VALUES: For your entertainment

As promised, we will run the ridiculous values we see on coins in our “Values” updates, without naming the auctioneer and in the hope someone at Proxibid will inform him that many numismatists look at his lots for entertainment. Here’s a typical 1921 silver melt coin–the most common Morgan dollar, by the way–with a value of $100-150 rather than the $22 it is worth. (Click photo to expand.)


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The real entertainment is below, in this series of PCGS lots, when the auctioneer puts values that not only can be checked against PCGS retail ones but also defy logic, with lower grade 1883-O MS63 Morgan priced at $800-900 and the same coin at MS64 priced at $200-$250. Click the photo to expand and see the auctioneer’s values vs. PCGS ones.

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Entertainment value aside, someone at Proxibid needs to address this in the Unified User Agreement. Auctioneers cannot just make up values as if coins are jewelry, where anything goes. These are US Mint products, and PCGS’s reputation–the best in the business–is tarnished when a Proxibid buyer purchases a $65 coin for hundreds more than it is worth and then learns the true value when trying to sell it.

We strongly recommend, as we have done many times in the past, that bidders and auctioneers on the portal subscribe to PCGS CoinFacts to learn the latest auction prices (including eBay) for holdered coins by top companies PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG.

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.

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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 Weaver Auction! for noting certificate of authenticity and box container on US Mint Products. You can deduct 25% or more without both from the current value. If you bid on the coin, plan to submit it to PCGS or NGC to regain your investment … and then some. That’s what we do.



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Boo! to this auction house not only for hyping the grade of the coin but also calling it a proof, when it has a mint mark “S” and when all proofs then were made in Philadelphia.


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Boo again! to the same house for calling a mint state cent a proof and for hyping the grade this time to MS70. (If you’re calling something a proof, you might as well go for it with the right designation, PF70.)


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Another Boo! to this house for allowing a bottom-tier slab to label a 1954 Quarter Dollar MS70. CoinFacts shows no coins in the ms68 category, let alone MS70.


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Booyah SilverTowne Auctions! for correctly identifying both damage, rarity and BG number for authentic California gold. See CoinFacts insert on survival rate: 200.


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Booyah Rolling M Auctions! for describing ex-jewelry on this gold lot.


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Boo! to this house for mis-identifying the year and the grade. It’s an 1886 (O or P). Why? Because the house only provides an obverse photo. Three strikes and you’re out: Boo! Boo! Boo!


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Booyah Munda Auction! for providing the mintage on a scarce coin. Wish more houses would do that!


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Booyah Jewelry Exchange! for noting a pin scratch on this lot, which too often is difficult to see in online photography.


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Booyah! to SilverTowne again for noting another easily overlooked flaw–a rim dent. Noting flaws brings trust and return customers.


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Booyah Gary Ryther Auction! for making sure in the lot description and photo that everyone knows these are reproductions.

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.

Zero % Buyer’s Fee with High Opening Bids

A new auction house on Proxibid is resorting to all-too-common sales pitches, advertising zero percent buying fees but opening bids at retail prices. Citing high grades and retail prices for coins, and then recanting their grading standards in the service terms. Are these auctions, or online coin shops?

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this company has made a bad one on us. It’s another example of the Proxibid sales team signing up sellers without providing sufficient guidelines on service terms.

Yes, we know some of our favorite auctioneers will complain when we complain about the sales team. But there is more at stake here than Proxibid may realize, because once an auction house establishes its selling practices, buyers like us will likely never check back again with an auction house like this.

We’ll just show a few examples.

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Above is an 1890 Morgan said to be deep mirror prooflike, MS64. (Click to expand photo.) The lot description challenges the bidder to “look it up” with an expected hammer price of $2300. Opening bid is $750.

First of all, never rely on any raw coin grading deep mirror prooflike at PCGS or NGC, which is on what this company bases its “expected hammer price.” At zero percent buyer’s fee, a hammer price of $2300 is significantly highly than what 1890 DMPLs MS64 have been selling when graded by PCGS, the harshest grading company in the business. (We know that because we subscribe to CoinFacts to get the latest auction prices.)

Also, there are strict standards for DMPL grades. To learn more, see this article.

Now view the close-up photo of the reverse below.

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We cannot tell from the photo whether this coin has been dipped. Neither can we see entirely clear fields on the reverse (especially at 8 o’clock), which have to reflect an object from the entire surface at six inches away. The most we would ever risk on this coin in auction is $350. If the coin grades proof-like rather than deep mirror, that’s still close to retail price, minus grading fee.

The seller challenges bidders to look it up, but does the company really mean that?

Let’s take the challenge on another lot, an 1875-S 20-cent piece graded MS63 with an opening bid of $1300. (Click to expand photo so that CoinFacts data can be viewed.)

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Retail on this coin is $1375. As CoinFacts shows, this particular coin sold for $1,150 at its last auction appearance at David Lawrence Company. The expected hammer of $1700 is about $300 over retail and current auction prices for similar PCGS coins. The auctioneer is adding a premium for the “CAC” sticker, a fourth-party grader.

