Rankings stabilize; some houses dropped; views keep rising!

For the first time in our four-year history, no new auction house has been added to our rankings. But there has been movement. We have seen continual improvement in the past year in four houses in particular–Back to the Past Collectibles, Star Coin and Currency, A New Day Auctions, and Auctions by Wallace–breaking into the top 10. Other houses, not named here, have been dropped. We’ll share the reasons. Finally, our audience now exceeds 55,000 views worldwide!


We’ll begin with our consistent leaders–Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction and Capitol Coin Auction–which hold the top spots because of quality control across the spectrum, including photos, shipping, buyer’s premium, quality consignments and numismatic accuracy. In other words, when Dave Weaver or Brad Lisembee say a coin is gem, you can be relatively sure it is or is close to being so by PCGS standards, the toughest grading company in the business.

You may not know it, but Dave and Cheryl Weaver and Brad Lisembee worked with us early in Proxiblog’s existence to follow best practices. And then both not only adopted them but added to them and came up with innovations of their own.

Star Coin and Currency did the same thing about 1 1/2 years ago and now is an exceptional house. C. Scott Lovejoy of Back to the Past Collectibles not only embraced our best practices but worked with us on photography and now is a hair behind our top houses. With a few more choice consignments, this may be a front-runner soon. And Kendra Stevens and Sheena Wallace are following our best practices now, and you can clearly see it in photos, lot descriptions and much more.

You can find those best practices in our Amazon Kindle book, Online Coin Auctioneering for dealer, estate and eBay sellers.

Our other trusty stand-bys in the top tiers of our rankings continue to excite us every time they schedule an auction. A few still can improve, however. Jewelry Exchange, SilverTowne Auction (which has the best consignments on the portal), Rolling M. Auctions (the best marketing), and Kaufman Auction need to sharpen their photography one more notch to capture luster and clarity (so varieties can be discerned).

Charles Commander, owner of Midwest Coins, did something very praiseworthy during the summer in his auctions: He asked bidders how he could improve. As we’re also an occasional bidder in his auctions, and consider Charles a friend and fellow Iowan numismatist, we strongly encourage him to work a little more on photography.

We’ll give one example that can serve for our entire critique.

Deep mirror proof-like raw coins used to be difficult to photograph. Not really any more. Here’s an example from Rolling M.:

RollingM_Dmpl

Here’s a photo we took without a tripod or light box with our Samsung Galazy 4 smartphone:

dmpl_samsung

Which photo do you think would start a bidding war? Rolling M. in our view probably can claim the best realized prices on the portal. Mark Murphy is that good. But even in the best there is room for improvement.

Also, we are having a problem with some of our favorite houses. You know who you are. Here’s the issue at hand: We know coin dealers–not ones scheduling events on Proxibid–but ones sending consignments to houses on the portal. A few of our favorite houses are in danger of being dropped because they receive dipped, doctored and otherwise dealer rejects hyped in lot descriptions.

We encourage ANY Proxibid house to take care when accepting consignments from coin dealers. Why would they look to you to sell their coins when they own coin shops? Answer: They don’t want these damaged, cleaned, scratched, carbon-spotted coins in their display windows.

We dropped one house because of that this month.

We are also dropping houses that insist on calling counterfeit California plated brass replicas “gold,” “fractional gold,” “tokens,” etc. By the way, there are collectible gold tokens but ones with bears on the reverse are fake and genuine tokens difficult to identify without numismatic knowledge.

If you want to bone up on those small coins, read our most popular post tallying 100 views per week: California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake.

Standards during the summer on Proxibid fell rather than rose in our opinion. We’ll share the evidence in the next month or two. We are holding the portal responsible for not requiring auctioneers to change lots that are clearly misidentified. Here’s an example:

1889-S

This auction had at least three misidentified lots. The one above is not an 1889-S but an 1889, less rare. We used the “Report the Item” multiple times, and nothing was changed. We know mistakes happen. But Proxibid has an obligation to bidders to ensure that misidentified lots are corrected–not for the onsite crowd–but for the Internet ones.

We also saw counterfeits being sold. In one lot in particular a house warned bidders that a purported rare coin might be counterfeit. It was clearly a fake. We provided proof. We used the report the item button. The lot remained online and sold.

