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.:

RollingM_Dmpl

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:

1889-S

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.


Capitol Coin Wins “Best Auction” a Second Time

7Best Coin Auction

Capitol Coin Auction has won our award for “Best Coin Auction” on the Proxibid portal, garnering “Best Shipping,” “Best Photography,” and “Value Added” honors with honorable mentions in “Best Descriptions” and “Best Consignments.” This is the second year in a row that Capitol Coin Auction has won the top honor.

A close second, once again, was Leonard Auction. It won “Best Consignments” with honorable mentions in “Value-Added,” “Best Photography” and “Best Descriptions.”

Star Coin and Currency made a great showing this year, winning “Best Timed Auction” with honorable mentions in “Most Improved,” “Best Descriptions” and “Best Shipping.”

Southwest Bullion and Coin also had a particularly successful year in our rankings, winning the competitive “Best Descriptions” category and honorable mentions in “Most Improved” and “Best Photography.”

SilverTowne Auctions won “Best Shipping” and had honorable mentions in “Best Descriptions,” “Value-Added” and “Best Consignments.”

Meares Auction won “Most Improved” and had honorable mentions in “Best Shipping” and “Best Consignments.”

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction had honorable mentions in the important categories of “Best Photography,” “Best Descriptions,” “Best Consignments” and “Value-Added.”

The houses above are runners-up in our “Best Coin Auction” category.

We also praise and recommend our other houses that placed in our various competitions, including:

  • Back to the Past Collectibles
  • Black and Gold Auctions
  • Braden Auction Services
  • Decatur Coin and Jewelry
  • Engstrom Auctions
  • Five Star Auction
  • Fox Valley Coins
  • Gary Ryther Auctioneers
  • Heuckman Auction
  • Jewelry Exchange
  • Kaufman Realty and Auction
  • McKee Coins
  • Midwest Coins
  • Rolling M Auction
  • Schultz Auctioneers
  • Western Auction

We encourage all of the houses named above to continue improving in the spirit of service, competition and community that all auctioneers and numismatists share, serving our clients and memberships. Continue to embrace the ethics of both the National Auctioneers Association and the American Numismatic Association.

We also thank Proxibid for its Internet options, quality control and customer service and all houses specializing in coins. We encourage them to visit these award-winning houses above. We know there are some houses that we missed in our rankings; as always, our experience may differ from yours and you should consider these award-winners our favorites. In sum, we did the best job we could with the available data and hope that you will continue visiting our site and interacting with our clientele, now exceeding 26000 views since inception.

Finally, consider making a donation to our Scholarship Account. (See details on top of the “Rankings” sidebar to the right.) We will continue publishing Proxiblog free of charge and covering Proxibid and the online coin auction industry. Won’t you consider making a voluntary donation to offset tuition expenses for our college students?

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.

Meares Auction Group Wins … “Most Improved”

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Meares Auction wins our most improved category for enhancements in photography, descriptions and consignments–quite a leap, considering these are among the most desired characteristics of top online houses.

Meares Auction featured a frenetic series of high-bid bankruptcy auctions in August, with 5% buyer’s fee, among the lowest on Proxibid. We anticipate Meares Auction Group to improve even more as the company is building consignments for 2014 auctions.

Below is an example of Meares’ photography enhancements (click to expand).

Meares_photo

Close second to Meares is another long-time Proxibid auction house. Gary Ryther Auctioneers enhanced photography, consignments and descriptions. See this article in Coin Update News.

Meares’ low BP was the reason his house surpassed Ryther’s.

Rolling M Auction won the “Most Improved” award last year, again because of enhancements in photography. That company is an honorable mention this year, with slight improvement in photography. Rolling M. would be one of our top favorite houses if it upgraded its photography one more notch, primarily to capture luster in raw coins. Its consignments are among the best on the portal, and its publicity and promotion excellent.

If you are an auctioneer and want to earn top dollar for your consignors, you need to work on photography.

We have mentioned in prior posts that competition has increased on the Proxibid coin portal. That is why we have a bevy of honorable mentions this year for houses that have either upgraded photography, descriptions or both. They are:

  • Back to the Past Collectibles
  • Braden Auction Services
  • Engstrom Auction
  • Jewelry Exchange
  • Midwest Coins
  • McKee Coins
  • Star Coin and Currency

Back to the Past Collectibles is in the process of improving photography. Engstrom Auction is dedicated to continuous improvement and routinely solicits feedback on its auctions. Jewelry Exchange, known for accurate descriptions, is working on photography to capture luster. Midwest Coins has improved photography. McKee Coins’ photography is much improved. We’re waiting for top-dollar consignments, though. Star Coin and Currency has honed descriptions and photography, too.

