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.

10monthviews

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

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Auctions that Aren’t

allthemarbles
Click the above picture to expand

We grow weary with seeing so-called auctions like this on Proxibid. Coins open at or near retail. Buyer’s fee is high. Auctioneer sees maximum bids and can shill bid at will. These aren’t auctions. They’re online coin stores.

This auction company routinely opens at or near retail, charges a higher buyer’s fee, sees maximum bids and can shill bid to raise the price higher. Why are these so-called auctions on Proxibid?

We recommend against bidding with any company that sees maximum bids and allows auctioneering or consignor bidding. There are plenty of real auctions on Proxbid, in which there are no reserves, low opening bids, low buyer’s fee and good shipping. We don’t list any auction that sees maximum bids or allows shill bidding in our top rankings in the right sidebar.

If you want to patronize auctions like the one above, we recommend against Proxibid and for Heritage, Teletrade and Great Collections. They offer superior service, especially shipping. The same coin below sold recently at Heritage very near the above company’s opening bid.

heritagesale

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 Reflect Competition

Recently Proxibid reported a 29.3% increase in coins auctions from 2010 to 2011, with a 36% increase in the number of coin auctions in the first quarter of this year. More competition has led to new rankings, as newcomers offer choice consignments with low buyer’s fees and specials. How will your house respond?

Gone are the days when Proxibid auction houses could dictate terms online, ghost-bidding lots, hyping descriptions, posting blurry photographs of only one side of a coin, and charging as much as 22% online fees while lacking APN clearance and using third-party shippers.

In part, Proxiblog has played a role in numismatic quality control. Proxibid also has done its share in creating more of an even playing field, posting APN buttons and transparency notices to alert bidders to houses that see maximum bids or allow consignor and auctioneer bidding.

As a result, we have seen competitive houses such as Silvertowne drop maximum-bid viewing, reclaiming its third-place slot behind Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction and Western Auction, which finally has overtaken Weaver based on slightly better photography (showing luster) and equally choice consignments.

Breaking into the top 10 are Bennett Auction Service with a 9.5% online buyer’s fee, good photography, APN clearance, cheap shipping, and no viewing maximum bids or allowing consignor bidding. However, the house doesn’t specialize in coins, and a consideration in our rankings is the number of coin auctions each house schedules in a month. Silvertowne is among leaders in that category with the best lot descriptions on Proxibid because of veteran numismatist Larry Fuller.

Kaufman Realty also has broken into the top 10 with increasingly accurate lot descriptions, regular coin auctions and improved photography.

Also in the top 10 is Back to the Past Pop Culture Warehouse. This house offers a 10% buyer’s fee, $5 flat rate shipping on coins and good photography. After it viewed Proxiblog, seeing that we advocate for photos on both sides of a coin, Creative Director Scott Lovejoy immediately posted reverses of all coins before an upcoming auction and quickly rose in our rankings.

Our Honor Roll houses now number 88 offering low buyer’s fees, good photography and reasonable shipping. In May 2011, only 11 houses on Proxibid met these criteria.

Other newcomers have risen in our top 21 slots, including Auctions Unlimited and Brian’s Auction Service.

Not all Proxibid coin auctions have responded favorably to the new competition. We no longer purchase coins from them because they refuse to upgrade photography, clinging to harsh service terms and hyping lot descriptions.

Conversely, there are houses whose consignments and in-house practices are so trustworthy that we eagerly await their auctions. These include Leonard Auction and Capitol Coin Auction. While they charge online buyer’s fees between 17-20%, they offer the superior consignments and lot descriptions that stand up to PCGS standards.

Nonetheless, if they took a chance in an auction and reduced their online fees to 15%, we believe their bottom lines would rise significantly in a few months’ time.

Finally, coin auctioneers should realize that mega houses such as Teletrade and Great Collections are in the process of competing with each other and Proxibid. Teletrade offers no-reserve, 0% buyer’s fees on Tuesdays. Great Collections offers 10% with “Buy Now” specials and other enticements.

