SilverTowne Wins … “Best Timed Auction”

Best Timed

SilverTowne Auctions, operated by Rick Howard of Leipsic, Ohio, in partnership with SilverTowne Coins of Winchester, IN, began scheduling regular timed auctions in 2012 featuring rare and affordable coins and jewelry and winning our award for “Best Timed” sessions.

This was a very close competition with one house a mere point behind and other houses essentially tied for third place within two points of overtaking SilverTowne, which won because of the selection of rare coins and value-added considerations (shipping, descriptions, quality of consignments, etc.).

Click and expand the photo below to see how SilverTowne identifies flaws, overgrading and condition, which proved to be the winning factor.

SilverTowne_Timed

Star Coin and Currency offers similar quality timed auctions with good descriptions and inexpensive, quick shipping and came closing to winning the category, but has an 18% BP (as opposed to SilverTowne’s 15%) and uses PayPal rather than APN. (Many bidders dislike PayPal because it eventually forces them to use its services rather than a credit card, taking funds directly from a bank account and depriving users of reward points and budgetary control.)

We also recommend timed sessions by Meares Auction Group, Jewelry Exchange and Liberty Shops Auctions, our other Honorable Mentions with Star Coin in this category. Auctioneers of these companies promote customer service and also possess numismatic expertise.

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.

Spotlight on SilverTowne Auction

This week we begin a series of spotlight reviews on the top five houses in our numerical rankings. Depicted here is a copy of our score sheet. Earning a 4 or 5 in our rankings is significant, and few top 20 houses earn more than one or two maximum scores. Those earning the highest scores this month also tied for top house, with Capitol, Key Date, SilverTowne, Weaver and Western all registering the maximum 25 points.

SilverTowne Coin Auctions on Proxibid feature two of the big names in numismatics: Rick Howard’s Coin Shop and Leon Hendrickson’s SilverTowne. Together, both companies have more than a century’s experience buying and selling coins. Perhaps their secret asset on Proxibid, however, is 75-year-old numismatist Larry Fuller whose lot descriptions are among the best on Proxibid.

Proxiblog consigns periodically to SilverTowne, and it is not unusual for Larry to send back a coin because it has a flaw. We never argue with him.

One of his specialties, which we applaud, is identifying slabbed coins of inferior quality–quite a difference from some Proxibid auctioneers, including current ones, who quote Red Book or Coin Values prices for self-slabbed coins worth only silver melt but billed as MS66 or higher.

Click here for an example of Larry’s lot descriptions.

Once again, you can gauge the quality of this house by the number of occurrences on our Boos and Booyah’s page–an even dozen in the past year. Here is a sampling:

Larry Fuller’s expertise adds significantly to that of Rick Howard and other SilverTowne employees, including Dave Nauert, who contributed one of our first and most enlightening “On the Block” posts.

As always, our rankings are based on personal experience with the auction house. Generally, SilverTowne values and designations are close to PCGS ones. The 1891-O one below was designated MS63, although it sold for MS62 rates, which turned out to be also PCGS’s opinion. (Click photos to expand).

Proxiblog photo
Proxiblog photo
Proxiblog photo

SilverTowne, like Key Date Coins, ships within one day using numismatic packaging. Earlier in the year it discontinued maximum-bid viewing, again like Key Date Coins. We continue to find superior coins, raw and slabbed, in SilverTowne auctions, and we’re excited about its series of timed auctions in which bargains are to be had.

To learn more about SilverTowne auctions, visit the company’s home page 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.

Proxiblog this week was sponsored by


SilverTowne Auctions

Check out the schedule of SilverTowne auctions on Proxibid.

Silvertowne Auctions is a joint effort between SilverTowne, L.P. of Winchester, Ohio, and Richard Howard, Inc., dba Howard’s Coin Shop, of Leipsic, Ohio. Their combined experience in rare coins is well over 100 years, and it shows, as SilverTowne is currently Proxiblog’s top-rated auction based on reasonable online buyer’s fees, expert grading knowledge, accurate lot descriptions, fine numismatic photography and super-fast shipping. Moreover, the company holds several online and onsite auctions per month with a wide array of coins at every level, from bargain-priced to ultra rare lots.

You can read more about SilverTowne Auctions by clicking here.

SilverTowne and Howard’s Coin Shop are among the country’s largest and most respected dealers of rare coins, modern coins and precious metals. SliverTowne’s Leon Hendrickson and his wife Ruhama founded their company in 1949 and built its reputation with a firm foundation of honesty and integrity. Rick Howard’s Coin Shop has been in business since 1971 with a singular mission of helping investors and collectors find the right coins at the right prices.

