Top consignors rely on sharp photography

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It baffles us. Auctioneers usually will go the extra mile to earn an extra dollar, except when it comes to coin photography. Don’t they know that top consignors partner with houses that have mastered coin photography?

Compare the luster of the 1883-CC Deep Mirror Prooflike, which we won from Fox Valley Auctions, with the photo below of an Isabella Commemorative Quarter that a Proxibid auctioneer describes as having “great luster”:

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The Fox Valley Coin boasts sharp numismatic photography. The Isabella quarter does not. Both are worth about the same in uncirculated condition with prooflike mirrors. Which do you think will draw the most bids?

Now look at the photo below. We dropped this otherwise successful Proxibid house (as well as several others) from our rankings because it has refused to upgrade photography. The auctioneer claims this 1889-S Morgan is proof-like, but the photography is dull, showing no luster whatsoever:

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Digital cameras have never been better in capturing luster. We photographed this below with a Samsung smartphone. We didn’t use a camera stand or any special lighting, and we uploaded the photo in seconds to the web:
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For a few hundred dollars auctioneers can buy a professional coin photography kit consisting of a tripod, two light sources, a light box and special bulb.

Invest time and funds in photography, and the caliber of your consignments will rise (along with your profits).

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, 2000 Views per Month

Proxiblog’s Coin and Currency category did not add any new auctions to our favorite sellers list; however, a half dozen or so improved so that a full 16 houses earned a 24.5 out of 25, showing continuing improvement.


Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction takes the top spot again this month with SilverTowne a close second, thanks to a dazzling array of quality rarities. Both Weaver Auction and SilverTowne provide good descriptions, quick shipping, and regular auctions.

Weaver has slightly better photos, earning that house the sole 25-point best ranking.

Leonard, Capitol, Meares and Fox Valley all boast great photos, consignments, service and descriptions. In most cases, houses failed to score a full 25 points because of problems with photos or higher than average buyer’s premiums.

Rounding out the top 10 are Back to the Past, Star Coin and Currency, Certified Rare Coin Auctions and Five Star Auction.

It should be noted that some of our favorite houses are not offering as many auctions on Proxibid. Those are dropping in the rankings because of that. But we’re always on the lookout for their return.

Also keep in mind that our favorite houses are just that–ours. Your experience may differ from ours.

As for Proxiblog, we have exceeded 50,000 page views. In the past month, we surpassed 1820 views worldwide. We’re increasingly global with top views from the USA, Britain, Canada, India, Russia, Germany, Australia and the Philippines. Once again, the most accessed post was California Gold, real, replica and fake. That post averages between 50-100 views per month.

We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Please consider making a donation. We post every weekday and do this for educational purposes, informing viewers about numismatics as well as funding scholarships for Iowa State University students.

Fortunately, we have several of our top houses donating funds to our scholarship account. You can also buy our Basic Coin Design book on Kindle. We are extremely grateful. Won’t you consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Iowa State Foundation so that we can continue publishing? Thank you for your consideration!

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.


Proxiblog is sponsored by …

Fox Valley Coins

Be sure to check out the March 22 auction on Proxibid!

Be sure to check out the March 22 auction on Proxibid!

Check out Fox Valley’s upcoming Proxibid auction slated Saturday, March 22, featuring a wide variety of Coin, Currency, Antique & Collectibles.

Fox Valley Coins, specializes in selling and buying coins, currency, gold, silver, select antiques, and more. The company also hosts coin and antique auctions throughout the calendar year.

We are excited every time Fox Valley posts a catalog because we can be sure that it is offering top collectibles. We wrote about that excitement in a post last year. We noted that this top-rated auction house takes no shortcuts, sees no maximum bids, forbids auctioneer and consignor bidding, doesn’t hype or even offer self-slabbed coins–and combines all that with Proxibid state-of-the-art technology. In sum, you get what we have been advocating for at Proxiblog throughout our three years’ existence: an even playing field with honest-to-goodness competition.

And as an added premium, in this auction Fox Valley has again upgraded its photography. This promises to be one of the best and biggest coin auctions of the year!

Fox Valley is always looking for choice consignments. Click the photo below for information on how to consign.


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Fox Valley Coins continuously looks for consignments that include but are not limited to Precious Metals (Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium), Foreign Coins, US Coins, Rare Currencies, Commemorative Mints, Coin Collections, Antiques, Rare Collectibles, Coins for Auction Consignment, Antiques for Auction Consignment, and more.

