Large estate, mammoth auction?

largeauction

One of our top auction houses has secured a large consignment nearly triple his regular auction, with another large consignment coming in at the same time. He asks, “What are the bidders’ perspective on this? I could definitely do two marathon auctions but I don’t want to have to worry about people dropping off if that’s the case.

Marathon auctions come with risks to both the onsite and online crowd. It’s difficult to keep the onsite crowd in a room for 8-10 hours. But it’s more difficult to keep the Internet crowd on Proxibid that long, too. And there are other more technical issues with those long sessions, with Proxibid’s technology signing out bidders if they wait too long for a desired lot.

We have seen Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction parse out large auctions into two-day affairs. Other auctions, such as Silver Trades, regularly schedules several sessions associated with a numismatic event featuring lots from that coin show, for instance.

We invite others reading this to answer our auctioneer’s question about marathon sessions.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Divide the lots into denominations. You can schedule copper lots on one day, for instance, and silver lots on another. Many bidders collect Lincoln cents and Morgans, for instance. Target your audience by scheduling two sessions.
  • Divide lots into rare and popular/common auctions. Assemble all your slabbed or ultra rare coins in one highly publicized auction with other, lesser lots into another.
  • Consider a mix of live and timed auctions. Some auctioneers, such as Jewelry Exchange and SilverTowne, schedule live auctions for the rarer lots and timed for the lesser ones with several highly desired coins to attract a crowd there, too.

There is another technical issue associated with long-session Proxibid auctions, live or timed. The technology signs you out if you are waiting too long for a desired lot. In the past, there was no notice that this was occurring, and many bidders, including Proxiblog, thought the onsite auctioneer was ignoring bids on lots scheduled later in the auction. We didn’t know that the technology signed us out.

Now, we believe, that glitch has been fixed and a notice appears that you have to sign in again. At least we saw that in the latest McKee Auctions, which routinely schedule marathon auctions. We like and admire Owen McKee, but we often grow weary waiting for desired lots to come on the block. Add to that the technology glitches, and we just cannot recommend marathon sessions.

Do you as an auctioneer or as a bidder have some advice? Do you agree with us? Do you have better suggestions–which we welcome, of course! Please comment!

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.

Mascari Lowers BP for Sell-Through

We have to hand it to Mascari Auction Company, a house that schedules regular Proxibid auctions that usually have a 19% BP. Last week, during a sale of some of the best coins we have seen recently on the portal, the company sent an email blast lowering the BP to 9%.


We advocate low buyer’s premiums. Some houses, like Liberty Shops Auctions, have decreased it to zero to effect sell-throughs time after time. Silver Trades also lowered its BP this week to 13%.

Mascari took the hint with a consignment of pricey Morgans, DMPLs and other rarities and lowered the premium with outstanding results.

Auctioneer Mark Upton noted superb results. “We only had the sale up for 3 days! The sale brought $32,000 For just a short auction of 45 lots. the promotion went great!”

We applaud Mascari which, by the way, posts transparency notices (as does Silver Trades), which we discourage. But we’re so pleased to see the sell-through and competitive bidding and happy for all the bidders who won choice coins in Mascari’s Nov. 8 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.

Grading Silver Trades

We will run occasional grading checks on Proxibid auctions so you can see how we bid based on condition. These coins are from Silver Trades auctions in October. We grade on PCGS standards as found on Photograde, admittedly more conservative than grading of most auctioneers but still the standard in numismatics. Click pictures below to expand.

We call a coin:

    “Gem Uncirculated” if will grade at NGC or PCGS at the MS65 or higher level. We agree with this grade. We see two small dings that may be faint staple scratches on the left fore thigh and on the body. We won’t bid because of that.


    “Slider” if it will grade at NGC or PCGS at the AU58. Silver Trades calls this a slider, AU58. We agree.



    “MINT STATE or UNCIRCULATED” if it will grade at PCGS MS60-63. We see a combination of what appear to be slide marks and hairlines (lines going in two directions, across and then sloping up from left to right). Coin appears to have luster and full breast feathers. We’d call this “Mint State Details,” indicating it may not slab.


    Almost Uncirculated” if it would grade AU50-58. We agree with this grade. But we also see rim damage at 12 o’clock. We won’t bid.