Howard’s Coin Shop also is an active buyer of collections from across the country. You can contact him at (419) 943-2612 or write him at 128 E Main Street, Leipsic, OH 45856.

We thank Rick Howard and SilverTowne Auctions for sponsoring Proxiblog’s scholarship fund to help ease student debt and create the next generation of auction-house bidders! If you would like to sponsor a week’s worth of Proxiblog, email mjbugeja@yahoo.com

Silvertowne wins “Best Descriptions”

Silvertowne Auctions, operated by Rick Howard of Leipsic, Ohio, in partnership with SilverTowne Coins of Winchester, IN, is a first-class house featuring several Proxibid coin auctions per month.

This was a close competition, as you will see in the Honorable Mentions category, with several houses named whose auctioneers also are expert numismatists. The chief reason we chose Silvertowne has to do with 74-year-old Larry Fuller whose official title is “online auction specialist.” Larry has been a collector and dealer for more than 50 years. His philosophy in writing lot descriptions is an accurate grade.

In an upcoming article in Coin World, Larry states, “When I was a dealer, if I sold a coin, I felt I should be ready to buy it back at the same grade.”

Fuller believes that reliable grading and accurate lot descriptions are key in attracting return customers online. He is noted for short, crisp descriptions with information you can rely on. Here’s an example: “RARE!!! THIS IS NOT THE CHEAP D/D. THIS IS THE COIN WITH A D WELL SOUTH OF OTHER D.”

Why not send Larry Fuller a congratulatory note?

Several Honorable Mention houses gave Fuller a run for his “money,” literally. They include tiptop lot descriptions based on numismatic knowledge, a regular feature of Capitol Coin Auction, Key Date Coins, Leonard Auction, Silver Trades and Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction.

We also congratulate Silvertowne and thank our runners-up for sharing their numismatic knowledge supported by fine photography, a component in our analysis.

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.

Altered Coins on Proxibid

This is a short post that exposes the bad and the good on Proxibid.

In the past month we have received four lots of doctored, dipped and ungradable coins. In two cases, we believe, the auctioneers oft-stated exclamations that they are not coin experts resulted in coin doctors sending them fraudulent consignments. That, coupled with acceptable (for Proxibid) but still substandard photography, hid the alterations.

In another case, we believe, the way an auctioneer photographs coins is to blame as he typically shoots coins against a black background with strong lightning, a technique that unintentionally hides dipping.

We no longer will purchase any coins from him or those who sell, even once, altered coins, as their judgment cannot be trusted, especially with their all-sales-final terms of service.

Some of the doctored coins were so skillfully done that they escaped our detection. As we frequently resell coins to Proxibid auctioneers, we sent them to one of our top houses and, in our view, the best grader in the business, Larry Fuller from Silvertowne Auctions.

He returned the coins to me with a note. See for yourself.

See why we keep advocating for sharp photos and better terms of service on Proxibid that allow for returns of fraudulent (and often criminally liable) sale of altered coins.

We will post in the coming weeks an article from Coin Update News discussing these issues in detail. 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.

Boos & Booyahs: Best & Bad Auctioneer Lot Descriptions

When items warrant, Proxiblog will lament and compliment best and bad auctioneer lot descriptions in this light-hearted feature. We will name the best, but you will have to search Proxibid for the bad. (Click pictures to expand and view lot descriptions)

Booyah! To Meares Auctions for being proud of its 10% buyer’s fee and showcasing that in its email blasts! Meares keeps on improving customer service and consignments. Kudos atop booyahs!


Boo! to this unnamed auctioneer who not only posts blurred, impossible pictures but also lists a 1966 clad Quarter Dollar as “40% silver.” Why sell online if you cannot provide the visuals, let along accurate lot descriptions?


Booyah! To Capitol Auctions for a detailed historical description of “CONSTANTINE THE GREAT” ancient coin. It takes time to write accurate lot descriptions, especially on coins, but they lure the high-rollers and Capitol knows that, explaining its top-caliber consignments.


Booyah! to Silvertowne Auctions for identifying rim damage on a coin whose picture does not readily show that. Silvertowne tops our list of best online auction houses because of its expert numismatist who writes the best lot descriptions on Proxibid!


Boo! to this unnamed auction house that thinks a $4 mint set is “an investment” and wants 15% buyer’s fee plus $19.95 shipping to send it!