You can begin the consignment process by visiting this page, which shares contact and offers an online contact form for your convenience.

Fox Valley Coins is a full service coin shop selling Collector’s Supplies, US and Foreign Coins, Rare Currencies, Precious Metals, Commemorative Mints, Reference Manuals, Rare Collectables, Educational Materials, and much more. Click here to view the types of coins and collectibles on sale at Fox Valley. The company offers Colonial Rarities, ½ Cents, Platinum Coins, Cents, Nickels, Dimes, Quarters, Halves, Dollars, Commemorative Coins, Proof & Mint sets, Coin Collections, Carson City Mint Coins, Territorial Coinage, Error Coins, and much more.

We thank Marlon Mathre and Fox Valley Coins for sponsoring Proxiblog’s scholarship fund to help ease student debt and create the next generation of auction-house bidders!

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):

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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):

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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.

Capitol Coin Wins “Best Auction” a Second Time

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Capitol Coin Auction has won our award for “Best Coin Auction” on the Proxibid portal, garnering “Best Shipping,” “Best Photography,” and “Value Added” honors with honorable mentions in “Best Descriptions” and “Best Consignments.” This is the second year in a row that Capitol Coin Auction has won the top honor.

A close second, once again, was Leonard Auction. It won “Best Consignments” with honorable mentions in “Value-Added,” “Best Photography” and “Best Descriptions.”

Star Coin and Currency made a great showing this year, winning “Best Timed Auction” with honorable mentions in “Most Improved,” “Best Descriptions” and “Best Shipping.”

Southwest Bullion and Coin also had a particularly successful year in our rankings, winning the competitive “Best Descriptions” category and honorable mentions in “Most Improved” and “Best Photography.”

SilverTowne Auctions won “Best Shipping” and had honorable mentions in “Best Descriptions,” “Value-Added” and “Best Consignments.”

Meares Auction won “Most Improved” and had honorable mentions in “Best Shipping” and “Best Consignments.”

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction had honorable mentions in the important categories of “Best Photography,” “Best Descriptions,” “Best Consignments” and “Value-Added.”

The houses above are runners-up in our “Best Coin Auction” category.

We also praise and recommend our other houses that placed in our various competitions, including:

  • Back to the Past Collectibles
  • Black and Gold Auctions
  • Braden Auction Services
  • Decatur Coin and Jewelry
  • Engstrom Auctions
  • Five Star Auction
  • Fox Valley Coins
  • Gary Ryther Auctioneers
  • Heuckman Auction
  • Jewelry Exchange
  • Kaufman Realty and Auction
  • McKee Coins
  • Midwest Coins
  • Rolling M Auction
  • Schultz Auctioneers
  • Western Auction

We encourage all of the houses named above to continue improving in the spirit of service, competition and community that all auctioneers and numismatists share, serving our clients and memberships. Continue to embrace the ethics of both the National Auctioneers Association and the American Numismatic Association.

We also thank Proxibid for its Internet options, quality control and customer service and all houses specializing in coins. We encourage them to visit these award-winning houses above. We know there are some houses that we missed in our rankings; as always, our experience may differ from yours and you should consider these award-winners our favorites. In sum, we did the best job we could with the available data and hope that you will continue visiting our site and interacting with our clientele, now exceeding 26000 views since inception.

Finally, consider making a donation to our Scholarship Account. (See details on top of the “Rankings” sidebar to the right.) We will continue publishing Proxiblog free of charge and covering Proxibid and the online coin auction industry. Won’t you consider making a voluntary donation to offset tuition expenses for our college students?

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.

Leonard Auction Wins … “Best Consignment”

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Leonard Auction, operated by John Leonard of Addison, Ill., has won the category of “Best Consignments,” based not only on the caliber of rarities but also on raw coins that actually grade as described with PCGS or NGC. Fox Valley Coins was a very close second with its Nov. 23, 2013 auction featuring some of the best coins we had seen all year.

Western Auction won the category in 2013 and also in 2012, tying in that year with James Peterson Auction. This year both of those companies were included in Honorable Mention along with Fox Valley Coins, SilverTowne Auctions, Capitol Coin Auction, Kaufman Realty and Auctions, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, and Decatur Coin and Jewelry.

