Note Flaws on Gold Coins

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Gold is a soft, malleable metal prone to scratches, test cuts, damage when removed from jewelry, and other details that decrease its worth as a collectible coin. In the photo above, Capitol Coin Auction notes scratches and marks from being poorly stored for more than a century.


The best houses on Proxibid take pains in lot descriptions to describe flaws in coins, and when it comes to gold, there are many.

In the 1880s, coin scammers tried to pass plated 1883 nickels, or racketeer nickels, as $5 gold, chiefly because the US Mint neglected to put a denomination on the coin other than the Roman numeral V. There were also plated fractional gold, coins holed or bezeled for jewelry, polished gold, and harshly cleaned gold.

All of these and other flaws should be mentioned.

Jewelry Exchange does a great job with this in its lots descriptions. Because the firm deals regularly in gold, it knows the range of damage that can occur. In this example, the lot description notes a $1 gold coin that was removed from jewelry, polished and soldered:

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Another lot in the same auction included jewelry loops that left the rims of quarter eagle damaged:

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This auctioneer routinely ignores damage on gold coins. This one is obviously cleaned and, as such, worth a small premium over the worth of its metal:

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Bidders not only seek gold for its metal content but also for their collections. These buyers are worth more to you than bullion seekers because they buy gold when the price is high or low. Give them the courtesy of an accurate description, and they’ll become return clients and, perhaps, consignors one day.

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.

To spot a fake

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Can you spot a fake 1893-S Morgan dollar, one of the most counterfeited coins? This article explains how.



Compare the photo above of a probable fake 1893-S with the genuine article below, offered by Jewelry Exchange.

1893S_Jewelryexchange

They look almost identical, an indication of how good counterfeit coins coming into this country from China are being manufactured.

There is one particular diagnostic, however, that counterfeiters often fail to get right, and that is the date. Compare the dates of the two coins:

1893-S2

The number “1” of the date must sit squarely over the denticle below. The “1” on the left does not, indicating it is a fake. The “1” on the right is square over the denticle. Also, there is a difference here in the number “3.”

If you are an auctioneer getting an 1893-S Morgan in a consignment, which can bring thousands, it pays if you can identify whether the coin is authentic. This can save you time and trouble if a bidder files a complaint.

Concerning “ALL SALES FINAL,” keep in mind that selling a counterfeit coin is a violation of the US Hobby Protection Act. As we have advocated for many years now, auctioneers should create policies that make the consignor and not the bidder liable for counterfeit 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.

Top Houses Get Better; Others Dropped–Views at All-Time High!

Increasingly we’re seeing fewer new coin auctions on Proxibid worth bidding on, relying more on our top favorites that maintain standards in photography, consignments and customer service. Few can beat Brad Lisembee at Capitol Coin Auctions and Dave and Cheryl Weaver at Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction.


For more than a few years we had been listing as favorite houses about a dozen that have maintained 2012 standards … but have failed to improve to 2014 standards requiring sharp photography, reliable lot descriptions and cherry consignments. We read notices on their sites stating, “Tell us how we can be better,” and then see the same blurry photographs or the same inferior lots.

A few houses have been dropped because their consignments have not warranted a lot of interest–consistently, for the past several months. As soon as they get better coins, they’ll likely be back in our rankings.

Technically, we have dropped all houses that failed to earn a 24.5 out of 25.

Despite that news, coin auctions on Proxibid have been exciting. Fox Valley, Capitol Coin, Weaver, Krueger and Krueger, SilverTowne, Leonard, Star Coin, Jewelry Exchange, Back to the Past, Meares, et. al.–who could ask for a better selection!

Even Kaufman Auction is getting coins shipped in a timely manner and posting photos within a week of the event. McKee Coins is improving, as are Auctions By Wallace and A New Day Auctions.

