Inspect Bottom-Tier Slabs Before Writing Lot Descriptions

We understand that entering lot descriptions on Proxibid can be a tedious task, especially if you take the time to note condition using numismatic descriptions, as most of our top houses do. But it’s important to inspect bottom-tier holders–not only for condition–but to ensure that the label contains accurate information. The example below does not.

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This coin is listed as the rare variety 1879-S rev. of 78. You can read about this coveted coin by clicking here.

The reverse of 78 variety has a flat eagle breast and parallel arrow feathers; the reverse of 79 has the more common rounded eagle’s breast and slanted top arrow feather. Here is a copy of the varieties from CoinFacts, which we recommend for all auctioneers.

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As you can see in the reverse of the Proxibid lot, the round eagle’s breast and slanted top arrow feather documents the label should have read 1879-S.

Savvy bidders know that they must treat bottom-tier and self-slabbed lots as “raw,” judging condition and flaws themselves, rather than rely on what is alleged in the label. We recommend this practice for auctioneers, too.

Sometimes this can be profitable for your consignor. You might discover that the self-slabber has overlooked a rare variety, as in the 1901 Morgan double-die reverse shifted eagle, worth hundreds in poor condition and thousands in mint condition.

You can read about that rare variety by clicking here.

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.

Untrustworthy Estimates

Check Certs and CoinFacts for True Value!


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We are so weary of seeing Proxibid newbie auctioneers believing they can guess at values and then charge high fees on top of that.


This is one example of a Proxibid house that consistently overvalues coins, charges 18.5% buyer’s fee, does not combine shipping and charges $12.95 for that. Below is a $50 coin valued erroneously as $150-$200. How do we know? Let’s learn–a lesson for auctioneers and bidders alike.

Proxibid lot

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PCGS Retail Value for this specific coin

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Take the certification off the PCGS label and then check retail value at this link.


CoinFacts Auction Prices
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CoinFacts shows recent auction prices for same coin at Teletrade, Heritage Auctions, eBay and Great Collections.


We never bid on any lot without checking CoinFacts. We suggest you refer to this databank if you are an auctioneer estimating values of coins certified by PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG. DO NOT CITE COINFACTS’ VALUES FOR RAW COINS OR BOTTOM-TIER HOLDERS!

Sooner or later, buyers will learn how much they overpaid on some auctions on Proxibid. We rank our favorite sellers to the right because they don’t use those tactics. As always, though, with any seller, we caution that your experience may differ from ours–but not when it comes to verifying values.

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.

Lure or Lose Bidders With Lot Descriptions

Recently we bid on two auctions on the same day. One, Tangible Investments, was a joy to see and read, with numismatic lot descriptions graced by fine, expandable photos. The other, which we won’t name, made several numismatic mistakes. In sum, one house lured us, the other lost our interest.


Look at this sample screen shot and note how photo and lot description attract bidders in a Tangible Investment auction (click to expand):

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The description uses Greysheet low estimate, cites mintage and denomination (including variety), and notes damage, a previous mounting and scratch–plus provides multiple views of the coin. It doesn’t get much better than this on Proxibid.

Now take a look at a series of lot descriptions that, frankly, irked us to the point that we stopped bidding.

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This overstates PCGS values for an ANACS coin. The value does not apply as both companies have different grading standards. Also, the Proxibid auction company inflates the PCGS value, again as the retail price index documents. Multiple numismatic errors irk us to the point where we almost stopped bidding.


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This lot description does the same as above, overstating and misapplying values. Moreover, using PCGS CoinFacts, you can see precisely how much a similar ANACS coin sold for at a recent auction.


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We stopped bidding when the auction house covered the PCGS certification number of an expensive key date 1893-S. Never buy a pricey coin without verifying the PCGS certification number with this link. Because the auction house has gotten into the habit of covering certification numbers with its promotional stickers, instead of using Proxibid lot technology, we don’t know if this is an authentic key date Morgan.

Most knowing bidders willing to spend high-dollar amounts for pricey coins usually know the ropes. Don’t hang yourself with hype.

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.

Some Auctioneers Know Better–Or Should

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We reported a replica California gold piece with bear reverse, as we customarily do–using Proxibid’s “Report this Item” function–and were glad to see the replica coin withdrawn. But we disagree that it was described properly.

Many of our top houses in the past year have been coin dealers. On the one hand, they usually describe coins numismatically. On the other, they not only have to answer to Proxibid but also to professional organizations, such as the Professional Numismatists Guild.

As many of our viewers also know, we have waged a battle against fake or replica California fractional gold pieces turning up regularly on Proxibid because eBay has banned the sale of them on its portal (though they are still there, if you look hard enough).

When it comes to fractional gold, we have laid out three rules:

  • Do not label lots with the words “California,” “fractional,” “gold” or “coin” unless you or your consignor can identify the Breen-Gillio number as found on CoinFacts.
  • Do not use the word “token” or “charm” unless those words appear in a slab by PCGS, NGC, ANACS or ICG. Unfortunately, many other slabbing companies cannot tell the difference between real and fake fractional gold.
  • Ensure that the lot is “gold” before using that word on any lot or you will be found in violation of the Unified User Agreement for not describing the fake accurately.

An upcoming auction offering real California gold also listed a replica piece as: 1852 – 1/2 California Gold Token with Indian Chief Head.


After being reported, the auction company specializing in coins deleted the photo of the replica and stated: “Withdrawn! – This lot was described properly but withdrawn to avoid confusion.”