To give you an example of coins that John Leonard routinely offers, look at this slate of brilliant gold coins augmenting top-notch raw key date silver lots.

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Some of Proxiblog’s acquisitions from Leonard have been profiled in Coin World, as in this piece.

Among the best auctions in 2013 on Proxibid was the Nov. 23 session by Fox Valley Coins. See this slate of Morgans as an example:

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The condition of coins in that auction had the look of “age,” lots stored away for decades in some vault or bank box. Bidding was frenetic, with almost every cherry lot selling at retail; or above.

Meares Auction Group also came close to winning with recent bankruptcy auctions. Darron Meares, auctioneer, also has some of the best terms of service on the portal, with low buyer’s premiums.

SilverTowne Auctions consistently offers some of the best lots on Proxibid. It holds more coin auctions than any other company on the portal and thus was a very strong contender.

And our long-time favorite, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, continues to impress us with frequent quality auctions, innovations and new directions.

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.

Capitol Auction heads list of top-ranked houses

Capitol Coin Auction doesn’t hold monthly auctions, but when it does–about 4-6 per year–wow, Auctioneer Brad Lisembee creates an event. His Nov. 9 Proxibid auction is one of them, replete with top holdered and raw coins in nearly all series and denominations. Brad also charges a low buyer’s fee and provides quick, inexpensive shipping, with lots showcased by excellent numismatic photography and grading. No new houses were added to our rankings this month, as so many of our favorites are improving regularly, topping newcomers to the portal. As we always state, however, our top houses are just a matter of choice. (Your experience may differ from ours.)

Leonard Auction, SilverTowne Auction, Western and Southwest Bullion continue to set the pace with excellent consignments and concise, numismatic grading. Other fine houses–Decatur, Weaver, Meares, Gary Ryther, et. al., continue to appeal with good photography, neat consignments, accurate descriptions and fine customer service. Back to the Past Collectibles is in our top 10 because of continuing improvement. RitMar Exchange is moving up, too, focusing on improved photography and mastering the basics with low buyer’s fee and great customer service.

This is the first time we have scored 24.5 points to the top 15 houses. Essentially, there is little difference between them except for the particular consignment on a given week.

This is a good sign because Proxibid has inaugurated a seller feedback feature. Watch for a post on that latter in the week.

As for Proxiblog, we continue to grow with more than 42,500 viewers since our inception in May 2011. In the past 10 months we have logged more than 17,000 views with most coming from the United States, Canada, Britain, Russia and India.

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The most popular post continues to be “California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake.” Typically we identify a handful of replica and counterfeit lots, claiming to the real fractional gold; we report them via Proxibid’s “Report this Item” link. Sadly, we report, we see little action typically by seller or Proxibid.

Hats off to Meares Auction, which had two such replicas on consignment, asked us to evaluate them, and then changed the lot description. That’s why Darron Meares is a leader in this business.

We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Fortunately, we have several of our top houses donating funds to our scholarship account. GreatCollections, operated by numismatist Ian Russell, sponsored an entire month. We are extremely grateful.

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.

Our top post, accessed more than 50 times per week

Coin Dealer Newbies

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Savvy coin dealers know that the expense of online sessions–from credit cards to shipping–require cherry consignments of the type that Fox Valley, SiverTowne and Capitol Auction regularly bring to bidders. Newbie dealers see Internet as a convenient way to sell off junk silver and clad mint sets taking space in their shop safes. Nothing is more boring than to peruse such a catalog on Proxibid.

Coin dealers may know how to grade or describe numismatic lots, but auctioneers know how to assemble a winning catalog to make a profit, and that means, searching out estates for collections and/or relying on experienced buyers to send in rarities and varieties of all denominations, from ancient coins to slabbed ones by top holdering companies.

Look to the rankings in the right sidebar. Those earning 24.5 points almost always feature such consignments, and the result is, they get more–from all over the country–because these auctioneers know how to generate excitement by taking risks, which often include low buyer’s premiums or no-reserve lots.

The worst combination online is a mint set sale with opening bids above retail, and that is what we are weary of seeing when a new coin dealer signs on with Proxibid.

Take a look at the lots and opening bids of the catalog below. (Click to expand photo.)

