Distinguish Paramount from Redfield Dollars

notredfield

At the time this post was written, there were two Paramount dollars and one genuine Redfield dollar being sold on Proxibid. The lot above is a Paramount dollar. Redfield dollars are worth a much larger premium than Paramount dollars but because the latter are holdered in the same type of card and plastic, many Proxibid auctioneers call all such dollars “Redfield,” when they are not. The issue today is once being informed about the mistake, using the “Report the Item” link, will the auctioneer change the lot description?



In this case, as we would anticipate with Dave and Cheryl Weaver–typically our top-ranked house on Proxiblog–they get the lot description correct. See the genuine Redfield dollar below:

notredfield1

The Weaver lot above came from the 407,000-coin stash found behind a false wall in the basement of Reno, Nev., investor LaVere Redfield. The hoard was acquired for $7.3 million in 1976 by Steve Markoff of A-Mark Coin Corp. Markoff chose Paramount International Coin Corp. as a primary distributor of coins from the hoard.

Paramount slabbed the coins in attractive plastic holders with green, red or black inserts. Green is for coins grading above MS65. People pay hundreds, and sometimes thousands, for coins in that rare holder. The other two common inserts, red and black, define two grades respectively, Mint State 65 and MS-60, the only two grades used at the time.

The Redfield dollars sold so well that Markoff decided to slab other Morgan dollars in his special holders–without the designation “Redfield.” Those simply state Paramount. These do command a small premium, but nothing like the Redfield pedigree.

Here’s the second Proxibid auction erroneously describing the lot:

notredfield2

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to see if the two auctioneers who incorrectly described Paramount as Redfield will change the lot description. We used the “Report the Item” link every day for the past four days. We checked this morning, Monday, Sept. 15. The two auction houses with erroneous lot descriptions had not fixed those descriptions.

So this is a test not only of numismatics but also on the effectiveness of the Proxibid link. Will the two auctioneers change their erroneous descriptions?

Stay tuned.

For more on Redfield dollars, see this article published in Coin World.

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.

Auctioneer Alert: Fake Silver Eagles on Rise

fakeeagle

Coin World and other numismatic publications are alerting hobbyists about an influx of fake Silver Eagles and bullion billed as silver but made of base metal. Auctioneers need to be on the alert.


The coin is so common and reliable, a mint state Silver Eagle, that counterfeiters have been able to pass them at coin shops, including phony base metal versions of rounds and bars.

Steve Roach, editor of Coin World, notes in this article that fakes of common numismatic products are often the trickiest to spot. “These fakes represent an ever growing threat to coin shops and collectors as they imitate the type of items that cross the counter at stores across the country on a daily basis,” Roach writes. “They are purchased and sold at a modest spread below and above the current price of bullion and traded without much thought.”

The counterfeits are coming to this country from China. They include private rounds and bars marked .999 silver in addition to Silver Eagles, Canadian Maple Leaf bullion coins and even Chinese Pandas.

There are several ways to detect fakes:

  • Weigh the coin. A silver eagle, for instance, should weigh 31.10 grams and have a diameter of 40.60 millimeters.
  • Learn how silver sounds. It has a distinct clink whereas base metal has a dull clang. (To train your ears, use 1964 Kennedy halves and compare the sound to clad Kennedys of the 1980s.)
  • Use a magnet. If the coin sticks, it is base metal.
  • Compare the devices. Fakes often have a difficult time mimicking Lady Liberty’s head and flag, for instance.
  • Look at the edge. Silver Eagles have reeded edges. Some fakes have plain edges.

In case you receive fake silver eagles, you should inform the consignor that he is obligated to turn in the counterfeits to the nearest Secret Service or FBI office.

And as we have advised auctioneers since our inception in 2011, no sales are final if they are fake. You could be found in violation of the Hobby Protection Act and other laws. The best way to protect yourself is to notify consignors that any altered or counterfeit coin will be returned to them with the cost deducted from their totals.

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.

Win a Collector Kit from our Sponsor!

Liberty Shops Auctions

Welcome to Liberty Trading Post!

Liberty Shops Auctions, also doing business as Liberty Trading Post, continues to set standards on Proxibid, the latest being the top seller! A newer top-ranked house on Proxiblog, auctioneer Sean Cook has helped his company win Honorable Mentions in our annual awards program for the best timed auction, the best value added, the best descriptions and the most improved.


