New Look, New Rankings

Proxiblog took a brief hiatus but now has returned with a new look, new rankings and new features to serve both auctioneers and bidders.


We have redesigned our site to be more viewer-friendly with larger fonts and easy-on-the-eyes color. We hope you approve!

Our rankings are becoming more consistent as our very top houses continue to offer ever choice consignments on a regular basis with reasonable premiums for buyers, quick shipping, excellent photography and other specialties, such as concise numismatic lot descriptions. You’ve seen almost every house in our top rankings for several months now, although ones at the very top continue to compete with each other based on where bidders are most likely to spend their numismatic dollars and not be disappointed when the shipment arrives at the front door.

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction was poised to be alone atop the rankings until Western Auction posted two alluring auctions in the same week with rare Morgans and other uncirculated scarce silver pieces. Winning in each auction was difficult. More than half of the lots in Weaver and Western auctions sold above retail.

Leonard Auction charges a higher buyer’s premium at 20% with a cash discount; however, John Leonard’s numismatic knowledge and terrific consignments almost always assure bidders that they will not be disappointed in their winnings. The trick here is to take the buyer’s premium into account but bid high if you really want a lot because you’ll often win it for less than your maximum.

Matthew Bullock Auctioneers continues to offer some of the best estate auction coins on the portal. SilverTowne offers regular coin auctions, both live and timed; and we bid on choice lots when we desire them, such as California Fractional Gold or holdered and raw coins. Because of the online and onsite audience, it is difficult to get steals on this site; but you will get authentic and often accurately graded coins. (Personal note: Our friend and professional numismatist, Larry Fuller, has been out of the pocket for awhile and we send him our very best wishes.)

We get to know auctioneers as friends and business clients. We know they are trying their best to keep standards high and have witnessed improvements across the portal. Sometimes, however, bidders forget that auctioneers do not make killings when they showcase coins on Proxibid. In addition to fees, consignment costs, shipping and more, even the best and most advertised sessions typically only bring $1500-$3000 or less to the auction company in profits. Hosting coin auctions is time-intensive, requires numismatic knowledge and photography skills unlike that of other collectibles auctions.

But buying coins as a hobby or investment calls for ever higher standards, and we will do our part to educate both auctioneer and bidder on the finer points.

One new feature planned this week is “Find the Flaw,” when we will depict a coin offered on Proxibid that has a flaw so subtle as to be missed. We will let you view the coin on one day and then reveal the flaw on the following day. We also will be spot-checking auctions for how they grade in their lot descriptions. We will post our first spot-check review this week on Southwest Bullion. We also will continue to do feature posts on standards and disseminate news and articles to help both bidder and auctioneer succeed in this very engaging but challenging field.

Finally, we will try to post each week day as we continue to upgrade the site. Thank you bidders and auctioneers for your patience and patronage! We appreciate you more than you know (and that appreciation also extends to 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.

Good Photography Requires Color

We have been noting the importance of sharp, expandable photos in online bidding for coins. Without quality numismatic photography, auctioneers cannot command top prices for their consignors. But there is another aspect to photography, and that is the ability to capture color.

Toned coins can bring premium prices, as much as 10 times the lot’s worth. Auctioneers must be able to tell genuine toning from artificial kinds, which include chemical and laser techniques and which qualify as coin doctoring–illegal in some cases, unethical in all. See this article to spot artificial toning.

Every now and then, however, coins develop the most marvelous patina. Below is an example of such photographed by a Proxibid auctioneer whose camera did not capture color. We won the lot. Here is our photo. Which would command the best prices?

Note: Top photos are from Proxibid. Bottom ones are from Proxiblog, taken with a $99 camera in a room with fluorescent and natural lighting.

Sharp photography a wise investment

Clear, sharp expandable pictures online remain the best way to spark bids in coin auctions, especially if your close-up photograph is able to capture luster.

Luster is one of the most difficult qualities to capture with a digital camera. The best way to depict luster, or the metallic shine and metal flow of a silver coin, such as a Morgan dollar–with its spectacular cartwheel effect–is to photograph in natural lighting or in natural lighting plus fluorescent lighting.

Here are two Morgans, one shot correctly so that luster is visible, and another shot without natural lighting.

Even with adequate lighting, the photographer has to make sure there are no “hot spots” (or distorting light reflections) on the coin. Those spots can obscure or present in false light key areas of a coin, again decreasing bids. See the example below.

If hot spots continue to plague your photos, invest in a light box. You can use it for jewelry as well as coins.

Accurate photographs do more than bring higher bids; they cut down on complaints and make the Proxibid experience every that much more enjoyable for all.

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 vs. eBay, Part I: Two Weeks on eBay

This is the first-part in a five-part series on Proxibid vs. eBay. Our first post covers our initial bidding experience. The second post will compare shipping between the two portals. The third installment will cover IT functions and payment options. The fourth post covers consignments and lot descriptions. The last post discusses which is the best portal to bid on coins.

