California Gold Replicas, Fakes Keep Selling on Proxibid

fakecoin

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:

fakebear

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):

fake1

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.

Advertisements

Counterfeit Gold Tokens on Proxibid

fake

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):

anothercounterfeit

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.


anothercounterfeit1

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


anothercounterfeit2

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


anothercounterfeit3

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.


anothercounterfeit4

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.

Some Auctioneers Know Better–Or Should

nottoken

We reported a replica California gold piece with bear reverse, as we customarily do–using Proxibid’s “Report this Item” function–and were glad to see the replica coin withdrawn. But we disagree that it was described properly.

Many of our top houses in the past year have been coin dealers. On the one hand, they usually describe coins numismatically. On the other, they not only have to answer to Proxibid but also to professional organizations, such as the Professional Numismatists Guild.

As many of our viewers also know, we have waged a battle against fake or replica California fractional gold pieces turning up regularly on Proxibid because eBay has banned the sale of them on its portal (though they are still there, if you look hard enough).

When it comes to fractional gold, we have laid out three rules:

  • 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.
  • Ensure that the lot is “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.

An upcoming auction offering real California gold also listed a replica piece as: 1852 – 1/2 California Gold Token with Indian Chief Head.


After being reported, the auction company specializing in coins deleted the photo of the replica and stated: “Withdrawn! – This lot was described properly but withdrawn to avoid confusion.”

The item was improperly listed. You cannot say:

  1. “1852”, unless you can prove the year (which in this case you cannot because no bear reverses were minted then).
  2. “California Gold” unless you can assure everyone that (a) it was minted in that state and (b) are positive this is not plated brass or other base metal.
  3. “Token” unless you can prove that the item was a 1915 replica of California fractional gold sold as part of a token series called “Hart’s Coins of the West.”(These were offered at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition by M.E. Hart Co. of San Francisco, which specialized in the sale of souvenirs.)

See our most popular post–“California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake“–which typically registers between 50-100 hits per week.

We were disappointed in the auction company for being defensive in maintaining that it had properly described a replica. It did not. Almost all replicas and counterfeits of California gold have a bear reverse. Very few are from “Hart’s Coins of the West.” Many are jeweler’s tokens sold as souvenirs of the West in the 1930s. Those are made of cheap gold, brass or plated base metal.

Proxiblog will continue to report replica and fake California fractional gold as we encounter them. And we continue to applaud Proxibid for listening to us in this regard, as this post illustrates.


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.