Sean continues to innovate, with his latest being a focus on bidder confidence. He encourages bidders to know more about numismatics because he has seen too many purchasing altered, counterfeit and hyped coins on the portal.

Sean also supports youth numismatics. “I am always looking to introduce coin collecting to the younger generation.”

You don’t have to be a student to enter; but you do have to know one you’d like to introduce to coin and currency collecting. You also need to register via Proxibid in one of Liberty Shops Auctions’ sessions. (You don’t have to bid to enter the contest!)

The winner will receive a group of coins, a grading book, a value guide, and some collecting folders. “The value wouldn’t be huge,” Sean says, “but it would be enough to get someone interested and introduced to the hobby.”

Proxiblog also enthusiastically supports youth numismatics. Here’s the challenge for Proxibidders who know a K-12 pupil or high school/college student who might be interested in collecting: Suggest a youth game that kids through teens can play in a group setting, like a local coin club.

For inspiration, visit this Coin World link featuring just the kind of activities that Sean Cook wants to see to spark interest in a new generation of numismatists. (You can’t use any of the games mentioned in the article, however.)

Invent a new game and send the details to Sean Cook at this email: libertyshops@hotmail.com. Sean chooses the winner. His decision is final.

Competition closes at 6 p.m. (central time) Saturday, March 2. Winner announced on Monday, March 4, on Proxiblog.

We also hope that you will visit Proxibid’s top seller, Liberty Shops Auction, which includes inexpensive shipping and ZERO buyer’s premium. A few other coin auctions have offered low or zero buyer’s fees, but Liberty Shops Auction adds value to that with customer service, grading expertise and numismatic descriptions accompanied by expandable visuals so that bidders know what they are getting in word and photo.

Sean Cook also communicates quickly with bidders and focuses on customer service to get return bidders. His company’s values include warm, pleasant and friendly interaction.

If you are interested in bidding in or consigning to his auctions, or in visiting his online store, feel free to contact him at:

Email: libertyshops@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.libertytrading.net/

Sean Cook
Liberty Shops Auction Service
Vandalia, Illinois
618-283-9244 or 618-283-9156

Proxiblog thanks Sean Cook and Liberty Shops Auctions for sponsoring this week’s Proxiblog and for donating to our scholarship fund. While we welcome donations from our audience, Proxiblog invites high quality houses for sponsorship because we want to promote the best on Proxibid to our viewers.

Improve Your Grading Skills!

This is a two-part article about the importance of grading coins properly in Proxibid auctions. Grading coins is part science, part art, but if Proxibid auctioneers are going to sell coins regularly, they might develop a deeper knowledge of grading.

There are ways to improve your numismatic knowledge, and doing so will increase your profits, consignments and return customers over time.

Although Proxibid may schedule 70 coin auctions per month, fewer than a half dozen houses accurately grade coins. A few houses know coins and hype lot descriptions, calling slider coins “gem” and brilliant uncirculated coins “deep mirror.” Don’t be swayed by extensive numismatic sounding lot descriptions if those descriptions don’t hold up to grading standards.

Here are ways to improve your knowledge of coins:

  1. Read numismatic magazines like Coin World or online ones like CoinLink or Coin Update News.
  2. Subscribe to CoinFacts whose photography and coin encyclopedia are the best numismatic tools on the Internet.
  3. Attend classes, seminars and educational programs by the American Numismatic Association.
  4. Learn how to submit coins to top grading companies, such as PCGS and NGC.
  5. Grade each coin in consignment by using standards as illustrated by PCGS Photograde Online.

Here are some things you should NEVER do:

  • Never list a consignor’s grade in your lot description without noting it is not your grade; rather, correct over-enthusiastic consignor descriptions especially when they exaggerate on flips.
  • Do not use PCGS Price Guide or Coin Values price data on coins unless they are graded by PCGS (for PCGS holdered coins) and Coin Values (for PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG).
  • Never hype coins, exaggerating details, scarcity or other intrinsic value.
  • Stop pretending that every coin in every auction has come from a safety deposit box of a recently deceased octogenarian.
  • Invest in a good digital camera, make sure you have proper lightning, capture luster and never alter a photo to make the coin seem better than it actually is.

In the next installment of Proxiblog, we will identify auction houses that graded accurately–so much so, that their raw coins graded at the same level or higher by PCGS.