Next category for TOP Awards is Best Descriptions, featuring some of Proxiblog’s favorite sellers. 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.

Seller Asks About Shipping: Installment #3


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A new coin seller on Proxibid asked us pertinent questions about best practices, and we promised to share our opinion and to solicit yours in the comment section. Auctioneers look to this site for recommendations on how to sell, ship and improve their services. The more you and we share, the more bidders will be drawn to our sites. We will treat each question as a post running throughout the week. Scroll down to view previous questions and answers. Here is installment three.

QUESTION:Any insight on shipping and packaging?

PROXIBLOG: Ship the way coin dealers do, with coin mailers for all lots except ones in their own packaging, such as mint and proof sets. Here is a photo of a coin mailer below.

Coin safety mailers

We strongly recommend against third-party shippers. That often requires bidders to give credit card information to merchants not affiliated with Proxibid and therefore not beholden to the Unified User Agreement. What that means is you are not protected if the third-party mailer loses your lots. You also are giving your banking information to an unknown mailing business hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Do you know their security precautions?

If you are going to pay Proxibid fees and use its technology to sell to Internet bidders, you just have to ship as part of your business. See these previous posts on the topic.

Shipping should be done within one week, preferably within a day or two of billing. One of the quickest shippers on the portal is SilverTowne Auctions. Coins ship usually within a day or two, depending if the lot is won on a weekend or week day. Recently, Midwest Coins has greatly improved its shipping. These are but a few examples. However, in our rating system, we do note sellers that are slow in sending lots.

Also, try to use the US Postal Service. We have never lost a lot via USPS as long as signature and/or tracking number is provided. We do not care for Fed Ex or UPS. Often we have to pick up parcels at local Fed Ex offices. UPS sometimes just leaves parcels at the door and rings the doorbell. What if nobody is home? Again, these observations are based only on our experience. You may have lost items via USPS. There are times and occasions when Fed Ex or UPS are more reliable than USPS. However, this blog shares our opinion, and that is all we are doing here. We like the local post office because mail carriers are familiar with your daily mail and often let you know if a package has been damaged or tampered with prior to delivery. We never had that experience with any other shipper.

Next installment: Anything else you can recommend to improve online service?

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, New Houses, Almost 40,000 Views!

Competition among top coin-selling houses on Proxibid is becoming increasingly keen meaning houses that do not strive for continuous improvement will find their numismatic buyers bidding elsewhere. We continue to see erstwhile top houses fall in the rankings because of slow shipping or photography incapable of capturing luster. We can no longer bid here on raw coins but continue to bid on slabbed ones because these houses manage to secure good consignments by PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG. We no longer will bid on bottom-tier slabs, even considering them raw, because we usually encounter problems when submitting to a top holdering company. It will be difficult for anyone to match Decatur Coin Auction’s premiere session on Proxibid. Capitol Coin Auction, Leonard Auction, Western, Weaver and SilverTowne remain solid stand-bys. As for Proxiblog, we are approaching 500 posts and 40,000 views since our inception in May 2011.

Decatur Coin Auction is featuring top numismatic consignments and zero buyer’s fee. Opening bids were below greysheet, sparking competition. Its “Buy It Now” Auctions feature the same lovely lots but without the excitement of a live or timed auction. We hope to see more sessions such as Decatur ran on July 9th.

Capitol Coin Auction has roared back with another fabulous quarterly auction. It and Leonard Auction remain premiere places to find rarities. Weaver and Western auctions continue to offer top lots with excellent customer service. SilverTowne is impressing us with dozens of auctions each month and occasional fabulous consignments. Its grading remains up there with that of our most favorite houses.

Gary Ryther Auctions continues to improve, moving up in the rankings. So has Meares Auction, Engstrom Auction and Midwest Coins. Back to the Past Collectibles continues to sell desirable coin lots and retains a top spot on our list, featuring a low 10% buyer’s fee.

Spencer Auction makes our list this month, hosting more coin auctions with mostly slabbed coins and 15% buyer’s fee. It doesn’t accept APN so that delays shipping. Matthew Bullock Auctioneers returns to our list after several months of no coin auctions. We’re happy to see that as this house has sharp photography and good consignments.

