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 Coins for noting small but nonetheless signs of damage on an otherwise beautiful coin. As you’ll see in the example below, some auctioneers are not noting obvious damage like scratches and graffiti and even citing values based on Red Book prices for coins that are essentially silver melt or have low numismatic worth. Eddie is more concerned about his integrity as a numismatist than in selling a lot and risking an unsatisfied customer. Our hats are off to him and Key Date Coins.


Boo! to this unnamed auctioneer who fails to note scratches and graffiti and has the temerity to state this severely damaged coin is almost uncirculated 55, a few points from mint state. To the contrary: This coin is a few steps from the silver melting pot and is, at best, a filler in a coin album.


Booyah! to Star Coin and Currency for noting damage to a gold $2 1/2 dollar coin caused by one time being part of a jewelry piece. This type of damage can be obvious or subtle, and is always a problem if a bidder wants to authenticate and slab such a coin with a top grading company. Star Coin’s transparency is appreciated.


Boo! to this unnamed auction house for failing to provide reverse photos, especially of an 1890-CC, which just might be a coveted tailbar variety. We have stopped bidding in auctions that only show one side of a coin and urge our bidders to do the same. Badge or no badge, this auction house needs a tutorial in selling coins.


Boo! to this unnamed auction house for calling a coin “cameo” when the holder clearly states that it is NOT and the price difference is significant ($60+). Moreover, cameo coins require frosted devices on both sides (and this half-dollar lacks that). Let’s not hype coins; let’s really not hype coins holdered by NGC or PCGS as their values are pretty apparent and their graders do not miss much.



Boo! Speaking of PCGS, do not use its price guide for coins that are not holdered by this top-company, even if showing an NGC coin (PCGS’s closest rival). PCGS has distinct grading standards and its values are based on that. No doubt this is a lovely coin, but citing $1000 is out of line as similar ICG coins (ANACS top rival) have sold for $50 or less. To ascertain current values, we recommend subscribing to PCGS Coin Facts which lists sale prices for PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG. (We never bid without checking CoinFacts for current pricing levels.)


One Big Booyah! to McKee Coins for noting this roll of steel cents is reprocessed, or replated, distinguishing its worth from uncirculated rolls of such cents which can sell as high as $100. This is worth less than $20 and of value only to give to youth numismatists to spark their interest in the hobby, showing children a plated and real World War II-era steel cent so that they can tell the difference.


One Big Booyah! to Black and Gold Auctions for noting scratches and cleaning of an otherwise rare key date Indian head cent, coveted by collectors in extra fine to uncirculated condition. This is example is accurately graded as VG, or very good, with damage noted in the lot description. We know some houses that would have called this extra fine and omitted details about poor condition.


One Big Booyah! to Capitol Coin Auction for noting a rare double die on this 1909 VDB cent, even going so far as to reference the page in the popular varieties book (Cherrypicker’s Guide) to alert bidders of the inherent value of this particular lot. Would that all Proxibid auctioneers took this much time in their lot descriptions!


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.

Advertisements

Proxibid vs. eBay, Part III: Search Functions and Payment Options

This is the third-part in the series on Proxibid vs. eBay. Our first post covered our initial bidding experience. The second post compared shipping between the two portals. This post discusses search functions and payment options.

Proxibid’s IT team continues to make slow but steady progress in enabling users to navigate the portal in a seamless experience, something eBay has perfected over the years. Until recently, we were not able to access all Proxibid pages using browsers like Firefox, much quicker than the anally programmed Windows Explorer whose developers were more concerned about security than navigation. In online auction bidding, speed is everything. That is why we prefer Firefox.

If Proxibid can continue upholding navigation capabilities, it can rival eBay for bidding ease.

Search functions on Proxibid are better than those on eBay. You can search for PCI holdered coins, for example, on Proxibid. You cannot do that on eBay, because of quality control limitations that essentially ban any description of slabbing companies apart from PCGS, NGC, ANACS amd ICG. PCI-holdered coins often are correctly graded and able to be procured at lower bidding than counterparts by top-tiered companies.

Proxibid’s search functions also give more data about coin sellers, from location to consignment, whereas eBay’s searches keep defaulting to all categories, necessitating the user to continue to narrow searches by eliminating all categories, choosing one, and then searching again by “newly listed,” “ending soonest,” etc.