    “MS64” if the fields are relatively clear with a strong strike and undamaged devices. We agree with this grade.


    MS63″ if bag marks and dings are kept to a minimum in the choice devices and fields, such as Lady Liberty’s cheek. We agree with this grade, but also see what looks like a staple scratch from “Unum” on the right side of the coin. We won’t bid.


    MS62” if bag marks and dings happen in choice devices and fields. The coin also should have luster. This one doesn’t have much. We see wear on the hair by Lady Liberty’s ear. We say this is a slider, AU58, possibly cleaned.


    Choice AU” if the coin would grade Au55-58. This is an 1897-O, a rarer coin, which usually has a soft strike. We agree with the grade.


    Mint State Gold” if the coin shows good luster and devices such as feathers feature a strong enough strike in an incuse style (images sunk into the coin). We disagree with this grade. We say AU55, cleaned.


    Generally, in our subjective but nonetheless expert opinion, we feel Silver Trades provides lots of numismatic content in its descriptions, and that’s a value added. While we do agree with most of its grades, we also note when flaws are overlooked. To its credit, Silver Trades has sharp, expandable photos, so the knowing collector can make determinations themselves. And on choice lots, Silver Trades offers buyback guarantees. On some coins, within one point, and that includes coins sent to PCGS.

    Silver Trades starts with high opening bids, but then lowers them considerably when you attend the auction online, if there are no prebids on coins. The company does see maximum bids, and it can bid up a coin, too, as indicated in transparency notices. But we often attend the online sessions because the auctioneers sing their descriptions and obviously love numismatics.

    As noted, grading is in part subjective, and is difficult to do via online photographs. Our designations are based on how we bid and why. Thus, the overall grade on Silver Trades grading based on our criteria: B.

    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 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.)

Booyah Silver Trades Auction! for a linked video to a charming scene of a young numismatist selling her collection. This shows real technological savvy, and the little girl sold her collection, to boot! Wonderful use of the Proxibid portal.


Booyah Bid-A-Lot Auction! for noting polished coins, which turn up frequently on Proxibid and which always need to be described because this is a form of coin altering. Moreover, some unethical consignors target auction houses for all their polished coins, especially when the auctioneer states “I AM NOT A COIN EXPERT.”


Booyah! Kaufman Auction for describing this coin as cleaned, even though the cleaning isn’t readily apparent from the photos. Shows auctioneer knows coins and respects bidders!


Boo! to this unnamed but knowledgeable auctioneer who doesn’t take the time to note that these are replicas recently banned from eBay. Perhaps he thinks anyone purchasing them should know that as these if real would cost a fortune. With stakes so low, just mention these are copies, OK?


Boo! to this otherwise fine auction house that claims in the description that an outlaw owned this coin. In this case, do not show us the money; show us the certificate of authenticity that an outlaw really owned the piece. Otherwise, keep mum.


Booyah! to Key Date Coins whose auctioneer Eddie Caven knows his VAMS and numismatic errors. Eddie calls ’em as he sees ’em–literally. Moreover, he keeps on improving with each auction. His pictures are great, and he ships inexpensively and quickly.


Boo! to this unnamed auction house that claims it doesn’t know coins and then only shows one side of the coin as if bidders are to make a determination on this basis alone. For all we know, this could be a Carson City dollar, but we would have to see the reverse to make that call.


Booyah Silvertowne Auction! for describing the damage to this coin in addition to advising bidders what top dollar would be if they still desired the lot. This is yet another reason why so many bidders trust Larry Fuller’s descriptions. Good work!


Booyah Rick’s Relics! for using a stock photo of coins and being sure to emphasize that in the lot description, a practice accepted in numismatics as long as the mention of “stock” photo and description of condition are accurate, and we believe these to be.


Booyah Weaver Coin Auction! for noting that the coin is altered (whizzed) and then providing a large format photograph so that bidders can see for themselves. As this is a key date coin, bidders were sure to place high offers for this coin. This mitigates disappointment later and is yet another indication of why this house as been in our top three best companies most of last year and overall winner for best house in our awards.


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.