We just get the impression that this auction company won’t risk anything in an auction, which is what auctions are about. Sometimes you snag a lot below wholesale. Sometimes you pay above retail. But you don’t set the odds with opening bids like this with a service term that reads: “We do not grade or endorse any grading system, appraisal, or COA. Please examine each item closely, as all sales are final.”

If you’re going to offer zero percent buying fees, then take a risk the way Liberty Shops Auction and Southwest Bullion and Coin do.

We encourage the Proxibid sales team to counsel new companies on the standards that bring the most sales. Oh yes, by the way, both Liberty Shops and Southwest Bullion are top sellers–for good reason, too. When they state zero percent buyer’s fee, they mean it with low opening bids.

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.

Silver Eagle Winner Knew Fake

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Did you guess what the problem was with this coin? It has to be legitimate, no?, because it is in a PCGS slab. Or is it?

Upon viewing this photo from a 2011 Proxibid auction, we felt uneasy. The Morgan dollar looked deep mirror prooflike in the photo; but the grade was AU53. PCGS never grades an almost uncirculated silver dollar in that condition “deep mirror.”

Here were the steps to determine the 1894 key date coin was a fake:

1. Go to PCGS certification verification.
2. Input the certification number on the label. When you do, you come up with this page:

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3. Click on the link to the Heritage auction.

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4. Compare the coins on the Heritage page with the one in the Proxibid auction (see photo below):

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Voila! The authentic PCGS coin has a CAC sticker and is an almost uncirculated Morgan without any deep mirror reflectivity. The Proxibid lot was a fake.

To see how far Proxibid has come with respect to counterfeit lots, and to see the impact Proxiblog has had as an advocate for fair bidding, read about the 2011 scenario in this Coin Update post.

No one had surmised the correct answer for more than 24 hours. One made a good guess that this was an impaired proof in a mislabeled slab.

We posted an update that no one had won the eagle, and correct answers came in. The one that arrived first, j****d, wrote: “”My guess for the contest is that the coin photographed is either a counterfeit PCGS slab, or a crack-out with replaced coin. The coin does not match the one with the same serial number that was sold by Heritage: http://coins.ha.com/c/item.zx?hdnJumpToLot=1&saleNo=29121&lotNo=20348&x=0&y=0#Photo

We hope you enjoyed the contest and will visit Star Coin and Currency’s auctions on Proxibid!

Proxiblog thanks Jim Haver and Star Coin and Currency for sponsoring this week’s Proxiblog and for donating to our scholarship fund. We welcome donations from our audience. Proxiblog invites high quality houses for sponsorship because we want to promote the best on Proxibid to our viewers.

Big Shout-Out Kudo to GWS Auctions

Last week GWS Auctions was notified that it had listed several fake California gold replicas on its site. The auction company not only removed those lots from the Proxibid block but also telephoned Proxiblog to thank us for informing them. This is in stark contrast to how some other auction houses responded.

For the basics about how to tell fake California gold from the real deal, see this article. Above all, if you are an auctioneer selling coins regularly on Proxibid, we once again recommend a subscription to PCGS CoinFacts. Nothing is as authoritative as this in providing data for you to combat counterfeit replicas or know the most current auction prices for authentic coins. CoinFacts has listed hundreds of examples of California gold, replete with rarity information.

As for our articles on California gold, we not only share our numismatic knowledge with Proxibid auctioneers but also fact-check what we post with some of the top numismatists in the country.

The biggest giveaway that you are auctioning a replica is a bear on the reverse.

Some Proxibid auctioneers continue to offer these fake replicas, gold-plated or brass, even after being informed. Proxibid should take notice of that. Bidders should take notice, too. We have won dozens of lots with companies in the past; if they did not respond to our alert, nor remove or properly identify the replicas, and we will cease bidding any more with them or just bid on coins in holders by PCGS, NGC or ANACS.

In this post, we warned Proxibid auctioneers that replicas from eBay will be flooding Proxibid, as eBay had banned replica sales. Some heeded the warning, some continued business as usual, listing what consignors told them. It is not enough–repeat, not enough–to call a counterfeit replica a “gold token” or “coin,” especially when the auction house has been informed.

Some fake tokens or “charms” indeed are made of gold, but hundreds more are not. If you have tested the lot with a sophisticated precious metal tester (cheap ones say “gold” when a item is “gold plated”), then state that along with the karat designation in the Proxibid lot description. Some 10- and 22-karat charms between the mid 1870s through the 1930s were made of gold, produced before the Hobby Protection Act went into effect.

Some auction houses listing replicas as real are members of the National Auctioneer Association and the Professional Numismatics Guild, among others, with distinct ethics codes. Moreover, it is illegal to sell counterfeits when you have been informed, even if those counterfeits were made in the 1930s (as many of these fake California gold pieces were).