Boo! to this unnamed auctioneer who used the same picture for several Carson City dollars without noting that a stock photo was being used (or the same in-house photo for each GSA Moorgan). Why do auctioneers take shortcuts with photos when contracting with an online portal like Proxibid?!


Booyah! To Big Fellows Auction in its first Proxibid auction for accurate lot descriptions, including this one noting the tube of silver eagles were pristine out of a monster box (when some eagles of dubious condition are often just stored in such a tube).

Boo! to this unnamed auction house that took a picture of a US Mint box without also photographing the coins inside, not only on this but on eight similar lots, which confuses us, as there is gold inside … unless wanting to give the onsite audience an edge because they have access to the coins on display. We don’t like to think that, even though none of the sets containing gold sold to Proxibidders. That’s just probably an outcome of an auction house taking shortcuts with digital photography. There are no visual shortcuts in online coin selling. That’s a good lesson with which to end this post!


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.

New Rankings, Brief Hiatus

Proxiblog has updated its auction rankings, with Silvertowne Auctions overtaking Western Auction, due to top consignment as well as buyer’s policies.

Silvertowne, concerned about securing top-quality consignments for its bi-monthly auctions, has one of the best seller policies on Proxibid, with low and even zero fees for coins that bring good hammer prices. Western Auction, still one of the best online and onsite companies in the business, at one time featured a 0% buyer’s fee, increased that to 5%–still the lowest on Proxibid–but recently upped that to 10%.

At 5% fees, Western Auction still would be doing well. Its July 6 session brought amazing hammer prices, with this 1893-S PCI-graded Morgan bringing $2950, or a realized price of $3245, still a bargain for all parties–auction house, seller and buyer.

Silvertowne, operated by Rick Howard of Howard’s Coin Shop in Leipsic, Ohio, features similar high-end items. In its last auction, this raw 1893-S sold for $3200, or $3680 realized, with 15% buyer’s fee. While that fee is on Proxiblog’s high end, Silvertowne makes up for that with expert coin grading and consignment policies. (Note the accurate description on the 1893-S coin pictured here.)

Proxibid will be taking a brief hiatus until mid-month. In two months we have posted more than 30,000 words in several categories, hoping to enhance your summer reading on best practices and more for your auction company.

In closing, we’d like to acknowledge our Honor Roll houses for their standards and practices on Proxibid:

Abal Auction

Arneson Auctions

Auctions Unlimited

Auctions by Wallace

Battermans Auction

Beatrice Auction Service

Beloit Auction/United Country

Black and Gold Auction

C.B. Kaye and Associates

Carden Family Auction Service

Carrick Auction

Crawford Family Auction

Culpeper Auction

Dave Kaufman Realty and Auctions

Furlo Auction Service

Garrison Auctioneers

Gavin Pope Auction and Appraisal

Gold Crown Auctions

Grey Ghost Auction Service

Grubaugh Auction Service

Hi-$ Auctions

Hidden Treasures

United Country/Hudgins

Key Date Coins

Kraft Auction Service

Krause Auctioneering

Krueger and Krueger

Jewelry Exchange and Auctions

Johnny’s Estate Auction Service

Lippard Auctions/United Country

Meares Auction Group

Massart Auctioneers/United Country

Midwest Coins

Phil Cole Rare Coin Auctions

RJ’s Auction Service

Scott Auctions

Silvertowne Auctions

United Country Shobe Auction

Sullivan Auctioneers

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction

Western Auction


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.

Already 1500 Viewers!

In the first three weeks of Proxiblog’s launch, some 1500+ viewers have visited our site to learn about top coin auctions selling on the portal Proxibid.

Proxiblog articles, updates, best practices and other features are attracting between 50-150 viewers per day, an impressive figure for a blog without major media sponsorship (now under consideration at Coin World and other auctioneer and numismatic venues). We also have a growing subscription list (see the subscription button on the lower right frame of the home page, under top rankings and twitter).

Proxiblog, which honors ethical standards by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneers Association, is an independent numismatic site with no affiliation to Proxibid.

Since the launch, several enhancements have been made to the site, including the “On the Block” series featuring auctioneers discussing Internet operations and their best practices (or bidder abuses). If you are an auctioneer who would like to be featured in “On the Block,” leave your email in a comment (which will not be posted, by the way) and Proxiblog will be in touch.

The Proxiblog objective is to provide more transparency, competition and quality control among auctioneers conducting online sessions. Only best practices and top auction houses will be featured here. Comments will be screened carefully to ensure that our site is as proactive as possible.

