Take 4 Photos on Slabbed Coins

1960d

As we have noted multiple times, photos sell coins online. The worst shortcut is to take one photo of a raw coin with no reverse. The second is to take one shot of the grade of a slabbed coin. Even with PCGS and NGC coins, photos of an obverse and reverse are not enough for discriminating buyers who also assess the value of the strike as well as the condition of coin and holder.


Here is a typical newbie photo of an 1879-S Morgan in a holder. Only the obverse appears.

1879

It’s unfortunate that the auctioneer only provides an obverse photo because the 1879-S has varieties such as the 1879-S reverse of 78 (parallel rather than slant tail feathers) that can bring much higher bids and even spark a bidding war.

This top-rated auctioneer (see photo below) has improved his photography to some extent. But still takes shortcuts. A slabbed coin, even by NGC or PCGS, deserves 4 photos for strike assessment, especially when the coin is rare and deserving of ever-higher bids, as this lot illustrates:

1924D

SilverTowne Auctions provides four photos of slabbed coins. The first shows the label, the second a close-up of the obverse, the third a close-up of the reverse, and the fourth a shot of the reverse label:

Obverse Holder

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Close-up Obverse

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Close-up Reverse

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Reverse Holder

73_4


Photos of the holder are important to check the certification number of a coin and the condition of the holder. (Cracked, scratched or damaged holders should be described in the lot description). Close-ups inform the bidder whether to send the holdered coin to a fourth-party grader (Certified Acceptance Corporation) or resubmit for an upgrade.

When you take a shortcut with coin photography, you as auctioneer will take a cut in your fees.

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.

More Than 16,000 Views in 2013!

Competition among coin-selling houses on Proxibid continues to be intense with very little difference in services among our top dozen or so houses. All in our rankings offer quality coins, ship reasonably and post expandable photos of obverse and reverse. We welcome back K&K Auction Service, which is running coin auctions again. Krueger and Krueger Auction, one of our favorites, no longer sees maximum bids and so appears in our rankings. And Certified Rare Coin Auctions makes its first appearance with stunning coins. That said, Capitol Coin Auction still leads the pack with detailed lot descriptions, accurate grading, low buyer’s fee, quick shipping and fine numismatic photography and consignments–excellent on all levels.

SilverTowne Auctions, Leonard Auction, Weaver Auction, Gary Ryther Auctions, Meares Auction, Star Coin and Currency, and Fox Valley Coins rank among the top 10 in our assessment. But so many more listed on the right sidebar are offering fine consignments, good customer service and other features. Among the most difficult categories to master, however, are sharp numismatic photography that captures luster and color in addition to accurate lot descriptions about grade and condition.

As we always note in our rankings, these are based on our experience and should be considered Proxiblog’s favorite houses. Your experience may differ from ours.

As for Proxiblog, we are pleased that our viewership keeps improving, with more than 16,500 views worldwide in 2013. We provide this blog for free to raise scholarship money via our online account with the Iowa State Foundation and via our numismatic work, Basic Coin Design, on Amazon Kindle.

See the countries that visit our site in the screenshot below (click to expand):

16000views

As for individual posts, the most accessed article remains “California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake,” which enjoyed 2058 views in 2013.

See this screenshot for other top posts (click to expand):

topposts

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.

Photos that Repel Bidders

blurryAuctioneers have an obligation to depict coins photographically as accurately as possible. Here is a selection of photos from recent Proxibid auctions that caused us to stop looking at lots or look only at slabs by PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG. You owe it to consignors to improve photography. See how a coin photo should look below and then compare bad examples beneath it.