Don’t get us wrong: We promote Proxibid whenever we can. And the company has taken out full-page ads, very slick, in Coin World and other venues. But we also need to point out where the company can do better, and this is one area. When someone uses the “Report the Item,” it is your obligation not only to inform the auctioneer but to consider what is being said and to correct obvious errors or misrepresentations. By including the “Report the Item” as a Proxibid feature of trust, the company’s brand, you are now responsible to see these things through.

Finally, a few notes about rankings:

  • Consignments typically are key to our rankings. Any house scoring 24.5 points practices and/or exceeds our Honor Roll standards.
  • Regularly scheduled events on Proxibid play into rankings. Some of our best houses are dropping in the ratings because they have not scheduled a recent coin auction.
  • Our favorite houses are just that–ours. Your experience may differ from ours.

As for Proxiblog, we keep growing. We drew more than 13,500 viewers in the past year–with one strange demographic: Brazil has overtaken Britain as our third most popular country after the USA and Canada. Maybe it was the World Cup and all those fans gathering this summer in that country.

newviews

Our all-time views now total 55,177!

We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Please consider making a donation. We are on hiatus at the moment but post every weekday during September-June. We do this for educational purposes, informing viewers about numismatics as well as funding scholarships for Iowa State University students.

Fortunately, we have several of our top houses donating funds to our scholarship account. You can also buy our new work, Online Coin Auctioneering or Basic Coin Design on Kindle. We are extremely grateful. Won’t you consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Iowa State Foundation so that we can continue publishing? Thank you for your consideration!

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.


Midwest Coins Enhances Photography

commander3We have said repeatedly that small changes can result in big gains in online auctions. Charles Commander at Midwest Coins heard us. (Click to expand all photos for detailed observation.)

We trust Charles Commander at Midwest Coins, which is why we purchased the coin profiled in Coin World and depicted above. The photo did absolutely no justice to the beautiful coin we won with a modest bid. The Morgan dollar had deep reflective mirrors and months later graded MS62 prooflike by PCGS. It had spectacular toning, which also is not obvious from the photo above.

So we were pleasantly surprised when we viewed the July catalog of Midwest Coins, admiring detailed photos that capture luster and devices. Once again, we’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Sharp photos detail devices, in this case some minor contact marks in a gem wheat cent.

commander


Photo allows us to inspect full split bands on reverse of Mercury dime.

commander1


Photo shows luster and allows us to inspect full bell lines of Franklin half.

commander2


Remember our motto: The more auctioneers take sharp, expandable photos like these, the fewer the complaints buyers will have about lot descriptions. Bravo Charles! We know where we will be 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.

Midwest Coins offers 0% seller fees for new consignors

midwest coins

We’re always on the lookout for innovative auctioneers. We also advocate for better consignments. Charles Commander of Midwest Coins accomplishes both with this promotion.

Charles Commander has created the promotion with the hobby in mind, extending to collectors and dealers the opportunity “to rid themselves of the duplicates, under graded, or to those who just need to clean out the closet.”

“There are guys who sit and bid at the many auction sites online or live in their hometowns who don’t realize how easy it is to consign and play the field from the other side,” Commander says. “By offering 0% fees to new consignors, we hope to encourage them to offer up some of the coins they no longer need and sell them to someone who does.

“The best part is the low risk factor–zero percent fees–and then the collector can then spend some of that new-found money on an upgrade or two in their collection or take their better half out on a nice dinner.”

The 0% fees is for new consignors and does not include a minimum submission.

Those wishing to contact Midwest Coins should telephone Charles at (319) 795-2148 or (319) 520-5091. Or you can email him at Charles@Midwestcoins.net

NOTE: If you are an auctioneer and have a special offer or promotion, feel free to email us at mjbugeja@yahoo.com.

Boos & Booyahs: Best & Bad Auctioneer Lot Descriptions

This is the second of two Boos and Booyah posts, one of our favorite features. This post is all about the Booyahs!

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.)

keydate_Vam

One Big Booyah! to Key Date Coins, winner of our Best Photography Award, for capturing the finest VAM (variety) details of this 1899 Morgan. Would that other houses provided such detailed photos!


keydate_nocameo.

