Capitol Coin Auction tops list!

Competition among top coin-selling houses on Proxibid has become even keener, with only fractions separating one favorite company from another. Only one scored a full 25 points in all categories: quality consignments, detailed descriptions, quick and inexpensive shipping, superior photography, expert grading, reasonable buyer’s premium and other value-added considerations. Not only is competition growing, our audience is too, surpassing 1,600 views for the first 28 days in April.

Capitol Coin Auction continues to feature some of the best numismatic estate auctions on the portal. Every few months it schedules an auction with key date coinage and holdered rarities. Moreover, as we noted in this recent post, Brad Lisembee ranks among the best graders in the business along with John Leonard of Leonard Auction.

Also high on the numismatic grading list are Dave Nauert of SilverTowne Auction, Justin Quinn of Southwest Bullion and Coin, Dave Weaver of Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, and Sean Cook of Liberty Shops Auctions.

These were ranked ever so close behind Capitol at 24.5 each out of 25, along with Western Auction (one of our personal favorites) and Fox Valley Coins.

Returning to the portal is Kaufman Realty and Auctions, with strong consignments, numismatic lot descriptions and good photography. If it shipped more quickly, it would challenge other top houses in our rankings.

Darron Meares, one of our favorite auctioneers, elevated his company to the top rankings, too, with great consignments and much improved photography. Engstrom Auction continues to improve with better consignments. Its photography has been good, and its customer service is fine, too.

Essentially, you should have an exciting time in the spirit of traditional auctioneering bidding in any auction by these top-houses.

Rolling M Auctions is one of our favorite houses. Mark Murphy is going a fantasic job for Rolling M. with great consignments and fine pre-auction advertising. We think he can still do better with sharper photography that captures luster and provides an onsite view for the Internet crowd.

Key Date Coin continues to showcase the best photography and auctions always worth a look. We advocate for better consignments as Eddie Caven knows how to feature premium lots. Star Coin and Currency continues to impress with improving consignments, neat photos and numismatic lot descriptions.

New on the list this month are Atlantic Auction Company and Cannon Auction whose Honor Roll features include 15% buyer’s fee, good photography and numismatic lot descriptions.

Online buyers expect:

  • Rapid shipping with professional packing.
  • Sharp, expandable photos of both sides of a coin.
  • Accurate lot descriptions.

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.

Perhaps this is due to the rise in our viewership. As the screen shot below shows, more than 1600 page views were logged in the first few weeks of April alone.
30dayview

The favorite and most accessed page? “Boos and Booyahs.” The all-time most favorite post? “California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake,” which gets on average 100+ views per month from all over the world, indicating once again that auctioneers need to take care before they label those tiny yellow tokens “gold.”

Also becoming more popular are our “Find the Flaw!” features, designed to improve grading skills.

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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Weaver Coin and Currency Regains Top Slot

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, a long-time top-spot holder in our rankings, has reascended to that position based on sharp photos, rare consignments, quick shipping, numismatic lot descriptions and value-added customer service.


We especially value the customer service of Dave and Cheryl Weaver, consummate professionals.

However, competition is keen with our favorite sellers that we find very little difference in the top 10 and routinely bid in their auctions. One might have a slightly better consignment. One may have a special. Another may offer a new service or additional timed auction.

We always eagerly go through catalogs of Western Auction, Leonard Auction, Capital Coin Auction, SilverTowne, and Rolling M. Auctions, primarily because we can find rarities and sleepers (especially the latter). Sleepers are coins that have low mintage. Photography on Western, Leonard and Capital Coin is exquisite, and so we can grade raw coins accurately. When it comes to Leonard or Capitol, we rely on numismatic descriptions, which sometimes are sharper than our own.

Key Date Coins continues to showcase the best photography. We love Eddie Caven’s auctions and admire him immensely; but we hope more consignors will send him premium lots. If you’re looking for Carson City dollars, this is the place, as Eddie always has a few MS63-64 lots in each of his regular sessions.

We’re happy to see Southwest Bullion and Coin back in our listings. Justin Quinn has been enhancing his numismatic descriptions, offering zero buyer’s premiums, and shipping quickly and inexpensively.

Star Coin and Currency continues to improve. Jim Haver’s customer service is among the best on the portal.

We congratulate Liberty Shops Auctions for the volume it is doing on Proxibid, qualifying still as the top coin category seller.

Each month these rankings get harder to do because auctioneers continue to improve. However, some houses are not included–even ones with low premiums and nice items–because they see maximum bids, allow shill bidding, have poor photography (unable to discern grade or luster of coin), continue to offer dipped and/or self-slabbed coins without identifying them as such, or lack APN clearance.