In an Internet world, like it or not, you are competing with the likes of megahouses (including Heritage). We advise to embrace the competition and figure out creative ways to attract return customers, offering specials and treating online buyers with the same courtesies as your onsite crowd.

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 Shipping Phobia

We do not know why an auctioneer would use terms of service like the one below, indicating the house was contacted numerous times about the policy but still ignores feedback.

Gone are the days on Proxibid when auctioneers selling coins could dictate terms of service, knowing they had little competition from other houses (such as our top companies in the sidebar rankings to the right.) Why would anyone bother to bid on coins with terms of service like this?

  • “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.”

What troubles us about houses with similar terms of service, and there are more than a few on Proxibid, is how this not only affects the bidder but the consignor, too. Why would anyone want to consign coins knowing the house’s policy stated in such stark terms? Doesn’t the house know consignors are scanning Proxibid for the best customer service?

We recommend that all consignors to Proxibid auctions read the terms of service of a potential house before signing any contract. The most competitive houses have low buyer’s fees, sharp photography, flat-rate shipping and other perks that spark ever higher bids between the online and onsite auctions. Also, as we have noted repeatedly, we do not recommend patronizing houses that lack APN clearance or that have APN clearance with third-party shippers.

And one more thing: Why isn’t the Proxibid sales team recommending what we just did in this post? Houses with bidder unfriendly Internet terms also reflect poorly on Proxibid. Competitors continue to point out to us that many Proxibid houses fall far short of quality-control standards as found on Teletrade, Heritage and Great Collections.

It’s not how many houses you sign up, but how many succeed on the portal.


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 Goes International: New Rankings and Sponsors

In as much as Proxibid registers bidders from around the world, small wonder that Proxiblog–which covers the portal’s coin auctions–also should go global. Click picture to expand, and you will see where our 1500-plus views came from in the first 21 days of March.

Our site has logged 13,000 views in the past six months. What does this mean for those who follow our blog?

First of all, those who have sponsored a week’s posts on Proxiblog–GreatCollections, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, Western Auction, James Peterson, Krause Auctioneering, Leonard Auction and Scott Auctions, to name a few–are getting their “donation’s worth.” Companies that sponsor our site for a week simply visit this link and typically make a tax-deductible donation from $10-$1000.

This week we will feature our first numismatic publication, Coin Update, as official sponsor.

Our most popular posts include “Boos and Booyahs,” “Articles” page (a virtual text in online auctioneering), and the series on “Consignor Viewing and Maximum Bid” policies.

All the while we have been keeping track of coin auctions, sparking new rankings in the right sidebar. Several of these auction companies are thriving because of ever better consignments, sharper expandable photos, inexpensive shipping and monthly specials.

All meet our Honor Roll standards of 15% or lower buyer’s fee. These houses also typically invest in APN clearance and schedule regular coin auctions, in some cases, a half dozen or more per month.

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction remains doggedly in first place, primarily because Dave and Cheryl Weaver surprise us each month, be it with snappy online advertisements, shipping specials, expert photography, accurate lot descriptions, and low online buyer’s fees (10%, with occasional discounts on gold).

Western Auction continues to hold on to second place with superior consignments, photography and quick, inexpensive shipping.

We’ve seen continuous improvement in Meares and Rolling M. Auctions, with Engstrom Auctions gearing up for more enhancements in the coming weeks, soliciting bidder feedback–nice touch, that!

Other top-ranked houses typically do not see prebids or allow consignor bidding. We still include those in our rankings because of our own transparency about that, especially our top-viewed series on the topic, as referenced above.

If you are an auctioneer, we hope you will continue to visit Proxiblog for best practices. If you are a bidder, we hope that you will find our posts informative on how and where to spend your numismatic money. And if you are a sponsor, or would like to become one, we thank you on behalf of college students, easing their debt with scholarships and ensuring the next generation of bidders.