An Even Bigger Booyah to Key Date Coins! for not being tempted to call this Franklin half “cameo” or “deep cameo.” We see Proxibid auctioneers doing this all the time, when only one side has cameo features. Both must possess that frost. In this case, only the obverse does. Kudos to Eddie Caven for following proper numismatic descriptions! For more on cameos, click here.


booyahRollingM_whizzed

Booyah Rolling M Auction! for noting that this Morgan has been tooled, or altered, and is essentially only worth silver melt. Increasingly we see auctioneers neglecting to state this, even when the results are as obvious as this.


midwest_tooled

Booyah Midwest Coins! for noting yet another altered coin. This one has a tooled cheek, as Charles Commander notes.


dmpl_slider_star coin

Booyah Star Coin and Currency! for describing problems with what appears to be a slider rather than uncirculated DMPL. Jim Haver also points out milky spots and provides another photos for bidders to judge for themselves!


overgraded_kaufman

Booyah Kaufman Auction! for noting this bottom-tier coin is overgraded. We see so many self-slabbed and bottom-tier holders overgrading coins with auctioneers actually citing PCGS and Redbook values for silver melt Morgans. Sigh. At least Kaufman calls this correctly.


rim bump

One last Booyah to Weaver Coins and CurrencyAuction! for identifying rim bumps, which many auctioneers ignore in their descriptions and which may dramatically decrease a coin’s value. Dave Weaver is one of the top numismatic auctioneers in calling attention to a coin’s details.


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.

Proxiblog’s next to last rankings of 2012 shows the level of competition by some of the best houses on the portal. Our rankings are based on our personal experience. Your experience may differ from our reviews. That said, let’s look at the innovations being made on Proxibid.



So very little separates our top 10 houses. Western claims the sole #1 spot because of superior consignments that grade well with the most rigorous holdering company in the business, PCGS. Speaking of PCGS, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction sold a rare Regency holdered Morgan, which we won in a bidding war and which is being profiled in an upcoming edition of Coin World!

Whenever Leonard Auction and Capitol Coin Auction host a Proxibid session, you can be sure of some of the best consignments being offered with PCGS-accurate grading … and intense bidding. Auctioneers John Leonard and Brad Lisembee rank among the most knowledgeable and competitive coin sellers in the business. You can count on their photography, too. We’re never disappointed.

Sean Cook and Larry Fuller also are consummately professional graders. Cook manages Liberty Shops Auctions, a house that continues to rise in the rankings because of 0% buyers’ premium and fine photography with inexpensive, quick shipping. We’ve touted Larry Fuller of SilverTowne more than any other grader on the portal. Larry had to take a short break in the past few months. We didn’t realize that but saw a small decrease in grading. That’s how we found out about the hiatus of our friend, who is back and grading again, for which we are thankful.

SilverTowne also has scheduled regular timed auctions. Some real bargains can be had there.

We also appreciate Darron Meares of Meares Auction, one of the most knowledgeable and accomplished auctioneers in the country. He’s making innovations again in lower buyer’s premiums and catering to the seller in stiff competition. We bid often in his auctions, but we do so wholesale, as our intent is to slab and sell our coins and help our scholarship fund. But we have a hard time winning anything wholesale in Meares’ auctions because he’s an expert at drumming up competition. Our hat’s off to him!

Eddie Caven of Key Date Coins provides some of the best coin photography on the portal. He’s been specializing in MS63-65 Carson City dollars, which always brings a crowd, as well as an assortment of older mint sets and uncirculated Franklin halves, among other denominations.

Mark Murphy of Rolling M. Auctions draws competitive onsite and online crowds and offers a good selection of slabbed coins from top companies. We also like Kaufman Realty Auctions whose consignments are nifty. Shipping is a tad slow, though; but if you’re patient, this is a great place to acquire Morgans and uncirculated rare silver denominations.

Back in our top companies is Jackson Auction, which recently had a terrific session with Morgans and slabbed coins from superior grading companies. Auctions Unlimited has a low 10% BP and has offered of late a good selection of mint sets, including rarer prestige ones.

And then there is the slow riser, Back to the Past Collectibles, creeping up from the lower ranks to the top tier of our rankings. We’re seeing increasingly delectable consignments, acceptable photographs and low buyer’s premiums.

We’re also buying from Midwest Coins, which has relaunched with new emphasis on bidders. Owner Charles Commander is a numismatist who ships quickly and is always on the hunt for good consignments.

