Hyped Coins Taint Reputation

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Look closely at the Peace dollar above. You’ll see it is harshly cleaned. How much would you pay over silver melt? $10? $30? How about $60,000? That’s what this Proxibid auction house suggests in its lot description.

Auctioneers who sell coins need to know how to cite value. PCGS values are high because its standards are among the most rigorous in the industry. NGC, also considered a top-tier company with high standards, commands premiums for its coins. However, its standards differ from those of PCGS, so it is also inappropriate to cite PCGS values for NGC coins.

ANACS and ICG are second-tier, mostly reliable grading companies. You should cite Red Book prices for them.

Here are the URLS:

Treat all other slabs, even PCI and Numistrust and so-called third-tier companies, with caution before stating any values.

In this case, we’re dealing with three levels of hype. Let’s start with how this coin appeared on Proxibid:

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The first hype is the slab itself, boasting that a harshly cleaned 1928-S is MS66. The second hype is the description that cites PCGS values at $60,000. The third hype is Proxibid’s lack of standards when it comes to values cited in lot descriptions.

As we have written in past posts, if you spot gross inaccuracies like the one above, report them to Proxibid and ask the company to alter the Unified User Agreement “4.4 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials” (OUR RECOMMENDATION IN ALL CAPS):

    Seller shall not knowingly misrepresent any items. VALUES OF ITEMS SHOULD BE BASED ON VALID APPRAISALS OR VERIFIABLE DATA. All catalog descriptions must accurately describe the items for sale, and all photos must be original. If Seller uses stock photos, Seller must disclose so in the catalog description as well as in the Special Terms of Sale for the auction.

Until Proxibid cracks down on these practices, as eBay has done, bidders will suffer, and so eventually will the reputation of auction houses that persist in these questionable practices.

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 Proxibid House, Same Old Hyped Values

Click to expand screenshot to see incredibly exaggerated values for common Morgan dollars coupled by outlandish opening bids. We wrote about this phenomenon last week, urging Proxibid in this post to change the Unified User Agreement, because hyped values undermine the company’s brand of “trust.”

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As we reported last week, new auction houses should be monitored for potentially unethical practices of stating values without regard to accuracy, eroding bidder confidence. Take a closer look at how inflated these values are:

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If you spot gross inaccuracies like the ones above, report them to Proxibid and ask the company to alter the Unified User Agreement “4.4 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials” (OUR RECOMMENDATION IN ALL CAPS):

    Seller shall not knowingly misrepresent any items. VALUES OF ITEMS SHOULD BE BASED ON VALID APPRAISALS OR VERIFIABLE DATA. All catalog descriptions must accurately describe the items for sale, and all photos must be original. If Seller uses stock photos, Seller must disclose so in the catalog description as well as in the Special Terms of Sale for the auction.

Again as we reported last week, whenever you see slabbed coins from major houses–PCGS, NGC, ANACS, ICG–you can always check the real retail value. Just copy down the certification number for PCGS and NGC lots and then visit their retail value database for the exact coin being offered on Proxibid. For PCGS, click here. For NGC, click here.

For ANACS and ICG, you don’t need to copy the cert and look in databanks. We recommend subscribing to CoinFacts to learn latest auction prices.

However, as in the cases above, this method will not work for raw coins (ones not in holders). In that case, you need to know how to grade coins (view posts in Proxiblog and other numismatic websites). If you don’t know how to grade, or don’t want to learn, then only purchase coins by the top grading companies above … after having checked their retail values.

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.

It’s Time Proxibid Cracked Down on Inflated Values

Click to expand screenshot to see hyped values against PCGS retail prices–for exact coins!
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This Proxibid auction house specializing in coins continues to inflate values without regard to accuracy, a sure way to erode trust in the online world. The samples above grossly inflate values for common Morgan dollars. We will continue to call attention to these inaccuracies in the hope that our viewers will report them and Proxibid will alter the Unified User Agreement.



Whenever you see slabbed coins from major houses–PCGS, NGC, ANACS, ICG–you can always check the real retail value. Just copy down the certification number for PCGS and NGC lots and then visit their retail value database for the exact coin being offered on Proxibid. For PCGS, click here. For NGC, click here.