This is how a photo should look on Proxibid, by our top house, Decatur Coin and Jewelry (compare it to the photo above).
decatur


We no longer bid on raw coins in this auction, which does everything right except photography. Two problems with this house. It seems to get dipped coins by regular consignors so we cannot trust the lot description. There is no way to discern luster on this coin because the photography is dull.
cantbid


This house slants and over-lights its coins so that condition is obscured. We pay no attention to the lot description as again, this house has proved unreliable in that category.
cantbid1


This house uses a flash instead of natural light or two fluorescent lights and so washes out all traces of condition.
exposed


This house slants, misplaces, over-exposes and only includes obverse photo–example of the worst practices on Proxibid which, unlike eBay, lacks photograhpic standards for coin lots.
noreverse_slanted_poor


Because Proxibid lacks such standards, we hope you view Proxiblog to enhance your consignments, build trust with bidders and get return customers. After all, you’re paying the fees for technology. Use it wisely with sharp photography.

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.

Any Other Recommendations? Installment #4


best_practice

A new coin seller on Proxibid asked us pertinent questions about best practices, and we promised to share our opinion and to solicit yours in the comment section. Auctioneers look to this site for recommendations on how to sell, ship and improve their services. The more you and we share, the more bidders will be drawn to our sites. We will treat each question as a post running throughout the week. Scroll down to view previous questions and answers. This is our last installment.

QUESTION:Anything else you can recommend to improve online service?

PROXIBLOG: The most important component is photography. We highly recommend that every Proxibid coin seller read this article about improvements made by Gary Ryther, a favorite seller, whose photography we profiled in Coin Update News. Click here to read the article.

Click here to view our other posts on photography.

We continue to urge auctioneers not to take photos on a slant because that hides flaws of coins and inappropriately enhances luster. Here is an example of a lot that sold for $2050. We stopped bidding at $600 because we could not ascertain condition of a Morgan dollar worth thousands in low mint state condition, the 1884-S Morgan. See photo below.

1884S

Yes, the auction house took in a magnificent bid … but still thousands below what the coin is worth if truly in mint state ($20,000 at MS62, $115,000 at MS64). The chances of this coin being graded as mint state are slim because almost all uncirculated examples have been accounted for and submitted, due to condition rarity. However, it is possible that this coin is the real deal. But unless the photo is shot straight on, we cannot tell whether it has been altered and whether the luster is real or a camera effect?

How do you think the buyer is going to feel if the $2050 bid bought an altered coin? Do you think the consignor would be happier with the $2050 bid … or one that was $20,050? That’s the power of photography.

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, New Houses, Almost 40,000 Views!

Competition among top coin-selling houses on Proxibid is becoming increasingly keen meaning houses that do not strive for continuous improvement will find their numismatic buyers bidding elsewhere. We continue to see erstwhile top houses fall in the rankings because of slow shipping or photography incapable of capturing luster. We can no longer bid here on raw coins but continue to bid on slabbed ones because these houses manage to secure good consignments by PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG. We no longer will bid on bottom-tier slabs, even considering them raw, because we usually encounter problems when submitting to a top holdering company. It will be difficult for anyone to match Decatur Coin Auction’s premiere session on Proxibid. Capitol Coin Auction, Leonard Auction, Western, Weaver and SilverTowne remain solid stand-bys. As for Proxiblog, we are approaching 500 posts and 40,000 views since our inception in May 2011.

Decatur Coin Auction is featuring top numismatic consignments and zero buyer’s fee. Opening bids were below greysheet, sparking competition. Its “Buy It Now” Auctions feature the same lovely lots but without the excitement of a live or timed auction. We hope to see more sessions such as Decatur ran on July 9th.

Capitol Coin Auction has roared back with another fabulous quarterly auction. It and Leonard Auction remain premiere places to find rarities. Weaver and Western auctions continue to offer top lots with excellent customer service. SilverTowne is impressing us with dozens of auctions each month and occasional fabulous consignments. Its grading remains up there with that of our most favorite houses.

Gary Ryther Auctions continues to improve, moving up in the rankings. So has Meares Auction, Engstrom Auction and Midwest Coins. Back to the Past Collectibles continues to sell desirable coin lots and retains a top spot on our list, featuring a low 10% buyer’s fee.

Spencer Auction makes our list this month, hosting more coin auctions with mostly slabbed coins and 15% buyer’s fee. It doesn’t accept APN so that delays shipping. Matthew Bullock Auctioneers returns to our list after several months of no coin auctions. We’re happy to see that as this house has sharp photography and good consignments.