Years ago Proxiblog sold and bought exclusively on eBay and encountered PayPal, which we hated then and hate more now. PayPal requires access to your banking account after several purchases are made via PayPal to your credit card company. So you don’t get credit card rewards but still pay PayPal fees. Worse than that, PayPal makes mistakes. We paid for one winning lot and paid promptly, with eBay recording that payment; but PayPal’s program wasn’t as quick as eBay’s, so the seller never got paid.

It put us in the situation of paying a second time and monitoring our personal bank account for the double payment. If it shows up, we’ll do a separate post on that.

So we advise Proxibid sellers to lose the PayPal and gain the APN clearance, which is the safest and most secure way to pay for auction purchases.

In the next post we will discuss coin consignments and lot descriptions, with a final post on Thursday tallying results and announcing where we will do more of our numismatic bidding in the future.


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.

Putting Lower-Tier Slabs in their Place

You’ve heard us in our “Boos and Booyahs” page compliment Larry Fuller, veteran numismatist writing Proxibid descriptions for Silvertowne Auctions. One of his trademarks is putting a realistic grade on those MS66 holders that often encapsulate cleaned, lower grade, or silver melt Morgans.

Grades by PCGS and NGC are the most consistent. ANACS and ICG are also reliable. Second-tier holder companies include PCI, SEGS, Accugrade, and Dominion Grading Service. NumisTrust is less reliable but occasionally gets a grade right. National Numismatic Certification is even less consistent. All others that grade MS66 or MS67 on every coin are unreliable when compared with grading standards by the American Numismatic Association.

In general, a good rule to follow is tout the grade in the lot description only if the coin is holdered by PCGS, NGC, ANACS, ICG.

Here’s a series of lot descriptions from the past several Silvertowne auctions, so you can see how Larry Fuller does it. (Click to expand picture and read Larry’s description in the lower left corner.)






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.

Improve Your Grading Skills!

This is a two-part article about the importance of grading coins properly in Proxibid auctions. Grading coins is part science, part art, but if Proxibid auctioneers are going to sell coins regularly, they might develop a deeper knowledge of grading.

There are ways to improve your numismatic knowledge, and doing so will increase your profits, consignments and return customers over time.

Although Proxibid may schedule 70 coin auctions per month, fewer than a half dozen houses accurately grade coins. A few houses know coins and hype lot descriptions, calling slider coins “gem” and brilliant uncirculated coins “deep mirror.” Don’t be swayed by extensive numismatic sounding lot descriptions if those descriptions don’t hold up to grading standards.

Here are ways to improve your knowledge of coins:

  1. Read numismatic magazines like Coin World or online ones like CoinLink or Coin Update News.
  2. Subscribe to CoinFacts whose photography and coin encyclopedia are the best numismatic tools on the Internet.
  3. Attend classes, seminars and educational programs by the American Numismatic Association.
  4. Learn how to submit coins to top grading companies, such as PCGS and NGC.
  5. Grade each coin in consignment by using standards as illustrated by PCGS Photograde Online.

Here are some things you should NEVER do:

  • Never list a consignor’s grade in your lot description without noting it is not your grade; rather, correct over-enthusiastic consignor descriptions especially when they exaggerate on flips.
  • Do not use PCGS Price Guide or Coin Values price data on coins unless they are graded by PCGS (for PCGS holdered coins) and Coin Values (for PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG).
  • Never hype coins, exaggerating details, scarcity or other intrinsic value.
  • Stop pretending that every coin in every auction has come from a safety deposit box of a recently deceased octogenarian.
  • Invest in a good digital camera, make sure you have proper lightning, capture luster and never alter a photo to make the coin seem better than it actually is.

In the next installment of Proxiblog, we will identify auction houses that graded accurately–so much so, that their raw coins graded at the same level or higher by PCGS.


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.

Don’t Say “DMPL” Unless You Mean It

Proxiblog has written about how to identify and photograph deep mirror proof-like coins, mostly Morgan dollars. Click here for an example. Or click here for an article about that. Because DMPL coins command such a large premium, we’re seeing that designation used in more Proxibid auctions. Problem is, the coins range from merely proof-like to just plain ordinary.

For the record, we have won 39 coins in the past year described as deep mirror proof-like, or DMPL. Only 9 earned that distinction when sent to top grading company PCGS, or a failure rate of more than 75%. Of the 30 that didn’t earn DMPL, 12 were prooflike, 15 grade-worthy and 3 altered or cleaned.