For ANACS and ICG, you don’t need to copy the cert and look in databanks. We recommend subscribing to CoinFacts to learn latest auction prices.

You’re always free to do as you like, but we will never EVER bid in auctions like the one above. We just assume if companies are going to be inaccurate about easily checked values, they might not be as mindful about other buyer concerns, such as shipping or customer service.

Once an auction house decides to go this route, it can take months or years to regain the online bidder’s trust. And trust is the brand of Proxibid hosting houses like this. Better to set down some house rules in the Unified User Agreement about grossly inflating values and penalize auction companies that are informed but choose to ignore readily available retail values–in the case above, for the exact coins being offered on the portal.

We think this clause should be added to the Unified Agreement in “4.4 Marketing and Accuracy of Materials” (OUR RECOMMENDATION IN ALL CAPS):

    Seller shall not knowingly misrepresent any items. VALUES OF ITEMS SHOULD BE BASED ON VALID APPRAISALS OR VERIFIABLE DATA. All catalog descriptions must accurately describe the items for sale, and all photos must be original. If Seller uses stock photos, Seller must disclose so in the catalog description as well as in the Special Terms of Sale for the auction.

If you agree, whenever you see inflated values, use “the report this item” link that Proxibid provides for cases like this and inform Proxibid’s quality control.

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.

Sharpen Lot Descriptions

numismatice termsThe best way to move lots and spark bidding is to shoot a sharp photo. The next best way is to describe the lot numismatically.

Owen McKee takes pains to compose a thorough lot description on a folder full of coins, which bidders usually take under wholesale because auctioneers do not spend as much time as this Iowa coin dealer in depicting the lot with photo and terms. (Click to expand photo below.)

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McKee also describes flaws in lots so that bidders know the true condition of a coin, as in this photo of a rare 1955 double die that has a scratch and rim dings and hence probably will not slab.

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Speaking of slabs, here is a coin in one whose auctioneer shows neither the label nor describes the lot, meaning that buyers can be bidding on a flawed coin (probably improperly cleaned).

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When describing lots, use PCGS Coin Values only when stating the condition of lots holdered by that company. Anything else is unethical (cite Redbook or CoinValues prices if slabbed by ANACS or ICG; use NGC values for coins by that holdering company, with anything else considered raw). Southwest Bullion and Coin shows how it’s done:

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This auction company violates that standard, citing what we believe to be a $92 MS64 raw coin as MS67 worth thousands. (At best, this is an MS65 coin worth $150; at worst, it is a dipped coin that is not gradeworthy). Note the high bid on the coin with six days remaining:

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Auctioneers who know numismatic terms attract repeat business. Buyers who are shortchanged will learn the truth sooner or later when attempting to resell their overpriced lots.

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.

How and How Not to Describe Bottom-Tier Slabs

John Leonard of Leonard Auction features some of the most accurate lot descriptions on Proxibid, especially when it comes to bottom-tier and self-slabbed coins. He is conscientious about grading them appropriately. A few other auctioneers, not so much. …

The rule concerning any unknown slabbing company is to treat the coin as raw and not to cite Redbook or PCGS values as to its worth. Here are three recent descriptions from John Leonard’s upcoming Saturday, May 18th, auction. (Click to expand.)


In the photo below, the slab states that this common silver dollar, a 1921 Morgan, is gem MS65 worth about $150. Leonard calls this an AU slider with details, and those are harsh cleaning and damage, rending this lot to silver melt, about $20.

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In the photo below, the slab states that this common silver dollar, an 1896 Morgan, is a super gem MS66 worth about $650. Leonard calls this choice BU, or MS64, worth about $80.

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In the photo below, the slab states that this common silver dollar, an 1885-O Morgan, is MS60 worth about $25. Leonard calls this an AU slider, rending this lot slightly above silver melt, at about $22.

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This auctioneer below is not as conscientious as John Leonard. He consistently makes two numismatic errors, hyping bottom-tier slabs (error 1) and citing PCGS values (error 2). See lot below. These are serious ethical errors in the coin collecting world, and this auctioneer who sells coins regularly and has some of the best consignments on Proxibid–featured on occasion in Coin World–knows, or should know, better.