Proxiblog also had one of its best months ever with almost 1500 views in 30 days. See our graph below:

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We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Please consider making a donation. We post daily during the week, which takes time and effort, and do this for educational purposes, informing auctioneers about best practices and viewers about numismatics. With our sponsorships, we fund media ethics 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 new work, Online Coin Auctioneering or Basic Coin Design 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.


Rankings stabilize; some houses dropped; views keep rising!

For the first time in our four-year history, no new auction house has been added to our rankings. But there has been movement. We have seen continual improvement in the past year in four houses in particular–Back to the Past Collectibles, Star Coin and Currency, A New Day Auctions, and Auctions by Wallace–breaking into the top 10. Other houses, not named here, have been dropped. We’ll share the reasons. Finally, our audience now exceeds 55,000 views worldwide!


We’ll begin with our consistent leaders–Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction and Capitol Coin Auction–which hold the top spots because of quality control across the spectrum, including photos, shipping, buyer’s premium, quality consignments and numismatic accuracy. In other words, when Dave Weaver or Brad Lisembee say a coin is gem, you can be relatively sure it is or is close to being so by PCGS standards, the toughest grading company in the business.

You may not know it, but Dave and Cheryl Weaver and Brad Lisembee worked with us early in Proxiblog’s existence to follow best practices. And then both not only adopted them but added to them and came up with innovations of their own.

Star Coin and Currency did the same thing about 1 1/2 years ago and now is an exceptional house. C. Scott Lovejoy of Back to the Past Collectibles not only embraced our best practices but worked with us on photography and now is a hair behind our top houses. With a few more choice consignments, this may be a front-runner soon. And Kendra Stevens and Sheena Wallace are following our best practices now, and you can clearly see it in photos, lot descriptions and much more.

You can find those best practices in our Amazon Kindle book, Online Coin Auctioneering for dealer, estate and eBay sellers.

Our other trusty stand-bys in the top tiers of our rankings continue to excite us every time they schedule an auction. A few still can improve, however. Jewelry Exchange, SilverTowne Auction (which has the best consignments on the portal), Rolling M. Auctions (the best marketing), and Kaufman Auction need to sharpen their photography one more notch to capture luster and clarity (so varieties can be discerned).

Charles Commander, owner of Midwest Coins, did something very praiseworthy during the summer in his auctions: He asked bidders how he could improve. As we’re also an occasional bidder in his auctions, and consider Charles a friend and fellow Iowan numismatist, we strongly encourage him to work a little more on photography.

We’ll give one example that can serve for our entire critique.

Deep mirror proof-like raw coins used to be difficult to photograph. Not really any more. Here’s an example from Rolling M.:

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Here’s a photo we took without a tripod or light box with our Samsung Galazy 4 smartphone:

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Which photo do you think would start a bidding war? Rolling M. in our view probably can claim the best realized prices on the portal. Mark Murphy is that good. But even in the best there is room for improvement.

Also, we are having a problem with some of our favorite houses. You know who you are. Here’s the issue at hand: We know coin dealers–not ones scheduling events on Proxibid–but ones sending consignments to houses on the portal. A few of our favorite houses are in danger of being dropped because they receive dipped, doctored and otherwise dealer rejects hyped in lot descriptions.

We encourage ANY Proxibid house to take care when accepting consignments from coin dealers. Why would they look to you to sell their coins when they own coin shops? Answer: They don’t want these damaged, cleaned, scratched, carbon-spotted coins in their display windows.

We dropped one house because of that this month.

We are also dropping houses that insist on calling counterfeit California plated brass replicas “gold,” “fractional gold,” “tokens,” etc. By the way, there are collectible gold tokens but ones with bears on the reverse are fake and genuine tokens difficult to identify without numismatic knowledge.

If you want to bone up on those small coins, read our most popular post tallying 100 views per week: California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake.

