Leonard Auction Wins … “Best Value Added”

Value Added

Leonard Auction, operated by John Leonard of Addison, Ill–yet another top-ranked house through much of 2012 on Proxiblog–has won the category of “Value Added,” based on factors often overlooked by bidders, including superior grading, guarantees on authenticity, quality consignments and customer service.

To begin with, Leonard Auction “guarantees all items to be genuine (authentic) as to date and mint mark. If a successful bidder has questions as to the authenticity of a lot, the bidder must contact Leonard Auction, Inc. within three (3) calendar days of receipt of the lot.” This is from the company’s terms of service. We also have found John Leonard very responsive whenever we have made an email query. Typically he responds within one or two business days.

John Leonard is both numismatist and auctioneer. His onsite house has more than 8000 square feet of showroom and office space. As the picture below shows, it is a first-class facility for appraisals and lot inspection.

leonardauction

Moreover, Leonard Auction secures some of the best consignments because of its fee policy of 0% seller fee for lots that sell at $250 or higher. Better still, John has strict guidelines on reserves and has to agree with the seller on any reserve before placing it on a lot.

You can download his consignment form here.

Proxiblog has consigned coins with Leonard Auction in the past and so knows from experience that the auction house relies on advertising, marketing and onsite and floor competition to reach wholesale and often retail levels for lots in addition to sell-throughs.

Leonard uses full color catalogs, advertising and select mailing lists, Internet marketing and online/onsite auction previews.

A close second to Leonard Auction was Capitol Coin Auction and Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, which utilize many of the above features and methods. John Leonard’s expertise as both numismatist (known to coin dealers across the nation) and auctioneer (member of the Illinois State Auctioneers Association and the Certified Appraisers Guild of America) gave the slightest edge to his house.

In our opinion, Brad Lisembee of Capitol and Dave Weaver of Signature Coin and Currency have similar reputations.

Other houses with superior customer service and other amenities include Honorable Mentions Fox Valley Auction, Engstrom Auctions, Jewelry Exchange, Rolling M Auction, Star Coin and Currency, SilverTowne and 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.

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Proxiblog’s next to last rankings of 2012 shows the level of competition by some of the best houses on the portal. Our rankings are based on our personal experience. Your experience may differ from our reviews. That said, let’s look at the innovations being made on Proxibid.



So very little separates our top 10 houses. Western claims the sole #1 spot because of superior consignments that grade well with the most rigorous holdering company in the business, PCGS. Speaking of PCGS, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction sold a rare Regency holdered Morgan, which we won in a bidding war and which is being profiled in an upcoming edition of Coin World!

Whenever Leonard Auction and Capitol Coin Auction host a Proxibid session, you can be sure of some of the best consignments being offered with PCGS-accurate grading … and intense bidding. Auctioneers John Leonard and Brad Lisembee rank among the most knowledgeable and competitive coin sellers in the business. You can count on their photography, too. We’re never disappointed.

Sean Cook and Larry Fuller also are consummately professional graders. Cook manages Liberty Shops Auctions, a house that continues to rise in the rankings because of 0% buyers’ premium and fine photography with inexpensive, quick shipping. We’ve touted Larry Fuller of SilverTowne more than any other grader on the portal. Larry had to take a short break in the past few months. We didn’t realize that but saw a small decrease in grading. That’s how we found out about the hiatus of our friend, who is back and grading again, for which we are thankful.

SilverTowne also has scheduled regular timed auctions. Some real bargains can be had there.

We also appreciate Darron Meares of Meares Auction, one of the most knowledgeable and accomplished auctioneers in the country. He’s making innovations again in lower buyer’s premiums and catering to the seller in stiff competition. We bid often in his auctions, but we do so wholesale, as our intent is to slab and sell our coins and help our scholarship fund. But we have a hard time winning anything wholesale in Meares’ auctions because he’s an expert at drumming up competition. Our hat’s off to him!

Eddie Caven of Key Date Coins provides some of the best coin photography on the portal. He’s been specializing in MS63-65 Carson City dollars, which always brings a crowd, as well as an assortment of older mint sets and uncirculated Franklin halves, among other denominations.

Mark Murphy of Rolling M. Auctions draws competitive onsite and online crowds and offers a good selection of slabbed coins from top companies. We also like Kaufman Realty Auctions whose consignments are nifty. Shipping is a tad slow, though; but if you’re patient, this is a great place to acquire Morgans and uncirculated rare silver denominations.

Back in our top companies is Jackson Auction, which recently had a terrific session with Morgans and slabbed coins from superior grading companies. Auctions Unlimited has a low 10% BP and has offered of late a good selection of mint sets, including rarer prestige ones.

And then there is the slow riser, Back to the Past Collectibles, creeping up from the lower ranks to the top tier of our rankings. We’re seeing increasingly delectable consignments, acceptable photographs and low buyer’s premiums.

We’re also buying from Midwest Coins, which has relaunched with new emphasis on bidders. Owner Charles Commander is a numismatist who ships quickly and is always on the hunt for good consignments.

Consider these top companies Proxiblog favorite sellers, much like you might find on eBay. We’ll continue to bid with new houses and patronize ones in our rankings to cover as many old and new coin auctions on Proxibid. As we state regularly, you may have a different experience as auctioning coins is complex, requiring numismatic skills, labor-intensive photography, and target marketing.

We remain amazed at how our top houses continue to produce, month after month, and serve the hobby.

And as always, we thank sponsors of Proxiblog. You keep us posting, and your generosity is appreciated. Sponsors are invited to showcase their companies, and we only invite those houses whose practices we have known in the long term. We reserve that right. We don’t advertise. We don’t accept payments to us personally as all donations go through the Iowa State Foundation’s scholarship fund.

