Thank-you message attracts new business

rollingM

Rolling M. Auctions, one of the best marketers on the portal, sends out a thank you noting realized prices after one of its large, advertised auctions. The gesture not only is good business practice; it also attracts consignors.



Often good customer service–a thank-you, for instance–is yet another opportunity to tout your auction and attract consignors in the process. Rolling M. Auctions sent this email blast to all who registered for the auction and, perhaps, to all in its database of former customers.

In this instance, the company announced that its online attendance had set a record. The gesture is especially important because Internet bidders are the target audience for a thank-you message like this.

A good thank-you message with marketing savvy has these components:

1. Sincere thank-you for the business.
2. Realized prices.
3. Any record-breaking statistic, including a high price for a rare coin.
4. A notice for potential consignors.
5. Date of future auction.
6. Contact data for the company, including email and phone.

Every contact with your bidder is a chance to attract more business. Every auction is a chance to attract return customers, especially if you have mastered photography, lot descriptions and customer 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.

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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:

dmpl_samsung

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.

newviews

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.


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.

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 compliments auctioneer lot descriptions. Yesterday we named the worst in recent auctions. (Click pictures to expand and view lot descriptions below.)

cleaned

One Big Booyah to Jewelry Exchange for consistently noting cleaning on coins, difficult to detect with online photos.


dings

Another Booyah to Rolling M Auction! for noting rim dings on a coin. See this post for more information on identifying dings and bumps.


nobox

Booyah Munda Auctions! for noting on this and several other lots of proof and mint sets that the item did not contain a box. Sets without boxes sell a tad lower than with boxes. That’s why it was important to note.


excel_decatur

Booyah Decatur Coin and Jewelry! for some of the best lot descriptions on the portal. These numismatists know what they are selling and share that information with bidders.


problemcoins

Booyah Capitol Coin Auction! for consistently noting problems on coins, including multiple-item lots like this.


rimbump

Booyah SilverTowne Auctions! for consistently identifying damage, rim dings and bumps, and other issues with lots. Doing so earns repeat business from buyers who come to trust your descriptions.


rimproblems

Booyah Western Auction! for also noting rim dings, bumps and other flaws on coins.


rough edge

Booyah Gary Ryther Auctioneering! for noting issues on currency. Even if the damage is obvious, as on this coin, note it in your lot descriptions for value-added considerations!


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.

Weaver Coin and Currency Regains Top Slot

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, a long-time top-spot holder in our rankings, has reascended to that position based on sharp photos, rare consignments, quick shipping, numismatic lot descriptions and value-added customer service.


We especially value the customer service of Dave and Cheryl Weaver, consummate professionals.

However, competition is keen with our favorite sellers that we find very little difference in the top 10 and routinely bid in their auctions. One might have a slightly better consignment. One may have a special. Another may offer a new service or additional timed auction.

We always eagerly go through catalogs of Western Auction, Leonard Auction, Capital Coin Auction, SilverTowne, and Rolling M. Auctions, primarily because we can find rarities and sleepers (especially the latter). Sleepers are coins that have low mintage. Photography on Western, Leonard and Capital Coin is exquisite, and so we can grade raw coins accurately. When it comes to Leonard or Capitol, we rely on numismatic descriptions, which sometimes are sharper than our own.

Key Date Coins continues to showcase the best photography. We love Eddie Caven’s auctions and admire him immensely; but we hope more consignors will send him premium lots. If you’re looking for Carson City dollars, this is the place, as Eddie always has a few MS63-64 lots in each of his regular sessions.

We’re happy to see Southwest Bullion and Coin back in our listings. Justin Quinn has been enhancing his numismatic descriptions, offering zero buyer’s premiums, and shipping quickly and inexpensively.

Star Coin and Currency continues to improve. Jim Haver’s customer service is among the best on the portal.

We congratulate Liberty Shops Auctions for the volume it is doing on Proxibid, qualifying still as the top coin category seller.

Each month these rankings get harder to do because auctioneers continue to improve. However, some houses are not included–even ones with low premiums and nice items–because they see maximum bids, allow shill bidding, have poor photography (unable to discern grade or luster of coin), continue to offer dipped and/or self-slabbed coins without identifying them as such, or lack APN clearance.

We emphasize that content on Proxiblog is educational. We are not an open-source blog or complaint board, which is why we do not even identify auction houses in our “Boo” section of “Boos and Booyahs.” Also, we emphasize, that our rankings are based on our own experience with an auction house. Consider these are our favorite sellers. Your experience might differ from ours.

