Top consignors rely on sharp photography

dmpl

It baffles us. Auctioneers usually will go the extra mile to earn an extra dollar, except when it comes to coin photography. Don’t they know that top consignors partner with houses that have mastered coin photography?

Compare the luster of the 1883-CC Deep Mirror Prooflike, which we won from Fox Valley Auctions, with the photo below of an Isabella Commemorative Quarter that a Proxibid auctioneer describes as having “great luster”:

greatluster_note

The Fox Valley Coin boasts sharp numismatic photography. The Isabella quarter does not. Both are worth about the same in uncirculated condition with prooflike mirrors. Which do you think will draw the most bids?

Now look at the photo below. We dropped this otherwise successful Proxibid house (as well as several others) from our rankings because it has refused to upgrade photography. The auctioneer claims this 1889-S Morgan is proof-like, but the photography is dull, showing no luster whatsoever:

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Digital cameras have never been better in capturing luster. We photographed this below with a Samsung smartphone. We didn’t use a camera stand or any special lighting, and we uploaded the photo in seconds to the web:
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For a few hundred dollars auctioneers can buy a professional coin photography kit consisting of a tripod, two light sources, a light box and special bulb.

Invest time and funds in photography, and the caliber of your consignments will rise (along with your profits).

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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Don’t take photos on the slant!

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We know this auctioneer and don’t think what he is doing is intentional; nevertheless, it is bad practice. He takes his photos on a slant and then hypes a grade for a raw coin. We think he is just over-enthusiastic about his lots. But with a slant photo he is doing his customers a disservice and deserves to be called on it.



A slant photo (camera angle that avoids the straight-on shot) intensifies luster, even on cleaned coins, and so hides bagmarks and other flaws.

The auctioneer assigns a ridiculous grade–MS67 for a scarce 1991 Morgan, which would retail at $40,000 as PCGS only has one coin at that grade and NGC, none.

We bid $70 (without BP) and won the coin. We will update you about its condition when we receive it. As of now, based only on photos, we can discern flaws in the coin, depicted within circles here:

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Another example: A new auctioneer to Proxibid cares so little about photography–a typical tendency with newcomers to the portal–that he doesn’t even take pains to rotate the lots:

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Take care photographing coins. Make sure you get straight-on shots that truly depict your lots. And if you don’t know numismatics, don’t guess at grades; find someone to inform you before you write that lot description.

As for this 1991 Morgan, anyone purchasing it can put Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement to the test and state “SIGNIFICANTLY NOT AS DESCRIBED.” Because it is a far cry form MS67 and $40,000!

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.

New Rankings, 51,000 Views; Proxiblog Takes Hiatus

Top six houses profiled here all offer something special to the coin buyer on Proxibid. Proxiblog, which continues to gain viewers worldwide, will be on hiatus to return Sept. 1, 2014. If you believe we are offering a valuable free service, posting every weekday–more than 700 posts since our inception, with 10,000+ photos–then please consider making a donation to our scholarship fund.


Capitol Coin Auction and Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction tie for first place in our rankings. They do everything right, from accurate numismatic descriptions to vivid photography.

Look at the care that Capitol takes with each lot description, this one showcasing a collection in which every coin therein is graded by auctioneer Brad Lisembee (click to expand photo):

capitol_shoutout

Same holds for Dave Weaver who accurately describes condition of each lot in his auctions. Here’s an example:

weavershoutout

John Leonard of Leonard Auction upholds the same standards as Lisembee and Weaver, providing excellent photos and descriptions. In our view he ranks among the most knowledgeable auctioneers on the Proxibid portal. A screenshot from his most recent auction:

leonardshoutout

For sheer number of auctions on Proxibid and the vast array of consignments–you’re apt to find almost any type coin here–few rival SilverTowne Auctions. From rare gold to tokens to slabbed coins and rarities, SilverTowne has it covered:

silvertowne_selection

Best service terms on Proxibid, in addition to sharp photos and low low low buyer’s premium, goes to Meares Auction. Darron Meares is an experienced auctioneer who strives for superior customer service in all of his dealings. Take a look:

meares_terms

Most improved is Back to the Past auction. C. Scott Lovejoy worked with us for weeks to perfect photography. Take a look at this half dollar reverse in which full bell lines are easily seen. Can your auction provide the same detailed digital photography? Would that several on Proxibid could. See the evidence:

backtothepast

Our rankings this month featured most of our old standbys. Several of our favorite houses–Southwest Bullion, Western Auction, Krueger and Krueger–are low in our rankings only because they have not offered an online Proxibid session in the recent past. We value their operations so very much. Also this month one house was dropped because of sale of replica California gold. Two houses were added, A New Day Auction and Allen and Marshall Auctioneers. Concerning the latter, we were impressed with this lot description on bottom-tier holders:

allen and Marshall shoutout

As we always note, our rankings are just that–ours. These are favorite houses. Your experience may differ from ours.

As for Proxibid, we surpassed 50,000 views last month. We approached 15,000 views in the past year. The map below shows our global reach.