For a Morgan dollar to be DMPL, it must reflect readable type at a distance of 6-8 inches. Both sides of the coin must do that. While devices do not have to frosted, they almost always are, because DMPLs are associated with first strikes from a new die. On Morgan dollars, a DMPL has a watery surface. You can literally shave by it as if it were a mirror. When you see a high mint state example, you won’t forget it.

Of Proxibid auctioneers, the ones who have accurately designated DMPLs in the past year when their raw coins were sent to PCGS were Eddie Caven of Key Date Coins (2 out of 5 with 3 returned as proof-like), Dave Zwonitzer of Western Auction (3 out of 6 with 2 returned as proof-like and one mint state), Scott Strosnider of Scott Auctions (2 of 3 with 1 returned as proof-like) and Matthew Bullock of Matthew Bullock Auctioneers (2 out of 3 with 1 returned as proof-like).

Keep in mind that Proxiblog is bidding on these coins and not bidding on others described as DMPL, rejecting others with that designation because there was no chance of earning that distinction from PCGS. Even though we know our DMPLs, in more cases than not, we were wrong.

The ability to correctly identify a DMPL coin as judged by the most rigorous grading company, PCGS, is a true talent, so I have no problem with praising the auctioneers above. Moreover, they all use the term relatively sparingly, and when they are wrong, the coin is at least usually proof-like.

Here’s an example of a coin purchased from Matt Bullock that graded MS64 DMPL by PCGS.

Five other Proxibid auctioneers are batting zero, with one house claiming eight coins were DMPL in the past 12 months, only for us to see 5 returned by PCGS as proof-like and 3 mint state.

That just shows how difficult it is to designate a DMPL. However, to illustrate how frequent the DMPL designation has become on Proxibid, we won five coins in an auction described as such, for the sheer purpose of photographing them and documenting that they were just common Morgans with a cartwheel effect. Here’s a photo of the best coin (click to expand). Compare it to Matt Bullock’s above.

Several points here have to be made:

  • If you don’t know how to test for a DMPL, don’t use the designation. Do as Brad Lisembee of Capitol Auctions, John Leonard of Leonard Auction and Dave Weaver of Weaver Coin and Currency Auction do, using the word “DMPL” sparingly and preferring to call such coins Gem, Premium Quality, or High Mint State/Proof-like.
  • Don’t quote the DMPL PCGS value on any raw coin–or any coin not holdered by PCGS, for that matter–because such coins are truly rare, and chances are, yours isn’t when graded by the top slabbing company.
  • If your consignor says it’s a DMPL, quote the consignor (and if you know coins, correct him or her in that generous assessment).Larry Fuller of Silvertowne Auctions and Eddie Caven of Key Date Coins often make this distinction, earning bidder trust.
  • If you’re a bidder and want DMPLs, buy them from trusted auctioneers who know how to test for the grade and who use the term relatively sparingly in lot descriptions. Otherwise bid on DMPL coins in graded holders by reputable companies (ANACS, ICG, NGC, PCGS and, on occasion PCI and Numistrust Corporation).

Finally, all deep mirror coins aren’t beautiful. Because they have mirrored surfaces, they scratch easily and often, especially when they have been stored in certain coin albums with plastic separators. Sometimes it’s just better for auctioneer, consignor and buyer alike to treat all potential DMPLs as proof-like, which often are handsomer coins.


Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

Bidder Advisory

For the hundreds of bidders visiting our pages, we provide an update here on Proxibid coin auctions that either use a third-party shipper–requiring the sharing of credit card data–or that have ceased providing photos of obverse and reverse.

For the moment, we are not naming houses that are taking these shortcuts at the expense of the online-buying audience.

As we recently discussed in this article, using third-party shippers devalues the Proxibid APN badge. We purchased a common silver dollar on Jan. 4, gave credit card information to a third-party shipper because the auction house changed its shipping rules, and we still have not received the coin 13 days later.

Even though we gave the third-party shipper our data, it did not send us any tracking number. It answers to the auction house, not the bidder. We’ve sent emails to the auction house and shipper. We’ll follow up as occasion arises.

Providing photos of obverse and reverse is basic to numismatics, and what we find especially troubling, is that houses known for their coin sessions have begun taking these shortcuts. We expect newbies unfamiliar with coins to make this rookie error; but not established houses selling almost exclusively coins.

