Dealers Flooding Proxibid with Problem Coins

Last week we spoke or corresponded with four trusted Proxibid auctioneers who have sold us problem coins in the past, and we were stunned to learn that all of them either relied on coin dealers for their consignments or actively sought their coins so that they would have enough lots for regular auctions.

It’s time to set the record straight on coin dealers as consignors.

Ask yourself: Why, for Pete sake, would a coin dealer ever consign to an auctioneer prime, choice or rare coins when he has dozens of dealer and customer outlets to sell his wares? Answer: Most likely, he’s selling you junk and problem coins, ones that have been dipped or doctored or otherwise rendered upgradeable if sent to NGC or PCGS. The cleverer dealers will consign a prime coin or two to cover their tracks.

If you’re accepting coin consignments from out-of-town dealers, you’re probably a target, with the dealer unloading his junk and problem coins under the theory that you or your bidders will not be numismatically savvy enough–or your photos will not be good enough–to capture the flaws.

Many dealers are trustworthy. Some, like Silvertowne, Capitol Coin Auctions or Fox Valley, are dealers themselves and follow Professional Numismatic Guild practices of describing problem coins accurately. Others, like Matthew Bullock Auctioneers and John Leonard Auctions, sell estate coins or have consignment policies that protect the reputation of their houses.

Proxiblog is in the process of buying fewer coins from a wide range of Proxibid auctions because of the flood of bad coins. In the past, auctioneers would schedule Proxibid sessions when they received coins in an estate auction or actually purchased the coins themselves. Because they want to schedule regular coin auctions, they are actively accepting or even requesting coin dealer consignments.

That’s an open invitation to out-of-town dealers to send you their problem coins.

Worse, many auction houses lack the photo equipment to capture the detail or luster of a coin. So their photographs cannot discern the doctoring or dipping. A camera has to be able to pick up luster and detail. Here’s an example of one that does just that by auctioneer Matthew Bullock.

Rather than consign our problem coins, purchased from Proxibid–as many as 30 per month–we take them to Iowa coin dealers and suffer 60-80% losses. That happened again just last week. We asked the dealer what he was going to do with the coins, and he said, “We put them into auction.” He named the auction. It sells on Proxibid.

Eventually, this is going to taint Proxibid’s reputation, especially when one of its biggest fans (Proxiblog) is buying less and questioning more on what is being sold on the portal.

If you are going to continue auctioning coins by dealers, remember that you set the rules. Not them. Never agree to “grey sheet” reserves unless the coin is slabbed by NGC, PCGS, ANACS, ICG or PCI or is in a GSA holder (for Morgan dollars).

If you are going to accept consignments from out-of-town dealers, get a local numismatist to go over the lots with you and describe the condition accurately. Local dealers have to live with you. Out-of-town dealers just find somewhere else to consign.

Invest in a light box and better camera. For experienced bidders, digital photography is the only recourse to sniff out dipped and doctored coins. This photo box is $72. You can use these lights for coins, jewelry and other smalls. Cost is only $94.

Before accepting a consignment from any dealer, ask him point blank if he is giving you dipped or problem coins. Share this post with them, and our stern warning about PNG ethics. Proxiblog is dedicated to serving the hobby. That’s our motive. What is the dealer’s motive?

Finally, YOU are in charge. YOU call the auctions. YOU call the shots.

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 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 GWS Auctions for noting that this coin is fine 20 and appears to have been dipped, basically making this silver melt, as the 1885-O in this condition has no real numismatic value. We know some Proxibid coin auctions that would have called this deep-mirror prooflike and taken bidders for a numismatic ride. GWS knows coins and does a good job with descriptions.

One Big Booyah to Leonard Auction whose auctioneer John Leonard routinely assigns appropriate grades to hyped bottom-tier slabbers. We’re seeing these awful slabs increasingly on the portal because eBay’s quality control restricts them by not allowing sellers to refer to grades.

Booyah Weaver Auction! for lumping bottom-tier slabbed coins into one low-tier lot without bothering to photograph the inflated grades of each coin … or actually try to persuade bidders that the grades are legit, as some unscrupulous or numismatically ignorant Proxibid auctioneers do.

Boo! Deep Mirror? DMPL? This is flipping ridiculous! This unnamed auction house routinely believes or promotes the ridiculously hyped grades on flips of his consignors. This is basically silver melt. We continue to see Proxibid auctioneers unethically calling ordinary coins deep mirror prooflike (DMPL). For a coin to be deep mirror, it has to reflect type accurately 6 or more inches. To learn how to test for mirrors, read this article.

Boo! to this unnamed auction house for showing pictures of a box rather than the coin … after stating that the coin has golden highlights. We’re selling coins, not boxes. When will Proxibid coin auctioneers understand that photography is everything for the online buyer? Houses that invest in photography get higher bids. If you’re going to sell online, treat that audience with the same courtesies as your onsite bidders.

Booyah Key Date Coins! for noting that the capitol holder states 1951 but 1954 coins are inserted in the holder, a small but important notation in the description and one that shows auctioneer Eddie Caven cares about accuracy in his regular coin auctions.

Booyah Munda Auction! for noting possible light cleaning on this coin. Digital photography often does not pick up cleaning, especially when it is only suspected (usually a dipping rather than a scouring). That’s why we need the auctioneer to inspect the coin and depict it as accurately as possible. It’s yet another method to insure return bidders and, in the end, helps consignors once again because buyers trust the house.

One Big Booyah! to Larry Fuller of Silvertowne Auctions, one of the top graders on the portal, who knows how to list and grade raw California gold coins, one of the most counterfeited coins on the Proxibid portal. We recommend all auctioneers invest in CoinFacts to identify California gold. Quick way to identify authenticity: There should be no bear on the back of the coin where a denomination will be displayed 1/4, 1/2, 1 “dollar.” The word dollar is critical. Bears were a means to sell replicas without being charged as counterfeiters by the federal government. For more information about California fractional gold, click here.

Booyah Leonard Auction! for the second time in a week for clearly identifying fake California gold as replicas. These typically are made of brass, have a bear on the reverse, and are worth no more than a few dollars whereas real California gold can be worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars. John Leonard, like Larry Fuller of Silvertowne, takes time to write accurate lot descriptions so that buyers can bid with confidence.

Booyah Star Coin and Currency! for noting solder on the reverse of this otherwise desirable gold coin. Without such notice, which is also in the title as well as the lot description, a bidder is apt to hurriedly place a maximum price and then complain later upon receiving the coin about the solder on the reverse. Better to deal with this upfront. Honesty as always is the best policy on Proxibid!

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.

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,, 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!