We emphasize that content on Proxiblog is educational. We are not an open-source blog or complaint board, which is why we do not even identify auction houses in our “Boo” section of “Boos and Booyahs.” Also, we emphasize, that our rankings are based on our own experience with an auction house. Consider these are our favorite sellers. Your experience might differ from ours.

As for Proxiblog, we now have surpassed 32,000 all-time views and average 650 unique visitors each month–about the size of a mega auction session. Our most popular post continues to be California Gold, real, replica and fake, which averages 60+ views per week (indicating the concern over counterfeits).

Finally, we invite auction houses to sponsor our blog and contribute to our scholarship fund. We continue to publish Proxiblog for free, without subscription. We have more than 400 posts about coins in our archive and over 1000 numismatic photos. Several auction houses have been especially generous this month and we thank those companies on behalf of journalism students at Iowa State University of Science and Technology.

Boos & Booyahs: Best & Bad Auctioneer Lot Descriptions

This is the second of two Boos and Booyah posts, one of our favorite features. This post is all about the Booyahs!

It’s important to be in sync with the Proxibid technology to showcase your photos, hone your lot descriptions, and highlight your consignments for top bids on the leading portal! In the latest installment, Proxiblog laments and compliments best and bad auctioneer lot descriptions during the past week. We will name the best, but you will have to search Proxibid for the bad. (Click pictures to expand and view lot descriptions below.)

keydate_Vam

One Big Booyah! to Key Date Coins, winner of our Best Photography Award, for capturing the finest VAM (variety) details of this 1899 Morgan. Would that other houses provided such detailed photos!


keydate_nocameo.

An Even Bigger Booyah to Key Date Coins! for not being tempted to call this Franklin half “cameo” or “deep cameo.” We see Proxibid auctioneers doing this all the time, when only one side has cameo features. Both must possess that frost. In this case, only the obverse does. Kudos to Eddie Caven for following proper numismatic descriptions! For more on cameos, click here.


booyahRollingM_whizzed

Booyah Rolling M Auction! for noting that this Morgan has been tooled, or altered, and is essentially only worth silver melt. Increasingly we see auctioneers neglecting to state this, even when the results are as obvious as this.


midwest_tooled

Booyah Midwest Coins! for noting yet another altered coin. This one has a tooled cheek, as Charles Commander notes.


dmpl_slider_star coin

Booyah Star Coin and Currency! for describing problems with what appears to be a slider rather than uncirculated DMPL. Jim Haver also points out milky spots and provides another photos for bidders to judge for themselves!


overgraded_kaufman

Booyah Kaufman Auction! for noting this bottom-tier coin is overgraded. We see so many self-slabbed and bottom-tier holders overgrading coins with auctioneers actually citing PCGS and Redbook values for silver melt Morgans. Sigh. At least Kaufman calls this correctly.


rim bump

One last Booyah to Weaver Coins and CurrencyAuction! for identifying rim bumps, which many auctioneers ignore in their descriptions and which may dramatically decrease a coin’s value. Dave Weaver is one of the top numismatic auctioneers in calling attention to a coin’s details.


Viewers can point us to other candidates for our “Boos & Booyahs!” series. Just leave a comment but follow our rules–all in good fun as a way to inspire accurate lot descriptions 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.

Key Date Coins Wins … “Best Photography”

2Best Photography

Key Date Coin Auctions, operated by Eddie Caven of Oklahoma City–a top-ranked house through much of 2012 on Proxiblog–has won the category of “Best Photography,” based on capturing the coin’s true condition and using as many shots as possible to make that happen.

Once again, this was a vigorously contested category with Capitol Coin Auction, Leonard Auction, Manor Auction, Matthew Bullock Auctioneering, McKee Coins, Weaver Coin and Currency, and Western Auction all vying for top honors. The deciding factor was Caven’s use of photography to augment his descriptions, showing VAMS, DMPLs and flaws with sharp, expandable pictures.

Last year Weaver Signature Coin Auction and Matthew Bullock Auctioneering tied for the best photo category honors.

As we mentioned last year, we are flummoxed that so many auctioneers on Proxibid, as competitive as you might anticipate NAA members to be, take shortcuts on photos, sometimes only displaying only obverse, sometimes depicting only a box or an album, sometimes neglecting to note key date coins, sometimes forgetting about lighting, and sometimes just blurring the whole shebang.

Check out this article for tips about digital photography.

To give you an example of why auction houses with the best photography almost always boast the best consignments and top ratings, check out these examples from winner Eddie Caven of Key Date Coins and our Honorable Mentions:

Key Date Coins

Key dateKeydate1Keydate2


Capitol Coin Auction

capitol


Leonard Auction

leonard


Manor Auction

Manor


Matthew Bullock Auctioneering

bullock


McKee Coins

mckee


Weaver Coin and Currency

weaver


Western Auction

western

Please do not take shortcuts on photography if you are paying Proxibid fees whose technology is programmed to share the onsite excitement of an auction with your Internet clientele. Proxibid has enhanced photo-expansion capabilities with a mere mouse-over in the bidding window. Nothing sells a coin with high bids as sharp, expandable photography.

