Know Coins, Lose Transparency Notices

This is the last in a series about auctioneers seeing or increasing bids. The first post discussed absentee vs. maximum bids. The second discussed absentee bidding service terms. This post questions the need to see or raise bids if auctioneers know coins in the first place.

We are baffled, truly so, as to why some of our top houses–whose auctioneers or employees know coins–allow maximum-bid viewing and consignor bidding. There is no need for this with numismatic houses (or houses that regularly schedule coin auctions).

The reasons are simple:

  • Allow consignors to bid on their lots but then charge them on both ends if they win “buybacks.” In other words, if a seller bids on his own Morgan dollar worth $75 and wins the coin for $100, he pays a 15% buyer’s fee, 5% seller’s fee, and must cover postage and insurance for the return of his goods. That will put a damper on any seller trying to manipulate the system.
  • Allow “buybacks” by specifically stating that in the consignment form, asking sellers at what level would they wish to buy back their coins. For instance, in the case of that $75 Morgan, the seller states he will pay a 5% buyback fee if the bidding fails to reach that per-designated level. In that case, the seller gets the coin back for $78.75 ($75 + $3.75 buyback) and also pays shipping fees.
  • Auctioneers who know coins (or who ask numismatists to write lot descriptions) do not need to see maximum bids or increase bids themselves. All they have to do is know the Grey Sheet or wholesale value of that coin and decide whether to let it go at that price.

Concerning that last practice, it is unfair to Proxibid for an auctioneer to state that a coin has been sold “onsite” when it actually only has been taken off the block. Right now Proxibid is losing thousands of dollars each month because of this practice which, at the core, is ethically questionable. We encourage Proxibid to institute a new rule concerning this, allowing auctioneers to remove an item from the block under a “no sale” category, with a low $1 fee per lot. That will encourage honesty and further enhance the reputation of both the company and the portal.

A $1 “no sale” fee also conveys to the seller that her or his reserves come with consequences. The “no sale” notice serves as a buyback with the same 5% seller fee charged to the consignor, allowing the company to pay the Proxibid fee and discourage high reserves by sellers in the process.


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.

Service Terms for Absentee Bidding

This is the second in a series about auctioneers seeing or increasing bids. The first post discussed absentee vs. maximum bids. The last will question the need to see or raise bids if auctioneers know coins in the first place.

Nothing prevents Proxibid auction houses from specifying their own absentee bid service terms, apart from the portal, as long as those bids do not go through the portal and happen at an onsite session.

Onsite auctions that hold sessions independent of any portal often have well-developed absentee bidding terms. We especially like this one by “Another Scott Auction” of Garden City, Kansas, which states:

    If you wish to bid on an item on any of our auctions and can not attend the auction in person, simply email or call Scott Auction and let us know which item(s) you wish to leave an absentee bid on. Your bid will be treated as a Proxy bid, meaning that our staff will bid for you as if you were in the crowd bidding for yourself. The attending bidders will open the bid and our staff will bid for you in the same increments that the attending bidders are raising the bid in. If your absentee bid is the high bid at the fall of the hammer, you will pay what the last bid is on that item. We will not enter your bid as the opening bid and will not raise the bid to your high bid just because we know your high bid.

For the entire absentee bid policy of Another Scott Auction, click here.

We encourage all auction houses to develop absentee bid policies because they typically cause troublesome issues when two absentee bids are the same (first received usually is honored) or when the potential buyer is vague ($500++). Click here to view a well-developed absentee bid explanation by Amoskeag Auction Company of Manchester, N.H.

  • Click here to see a sample “Absentee Bidder Agreement” by United Auctioneers, which also conducts online sessions via Proxibid.
  • CLick here to see a sample of a typical online Absentee Bidding Agreement by Landry Auctions of Essex, Mass., which uses the AuctionZip portal.

As you can see, absentee bidding is much more complex than viewing a maximum bid via the Proxibid portal, as our first post in this series documented. This is why we disagree with the justification by some auctioneers that maximum-bid viewing is merely absentee bidding.

Add another component–the ability of the auctioneer to raise bids at his or her discretion–coupled with maximum-bid viewing. This is the worst of all online worlds that would quickly doom a company’s reputation in onsite auctions, if word got out. In fact, re-read the ethical practice of Another Scott Auction above concerning absentee bidding.

Now imagine a Proxibid Auction House that allows maximum-bid viewing and auctioneer bidding. Who would patronize a company with a service term like this below?

    If you cannot attend the live Proxibid session, just leave a maximum bid via the Proxibid portal. Our staff will monitor the technology and bid for you as if you were in the crowd bidding for yourself–but our intent will be to make the maximum on each lot. For example, if the auctioneer finds that your bid is insufficient, or if the auctioneer figures he can make a few extra dollars, we will jump to the highest possible bid that your maximum allows. You will win the lot only if someone else online or onsite fails to place an even higher bid. Also, when they are available, we will place consignors in the audience who will keep increasing bids. Again, the goal is to generate the maximum amount of dollars for each lot. In the past, we practiced this but now are forced to explain because Proxibid wants an even playing field for its online customers.

As you can see, such a service term is hardly appealing. That is why we are appealing to auction houses to end the spurious practices of allowing maximum-bid viewing and auctioneer/consignor bidding.

And in our next installment, we will explain why both are not needed if an auctioneer knows coins.


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.