Almost uniformly, eBay sellers are amateurs and not auctioneers, with a smattering of coin dealers doing mega-business on the portal. Surprisingly, almost every seller has photographs superior to what normally is found on Proxibid. That’s due to eBay’s strict control over photo quality.

Summarized, each eBay listing must include a photo of the coin being sold. “Images that are dark, out of focus, edited, or might be misleading aren’t allowed. Also, stock photos aren’t allowed.”

If buyers are unsatisfied with photos, they can inform eBay quality control.

Expand the picture below to see how this seller promotes his lots via photography.

Concerning counterfeits, the company even provides a link to the Secret Service for more information about illustrations of coins.

I purposefully cut down on my Proxibid purchases and instead sought two types of coins on eBay: toned silver eagles and 1950s double mint sets. I chose these for a reason. Toned silver eagles often are lasered for color or otherwise doctored with chemical treatment. And double mint sets are particularly risky. Paper used by the US Mint naturally tones coin, tempting owners to extract the best rainbow coins and replace them with lesser ones.

I’ll report whether the toned silver eagles are chemically treated. Of the seven that I purchased from different dealers, I won’t be sending in four of them for slabbing because they were obviously artificially toned. I’ll be sending coins in on some of the mint sets, too, to see if circulated coins were put in place of desirable ones.

Some dealers were not selling double mint sets, although they were using that title in their eBay descriptions. Double mint sets include two of every mint, PDS (or 30 coins) in some years. Other sets without S mint marks total 20 coins. Sellers were displaying mint sets that had cherry coins removed, with lesser coins in the paper holders.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was how quickly all the winning lots shipped. I received each of a dozen or more packages within a few days. Clearly, when it comes to shipping, eBay has a big advantage over Proxibid.

Finally, bidding on eBay was fierce. It is difficult to win prime coins without approaching or surpassing retail. And many owners of prime lots opened bids above retail.

More to report on this in future weeks. …

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.

Kudos to Proxibid’s Badge System

Proxibid has many things right, and we praise the portal whenever we get a chance to do so. In particular, we admire the company’s quality control officer who is taking steps (gingerly, to be sure, but he is doing it), to make the portal more transparent and a model for online auction security and fairness.

We wrote about the badge system before in this post. There are badges for APN Clearance, Shipping Policies, Low Buyer’s Premium, Lot Description Accuracy, and Complaint Rate.

These badges, along with transparency notices about ghost-bidding and maximum-bid viewing, are essential to promote the Omaha-based company’s brand: TRUST.

Respectfully, we make one more suggestion equally as important as “Lot Description Accuracy,” especially to Internet bidders, and that is, quality of photographs–a topic we have written about regularly (most recently in this post).

Auction houses are known for their glossy catalogs and superb photography. We receive such wonderful brochures regularly from Manor Auctions and Affiliated Auctions, for instance. Somehow, when it comes to Internet, the majority of coin auctions on Proxibid neglect to make digital photography a priority, even though service terms of these houses often state that bidders acknowledge that buying online may be riskier than onsite because of the inability to see a lot fully and clearly.

Our advice? Proxibid should inform us about houses with superior photography and make this a badge consideration.

Why? An uncirculated coin depicted accurately will bring ever higher bids, meaning more profit for Proxibid and more trust for Proxibidders.

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 Top House

Silvertowne Auctions has overtaken two of Proxiblog’s favorite houses, Western Auction and Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, to ascend to the top of our rankings, primarily because of the consistently reliable grading and lot descriptions of veteran numismatist Larry Fuller and frequent top-quality coin auctions by Rick Howard.

Back in the top rankings after several months’ hiatus is Matthew Bullock Auctioneers, which has some of the best coin photography on the portal and choice consignments accurately described.

New to the sidebar rankings are Leonard Auction and Capitol Coin Auction, both of which charge more than 15% buyer’s fee and had been excluded in the past from our top houses. But based on those auction houses’ superior consignments, numismatic knowledge and excellent customer service, we have amended our rules and will list exceptional companies like these in our rankings.

Also making an initial appearance is Southwest Bullion, which recently set online buyer’s fees at zero, with APN clearance and flat-rate shipping. We saw auctioneer Justin Quinn add rare and precious metals to one third of his lots, and we bid $15,000+ but failed to win one item, as most lots sold at retail or above. How does he do it? We suspect he is buying consignments directly rather than going through out-of-town coin dealers. Watch for a post on that this week.

Finally, Chaparral Trading Company made our rankings, featuring lower 15% online fees, good photography and other amenities.