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 Changes Improve Portal

We applaud Proxibid’s new changes in helping make the portal more bidder friendly and transparent, identifying those auctions that can see maximum bids or that allow sellers–or even auction companies–to bid on lots in a type of shill bidding. Click the picture above to read new service terms.

Proxiblog has advocated for these changes for more than a year. As many of our Honor Roll houses know, we bid often and then consign winnings to help fund our scholarships, counting on our numismatic knowledge to spot bargains. In the process, we have identified houses that shill bid, always jump to maximum bids, and then shill bid again in the hope that we’ll up our bids even further.

We have not identified them on Proxiblog because we want our site to be proactive rather than reactive, relying on our articles to make the case for better online business.

Shill bidding is, in fact, illegal in many states and one of the reasons why coin buyers often shy away from Proxibid auctions and look instead to Great Collections, Heritage and Teletrade, which thrive because of transparency and stringent rules. Yes, you might pay more for a coin on these sites. Yes, there are fewer bargains. But there is much less risk. That is why those companies vastly outsell auction houses on Proxibid.

Nevertheless, one or two Proxibid auctioneers bristle every time we mention Great Collections et. al., complaining that there are no bargains on those auctions. These Proxibid auctioneers are honest and mistakenly believe other houses are as honorable as theirs. Most may be, but some are not. And in general, bidding on Proxibid requires users to possess numismatic experience not only in bidding but also in grading and identifying counterfeits, self-slabbers and high-reserve houses.

We recommend the larger houses for newbies until they learn numismatic basics.

If you want your house to compete against the likes of Heritage and Teletrade, you can do so easily by following our best practices.

It’s not a matter of size. It’s a matter of integrity, as most NAA auctioneers realize. A house like Weaver’s Signature Coin and Currency Auction, Matthew Bullock Auctioneers, and Key Date Coins reap ever higher bids because they have followed our advice in the past year and thrived. And that advice is based on 40 years’ experience in the numismatic industry in addition to reporting on coins for top publications like Coin World and Coin Update News and even advising the U.S. Mint on coin design.

This is why we believe that forthcoming Proxibid changes are going to help many of our top honest houses attract even more bidders because they will know that auctioneers will not immediately jump to maximum bids or unfairly shill bid for maximum profit. Those relatively few houses lack respect for the online audience, believing it is there to be duped or otherwise taken advantage of.

On the other hand, we feel confident placing maximum bids on almost all of the houses ranked to the right of this article.

However, we still are advocating for more changes in the Proxibid rules:

  • Charge high-reserve auctions for unsold items because they use the portal as a cheap eBay site, knowing they don’t have to pay fees when lots do not sell; so they sell above retail, trolling for the few inexperienced bidders who do not know pricing. See this article for details.
  • Mandate that consignors are responsible for paying refunds on counterfeit and altered coins. See this article featuring Leonard Auction for contracts that do just that.
  • Remove APN badges from houses that contract with third parties for packing and shipping. See this article for details about that.

We also understand that Proxibid cannot force auctioneers to extend basic numismatic courtesies, such as providing clear and expandable pictures of obverse and reverse of coins. We are disappointed in some of our former top houses taking shortcuts in this area by providing only obverse. Today, we removed them from top-ranked houses.

It is, frankly, unethical to sell half a coin to an Internet audience that takes risks because they cannot view the lot up-close as onsite bidders can. We advise all bidders to cease placing bids on raw coins that show only one side of a lot, as this article explains.

We end with a reminder about one of the most important ethical rules of the National Auctioneer Association: Members owe the buyer (from now on referred to as the Customer) the duties of honesty, integrity and fair dealing at all times.

And we thank Proxibid for helping everyone do just that.

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.

Auctioneer Advisory: Fakes are on their way!

Coin World is reporting that eBay no longer will allow on its site replica US and world coins of any kind, with violators risking their selling privileges being suspended for any infraction. Pictured here is a counterfeit coin purchased on the Proxibid portal. We secured an immediate refund when explaining the illegality of selling counterfeits.

The new eBay policy even bans coins marked as “copy” in keeping with the Hobby Protection Act.

We applaud eBay for this policy.

The world’s largest online auction portal made the move to showcase the company’s commitment to improve the buying, selling and collecting experience on eBay, Coin World reported in an exclusive story.

Get ready, Proxibid coin auctioneers. Be prepared, Proxibid. You’ll be targeted next as you are becoming the portal of choice for the selling of coins and currency.