Our standards are reasonable and competitive: 15% or lower online buyer’s fees, pictures of obverse and reverse of coins, expandable photos for closer inspection of items, and shipping within 7-10 days. Our top houses also have “value-added” features, such as:

Our top online coin auction sites often excel in all the above categories (see rankings to the right).

Houses that meet our minimum standards are included in our Honor Roll. When Proxiblog began last month, only 11 houses met the criteria. Now more than 30 have in our short time focusing on quality control and competition.

We understand that some auctioneers believe that Proxibid fees prevent them from charging lower online buyer’s fees; however, we reject that argument as Proxibid has expanded the coin buying clientele and enhances the online experience with professional customer service. In a word, this is about competition with the understanding that auctioneers who can maintain or exceed these minimum standards also will thrive with top consignments and vigorous bidding. See our article, “The Three Cs of Proxiblog.”

If you’re an auctioneer hoping to maintain high NAA standards while reaching online coin buyers, why not see if your house meets these criteria to be listed on Proxiblog? And if you do, feel free to use our “Honor Roll” icon. (Note: If you wish a high resolution jpeg, leave your email in a comment and we will send you the file.)

The Three “C”s of Proxiblog: Consignments, Coins, Competition

Increasingly, auction houses selling via online portals like Proxibid are facing the three “C”s of Proxiblog: consignments, coins and competition.

  • CONSIGNMENTS. To attract continuing customers, auctioneers have to attract worthy consignments. Some houses charge consignors 15% on the hammer price. Others charge as little as 5% or, like Leonard Auction, nothing at all for high-price coins, letting the coins speak for themselves.

    Conventional Practice: Consignors routinely contact auctioneers who sell successfully on Proxibid, asking if they will handle their wares (especially Honor Roll houses as profiled on Proxiblog). Other times, auctioneers attend estate auctions themselves or purchase from coin shows.

    Competitive Practice: Auctioneers without real houses–places of business where customers routinely bring coins–will have a harder time competing. They’ll have to devise policies that attract consignments while bidding themselves on coins everywhere from estate auctions to eBay and Proxibid itself.

  • COINS. Once the house procures the coins, the next step is how they will describe and depict them. Here the advantage goes to houses that also are coin dealers, such as Silvertowne, with partner Rick Howard as a top numismatist and auctioneer. Howard does coin business through his shop in Leipsic, Ohio. Silvertowne’s descriptions of coins are reliable, as are ones by Weaver Auction, which has been selling coins for 16 years. They will identify weaknesses such as dipping, cleaning, and even possible alterations. They always provide clear photos of coins to back up their claims.

    Conventional Practice: Houses that use the Proxibid boilerplate about sales being final–or that claim consignors wrote the descriptions–will be at a disadvantage over time as buyers come to patronize knowledgeable auctioneers.

    Competitive Practice: If you are going to sell coins, you need to know about them, because federal law requires that you do. Coins are often exempt from taxes. Replicas may violate the U.S. Hobby Protection Act. You owe it to your business to learn more about numismatics or to engage the services of experts who do. Otherwise, over time, buyers will seek wares elsewhere.

  • COMPETITION. Because of U.S. debt and the uncertain economy, many houses realize the profit to be made by selling coins. The down economy is expected to last for the long term. That means more houses will be signing up on Proxibid, giving longtime clients a run for their money–literally.

    Conventional Practice: Too many auctioneers have become complaisant with how they do business, unaware of the emerging competition and unwilling to try new approaches. They complain about Proxibid fees without assessing their own, which include fees from consignors as well as onsite and online buyers.

    Competitive Practice: Auctioneers who own real rather than online houses again have the advantage. They can charge the onsite audience buyers’ fees, solicit telephone bids for more fees and charge 15% or lower to online clients–in addition to charging consignors. That’s the caliber of competition emerging now on Proxibid. Several auctioneers are also Internet savvy, soliciting buyers with Facebook and Twitter accounts.

If you disagree with the above analysis, factor this. Teletrade, one of top two auction houses in the business–so large that it does not need a Proxibid as it boasts 100,000-plus registered buyers–has been conducting no-reserve, 0% buyer fee auctions every Tuesday. Buyers don’t have to worry about counterfeit, altered or problem coins. They don’t have to take risks due to poor photography. The coins already are slabbed by top grading companies. And though the competition for coins every Tuesday is intense, often sales are lower than on Proxibid auctions … without the risk, harsh policies and non-competitive practices.

Proxiblog was created to maintain a healthy competition that helps the hobby. Days of business as usual have ended. Some auction houses now on Proxibid will not be there in a year unless they adopt proactive policies and deal with the competition by maintaining minimum standards, as outlined here.