Our top houses all feature one or more of the following:

  1. Lower buyer fees. We prefer 15%. We like 10%. We fancy 5%. We love 0%.
  2. Numismatic lot descriptions. Note flaws and bone up on grading, reading our “Find the Flaw” articles.
  3. Sharp photography. Obverse, reverse and expandable digital shots.
  4. Quick, inexpensive shipping. Some companies take 2-4 weeks to ship. That’s unacceptable. Coins should be sent within 5 business days.
  5. No maximum-bid or shill-bidding. Do that, and you will not qualify for our rankings. Reason? We do not have faith in our maximum bids when we see those transparency notices, no matter the good intentions of auction houses.

Some houses fell in the ranking because they are not improving their photography or because of slow shipping, problem coins, etc. We are worrying about a few of our favorite houses whose photography cannot capture luster on raw coins and that seem to be taking consignments from coin dealers sending their cleaned, polished or altered coins in each session. We worry about seeing more and more coins in slabs by bottom-tier companies.

In our opinion, slow or outsourced shipping, poor photography, inadequate descriptions and high buyer premiums (along with lack of APN), are signs that a house has not yet adapted–or is unwilling to adapt–to the Internet.

Given the convenience of flat-rate shipping with packages picked up at your door, we’re flummoxed when houses take 3-4 weeks to send out coins. If you cannot do basic photography with the type of enhanced, low-cost equipment at your disposal, including smart phones, then you are short-changing yourselves and your consignors.

That said, our rankings are reviews of favorite houses based on our buying and/or selling experience and numismatic expertise. Your experience with our top houses may differ from ours. Our intent is to educate and praise whenever possible–to our own buying detriment, at times! We have seen when we showcase an auction house how bidding becomes more intense, often edging out our own bids.

Good news is that more auction houses are contributing to our scholarship fund. We distribute Proxiblog for free. All we ask is that those who appreciate our efforts make a small contribution to help college students defray debt. You can make the contribution directly online to the Iowa State Foundation.

Our viewership continues to grow. we had more than more than 1,500 in 30 days and are approaching 40,000 lifetime views from all over the world.

July views

The favorite and most accessed page? “How and How Not to Describe Bottom-Tier Slabs.” The all-time most favorite post? “California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake,” which gets on average 50 views per week, indicating once again that auctioneers need to take care before they label those tiny yellow tokens “gold.”

We routinely report counterfeit or misidentified coins using the “Report this Item” link. We continue to applaud Proxibid for using this function.

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.

Midwest Coins Enhances Photography

commander3We have said repeatedly that small changes can result in big gains in online auctions. Charles Commander at Midwest Coins heard us. (Click to expand all photos for detailed observation.)

We trust Charles Commander at Midwest Coins, which is why we purchased the coin profiled in Coin World and depicted above. The photo did absolutely no justice to the beautiful coin we won with a modest bid. The Morgan dollar had deep reflective mirrors and months later graded MS62 prooflike by PCGS. It had spectacular toning, which also is not obvious from the photo above.

So we were pleasantly surprised when we viewed the July catalog of Midwest Coins, admiring detailed photos that capture luster and devices. Once again, we’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Sharp photos detail devices, in this case some minor contact marks in a gem wheat cent.

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Photo allows us to inspect full split bands on reverse of Mercury dime.

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Photo shows luster and allows us to inspect full bell lines of Franklin half.

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Remember our motto: The more auctioneers take sharp, expandable photos like these, the fewer the complaints buyers will have about lot descriptions. Bravo Charles! We know where we will be bidding.

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.

Midwest Coins offers 0% seller fees for new consignors

midwest coins

We’re always on the lookout for innovative auctioneers. We also advocate for better consignments. Charles Commander of Midwest Coins accomplishes both with this promotion.

Charles Commander has created the promotion with the hobby in mind, extending to collectors and dealers the opportunity “to rid themselves of the duplicates, under graded, or to those who just need to clean out the closet.”

“There are guys who sit and bid at the many auction sites online or live in their hometowns who don’t realize how easy it is to consign and play the field from the other side,” Commander says. “By offering 0% fees to new consignors, we hope to encourage them to offer up some of the coins they no longer need and sell them to someone who does.

“The best part is the low risk factor–zero percent fees–and then the collector can then spend some of that new-found money on an upgrade or two in their collection or take their better half out on a nice dinner.”

The 0% fees is for new consignors and does not include a minimum submission.

Those wishing to contact Midwest Coins should telephone Charles at (319) 795-2148 or (319) 520-5091. Or you can email him at Charles@Midwestcoins.net

NOTE: If you are an auctioneer and have a special offer or promotion, feel free to email us at mjbugeja@yahoo.com.