Standards during the summer on Proxibid fell rather than rose in our opinion. We’ll share the evidence in the next month or two. We are holding the portal responsible for not requiring auctioneers to change lots that are clearly misidentified. Here’s an example:

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This auction had at least three misidentified lots. The one above is not an 1889-S but an 1889, less rare. We used the “Report the Item” multiple times, and nothing was changed. We know mistakes happen. But Proxibid has an obligation to bidders to ensure that misidentified lots are corrected–not for the onsite crowd–but for the Internet ones.

We also saw counterfeits being sold. In one lot in particular a house warned bidders that a purported rare coin might be counterfeit. It was clearly a fake. We provided proof. We used the report the item button. The lot remained online and sold.

Don’t get us wrong: We promote Proxibid whenever we can. And the company has taken out full-page ads, very slick, in Coin World and other venues. But we also need to point out where the company can do better, and this is one area. When someone uses the “Report the Item,” it is your obligation not only to inform the auctioneer but to consider what is being said and to correct obvious errors or misrepresentations. By including the “Report the Item” as a Proxibid feature of trust, the company’s brand, you are now responsible to see these things through.

Finally, a few notes about rankings:

  • Consignments typically are key to our rankings. Any house scoring 24.5 points practices and/or exceeds our Honor Roll standards.
  • Regularly scheduled events on Proxibid play into rankings. Some of our best houses are dropping in the ratings because they have not scheduled a recent coin auction.
  • Our favorite houses are just that–ours. Your experience may differ from ours.

As for Proxiblog, we keep growing. We drew more than 13,500 viewers in the past year–with one strange demographic: Brazil has overtaken Britain as our third most popular country after the USA and Canada. Maybe it was the World Cup and all those fans gathering this summer in that country.

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Our all-time views now total 55,177!

We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Please consider making a donation. We are on hiatus at the moment but post every weekday during September-June. We 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 new work, Online Coin Auctioneering or Basic Coin Design 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.


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 bad auctioneer lot descriptions and praises the best in recent auctions. (Be sure to click pictures to expand and view lot descriptions below.)


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Booyah BidAlot Auction! for noting that this U.S. Mint product comes without a box. It is important to state that with Mint products, especially GSA dollars.



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Boo! to this auction house for stating that this coin is MS67 when it clearly has been cleaned, is porous (right field) with rim damage (3 o’clock).


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Booyah Leonard Auction! for noting cleaning. Leonard Auction ranks among our favorites because of the honesty of the owner, John Leonard, coupled with his numismatic knowledge. He’s one of the best on Proxibid, period.


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Boo! to this unnamed auction house that really isn’t an auction but an online “Buy It Now” company that ensures with opening bids and 18% buyer’s fee that it will never lose money for any coin it sells on Proxibid. Recommendation: Bidders are better off on eBay.


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Booyah Braden Auction! for noting significant flaws in this lot, including plugging and polishing. Now, if the company only provided photos of obverse and reverse, it might have a shot at our favorite auction rankings.


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Boo! to another auction house for calling this a restrike when it is a copy and most probably only gold-plated. A restrike uses the same dies as the original. We guarantee that the US Mint didn’t have “COPY” when it struck the real coin in 1849.


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Booyah A New Day Auctions! for identifying acid restored Buffalo nickels. Watch for a post about this in the future.


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Booyah SilverTowne Auction! for noting rim damage on its coins. Would that more houses did the same!


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Booyah! Jewelry Exchange for noting a scratch on this coin. Hard to see in the photo but glad to see in the lot description. Truth brings return customers. Hiding the truth brings dispute resolutions.


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Booyah Star Coin and Currency! for noting that these Confederate dollars as replicas. We’ve seen copies on Proxibid not designated as such. Yet another example of Best Practice!


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. Tomorrow we will showcase the best lot descriptions. Stay tuned!

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.

Shoutout to Jewelry Exchange

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Appalled as we are with inflated values of bottom-tier slabs, Jewelry Exchange struck back with a lot description that instructs about bidding. We love it. Click to expand photo or read the description below.