The item was improperly listed. You cannot say:

  1. “1852”, unless you can prove the year (which in this case you cannot because no bear reverses were minted then).
  2. “California Gold” unless you can assure everyone that (a) it was minted in that state and (b) are positive this is not plated brass or other base metal.
  3. “Token” unless you can prove that the item was a 1915 replica of California fractional gold sold as part of a token series called “Hart’s Coins of the West.”(These were offered at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition by M.E. Hart Co. of San Francisco, which specialized in the sale of souvenirs.)

See our most popular post–“California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake“–which typically registers between 50-100 hits per week.

We were disappointed in the auction company for being defensive in maintaining that it had properly described a replica. It did not. Almost all replicas and counterfeits of California gold have a bear reverse. Very few are from “Hart’s Coins of the West.” Many are jeweler’s tokens sold as souvenirs of the West in the 1930s. Those are made of cheap gold, brass or plated base metal.

Proxiblog will continue to report replica and fake California fractional gold as we encounter them. And we continue to applaud Proxibid for listening to us in this regard, as this post illustrates.


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.

California Gold, real, replica and fake

We are seeing plated tokens being billed on Proxibid as “California gold.” A few of these are jeweler’s tokens of the 1930s. Most are outright fakes produced by the millions. Here are a few tips to tell if you have the real deal.

There are four kinds of tiny metal disks being billed as “California gold”:

  1. California fractional gold coins. These usually come in denominations of 1/4, 1/2 and 1 Dollars, and Dollar is sometimes abbreviated to D. or DOL.
  2. California gold tokens. These were minted privately up until around 1871 and are authentic gold, usually with a miner or other scene on the reverse or text on an obviously gold planchet.
  3. California jeweler’s charms. These are made of gold, typically in the 1930s, and sold as souvenirs of the west.
  4. Replica brass or plated tokens. These are fakes and usually feature a bear on the reverse.

Here is real California gold being sold on Proxibid. (Click picture to expand.)

Click here to view a California gold token.

Here is a California gold charm. To identify, you have to use a very good gold detector. Here’s a 22K charm offered by Silvertowne, correctly described. (Click picture to expand.)

Below are photos of California gold replicas, the most prominent on Proxibid and a violation of the US Hobby Protection Act, as they typically lack the word “Copy.”

Unlike other Proxibid auctioneers selling base-metal as California gold, Silvertowne’s Larry Fuller shows how to correctly describe these fake tokens, earning our trust and living up to ethical standards of the National Auctioneer Association and the American Numismatic Association. We encourage bidders reading our blog to take integrity like this into account when deciding whether to bid in a Proxibid auction. Click this Silvertowne Auction picture to see how to correctly identify California gold replicas.


We advise all auctioneers to use PCGS CoinFacts to identify California gold. You’ll find accurate descriptions, photos and values from realized prices of other auctions.


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.

Coin Scam Alert!

Recently a Proxiblog viewer asked what dealers and auctioneers should do when authentic coins are switched with counterfeit ones inside the holder or flip and then returned for a refund. This is one of many numismatic scams. Here’s how you can protect yourself.

In one month, top grading company PCGS typically sees 500 counterfeit coins. That is due not only to the flood of fakes from China but also ones from the Middle East in the 1960s when gold merchants there realized they could sell more precious metal if they replicated US coinage. And they were right.

That’s why the gold in estate bank boxes (which auctioneers love so much) also may contain counterfeit coins.

Criminals, being what they are, often see opportunity in the predictability of honest auctioneers. Trustworthy people tend to do things based on right and wrong, so it is fairly easy to see how such auctioneers may react if told a coin was counterfeit … when it was not.

The scam usually involves a new bidder. Typically he will place winning bids on low-ball items, such as a mint set or two, and allow you to charge the credit card. He may even do this in a few auctions before he springs the bait and wins an expensive coin. When he receives it, he notifies you that it is a fake and asks to return the coin. You allow this, because you are trustworthy and honest, and then send it back to the consignor.

Only it is not the seller’s coin or the one that the bidder won in your auction. The criminal has replaced it with a fake.

To counter the scam, you have to assess the authenticity of every consignment. Once you do that, you can inform the seller of any suspect coins. Here are tips:

  1. Purchase an electronic gold tester that does not require acid or gels that can harm coins. There are handheld digital analyzers. They’re expensive, but worth the investment if you are an auctioneer dealing in precious metals.
  2. Subscribe to CoinFacts or other databases that contain weights and measures of coins. Even if you use a gold tester, remember that many fakes of rare coins are made of gold and handheld analyzers also can be fooled by gold plate. Knowing correct weights and measures with sharp photos of coins will help you identify many replicas.
  3. Use a digital scale to weigh precious metals in grams, karats, etc., and a caliper to measure coins, as many fakes have wrong rims or dimensions.

If you do this when you receive a consignment, you’ll know in advance which of your coins are obviously genuine or fake. But counterfeits can be sophisticated, so do consult with a local numismatist to look over your consignment especially if you do not know the seller.

Here are tips to guard against scammers taking your authentic coins and then returning counterfeit ones.

  1. Do not broadcast in your terms of service that “we are not coin experts.” That is tantamount to hanging a sign on your home stating “we are away on vacation. Rob us.”
  2. Take sharp pictures of all the coins in the consignment. A clear and expandable photograph that contains specific markings–such as bag or mint marks–will go a long way in identifying the fake coin.
  3. Examine returns carefully. If coins are mailed to you without the original holder or flip, that also may be a sign of a scam. While it is possible to extract coins from flips and insert fake ones, not every crook is skilled in doing this.

If you have done due diligence as recommended above–first in checking for fakes in a consignment, and then in gathering evidence that genuine coins were switched for replicas–you can provide Proxibid’s quality control officer with those data and, depending on the strength of your case, potentially ban scam bidders from your site and the portal.

Throw out those Proxibums!

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.