Describing Grade and Condition

Many Proxibid auctioneers disavow knowledge of coin grading and condition. Better to claim ignorance than to exaggerate worth, as a few houses do. Increasingly, however, expert numismatists are writing lot descriptions with their best estimates of grade and condition.

Silver Trades, which schedules regular coin auctions on Proxibid, provides detailed lot descriptions replete with information about history, grade and condition of lots. On certain quality coins, the company also backs up descriptions with buyback guarantees.

Conversely, Silver Trades knows how harshly some top-tier grading companies can be when evaluating coins. Even though he provides limited guarantees on a few select lots, he is wise to post this disclaimer on coin grade and condition:

    I do my best to estimate the grade/condition of the coins, but please note, unless specifically mentioned in the description, I do not guarantee grade or condition. I DO ALWAYS GUARANTEE 100% AUTHENTICITY, on an immediate buyback including any premium paid. But please understand, if you win a coin and receive it and send it out to one of the grading companies and it comes back graded less than I estimated or “genuine but Ungradeable”, we will not buy back that coin. … I do my best to give you my best estimate and your repeat attendance at my auctions is what I strive for, so I always attempt to give my best description/estimate of the coins being auctioned.

Silver Trades is known for numismatic information. We featured that once in this post.

On some coins, however, Sliver Trades owner Corey does offer buyback guarantees and recently enhanced that to buybacks within 1 point of any major slabbing company’s grade.

Silver Trades augments lot descriptions with fine photography. We applaud him and encourage bidders reading this to view one of his auctions live to hear expert salesmanship as well as numismatic data.

However, to illustrate how difficult it is to anticipate grades of the most rigorous company, PCGS, you should read this article in Coin Update News.

Our advice on lot descriptions is commonsensical:

  1. If you don’t know numismatics, don’t hype coins as rare.
  2. Provide the very best pictures possible of obverse and reverse and ensure that they expand sufficiently for finer details.
  3. Don’t use the online PCGS or NGC databases to describe a coin’s retail worth unless that coin is holdered by that company.
  4. Treat as raw all coins holdered by lower-tier and self-slabbing companies. (Note: Top-tier companies, in addition to PCGS and NGC, are ANACS and ICG).
  5. If you know numismatics, or have hired someone to help with lot descriptions, include a disclaimer as Silver Trades does that you are providing your best estimate on grade and condition and cannot accept buybacks when grading companies assign lower grades.
  6. If you want to showcase your numismatic knowledge, see how Corey does it on select lots in his auctions, which typically bring him added premiums often above retail–a credit to him as one of our favorite auctioneers.
  7. If bidders complain after the fact about a grade, and you did not exaggerate or misrepresent the coin, do as dealers might, and remind him or her about your disclaimer. If the person is a regular customer, a dealer might make an exception and take back the coin; however, this is a gray area that you must decide.

Indeed, grading is subjective to a large degree. To learn how to write better lot descriptions of grade and condition, study our posts in the Boos and Booyahs section of Proxiblog. Once you establish a reputation for good lot descriptions, you can count on more bidders frequenting your Proxibid sessions.

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 Auction wins “Best on Proxiblog” Award

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, an Easton, MO, firm, won our highest “Best Coin Auction” Award, garnering a “Best Photography” honor as well as Honorable Mentions for consignments and for lot descriptions.

Check out the home page for Weaver Auction and you can see some of our past praise for this remarkable house. A special hallmark of Dave and Cheryl Weaver is exceptional customer service. We have dealt with dozens of auctioneers in the past several years but few as conscientious as the Weavers.

They have held our “top auction house” ranking (see the listing to the right) for months, mainly because the Weavers are never satisfied with success but keep innovating and experimenting for the optimal configuration for superior Proxibid sessions. They took our advice and instituted a low buyer’s fee for gold–as low as 5% for double eagles. Now they are competing directly with Western Auction with a low buyer’s fee of 10%. They ship inexpensively and photograph expertly. They make use of Proxibid multimedia so online bidders can share in the excitement of their onsite sessions. Dave is a numismatic expert; Cheryl, a communications specialist.

We have done several features on this national-caliber house, including this article on buyer’s fees, this one on Internet advertising, and this illuminating “On the Block.”