Consider these top companies Proxiblog favorite sellers, much like you might find on eBay. We’ll continue to bid with new houses and patronize ones in our rankings to cover as many old and new coin auctions on Proxibid. As we state regularly, you may have a different experience as auctioning coins is complex, requiring numismatic skills, labor-intensive photography, and target marketing.

We remain amazed at how our top houses continue to produce, month after month, and serve the hobby.

And as always, we thank sponsors of Proxiblog. You keep us posting, and your generosity is appreciated. Sponsors are invited to showcase their companies, and we only invite those houses whose practices we have known in the long term. We reserve that right. We don’t advertise. We don’t accept payments to us personally as all donations go through the Iowa State Foundation’s scholarship fund.

Finally, we thank Proxibid, especially Jason Nielsen for establishing ever stronger quality control measures. We are an independent site, dedicated to covering the company which, we believe, offers the best coin buys of any portal, including eBay.

On the Block: Charles Commander, Midwest Coins

Midwest Coins runs 60-65 coin auctions a year through the website portal Proxibid. No other auction house on Proxibid pushes as many coin lots. Humbly, we do make mistakes, as we are human, and put 100% effort into rectifying these problems when they do occur.

Midwest Coins is a family-owned business. We own a full service coin store and jewelry business.

When we first started with Proxibid, I can remember selling wheat pennies individually and other items of no numismatic value. We have been with Proxibid for over five years now and have enjoyed all the people we have met along the way. One of the great things about our business is that we can run it the way we want. We have made changes along the way, only if it was deemed necessary to improve the experience for the customer.

One thing should be noted about our company. WE HAVE NEVER NOT TAKEN BACK AN ITEM FROM A CUSTOMER IN THE FIVE YEARS OF OUR BUSINESS. IRREGARDLESS OF THE REASON FOR THE RETURN, WE HAVE ALWAYS ISSUED A REFUND.

With that being said, please put yourself in our shoes for a minute. We DO our best to accurately describe each coin. We DO ship in a reasonable time frame. We DO accept returns in an acceptable time frame. We have issued several returns even after the period that consumers have sent coins in for the grading process. This should be noted. considering that this could be several months after the auction and we have paid the consignor already, and I am forced to eat the coin and costs. I have always believed that it is worth any cost to keep a customer. It cost more to lose one and even more to attract a new one.

Here are changes we made to enhance the customer experience on our Proxibid auctions:

  1. Started at 20% Buyers Premium (1 year), lowered to 18% (3 1/2 years), and now we are at 15%
  2. Shipping generally took two weeks; we now have Click & Ship and ship within 3-5 days.
  3. Shipping charges were cost plus $5 for handling; we now charge a $10 flat rate! (Please note that if you buy a $3 item that we usually cut shipping costs in half.)

In all, we appreciate the loyalty of our long time customers and look forward to the new ones as well. We have lost some customers along the way, and I know that all auctioneers could say the same.

Keep in mind that a fair and impartial mind is needed to accurately describe the coin business. We are in the business of providing an outlet to sell coins to people that may or may not have easily or readily available resources to complete their respective collections. We categorically sell coins below grey sheet prices while maintaining happy consignors. That is one tough act to follow at times.

All of these services are still worth something in America today, aren’t they?

Thank you for allowing me to express our position, as well as our gratitude to customers for their commitment and loyalty to Midwest Coins through the years. We will continue to shine and bring to you quality coins, tougher dates, excellent customer service, lower premiums and shipping costs, 100% satisfaction, excellent descriptions, awesome photography, and an overall pleasing ONLINE auction experience.

Please feel free to drop me a line at charles121871@yahoo.com to express your concerns or opinions about this “On the Block” installment, adapted from my company newsletter.

Postscript: If you are an auctioneer who wants to share views in “On the Block,” leave your email in a comment. We’ll be in touch. Rules are simple: Explain your practices and perspectives as proactively as possible, as our intent is to share information to make the online buying experience pleasurable and profitable for auctioneer, consignor and buyer. “On the Block” is not a venue to challenge Proxiblog’s “Honor Roll” standards or Proxibid fees.

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no ties to Proxibid. We promote the ethics of the National Auctioneers Association and American Numismatic Association.