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 Grows: more views, new sponsors, updated rankings

Proxiblog’s success is due in part to companies and bidders who visit our site (11,200 views in 3 months!), debate policy, compete in the auctioneering tradition and show their generosity by sponsoring scholarships to ease student debt.

We are honored to serve you! And you have served us, as well, sharing your knowledge and interacting with others on our site.

Our Honor Rolls now boast 80 auction houses, up from 11 in 10 months. Best of all, photography has improved significantly across the portal!

Our most popular page remains “Boos and Booyahs!” with our “Articles” page (a veritable book about online auctioneering) a close second. Most of our viewers are from the United States with Canada and Great Britain, second and third. We have posted 147 articles and more than 300 photographs, and nearly 100 of our viewers have sent comments.

Viewers who self-identify are mostly auctioneers and their employees along with bidders, hobbyists and Proxibid blog subscribers.

Rankings have changed dramatically since last month, with Weaver Auction and Western Auction in a dead heat for first place. Meares, Engstrom, Rolling M., and Krause have broken into the top 10 with newcomer Bennett, featuring the lowest buyer’s fees.

Finally, in the past month, we have purchased our own domain, proxiblog.org, with the org representing a non-profit. We bring you content, buy from and consign to your auctions, to help with student scholarships. And you have answered the call with sponsorships!

We especially appreciate the scholarship support from Weaver Coin and Currency Auction, GreatCollections, Key Date Coins, Western Auction and Leonard Auction.

John Leonard company’s is this week’s sponsor (with a post about that on Friday).

We thank our viewers for helping make Proxiblog a success!

Top Houses Upgrade Coin Photos

Pictures are worth more than a thousand words online, and these showcase Proxiblog award-winning companies Weaver Auction, Western Auction, Key Date Coins, Rolling M, James Peterson and Leonard Auctions, which have enhanced their already-sharp photography with a zoom feature for complete numismatic examination.

Weaver Auction won a best photography award earlier this year; Leonard and Key Date auctions, four honorable mentions across categories, including photography; Western, best consignment and three honorable mentions, including photography; Rolling M Auctions, a most-improved mention; and James Peterson, best consignment.

If you’re going to pay Proxibid, credit card and APN fees, and you snare a top consignment, you are only cheating yourself if you do not invest in clear, expandable photos of your coins. Gone are the days when blurry photos hide flaws in the hope that bidders will hunger for a bargain and take chances. There are just too many online savvy houses stealing new and return bidders with fine photography, and the new zoom feature as illustrated in the examples below will attract even more.

Also, by enhancing photography, you put more responsibility on the bidder, as this picture illustrates. Click picture to view.

Bidders access the zoom feature by clicking on the thumbnail followed by the lot photo and then clicking on that. In the lower right corner is a button for “full screen.” Click picture to view.

Some auction houses have an expand feature but no zoom when this button is clicked; others just reprint the same size photo. The zoom feature, however, lets bidders examine a coin in specific places as if holding a loop to the metal. To be sure, inspecting a coin in person is still the preferred method; but these houses (and others not featured here) have displayed photos every bit as informative as what might be found on the large houses such as GreatCollections, Teletrade and Heritage.

Before displaying their photos, some final thoughts:

  • The better the consignment, the sharper your photos must be to spark bidding wars.
  • The less you know about VAMs and other varieties, the more you need zoom features for bidders looking for these attributes
  • The more you sell online, the sharper and larger your photos must be to stay competitive with houses such as featured below (click photos to expand).

In closing, you owe it to your business and consignor to display rare coins and precious metals with the digital photography that they deserve, especially as both the auction and coin business gravitate to the Internet. It’s an added cost, to be sure; but as these top houses know, a necessary one.


Weaver Auction


Western Auction


Leonard Auction


James Peterson


Key Date Coins


Rolling M Auctions


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.