We advise you not to bid on lots without both sides of the coin. Ask yourself: Would you buy a car if the seller only showed half of it? Would you buy a television? a cell phone? a lunch special? That assumes you are viewing those products in person. Now factor in that you are at a distinct disadvantage purchasing coins online, which is why houses carry this disclaimer: “Bidders who bid from off-site and are not present at the live auction or preview understand and acknowledge that they may not be able to inspect an item as well as if they examined it in person.

Bidders who want top quality coins should look for auctions by our top-ranked houses listed in the right sidebar. Read the terms of service on every Proxibid auction, including ones with APN clearance, to see if they are using a third-party shipper. Never purchase a raw coin online with half the information. (Note: You can be relatively safe purchasing a coin by the top-two grading companies, NGC or PCGS; you can take chances with ANACS and ICG; however, treat all other coins holdered by lesser grading companies as raw. In other words, you need the photos.)

Proxibid has done much to alleviate these issues. We admire the company’s resolve to provide an even playing field for online bidders. There are dozens of coin-selling houses on the site that understand their obligation to ship or be responsible for shipping and that provide sharp, expandable photos of coins. Patronize them.

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.

Describing Grade and Condition

Many Proxibid auctioneers disavow knowledge of coin grading and condition. Better to claim ignorance than to exaggerate worth, as a few houses do. Increasingly, however, expert numismatists are writing lot descriptions with their best estimates of grade and condition.

Silver Trades, which schedules regular coin auctions on Proxibid, provides detailed lot descriptions replete with information about history, grade and condition of lots. On certain quality coins, the company also backs up descriptions with buyback guarantees.

Conversely, Silver Trades knows how harshly some top-tier grading companies can be when evaluating coins. Even though he provides limited guarantees on a few select lots, he is wise to post this disclaimer on coin grade and condition:

    I do my best to estimate the grade/condition of the coins, but please note, unless specifically mentioned in the description, I do not guarantee grade or condition. I DO ALWAYS GUARANTEE 100% AUTHENTICITY, on an immediate buyback including any premium paid. But please understand, if you win a coin and receive it and send it out to one of the grading companies and it comes back graded less than I estimated or “genuine but Ungradeable”, we will not buy back that coin. … I do my best to give you my best estimate and your repeat attendance at my auctions is what I strive for, so I always attempt to give my best description/estimate of the coins being auctioned.

Silver Trades is known for numismatic information. We featured that once in this post.

On some coins, however, Sliver Trades owner Corey does offer buyback guarantees and recently enhanced that to buybacks within 1 point of any major slabbing company’s grade.

Silver Trades augments lot descriptions with fine photography. We applaud him and encourage bidders reading this to view one of his auctions live to hear expert salesmanship as well as numismatic data.

However, to illustrate how difficult it is to anticipate grades of the most rigorous company, PCGS, you should read this article in Coin Update News.

Our advice on lot descriptions is commonsensical:

  1. If you don’t know numismatics, don’t hype coins as rare.
  2. Provide the very best pictures possible of obverse and reverse and ensure that they expand sufficiently for finer details.
  3. Don’t use the online PCGS or NGC databases to describe a coin’s retail worth unless that coin is holdered by that company.
  4. Treat as raw all coins holdered by lower-tier and self-slabbing companies. (Note: Top-tier companies, in addition to PCGS and NGC, are ANACS and ICG).
  5. If you know numismatics, or have hired someone to help with lot descriptions, include a disclaimer as Silver Trades does that you are providing your best estimate on grade and condition and cannot accept buybacks when grading companies assign lower grades.
  6. If you want to showcase your numismatic knowledge, see how Corey does it on select lots in his auctions, which typically bring him added premiums often above retail–a credit to him as one of our favorite auctioneers.
  7. If bidders complain after the fact about a grade, and you did not exaggerate or misrepresent the coin, do as dealers might, and remind him or her about your disclaimer. If the person is a regular customer, a dealer might make an exception and take back the coin; however, this is a gray area that you must decide.

Indeed, grading is subjective to a large degree. To learn how to write better lot descriptions of grade and condition, study our posts in the Boos and Booyahs section of Proxiblog. Once you establish a reputation for good lot descriptions, you can count on more bidders frequenting your Proxibid sessions.

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.