Finally, we thank Proxibid, especially Jason Nielsen for establishing ever stronger quality control measures. We are an independent site, dedicated to covering the company which, we believe, offers the best coin buys of any portal, including eBay.

More Auctions Spur Competition

By our count, Proxibid coin auctions have increased by more than 30% this year over the same time period in 2011. But there’s more good news. Pictures are improving across the portal as well as consignments. And we have other statistics, too.

We monitor every coin auction on Proxibid every week. We never bid in some auctions because their terms of service or buyers’ fees and shipping are prohibitive. And we purposely avoid three auctions because we question their business practices.

As always, we don’t name the auctions we shun, as ours is an educational site that promotes what auctioneers are doing well.

And wow, are they!

In the past year, we praised 110 auctions in our most popular page, “Boos and Booyahs.” Booyahs–a slang term for “Way to Go!”–outnumbered Boos by two to one, with only 54 in the negative category. What’s more, in the past six months, Booyahs outnumbered Boos by 70%, indicating that auctioneers are spending time honing their photos, lot descriptions and consignments for the Internet as well as onsite crowd.

We have seen incredible consignments at Capitol Coin Auction, Leonard Auction and Western Auction. We have seen numismatically accurate lot descriptions and fine consignments at Weaver Auction, SilverTowne and Key Date Coins. Rolling M Auction and Kaufman Auction are improving on all levels with each auction. Southwest Auction’s zero buyer’s fee, quick and cheap shipping, is causing a stir with sell-throughs above wholesale and even retail on occasion.

There is just so much to tout that we could go on and praise a dozen or more auction houses. We’ll save that for another day.

We credit Proxibid’s quality control, customer service, increasing competition … and, well, this blog with more than 20,000 views and two dozen sponsors within the past year.

Booyah to everyone!

Key Date Coin is “Most Improved”

Key Date Coin, an Oklahoma house, has been named “most improved” on Proxiblog, with owner Eddie Caven not only learning the portal ropes but also working diligently to master the fine points of numismatics.

You can read his “On the Block” here.

He has spent the year trying to find the right mix of consignments, buyer’s fees (as low as 14%) and specials, going through a period of high opening bids before concluding that low ones trigger competition (now opening at $5 per lot). He has mastered online advertising, keeping his newsletters pertinent, brief and newsworthy.

His digital photography, combined with numismatic lot descriptions (including VAMs), rank among the best on Proxiblog.

He has earned the “Most Improved” status because Eddie is not afraid to experiment to find the right Proxibid ingredients to spark competition while providing fair and informed descriptions of quality well-photographed coins described numismatically. His shipping is fast, usually within a week, and he sometimes even cuts costs if a bidder wins one inexpensive item–a $15 Franklin half, for example.

We hope that bidders reading this post will visit his auction (the next is scheduled Jan. 7, 2012) to verify much of what we have praised. Other auctioneers might send him a congratulatory note in the spirit of NAA collegiality.

We applaud Eddie in winning this award. He had stiff competition from our Honorable Mention houses in this category, which include Auctions Unlimited, Arneson Auction, Culpeper Auction, Engstrom Auctions, Meares Auction and Rolling M. 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.

Quick Post: showcase coins early

A few auctions are showcasing their consignments weeks and at times even months in advance. We think this is a good idea.

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction this week posted a coin auction–replete with all pictures–scheduled for Jan. 24, 2012, some 41 days in advance. Rolling M Auctions and Silvertowne also post auctions well in advance.

This gives hobbyists time to select the coins they desire and budget for a particular auction.

One auction house, Silver Trades, typically posts all pictures on the day of the auction, or a little before. The auctioneer spends time on lot descriptions and takes multiple pictures of coins. He has a different advantage by posting late because buyers follow his auctions based on his performance and knowledge as well as his lots. They anticipate the session and so tune in, but that is the exception. (See this article about that.)

The beauty of posting consignments early is that it doesn’t cost more to do so. If Proxibid operated like eBay, auction houses would pay more for the length of time the lots are online.

Take advantage of this opportunity. Bidders will appreciate it.

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.

Post Pics Early to Jump Start Bidding

Proxiblog has given advice on photography and showcased some of the best on Proxibid. When and what order you post also can give you an edge.

Some houses consistently beat the competition both in the quality of photography and when and what they post first, to jump start bidding. For instance, Rolling M Auctions, Silvertowne, Western, Capitol Coin, Leonard Auction, Key Date Coins, Jewelry Exchange and Fox Valley post photos several weeks to a month in advance, knowing that collectors and buyers on Proxibid are looking for certain coins and will bid early and often to claim them.

We know it is difficult for small houses or even one- or two-person operations to photograph consignments and post the entire auction online in a timely manner. For those, we recommend photographing certain coins first and posting lesser lots later.

If you’re using a specific coin as your “header”–the photo that showcases your auction, as in this 1875-CC Trade Dollar by Silvertowne–then be sure to post that first. (Click picture to expand.)

Then follow with your most expensive or showcase lots. After those, coins slabbed by PCGS, NGC, ANACS, ICG. Then add all raw coins worth $200 or more, $100 or more, and finally $50 or less, including common proof and mint sets and modern commemoratives.

Certainly, there will be exceptions to these suggestions. Use your best judgment. The point is, those houses that post early and completely are going to snag bids on lots that you might plan on featuring. Get your best lots up as early as the largest houses, and you’ll see increased business 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.

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.)