agreement. The edge here again does to Proxibid for its greatest asset, and that is, Customer Service. There is no better. You get personalized individualized telephone service with a helpful agent who has been trained to serve the customer above all. We know several agents by name. We keep encouraging Proxibid to recognize and reward these agents who are Proxibid’s greatest asset.

Because of that, and the ability to secure choice coins at bargain prices, we will continue to purchase more in Proxibid auctions of top houses listed on the sidebar to the right and in our Honor Rolls.

We encourage eBay bidders to try Proxibid (and vice versa) and report their own comparisons in the comment section below.

Boos & Booyahs: Best & Bad Auctioneer Lot Descriptions

It’s important to be in sync with the Proxibid technology to showcase your photos, hone your lot descriptions, and highlight your consignments for top bids on the leading portal! In the latest installment, Proxiblog laments and compliments best and bad auctioneer lot descriptions during the past week. We will name the best, but you will have to search Proxibid for the bad. (Click pictures to expand and view lot descriptions below.)

> One Big Booyah to GWS Auctions for noting that the slab of this coin may have been tampered with. We know unscrupulous persons routinely open, extract and replace coins without breaking holders and even re-glue so that evidence is concealed. But it is not always easy to tell. Sometimes people try to crack open coins for resubmission and decide against that halfway through the process. Brigitte Kruse alerts the bidding audience that the slab has damage, advising to bid accordingly.


One Big Booyah to BidAlot Coin Auction for noting that this coin is holdered by a bottom-tier slabber, also advising to bid accordingly. We have seen some auctioneers quote MS66 and higher Red Book retail prices for basic silver melt coins.


Boo! to this unnamed auctioneer who hypes one of the bottom-tier slabs, claiming that the common 1900-O Morgan is rare and that this may be a good deal when the buyer is close to being cheated in our estimation. Don’t pretend to know coins when you do this.


Booyah! to Larry Fuller at Silvertowne Auctions for not only exposing the bottom-tier slab but also for giving a truer grade. These hyped slabs give the hobby a bad name; Larry makes it all better.


Boo! to this unnamed auction house for hyping what looks like a $50 Morgan as super-rare and perhaps worth the ridiculous price of $6000 on the flip. We wish Proxibid would create a badge for laughable lot descriptions. But this really isn’t a laughing matter, especially if a bidder is a novice and falls for this untrustworthy hype.


Boo! to this auctioneer who showcases a 1922 No D cent whose reverse has three types–two cheap, one rare. When are auction houses on Proxibid ever going to learn that we need photos of obverse and reverse?


Boo! to this unnamed auction house for failing to show the reverse of purported California gold, without which we cannot discern genuine from replica with a price difference in the hundreds!


Boo! YET AGAIN to another unnamed auction house for failing to show the reverse of purported California gold. It may be gold, and that just might make it a counterfeit, which violates the Proxibid user agreement. For more information about California gold, click here.


One Big Booyah! to Scott Strosnider at Scott Auctions for noting a coin might be buffed and therefore damaged and not worth a high bid. Scott’s known for integrity. This is just one example.


Viewers can point us to other candidates for our “Boos & Booyahs!” series. Just leave a comment but follow our rules–all in good fun as a way to inspire accurate lot descriptions on 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.

Big Shout-Out Kudo to GWS Auctions

Last week GWS Auctions was notified that it had listed several fake California gold replicas on its site. The auction company not only removed those lots from the Proxibid block but also telephoned Proxiblog to thank us for informing them. This is in stark contrast to how some other auction houses responded.

For the basics about how to tell fake California gold from the real deal, see this article. Above all, if you are an auctioneer selling coins regularly on Proxibid, we once again recommend a subscription to PCGS CoinFacts. Nothing is as authoritative as this in providing data for you to combat counterfeit replicas or know the most current auction prices for authentic coins. CoinFacts has listed hundreds of examples of California gold, replete with rarity information.

As for our articles on California gold, we not only share our numismatic knowledge with Proxibid auctioneers but also fact-check what we post with some of the top numismatists in the country.

The biggest giveaway that you are auctioning a replica is a bear on the reverse.

Some Proxibid auctioneers continue to offer these fake replicas, gold-plated or brass, even after being informed. Proxibid should take notice of that. Bidders should take notice, too. We have won dozens of lots with companies in the past; if they did not respond to our alert, nor remove or properly identify the replicas, and we will cease bidding any more with them or just bid on coins in holders by PCGS, NGC or ANACS.

In this post, we warned Proxibid auctioneers that replicas from eBay will be flooding Proxibid, as eBay had banned replica sales. Some heeded the warning, some continued business as usual, listing what consignors told them. It is not enough–repeat, not enough–to call a counterfeit replica a “gold token” or “coin,” especially when the auction house has been informed.

Some fake tokens or “charms” indeed are made of gold, but hundreds more are not. If you have tested the lot with a sophisticated precious metal tester (cheap ones say “gold” when a item is “gold plated”), then state that along with the karat designation in the Proxibid lot description. Some 10- and 22-karat charms between the mid 1870s through the 1930s were made of gold, produced before the Hobby Protection Act went into effect.

Some auction houses listing replicas as real are members of the National Auctioneer Association and the Professional Numismatics Guild, among others, with distinct ethics codes. Moreover, it is illegal to sell counterfeits when you have been informed, even if those counterfeits were made in the 1930s (as many of these fake California gold pieces were).

And we applaud houses like Fox Valley Coins, Leonard Auction, Capitol Coin Auction, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, Western Auction and Silvertowne–just to name a few–for correctly identifying authentic and replica California gold pieces. And we will patronize houses like Christy’s Auction and GWS Auctions for having the integrity to remove lots when informed.

Proxiblog will continue to protect the hobby by raising awareness of our viewers. We value auction houses who appreciate our efforts. We know the hundreds of bidders who visit our site do, based on personal emails to this site.

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.