The Problem of Junk Coin Auctions

Auctioneers that schedule “no reserve” junk auctions or begin regular coin auctions with 200+ lots of silver melt and damaged common copper lose the online attention of bidders, who simply sign off and search for better coins and dates elsewhere–increasingly on eBay.

Junk auctions include silver melt coins (including Morgan culls), common date mid to late 19th century low-grade coppers and nickels, clad coins and common mint and proof sets. Some of the latter, sold 40+ years ago, are cheaper to buy today than when they were released by the US Mint.

Other problems with junk auctions include:

  1. Schedule too many, and folks will cease looking at your Proxibid site when you have a bonafide estate coin auction.
  2. Hype “no reserve” on junk auctions without a sufficient number of key dates, etc., and you’ll become known as a coin junk dealer.
  3. Take consignments from coin dealers whose inventory overflows with junk they cannot sell, and you’ll lose money paying Proxibid and labor fees for your auctions.

It has become apparent to us that coin dealer consignments are watering down the allure of Proxibid. Because of eBay rules about quality control, including replicas, graded coins and photography, more coin buyers (including us) are returning to eBay for purchases. If Proxibid’s quality control officer does not do something about subpar to terrible photography on Proxibid, an online venue where photos are everything, then the portal will cease its gains in numismatics.

Proxibid’s loss will be eBay’s gain.

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.

Dealer vs. Auctioneer

Last week we discussed quality control on Proxibid so that bidders have an even playing field with auctioneers. Posts generated lots of comments online. But calls and emails to Proxiblog were even greater, and a challenge arose because of it.

Several posts last week questioned the apparently unquestionable in the auctioneering world, from bid retractions to lot returns. Several coin dealers follow this blog, and more than a few decided to express their views privately to me. But one dealer went a step further, asking me how to open a Proxibid account so he could show auctioneers how it’s done.

I’ve given his name to the Proxibid sales team. After all, this is the best portal in the business and the more coin dealers doing business, the better the selection … and terms of service.

This is what the dealer wrote before I agreed to help him open an account:

    I spent some time on the Proxibid site this morning. Some of the terms of service are very clear in their statements that they guarantee nothing and all sales are final. That alone would cause me to only bid on certified coins. One of the auctioneers even said that if something is counterfeit and you buy it its your own stupid fault. At least that is my interpretation. I can see why you might butt heads with some of these guys as they are operating on a basis different than what you and I expect from a reputable coin dealer.

We get the point that most auctioneers are honest and ethical. But there are some professions (journalists, car dealers, tenured professors) where one or two bad apples spoil the lot, and the auctioneering profession is one of them. That is why so many auctioneers take pains to show how honest and fair they actually are, and we know that by personal experience and foster that on Proxiblog for the good of the industry.

But being honest also means knowing enough about numismatics to be doing business in coins. That’s where the money is these days, literally, because of the rollercoaster stock market. If you’re selling coins regularly on Proxibid, you also need to know coin dealer practices.

To become accustomed to them, read the code of ethics by the Professional Numismatics Guild.

The less auctioneers know about numismatics, the more they must provide sharp expandable pictures of obverse and reverse. They require high-quality consignments for return business with reasonable buyer’s and shipping fees. On top of that, they must acquire APN clearance and take returns on altered, doctored, mis-labeled and counterfeit coins.

And they should support Proxibid and pay fees because the portal is doing more than introducing more bidders to your sessions. It’s helping auctioneers make the transition to the new auctioneering world of Internet.

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.