EBW Coin Describes Cal. Gold Correctly

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As our regular viewers know, we monitor Proxibid continuously for correct and incorrect descriptions of California fractional gold. So it was good to read how EBW Coin described a real but damaged gold quarter dollar, incorporating everything we have recommended for four years.



EBW Coin notes the correct designation of this small gold piece, 1871-H BG-857, Round, XF Details. There are several variations for this year, so the “H” after the date is necessary. The correct Breen-Gillio number is used. Some issues in 1871 were octagonal, so the term “Round” is correct, as is the designation and the notation of “Details” or damage to the lot (in this case, solder).

We especially like the lot description. Instead of hype, EBW Coin states the obvious: The coin was removed from a pin and has damage. It is a tiny gold piece, smaller than a dime. And the good advice: If you don’t know exactly what you are bidding on, please do not bid.

We would extend that advice to auctioneers: If you don’t exactly what you are describing, don’t write the description or list the lot because for every genuine coin, there are a dozen fake and replica pieces made of gold plate or brass.

To learn more, view our most popular post: California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake.

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.

Auction Empire Corrects Flip Info on Cal Gold

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Ignoring the hyped information on the flip, proclaiming this replica as “gold” and “rare,” Auction Empire correctly labels this $1 value gold-plate fake a “replica.”

On this day in all the Proxibid auctions, you will not find a fake or replica California gold being labeled as the genuine thing. These brass and/or plated counterfeits have been giving the Secret Service fits since the 19th century. They are worth $1 or less. But we have seen phony lots sell on Proxibid for hundreds of dollars.

Our most popular post–California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake, which gets 100 hits per week–set the record straight on Proxiblog a few years ago. Among its recommendations is the requirement that all auctioneers cite the BG number from the Breen/Gillio Book on California Gold.

Brad Lisembee of Capitol Coin Auction shows how it’s done:

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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.

California Gold Replicas, Fakes Keep Selling on Proxibid

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a more in-depth article, click here.

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

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

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

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

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


Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

California Fractional Gold: Weaver Shows How It’s Done

This shoutout goes to Dave Weaver of Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, our top-ranked house, not only properly identifying California Fractional Gold but also describing its condition with a sharp photo underscoring his numismatic knowledge. Would that all auctioneers did the same on Proxibid! CLICK PHOTO BELOW TO EXPAND.



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Specifically, Weaver notes:

  • The correct BG number of the coin. “BG” stands for Breen and Gillio, last names of the authors of this must-have catalog of pioneer gold.
  • The correct fraction of the gold: 50 cents.
  • The condition and flaws: BU with uneven strike, hairlines (not grade-worthy but neat to own).

What good does that do? Could it mean that Weaver is undermining the value of the lot? Here’s what that does: It showcases Weaver’s numismatic knowledge. It builds trust. It brings return customers.

What harm does calling fake California gold do for auctioneers misidentifying them as “tokens” or “authentic”? It denigrates their numismatic knowledge. That harbors distrust. It makes buyers skeptical so they do not bid with confidence.

Some coin dealers and auctioneers have been hawking fake gold for more than a century. We’re glad to see fewer instances of this on the Proxibid portal, due in part to this Proxiblog post that has enjoyed more than 2000 views ion the past two years.

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.

Counterfeit Gold Tokens on Proxibid

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We see them all the time on Proxibid. We report the items. Auctioneers insist on selling them. Don’t bid or offer these fakes.


If you want to bone up on California Gold Tokens, read this article, the most popular on Proxiblog, with more than 50 hits per week for more than a year–an indication of the scope of this problem.

Here are recent offerings on Proxibid (click pictures to expand):

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Beware the bear! This symbol has been associated with counterfeits ever since the 1880s. Most probably this coin was manufactured within the past five years, using plated base metal.


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This is another counterfeit, and a poor one at that, with tell-tale plating appearing as small ripples on the metal.


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Auctioneer makes an attempt at warning bidders about this brass replica, calling it a token.


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This one is a blatant fake, and the description even worse. Every word of it is suspect. It’s not a coin. Not from California. Not a half dollar. And not from 1949. It’s a cheap souvenir from someone’s trip to Mount Rushmore.


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SilverTowne Auctions shows how to describe a California Gold Coin. First, note any flaws. These are thin coins subject to easy damage. Second, locate “the BG number” from CoinFacts or from the original source: Walter Breen and Ronald J. Gillio’s California Pioneer Fractional Gold book. Third, report any item or return the lot to the consignor if you cannot locate the BG number. Otherwise, you’re buying or selling a counterfeit, which is a violation both of the Proxibid Unified User Agreement and the US Hobby Protection Act.

If you sell a fake, your sale is not final, no matter what your terms of service state. If you sell a fake, accept a return and bill the consignor for any losses. That’s what many of our top houses in the right sidebar do, because it’s ethical.

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.

Booyah Proxibid!

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We were excited when Proxibid unveiled its “Report this Item” function. We’re more excited to see that the portal followed through on one of our reports of fake California fractional gold.

Among the most faked coins are California fractional gold. Almost all being offered on Proxibid, eBay and other portals are base-metal replicas manufactured in the 20th century. Typically, they feature a bear on the reverse with “1/4” or “1/2” or “One”–eliminating the monetary denomination 25 cents, 50 cents, half dollar, dollar and so forth.

Below are examples of real California fractional gold, compliments of NGC, which also has posted an article about the kinds of coins it holders.

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Proxiblog has run several articles about California fractional gold. One of our posts is logging more than 100 views per week.

This post challenges Proxibidders to use the “Report this Item” button whenever you discern a fake or replica example of California fractional gold.

We advise all auctioneers to follow 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 sometimes thousands of dollars, and we have seen certain bidders (ones that try buy all lots marked “gold” in any Proxibid coin auction) paying exorbitant fees for near worthless brass and/or gold-dipped brass plate.

Beware the bear on the reverse. Learn about the hobby. Bid with confidence when you are confident about your knowledge of numismatics.


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.