Overall, we have seen better photos across the portal. Perhaps auctioneering competition is at the root of that. In any case, our hat’s off to Key Date Coins for its visual expertise as well as to our Honorable Mention houses.

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.

Rolling M Auction Wins … “Most Improved”

1A_Most Improved

Rolling M Auction, an Ohio house, has been named “most improved” on Proxiblog, with owner Mark Murphy securing ever stronger consignments and improving photos and descriptions (with a little more to go on both).

Rolling M Auction won the award over four close Honorable Mentions, named later in this post.

Rolling M was an honorable mention in this category in 2012, as was Meares Auction Group.

Last year’s winner was Key Date Coins and owner Eddie Caven whose house continues to make strides in part, as Eddie mentioned last year, due to the recognition of Proxiblog. Watch for more on Key Date in upcoming awards.

Mark Murphy improved photography in the past year. This 1923 Peace Dollar was photographed in his Jan. 1, 2012 auction (click to expand):

1923_2011

Compare it to this year’s 1923 Peace Dollar up for bid on Jan. 1, 2013:

1923

The MS66 NGC grade is an indicator of the kinds of consignments Rolling M is offering.

Rolling M marketing efforts are superlative, including brochures mailed to previous bidders in addition to email blasts and other advertising. In this respect, his consignors must be truly happy with his promotions as they bring in both onsite and online bidders.

However, if Mark Murphy is to follow the same trajectory as Eddie Caven, he needs to continue improving photography (he’s having trouble capturing luster and details like VAM-like varieties) and should spend more time identifying flaws in coins in his descriptions (he catches what he can but misses some, too). With more effort in both categories, Rolling M would be in contention next year for an overall top coin auction on Proxibid.

We applaud Mark Murphy in winning this award. As mentioned previously, he had stiff competition from our Honorable Mention houses in this category, which include Back to the Past Collectibles, Engstrom Auctions, Liberty Shops Auction and Meares Auction Group–all with zero to low buyer’s premiums and excellent customer service.

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.

Key Date Coins Lowers BP to 8%; Other Houses, Take Heed!

Eddie Caven of Key Date Coins does everything right, from the best coin photography on the portal to superior numismatic descriptions, including varieties. He has just lowered buyers’ premium to 8%. He needs one more component to be the best coin auction on Proxibid. We don’t know if he will do that because only a few of our top-ranked houses do: and that is, 0% seller premiums.

To begin with, take a look at the digital email advertisement used as a photo for this post. If there was a Proxibid badge for Internet advertising promotions, Key Date Coins and, perhaps, Weaver Signature Coin Auction, would deserve it.

In one screen on desktop, laptop and, yes, smartphone, Eddie Caven describes the Nov. 27 auction in three lines, provides hotlinks to the auction as well as his home page, uses complementary colors, and provides email contact including access to join mailing lists, learn more about his house, and so much more. Journalism and advertising students at Iowa State University can learn much from this.

And his photographs–amazing! There are houses in our top-ranked list to the right that never rise to the top because they just cannot master digital photography, something that irritates us to no end, because we can do it with a cheap cell phone.

To see Eddie Caven’s expertise, take a look at the descriptions and 27–yes, 27 expert numismatic photos–of this Carson City Morgan. (Click to expand.)

Key Date Coins also ships within a day, and updates shipping as on eBay. Several houses will drop in the rankings next week because of slow shipping.

The only thing keeping Key Date Coins from being the best on Proxibid is the consignments. Eddie specializes in Carson City Morgans, but those are plentiful everywhere else. He needs to feature fewer common Franklins and rounds and more rare and gold coins.

He needs to use his communication and numismatic skills to attract better and more diversified consignments.

The top houses in our rankings have that variety, especially Western Auction, Leonard Auction, Capitol Coin Auction and SilverTowne. Others have good consignments, but allow too many self-slabbed or dipped coins into the mix, making buying on their sites hazardous. We have purchased much from each of our top-ranked houses, but only in a select few do raw coins actually grade reasonably well at PCGS. See this post as evidence.

We have recommended in the past that auctioneers fire–yes, fire–consignors who continue to send them dipped, damaged or problem coins. We suspect these consignors are coin dealers. We know the dealer network intimately. See this post for more information.

Every time we mention this, suspect coin dealers consigning to Proxibid houses send us emails noting that several of our top-ranked houses are owned by dealers. Yes, and for the most part, they follow ethics of the Professional Numismatists Guild.