You’ll also notice some of our regular top 20 houses missing from the new rankings. After several complaints from peer auctioneers and online coin buyers, we have decided to omit from sidebar rankings any house viewing maximum bids or allowing auctioneer/consignor bidding. We have run a half dozen articles on why these practices are frowned up, even when the auctioneers honestly only want to know where limits on an item are. Problem is, other houses take advantage of these computer-assisted irregularities. We’ve heard all the justifications and excuses. Fact is, ghost-bidding is unethical. Shill bidding is unethical. Auctioneers should know the wholesale value of items, especially coins, and can pass on underbid lots. And if consignors buyback their own coins, auctioneers can penalize them with fees.

For more on this issue, read this article.

In closing, please know that several of these houses seeing maximum bids are entirely reputable. We patronize their auction houses. We admire their auctioneers. But we have to institute this policy in keeping with Proxibid’s own standards and new badge rankings, which add a level of transparency and quality control, sure to enhance the portal’s reputation.

Congratulations to all in the top 20. Competition is stiffer than ever 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.

Online Auction Stoppers

Sometimes terms of service speak for themselves. Sometimes they need a comment to put them into perspective. Below are terms last week that stopped Proxiblog from bidding in an auction.

Additional Forms

AUCTION COMPANY: Your credit card will be charged for your purchases immediately following the auction. At that time, the Terms and Conditions Form that was agreed to when registering will be emailed to you. Buyer must print, sign and email, mail or fax form to our office before item(s) will be shipped.

Comment: Nothing like asking the online audience to register via Proxibid terms of service, pay for items, and then not send them until additional data is collected via email. We read this, and didn’t register for the auction. Proxibid sales team: Please work with this client!


Photography Shortcuts

Comment: No reverse photo on coins. This from a Proxibid house that sells coins regularly. (Click picture to expand.)


Failing to Update Service Terms

AUCTION COMPANY: Payment Instructions: We do take credit card numbers from Proxibid over the phone. For more information please call

Comment: We were about to bid in this auction when we read this service term. Turns out the company forgot to update its clauses. Proxibid auctioneers need to review their service terms on a regular basis and make changes as needed, or you’ll lose bidders with outdated info like this.


Contacting Bidders for Credit Card Information

AUCTION COMPANY: Auction house will contact buyer for payment information.

Comment: We know the auction house is footing the bill for the long distance call, but contacting buyers for credit card information over the phone is a surefire way to lose bidders. Worse, any thief can pretend to be you and steal identity. We never ever bid with companies with this service term. Proxibid sales team: Please work harder to get these houses to invest in APN clearance!


Asking Bidders to Foot Long-Distance Bills

AUCTION COMPANY: If you wish to pay by Credit Card you must call in the info. after the end of auction to our shop address. We do not use the APN billing system to charge items to Credit Card.


Shipping Phobias

AUCTION COMPANY: “20 % Buyer’s premium is added to all INTERNET purchases. … WE DO NOT HANDLE SHIPPING AND HANDLING PLEASE CONTACT OUR LOCAL UPS TO HANDLE ALL SHIPPING AND HANDLING. … WE DO NOT HANDLE SHIPPING AND HANDLING!!!!!!!! … SHIPPING AND HANDLING IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE BUYER!!!!! . ((((WE HAVE PROVIDED THE INFORMATION FOR UPS SHIPPING. UPS WILL PICK UP YOUR ITEMS PACK THEM AND SHIP THEM TO YOU. THEIR PHONE NUMBER IS XXX-XXX-XXXX. STOREXXXX@THEUPSSTORE.COM ASK FOR XXXXX OR XXXXX))) THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO GIVE YOU A QUOTE ON SHIPPING AN ITEM YOU ARE INTERESTED IN. YOU THEN CAN BE CONFIDENT WHEN YOU BUY THE ITEM THAT THE SHIPPPING IS RIGHT. !!!!!!! NOTE WHEN USING A SHIPPER IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBLITY TO MAKE SURE THE SHIPPER KNOWS WHAT HE NEEDS TO PICK UP.”

Comment: Worst example of shipping phobia on Proxibid.


Maximum-Bid Viewing and Auctioneer/Consignor Bidding
PLEASE READ: At the request of the auction company, this auction permits bids to be placed by the auctioneer, an employee of the auctioneer, or the seller or an agent on the seller’s behalf, even if such bids are placed solely for the purpose of increasing the bid. While Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement prohibits this behavior, in accordance with UCC 2-328, this auction is permitted to engage in this activity by providing this clear disclosure to you, the bidder.

PLEASE READ: This auction company has requested and been granted access to see all bids placed including any maximum pre-bids. This auction is permitted to engage in this activity by providing this clear disclosure to you, the bidder.

Comment: Some auctioneers who have these clauses are honest. Some, less so. We know a few where shill bidders are used to place a sale “on site,” raising lots until the bidders cry uncle or ghost-selling onsite to avoid paying Proxibid fees, with the same items up for sale in a future auction.

Post Script: We still do patronize a few auctions whose owners we know, but bid cautiously rather than confidently. We are pleased to learn, however, that more auction houses are dropping these terms. Watch for updated rankings this week!


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.