The world counterfeit and replica market for coins is responsible for tens of thousands of fake coins flooding into the United States, mainly from China.

In the past three years, even Proxiblog with its keen understanding of numismatics has purchased five counterfeit coins on Proxibid. You can read about our experiences here as well as the policies of some of our top auction houses, including Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, Key Date Coins and Crawford Family Auction.

What concerns us about the anticipated flood of fakes into the Proxibid auction stream is how some auctioneers are unaware that they cannot sell counterfeit coins no matter what–repeat, NO MATTER WHAT–your terms of service state. It’s a violation of federal law, and you can be investigated by the Secret Service or worse, sued.

When we have explained this after purchasing fake coins on Proxibid, all auctioneers refunded our purchases. In one or two cases, it took some convincing.

We have repeatedly advised you to make consignors rather than bidders responsible for fake, doctored or otherwise altered coins.

We’re also hoping that Proxibid’s resolution center understands and prepares for the coming influx of fakes on our portal. We recommend an internal policy for auctioneers on Proxibid concerning bidder refunds for counterfeit coins when adequate proof is provided. As the influx of fakes becomes more apparent in the months ahead, given the new eBay policy, stricter selling rules must be enforced or bidders will look elsewhere–probably eBay–for alternatives.

As for auctioneers, here are some tips:

  1. Purchase a strong magnet. Fakes often are made of base metal and will stick to the magnet. Silver is non-magnetic and also has a special ring to it unlike the clang of cooper-nickel coins. Test for that sound with a Franklin half dollar.
  2. Invest in a gold coin tester. There are several brands and methods, from stone to liquid. This is especially important if you are selling so-called “California fractional gold.”
  3. Buy coin scales and calipers to weigh suspect coins, checking their weight and diameter in coin guides. We recommend subscribing to PCGS’s CoinFacts to learn about weights and measures of coins.

To learn more about the multi-billion-dollar Chinese counterfeiting industry, read this expose by Susan Headley.

Also be on the lookout for consignments by unknown entities. Professional coin thieves also slip in fakes with a shipment of bonafide coins. Flooding auction portals with counterfeit and replica coins is only one of the latest cons being perpetuated on portals, dealers and auctioneers. We learned with great sadness yesterday that one of our top auction houses was robbed in the past week. This is the third theft of consignments we learned of this year, prompting us to recommend that auctioneers store rare coins, gold jewelry and other precious smalls in large local bank boxes for enhanced security.

As for bidders reading this post, never ever keep more than a few coins in your home. Insurance will not cover rare coins. Take out a bank box if you are pursuing this hobby or reinvesting in coins as part of your portfolio.

If ever your coins are stolen, report it immediately to local authorities as well as the Numismatic Crime Information Center.

Take every precaution in the months ahead, with a poor economy prompting more counterfeiters and criminals suddenly as interested as your bidders in precious metals and rare coins.

Please share other tips or warnings if you are an auctioneer in the comment section below.

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.

Silvertowne wins “Best Descriptions”

Silvertowne Auctions, operated by Rick Howard of Leipsic, Ohio, in partnership with SilverTowne Coins of Winchester, IN, is a first-class house featuring several Proxibid coin auctions per month.

This was a close competition, as you will see in the Honorable Mentions category, with several houses named whose auctioneers also are expert numismatists. The chief reason we chose Silvertowne has to do with 74-year-old Larry Fuller whose official title is “online auction specialist.” Larry has been a collector and dealer for more than 50 years. His philosophy in writing lot descriptions is an accurate grade.

In an upcoming article in Coin World, Larry states, “When I was a dealer, if I sold a coin, I felt I should be ready to buy it back at the same grade.”

Fuller believes that reliable grading and accurate lot descriptions are key in attracting return customers online. He is noted for short, crisp descriptions with information you can rely on. Here’s an example: “RARE!!! THIS IS NOT THE CHEAP D/D. THIS IS THE COIN WITH A D WELL SOUTH OF OTHER D.”

Why not send Larry Fuller a congratulatory note?

Several Honorable Mention houses gave Fuller a run for his “money,” literally. They include tiptop lot descriptions based on numismatic knowledge, a regular feature of Capitol Coin Auction, Key Date Coins, Leonard Auction, Silver Trades and Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction.

We also congratulate Silvertowne and thank our runners-up for sharing their numismatic knowledge supported by fine photography, a component in our analysis.

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.