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The dealer is opening bids at $12 and $13 for clad 1970s “mint sets” which are really proof sets, but why bother to waste time getting the lot description right? The silver three-coin set opens at $35.

Now take a look at retail prices for these sets, $10 and $12 with $26 for the three-coin set. (Click to expand photo.)

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Worse, this new Proxibid house charges a buyer’s premium for use of credit card and promises to ship within 10-14 business days after funds have cleared.

Is this service, which online communities demand?

Once again, as we have done regularly in the past, we recommend that the Proxibid sales team assemble a best-practice document so that new clients don’t make these newby mistakes. Once a house is known for selling like this, it earns a reputation and is overlooked by bidders.

We hang out with coin dealers. We hear them say Internet is killing their businesses.

Maybe dealers are doing the bulk of the damage by trying to sell off their bulk and backlogged holdings.

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, Gary Ryther Auctioneers Make Gains; Proxiblog exceeds 35,000 views!

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Proxiblog’s viewership has increased steadily as we enter our fourth year of publication with 35,000+ views from around the world in the course of our existence and markedly improved coin auctions on Proxiblog that include APN clearance, in-house shipping, acceptable levels of buyers’ premiums, accurate numismatic lot descriptions and sharp, expandable photos of coins.

Our rankings in the right sidebar concern only our experience with certain sellers. Your experience may differ. In any case, we patronize auction companies when they adhere to standards as expressed in the above paragraph.

In this month’s rankings SilverTowne emerges as the top of our list with a full 25 points. In large part, this has to do with the grading standards, the frequency of auctions, and the wide range of rarities to suit everyone’s budget. You’re not going to steal a coin from Rick Howard or Dave Nauert; but you certainly can snag some below Grey Sheet (wholesale prices).

John Leonard at Leonard Auction continues to amaze us with choice consignments, accurate numismatic descriptions and sharp digital photos. Same can be said about Western Auction and Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction.

Then, the next half dozen or so companies in our rankings essentially are offering the same level of excitement, appeal and numismatic knowledge. One company, Southwest Bullion and Coin, continues to improve consignments, identify flaws in lots, ship coins quickly and inexpensively, and offer a zero percent buyer’s premium, meaning what you bid is what you pay.

A few other auctions not on our rankings make that faux claim but, unlike Southwest Bullion, open lots at or above Grey Sheet or even retail. So of course if all lots sell with profit to the company, they do not have to see maximum bids or shill bid or charge buyers’ premiums. They built all that into their high opening bids. So when you patronize these companies, all you are actually doing is purchasing coins from an online shop. You are not participating in a win-or-lose auction, as you might with Southwest Bullion. Sadly, companies that do not realize this also are not taking advantage of the Proxibid technology that is programmed for an onsite experience in the comfort of your own home. (Watch for a post on this soon!)

We have often said that all a company has to do is improve one aspect of its features to gain big-time, and we see that in one of our old favorites, Gary Ryther Auctioneers. His company fell from our listings primarily because of the quality of its photographs, which just could not capture luster. He improved that component, attracted marvelous consignments, and is a top-rated house for us again. (Watch for a post on this soon, too!)

We also are excited every time we see an auction by our other favorite sellers, including Star Coin and Currency, Engstrom Auction, Meares Auction, Kaufman Auction, Jewelry Exchange, Key Date Coins and Rolling M Auctions. If our rankings included top sellers for consignors, rather than best bets for bidders, Mark Murphy at Rolling M would rise to the top. His sessions consistently sell above retail because he knows how to promote them onsite and online. Now, if he only would improve photography just a little more, to capture luster like Gary Ryther has done, he would see his great results improve beyond his own high standards and expectations.

As for Proxiblog, we continue to grow our audience with typical 100+ views per day from all over the world. The latest stats show us with more than 20,000 from the past year and a quarter, as the graph below shows. (Total views exceed 35,000 over the course of our publication life.)

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Our top post continues to be California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake, which averages between 25-100 views per week. “Find the Flaw!” and “Boos and Booyahs!” also are tops among our audience.

Finally, we wish to thank auction houses that have donated to our scholarship fund. We publish Proxiblog for free and promote the best companies and practices on the portal, along with providing numismatic knowledge for bidders and auctioneers. We do this for our students so that they can decrease student debt, enhance personal and professional ethics, and emerge as the next generation of auction buyers.


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.

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.
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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.