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This is not worth $725 but probably $30 at low-mint state. The coin also may be cleaned, but we cannot discern that from the photo. (We see trouble spots in the right field at about 2:30 o’clock.) We would not bid on this, treating the coin as low-mint state or slider with details.

As a rule, PCGS and NGC are top holdering companies, but each does have different standards. Each company has its own values site on the Web. For ANACS and ICG, use CoinValues or Redbook values.

Some holdering companies, such as PCI, ACG, SEGS, and Numistrust typically grade a few points lower than PCGS or NGC; but it’s best to treat those coins as raw, too, learning about grading (see our regular “Find the Flaw” feature) and bidding on the coin rather than the holder.

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.

Bidder Tips: Disputing Lot Descriptions

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Bidders and auctioneers should follow procedures when disputing lot descriptions. Here are tips for bidders. Tuesday we will share pointers for auctioneers.


When bidders receive a coin that has not been accurately described, they need to be sure to follow these procedures:

  1. Read the service terms. All sales are usually final when the hammer drops, especially as they pertain to grades. Grading is in part subjective (within a few points on the Sheldon scale). Many service terms state no refunds due to grade or condition as described on Proxibid. This type of complaint won’t hold up in a dispute.
  2. Know the exceptions to all sales final. An auctioneer cannot state a coin is gold when it is base metal. Neither can an auctioneer sell counterfeit or replica coins as authentic. Exceptions occur when an item is presented as something it is not.
  3. Deal first with the auctioneer. If you suspect you have a counterfeit or an item that differs significantly from what is described, see if the auctioneer will take back the lot. If not, you’ll have to prove your case.
  4. Prove your point. Send the auctioneer a note, copying in Proxibid Customer Service, that you are going to send the coin to PCGS, NGC, ICG or ANACS to verify your suspicions. Take your coin to a dealer for submission or do so yourself. (See this post for instructions.)
  5. Contact Proxibid Customer Service with the evidence. Take photos of the report by your grading company verifying your suspicions and then contract Proxibid, which will open a dispute in your name.

Describing coins accurately is important if auctioneers want return customers. The Unified User Agreement requires accurate descriptions: “Significantly Not as Described” (SNAD) Claim – means an action taken by a Buyer against a Seller when the Buyer has purchased an item that arrived but was significantly different from the item description.

We have never encountered a problem when we have provided evidence. We worked with auction companies on more than a half dozen fakes and always received refunds. We recently had the same experience with a coin that was described as a rare variety when it wasn’t.

Tuesday we will share tips for auctioneers involved in disputes with 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.

Subjective Grading

Everyone has his or her own standards, and that applies to people who put coins in holders and then use the Sheldon grading scale (1-70) to designate what looks like an authentic grade. Problem is, auctioneers selling those slabs then cite Coin Values or PCGS prices for the lot. That’s not subjective. That’s unfair.

Take this coin below, which recently appeared in a Proxibid auction. It states that the Morgan dollar is Mint State 67 Deep Mirror Proof-like.

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In this case, the auctioneer has a disclaimer: “We are not coin experts or graders. Please use your own judgment when bidding.”

Use Your Own Judgment. That cuts both ways. If you are an auctioneer and not a coin expert, please use your judgment and do not cite sky-high prices for what may turn out to be a very common coin worth a bit more than silver melt.

What to make of a coin company that slabs every coin at MS67? (Well, that’s the company’s brand and standard.)

The problem here is that’s not the standard on which legitimate coin values are based.

Take this coin, which looks bag-marked with little reflectivity. DMPLs should reflect text or images from a distance of six inches. PCGS and NGC have graded thousands upon thousands of Morgan dollars. NGC’s top DMPL grade for an 1882-O is MS65. PCGS has one graded at MS66DMPL, with a value of $25,000.

There is no MS67DMPL Morgan graded objectively. If there were, you’d need megabucks to acquire it.

If you’re a bidder, don’t be fooled by coins holdered by little-known companies. If you’re an auctioneer, cite values when coins are graded by third-party companies with high standards, namely, PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG. Treat everything else as raw.


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.