We hesitate to mention one house with low BP, excellent shipping, and good credentials, whose house dropped dramatically in the rankings for the past several months and may not rank at all next month, because its owner believes consignors are expert numismatists who never would send problem coins. Right. Another house, which we don’t mention, features an auctioneer who in the past was an officer in an organization representing many of the houses on Proxibid. He just doesn’t want to hear that his consignors are sending problem coins. As a result, he no longer is listed in our rankings. We stopped bidding in his auctions.

Here’s a tip: It’s your business and your reputation on the line. Forget friendships. Learn numismatics if you are going to schedule regular coin auctions. That is why we are grading auction companies and posting regular features titled “Find the Flaw.”

In the 3+ years we have been buying on Proxibid, we began to notice trends. Some houses wonder why they fall or are unranked in our evaluations. The answers are simple: your consignors, poor photography, slow shipping.

If Key Date Coins had the consignments of Western, Capitol Coin Auction and Leonard Auctions, his house would emerge as the preferred coin buying place on the portal. It’s not only about the buyer’s premium. We would rather bid in an auction with high premiums and honest-to-goodness gradable coins than in one with zero percent that sells inferior products or doesn’t note flaws or problems.

We just lost another $1000 in one of our favorite houses because the auctioneer did not mention problems with dipping. The pictures seemed to indicate dipping in this case, but we decided to trust the auctioneer. This is the second time in a month this has happened to us, setting back our scholarship fund at least six months.

Recommendations for Key Date Coins and other houses looking to enhance consignments?

  • Offer 0% seller fees for choice consignments. (Competitive bidding will increase your bottom line.)
  • Do not accept “junk” consignments with a few choice lots as cherries on dung piles.
  • Advertise regionally to secure consignments from estates or travel to estate auctions and make purchases yourself.

We hope this post informs current houses and helps Key Date and others secure the consignments that attract competitive bidding.

To view two recent auctions that did just that, take a look at Fox Valley Coins and a newcomer who made a big splash this weekend, Braxton Auctioneering. Seldom do we see a newbie online house like Braxton do everything right–well, almost everything (as we have yet to evaluate shipping).

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.

Boos & Booyahs: Best & Bad Auctioneer Lot Descriptions

It’s important to be in sync with the Proxibid technology to showcase your photos, hone your lot descriptions, and highlight your consignments for top bids on the leading portal! In the latest installment, Proxiblog laments and compliments best and bad auctioneer lot descriptions during the past week. We will name the best, but you will have to search Proxibid for the bad. (Click pictures to expand and view lot descriptions below.)

One Big Booyah to Key Date Coin Auction not only for providing one of the best lot descriptions, showing Eddie Caven’s prowess as a numismatist–from VAMS to incredibly sharp photos–but also for his questioning the condition of this rare Carson City coin. He identifies one of the most difficult aspects of grading: cabinet rub. We always bid with confidence at Key Date because of observations like this.


Booyah Auction Orange! for warning his bidders about these bottom-tier slabs that list every worn or cleaned coins as MS66 or MS67. Some Proxibid auctioneers even cite Red Book values for silver-melt or problem coins in hyped holders. Auction Orange doesn’t fall for it, but gains our trust because of the lot description. Nice!


Booyah yet again to Auction Orange! for noting that the coin depicted here probably is a counterfeit. With tens of thousands of counterfeit coins flooding the market from China, some really are difficult to identify. In this case, the auctioneer has spotted something that doesn’t look right. We think it might be the weight or the attempt to make the coin look circulated. In any case, we value once again how the auctioneer gains our trust.


Booyah Weaver Auction! for noting that this coin is a replica. Dave Weaver’s lot descriptions are reliable and appreciated. We caution Proxibid auctioneers to do as Dave has done here and identify these as “replicas,” NOT “tokens.” For more on California fractional gold, click here.


Boo! to this unnamed auction house that cites “full bell lines” in the Proxibid title when the NGC slab doesn’t indicate such. FBL means the bottom lines of the liberty bell on the reverse of Franklin halves are visible and unbroken. The difference between a slab having and not having the designation can be substantial. If you disagree with the designation on the slab, then state why in your lot description.


Booyah Southwest Bullion! for noting what is difficult to see in the digital picture, an alteration of a coin, “tooled,” involving use of a machine to smooth a flaw–a serious possibly fraudulent infraction by some owner in this coin’s long history. Tooling has been done for decades and is difficult to detect, so the consignor probably didn’t even realize this. We’re glad Southwest Bullion did!


Booyah Topless Coins! for noting that this coated 1943 cent is magnetic, meaning it is not copper worth tens of thousands but is steel with copper plate. Nobody got rich on this coin, but we’re richer for Topless doing a magnetic test!


Viewers can point us to other candidates for our “Boos & Booyahs!” series. Just leave a comment but follow our rules–all in good fun as a way to inspire accurate lot descriptions 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.