    Item Description:

  • TIMES THE MONEY: Lot of 3 genuine U.S. peace silver dollars with high mint state grades assigned by bottom tier grading companies: Hallmark Coin Grading Service, Numismatic Grading Pros, & Investment Grade Coins. MS67? Try BS67! In reality, each coin would grade from about uncirculated to low-end mint state. Educate yourself as to which grading services are respected by the numismatic community & which are not. Certainly, these 3 are not! Buy the coin, NOT the slab. Times the money: bid per piece.

Now compare that to this hyped lot description of an auction company that not only showcases slabs like this but also uses PCGS price guide to state value. Click photo to expand or read the description below.

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    Item Description:
    1887-O MORGAN DOLLAR – NAC MS66 (PCGS WEBSITE LISTS A MS66 @ $35,000?)

First, never compare PCGS prices to non-PCGS-slabbed coins. Even for PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG, before you bid, always check the latest auction values with a subscription to PCGS CoinFacts.

The coin above not only looks cleaned and damaged, ungradeworthy by PCGS or NGC; it certainly isn’t worth $35,000!

When will Proxibid change its Unified User Agreement to add this clause, preventing hype like this–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.

At any rate, Jewelry Exchange has been a top-rated Proxiblog house for years because of its numismatic lot descriptions and great customer service. We’re thankful for that and salute auctioneers David and Adam Bluestein. (Incidentally, both share their knowledge about coins and precious gems in a weekly radio show, In the Money.)

On Proxibid, they are “In the Know,” as evidenced by this shoutout!

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.

Approaching 50,000 Views, Two Houses Soar!

Proxiblog’s Coin and Currency category remains relatively stable with the top 15 or so houses featuring excellent consignments, quality photos and excellent customer service. Back to the Past Collectibles soared into the top 10 by upgrading its photography. We wish one or two other favorite houses at the bottom of our rankings also felt the same way.


Capitol Coin Auction remains in the top slot. If you bid in its March 1, 2014 auction, you know why. Top lots. Accurate numismatic descriptions. Sharp photography. Low buyers’ premium. Great customer service. It’s difficult to beat Brad Lisembee who has perfected the online coin trade.

SilverTowne Auction continues to amaze us with auction after auction with high standards across the board. Leonard Auction is known for top-quality consistency. Meares Auction consistently improves from consignments to photography.

Also holding steady or trading top places with the best coin auctions on the portal are Certified Rare Coin Auctions, Meares Auction, Star Coin and Currency, Southwest Bullion, Western Auction, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, Gary Ryther Auctioneers, Jewelry Exchange, Fox Valley Coins and Krueger and Krueger.

Two houses catapulted into our top 10. Spencer Auction holds infrequent sessions, but when it does, it features top coins, low buyer’s fee, excellent customer service and great consignments. Same can be said about Back to the Past Collectibles with a 10% buyer’s premium. It broke into the top 10 because C. Scott Lovejoy worked diligently, consulting with us, to perfect his photography. Below is an example (click to expand):

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You can even see the metal flow on a 2000-year-old coin. Photography is essential in the online bidding world. Watch for a post about Lovejoy’s enhancements later this week!

We hate to call out houses for lack of improvement, even if they are among our favorites. One house in particular has attempted to improve photos but not enough to tell varieties and flaws. If it did, it would be in our top 10. The house does a great marketing job and scores exceptionally high sales because of it. So it may feel no need to improve. We find ourselves bidding on slabbed coins only because we cannot see which coins are dipped. Because we suspect many of the lots are from coin dealers, we are doubly cautious.

As for Proxiblog, we have exceeded 600 posts and are approaching 50,000 page views. We’re increasingly global with top views from the USA, Britain, Canada, India, Russia, Germany, Australia and the Philippines.

Top view again goes to our post popular post: California Gold, real, replica and fake, closing in on 100 views per week.

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. You can also buy our Basic Coin Design book on Kindle. We are extremely grateful. Won’t you consider making a tax-deductible donation 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.