What we found remarkable in the past year was the Weavers’ ability to take and learn from constructive criticism. For example, once we made a critical reference to titles in lot descriptions, and rather than send a snippy email, they thanked Proxiblog for the advice.

In life as well as in auctioneering, the Weavers have a lot to teach us. They learn from mistakes and are courageous enough to innovate in the spirit of continuous improvement.

Those qualities also exist in our Honorable Mentions in this category.

We applaud:

  • Capitol Coin Auctions, “with over 35 years of experience in collecting, investing, and grading rare coins.” Capitol also won Honorable Mentions in our “Best Consignments” and “Best Descriptions” categories for a total of three honorable mentions.
  • Key Date Coins with a reputation for “always fast and low shipping and handling cost.” Key Date Coins also won our “Most Improved House” Award in addition to Honorable Mentions in “Best Photography” and “Best Descriptions” for a total of four honors.
  • Leonard Auction, “with a reputation for experience, unsurpassed integrity, and superior technology.” Leonard Auction also won Honorable Mentions in our “Best Consignments,” “Best Photography,” and “Best Descriptions” categories for a total of four honorable mentions.
  • Scott Auctions, noted for its experience and generous service to the auctioneering profession. Scott Auctions also won our “Best Shipping Award” for a total of two honors.
  • Silvertowne Auctions, known for grading expertise and national reputation in numismatics. Silvertowne won our “Best Lot Descriptions” Award plus an Honorable Mention in our “Best Shipping” category for a total of three honors.
  • Western Auction, “whose family includes principal auctioneer David Zwonitzer, his father Mel Zwonitzer, Dave’s sons Daniel and Ty and Dave’s wife Kym. Together the family has more than 80 years auctioneering experience.” Western Auction also won our “Best Consignment Award” plus an Honorable Mention in our “Best Photography” category for a total of three honors.

We wish to congratulate all of our other “TOP Award” winners: James Peterson Auctions (tie: “Best Consignments”) and Matthew Bullock Auctioneers (tie: “Best Photography” and “Best Timed Auction”).

We also send kudos to those with Honorable Mentions, including Arneson Auction, Auctions Unlimited, Chaparral Auction, Culpeper Auction, Engstrom Auctions, Gaston and Sheehan Auctioneers, Hall’s Auction, Krause Auctioneering, Meares Auction, Midwest Coins, Poinsett Auction, Rolling M. Auctions, Schultz Auctioneering and Silver Trades.

We also thank Proxibid houses specializing in coins and encourage them to visit these award-winning houses. We know there are some houses that we missed in our rankings, but 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 8300.

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.

Weaver, Bullock tie for “Best Photography”

Weaver Coin Auction and Matthew Bullock Auctioneers tie for best digital coin photos, featured on Proxibid.

On occasion the data used in deciding our TOP AWARD winners are so close that we have to name a tie, in this case with two exceptional Honor Roll houses that have one thing in common: both listened to our analyses of successful auctions and made changes to reflect our recommendations, especially in photography.

To be honest, several Proxibid houses are missing opportunities that Weaver and Bullock readily embraced by providing sharp, expandable pictures of obverse and reverse. We just don’t understand why so many auctioneers on Proxibid, as competitive as you might anticipate NAA members to be, take shortcuts on photos, sometimes only displaying only obverse, sometimes depicting only a box or an album, sometimes neglecting to note key date coins, sometimes forgetting about lighting, and sometimes just blurring the whole shebang.

Check out this article for tips about digital photography.

Weaver Coin Auction and Matthew Bullock Auctioneers upgraded their photography this year so that expanded photos capture the faintest varieties of coins. Bullock, especially, knows how to photograph deep mirrors and gems.

Please do not take shortcuts on photography if you are paying Proxibid fees whose technology is programmed to share the onsite excitement of an auction with your Internet clientele. Nothing sells a coin with high bids as sharp, expandable photography. Several of our Honor Roll houses would be surprised at how much more they might earn with excellent pictures, especially of Morgan dollars. We’ve seen deep mirror ones selling double their retail value as bidders compete for cherry coins.

Our Honorable Mention companies know this: Key Date Coins, Chaparral Coin, Leonard Auction, Midwest Coins, Silver Trades, 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.