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We will be reconfiguring and updating our website during the summer. We also are in the process of kindling a new numismatic book, available soon on our site, for online coin auctions, featuring best practices for selling on Proxibid and eBay. We hope you will download a copy when it becomes available. We hope that you find our site helpful.

If so, please consider making a donation to our scholarship fund, which is why we share our numismatic knowledge with Proxibid auctioneers and buyers, helping defray student debt to ensure the next generation of auction bidders.

Thank you for visiting our 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.


Don’t Double-Dip with Shipping Supplies

If you are charging bidders for shipping supplies, you cannot take a deduction for those supplies on your taxes. If you do, that’s double dipping.


Whenever we see service terms like the one below, we hope the company is not double-dipping, charging bidders for packing supplies and then deducting those again on their income taxes as “expenses.”

Here’s an example of a Proxibid house that not only charges for the supplies but co-mingles employee compensation with that:

  • Handling fee of 9.50 will be charged … this is to cover the wrappers wage (our italics), bubble, box, tape etc. DUE TO THE LARGE AMOUNT OF ITEMS SELLING TO ON-LINE BIDDERS PLEASE ALLOW UP TO TWO WEEK FROM AUCTION DATE FOR SHIPPING.

  • In addition to paying for wage and tax-deductible supplies, the bidder gets to wait up to two weeks.

    Is this a good business model, 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.

    New Rankings, 2000 Views per Month

    Proxiblog’s Coin and Currency category did not add any new auctions to our favorite sellers list; however, a half dozen or so improved so that a full 16 houses earned a 24.5 out of 25, showing continuing improvement.


    Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction takes the top spot again this month with SilverTowne a close second, thanks to a dazzling array of quality rarities. Both Weaver Auction and SilverTowne provide good descriptions, quick shipping, and regular auctions.

    Weaver has slightly better photos, earning that house the sole 25-point best ranking.

    Leonard, Capitol, Meares and Fox Valley all boast great photos, consignments, service and descriptions. In most cases, houses failed to score a full 25 points because of problems with photos or higher than average buyer’s premiums.

    Rounding out the top 10 are Back to the Past, Star Coin and Currency, Certified Rare Coin Auctions and Five Star Auction.

    It should be noted that some of our favorite houses are not offering as many auctions on Proxibid. Those are dropping in the rankings because of that. But we’re always on the lookout for their return.

    Also keep in mind that our favorite houses are just that–ours. Your experience may differ from ours.

    As for Proxiblog, we have exceeded 50,000 page views. In the past month, we surpassed 1820 views worldwide. We’re increasingly global with top views from the USA, Britain, Canada, India, Russia, Germany, Australia and the Philippines. Once again, the most accessed post was California Gold, real, replica and fake. That post averages between 50-100 views per month.

    We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Please consider making a donation. We post every weekday and 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 Basic Coin Design book 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.


    Grade the Quality of Your Coin Photos!

    photo_certified

    Click to expand photo.

    The above photo by Certified Rare Coin Auctions, one of our top-ranked favorite sellers, captures luster, condition and color, the three components essential in selling high quality coins. This is an example of photography sharp enough to spark a bidding war. Below we grade photos of some of Proxibid’s top sellers. Which photo is similar to the ones you are showcasing on your portal site?

    F-: NO CONDITION, SOME LUSTER, COLOR (DO NOT BID: Blurry, Impossible to Detect Flaws)
    photo_nothing


    F: SOME CONDITION, NO LUSTER, NO COLOR (DO NOT BID: You Cannot Tell What You Are Buying)
    photo_noconditionluster


    D: GOOD CONDITION, SOME LUSTER, NO COLOR (BID AT OWN RISK: Cannot Tell If Cleaned, Dipped)
    photo_conditionnoluster


    C: SOME CONDITION, LUSTER, COLOR (BID AT OWN RISK: Slant Photo, Cannot Tell Condition)
    photo_lusternocondition


    B: EXCELLENT CONDITION, GOOD LUSTER, FINE COLOR (WORTH THE RISK: Bid But Do Not Declare Bidding War)
    photo_colorandcondition
    Lot from Weaver Auction


    A: EXCELLENT CONDITION, EXCELLENT LUSTER, GOOD COLOR (LITTLE RISK: Consider Bidding War)
    photo_lusterandcondition
    Lot from Fox Valley Auction


    A+: EXCELLENT CONDITION, EXCELLENT LUSTER, FINE COLOR (NO RISK: Declare Bidding War)
    photo_capitol
    Lot from Capitol Coin Auction


    In the comment section, share your experience bidding on coins based on photos. We also think Proxibid should rate photography on the portal. What do you think?


    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.

    What happened to photos here?

    fromthistothis

    Sometimes the auctioneer buys a different camera. Sometimes someone new is hired to take photos of lots. One of our top houses went from the best photography on the portal to mediocre at best, posting washed-out over-exposed photos so that condition cannot be discerned.


    Washed out photos hide luster, dipping and flaws. We don’t know what happened. What we do know is that we used to bid strong in this auction–not because of the lot descriptions, which tended to be generous–but because of the superior photography. Now we really don’t know what we’re bidding on, and our bids reflect that.

    Don’t let your photography lapse. It affects the bottom line more than you know.

    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.