And we applaud houses like Fox Valley Coins, Leonard Auction, Capitol Coin Auction, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, Western Auction and Silvertowne–just to name a few–for correctly identifying authentic and replica California gold pieces. And we will patronize houses like Christy’s Auction and GWS Auctions for having the integrity to remove lots when informed.

Proxiblog will continue to protect the hobby by raising awareness of our viewers. We value auction houses who appreciate our efforts. We know the hundreds of bidders who visit our site do, based on personal emails to this site.

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.

Bidding with Confidence

We’ve all heard the auctioneering phrase, “Bid with Confidence!” There is no greater feeling than placing a high maximum on a coveted coin in an auction you can trust.

We seldom share our organization’s bidding experiences, but we’re making an exception today in the hope that other bidders feel what we did upon seeing auction results this morning

Yesterday, Proxiblog bid on several coins in the March 13 Weaver Signature Coin and Currency auction, winning 8 of 11 under maximum bid. But we knew that going into the session because we have bid on Weaver auctions for more than two years. However, we also won several lots significantly under maximum bid in a new auction we have begun patronizing, Brian’s Auction Service of Vandalia, Ill.

Because of that confident feeling, we just breezed through two upcoming Weaver auctions, on April 26-27, bidding high because we trust our consistent under-maximum results. We’ll be looking for future Brian Auctions (and encourage him to lower his current 16% online buyer’s fee to 15% so he can be listed on our Honor Rolls).

And then there’s this: Later tonight we’re looking forward to another auction by top house Western Auction of Cheyenne, Wyo. We’re also testing another new Proxibid auction already on our Honor Rolls, featuring a 15% online buyer’s fee with good photos and reasonable shipping. We’re hoping to see under maximum bids there, too. If not, we’ll just not bid there anymore. If so, we’ll be a return customer.

We hope the hundreds of Proxiblog regulars, both bidders and auctioneers, consider the importance of the phrase “Bid with Confidence!” We also hope certain houses drop the practice of seeing maximum bids and allowing consignor bidding. True, we still patronize those auctions and include them in our rankings; but we take our time with bids, even when those houses have sold under maximums (and many do). We look up auction prices on PCGS Coin Facts (a must for serious bidders) and carefully figure out buyer’s fee and shipping charge. Result? We bid on fewer lots (otherwise, it just takes too much of our time).

That’s called “Bidding with Caution.” We’ll take “Bidding with Confidence” any 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.

Coin Doctors Target Online Auctions

Proxiblog is dedicated to helping auctioneers navigate the pitfalls of numismatics, especially concerning “doctored coins” being consigned increasingly in online sessions.

Click on the picture to expand, and you will see a deviously altered coin that was “whizzed” with a Dremel-like brush and heated so that hairlines could be hidden. The coin sold for $120, but was worth only face value because it was, well, defaced.

Before we discuss “numismatic malpractice,” please keep in mind that Proxiblog does not expect auctioneers to be coin experts. Some are, of course. But there is too much to know about numismatics, even for so-called experts, and many houses only handle coins infrequently.

Unfortunately, coin doctors are counting on that lack of knowledge when consigning altered lots that actually violate federal code (18 U.S.C. § 331). Some lots were altered years ago, and unlucky estates merely acquired them. Intentional or not, such coins cause problems for auctioneers.

We’ve heard from several auctioneers that some customers demand reimbursement when they attempt to certify their coins with NGC, PCGS, ANACS or other third-party grading company, only to learn that coin surfaces have been altered. Some clients have issued charge-backs from their credit card companies. Other customers simply stop patronizing a particular auction.

If you have had this experience, you know how unpleasant auctioneer-customer exchanges can be in seeking resolution. We applaud Proxibid for acting as intermediary when this occurs.

It pains us, though, to see altered lots in Proxibid auctions. Recently in one such auction we identified several altered coins. You can view pictures and read about that in depth by clicking here.

There are some steps you can take to protect yourself from consignors who may be banking, literally, on lack of numismatic knowledge:

  1. Ask a member of a local coin club to examine consignments and even write lot descriptions for you. Most will charge a nominal fee, usually less than $100.
  2. Create a consignment form that gives auctioneers the right to charge sellers for altered and/or counterfeit coins. True, you can claim the Proxibid registration contact protects you sufficiently; but when problems arise, as they always do, such a stance can harm your reputation as an ethical, customer-friendly house.
  3. Continue to educate yourself about altered and counterfeit coins, especially if you plan on doing more business in this lucrative area.
  4. Consult a numismatic directory, such as CoinFacts, for information about the weight and dimensions of each type and denomination. This comes in handy if you suspect you have doctored or fake coins.

Concerning that last recommendation, Proxiblog unwittingly purchased two counterfeit coins from one of our Honor Roll houses. The coins’ weight was wrong. Rather than precious metal, the items were made of gold-plated bronze. When informed about the fakes, the auctioneer asked that they be returned, promising to credit our account.

We appreciate that. We also appreciate your situation and will continue to alert you about numismatic malpractice. We won’t eliminate it in online auctions, but we’ll decrease the likelihood that it will happen to you. That’s our goal.

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.