As for Proxiblog, we now have surpassed 32,000 all-time views and average 650 unique visitors each month–about the size of a mega auction session. Our most popular post continues to be California Gold, real, replica and fake, which averages 60+ views per week (indicating the concern over counterfeits).

Finally, we invite auction houses to sponsor our blog and contribute to our scholarship fund. We continue to publish Proxiblog for free, without subscription. We have more than 400 posts about coins in our archive and over 1000 numismatic photos. Several auction houses have been especially generous this month and we thank those companies on behalf of journalism students at Iowa State University of Science and Technology.

Boos & Booyahs: Best & Bad Auctioneer Lot Descriptions

This is the second of two Boos and Booyah posts, one of our favorite features. This post is all about the Booyahs!

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.)

keydate_Vam

One Big Booyah! to Key Date Coins, winner of our Best Photography Award, for capturing the finest VAM (variety) details of this 1899 Morgan. Would that other houses provided such detailed photos!


keydate_nocameo.

An Even Bigger Booyah to Key Date Coins! for not being tempted to call this Franklin half “cameo” or “deep cameo.” We see Proxibid auctioneers doing this all the time, when only one side has cameo features. Both must possess that frost. In this case, only the obverse does. Kudos to Eddie Caven for following proper numismatic descriptions! For more on cameos, click here.


booyahRollingM_whizzed

Booyah Rolling M Auction! for noting that this Morgan has been tooled, or altered, and is essentially only worth silver melt. Increasingly we see auctioneers neglecting to state this, even when the results are as obvious as this.


midwest_tooled

Booyah Midwest Coins! for noting yet another altered coin. This one has a tooled cheek, as Charles Commander notes.


dmpl_slider_star coin

Booyah Star Coin and Currency! for describing problems with what appears to be a slider rather than uncirculated DMPL. Jim Haver also points out milky spots and provides another photos for bidders to judge for themselves!


overgraded_kaufman

Booyah Kaufman Auction! for noting this bottom-tier coin is overgraded. We see so many self-slabbed and bottom-tier holders overgrading coins with auctioneers actually citing PCGS and Redbook values for silver melt Morgans. Sigh. At least Kaufman calls this correctly.


rim bump

One last Booyah to Weaver Coins and CurrencyAuction! for identifying rim bumps, which many auctioneers ignore in their descriptions and which may dramatically decrease a coin’s value. Dave Weaver is one of the top numismatic auctioneers in calling attention to a coin’s details.


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.

Capitol Coin Wins “Best Auction”

7Best Coin Auction

Capitol Coin Auction has won our award for “Best Coin Auction” on the Proxibid portal, garnering “Best Shipping” and “Best Descriptions” honors and honorable mentions in “Best Photography,” “Best Consignments,” and “Best Value Added” categories.

Because competition was so tough this year, with more auctions in the running for awards than last, the spread between “Best” and runners-up was narrow.

As we indicated in our last ranking of favorite auctions listed in the right sidebar, Capitol Coin Auction has been the only house to achieve maximums in all categories, and this played out as anticipated in our “Top of Proxiblog” Awards.

A close second was Leonard Coin Auction, which performs on par or slightly better than Capitol in all categories, including “Value Added.” When judging ended and scores were tallied, the two houses virtually tied; however, the margin of difference was Capitol’s lowering a previously higher BP to 15%, the recommended percentage for online buyers.

Leonard Auction won the “Best Value-Added” category in addition to being an honorable mention in “Best Descriptions,” “Best Photography,” and “Best Consignments.”

We also praise and recommend our other honorable mentions in the “Best Coin Auction” category, including:

  • Key Date Coins, which won “Best Photography” and was an honorable mention in “Best Descriptions” and “Best Shipping.”
  • SilverTowne Auctions, which won “Best Timed Auction” and placed in “Best Descriptions,” “Best Consignments” and “Value-Added” categories.
  • Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, which placed in “Best Descriptions,” “Best Consignments,” “Best Photography,” and “Best Value-Added” categories.
  • Western Auction, which won “Best Consignments” and placed in “Best Photography” and “Value-Added” categories.

We also wish to congratulate all those auction houses who won or placed in our awards, including:

  • Back to the Past Collectibles
  • Braxton’s Auctioneering
  • Engstrom Auctions
  • Five Star Auction
  • Fox Valley Coins
  • Jewelry Exchange
  • Kaufman Realty and Auction
  • Liberty Shops
  • Matthew Bullock Auctioneering
  • Manor Auction
  • Meares Auction Group
  • Midwest Coins
  • Rolling M Auction
  • Star Coin and Currency

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.