Our top houses all feature one or more of the following:

  1. Lower buyer fees. We prefer 15%. We like 10%. We fancy 5%. We love 0%.
  2. Numismatic lot descriptions. Note flaws and bone up on grading, reading our “Find the Flaw” articles.
  3. Sharp photography. Obverse, reverse and expandable digital shots.
  4. Quick, inexpensive shipping. Some companies take 2-4 weeks to ship. That’s unacceptable. Coins should be sent within 5 business days.
  5. No maximum-bid or shill-bidding. Do that, and you will not qualify for our rankings. Reason? We do not have faith in our maximum bids when we see those transparency notices, no matter the good intentions of auction houses.

Some houses fell in the ranking because they are not improving their photography or because of slow shipping, problem coins, etc. We are worrying about a few of our favorite houses whose photography cannot capture luster on raw coins and that seem to be taking consignments from coin dealers sending their cleaned, polished or altered coins in each session. We worry about seeing more and more coins in slabs by bottom-tier companies.

In our opinion, slow or outsourced shipping, poor photography, inadequate descriptions and high buyer premiums (along with lack of APN), are signs that a house has not yet adapted–or is unwilling to adapt–to the Internet.

Given the convenience of flat-rate shipping with packages picked up at your door, we’re flummoxed when houses take 3-4 weeks to send out coins. If you cannot do basic photography with the type of enhanced, low-cost equipment at your disposal, including smart phones, then you are short-changing yourselves and your consignors.

That said, our rankings are reviews of favorite houses based on our buying and/or selling experience and numismatic expertise. Your experience with our top houses may differ from ours. Our intent is to educate and praise whenever possible–to our own buying detriment, at times! We have seen when we showcase an auction house how bidding becomes more intense, often edging out our own bids.

Good news is that more auction houses are contributing to our scholarship fund. We distribute Proxiblog for free. All we ask is that those who appreciate our efforts make a small contribution to help college students defray debt. You can make the contribution directly online to the Iowa State Foundation.

Our viewership continues to grow. we had more than more than 1,500 in 30 days and are approaching 40,000 lifetime views from all over the world.

July views

The favorite and most accessed page? “How and How Not to Describe Bottom-Tier Slabs.” The all-time most favorite post? “California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake,” which gets on average 50 views per week, indicating once again that auctioneers need to take care before they label those tiny yellow tokens “gold.”

We routinely report counterfeit or misidentified coins using the “Report this Item” link. We continue to applaud Proxibid for using this function.

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 Enhances Photo Magnification

iCollector has it. eBay has it. And now Proxibid has it, the ability to enlarge thumbnails merely by sliding the mouse over the photo.

This is a great technology for coins, because die varieties need close inspection.

One glitch seems to be hovering over the photo, liking what you see and then trying to click to expand the whole shebang. In the first few seconds, the program doesn’t know what you want to do–magnify the thumbnail or go to expanded version.

Eventually it decides on the expanded version because a click trumps a mouseover in the tech world.

But that’s a small price to pay for the innovation.

Now we need auctioneers to upgrade their photography so that images are sharp and expandable, showing both sides of the coin.

In the online trade, photography is everything.

We continue to encourage Proxibid to award a badge for photography.

And we continue to love “Proxibid Live.” This new tech feature is part of an eventual revamp that began with Proxibid’s redesign.

We applaud that kind of continuous improvement!

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’s with DMPL photos on Proxibid?

We have become so annoyed at awful photos of proof-like deep mirror coins on Proxibid that we threw a few coins on a table, took out a smart phone, and captured DMPLs far better than several houses.

Here are Proxibid photos of DMPLs (click photo to expand):

Here are smartphone photos:

The latter shows a true DMPL, able to catch a mirror reflection 8 inches away from object. If you’re not capturing DMPLs, you’re doing your consignors a disservice. As for bidders, don’t place a maximum unless you see the mirror.

Please show the mirrors of Morgans and the cameos of Franklins. See this article for more information.

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.