Top Houses Get Better; Others Dropped–Views at All-Time High!

Increasingly we’re seeing fewer new coin auctions on Proxibid worth bidding on, relying more on our top favorites that maintain standards in photography, consignments and customer service. Few can beat Brad Lisembee at Capitol Coin Auctions and Dave and Cheryl Weaver at Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction.


For more than a few years we had been listing as favorite houses about a dozen that have maintained 2012 standards … but have failed to improve to 2014 standards requiring sharp photography, reliable lot descriptions and cherry consignments. We read notices on their sites stating, “Tell us how we can be better,” and then see the same blurry photographs or the same inferior lots.

A few houses have been dropped because their consignments have not warranted a lot of interest–consistently, for the past several months. As soon as they get better coins, they’ll likely be back in our rankings.

Technically, we have dropped all houses that failed to earn a 24.5 out of 25.

Despite that news, coin auctions on Proxibid have been exciting. Fox Valley, Capitol Coin, Weaver, Krueger and Krueger, SilverTowne, Leonard, Star Coin, Jewelry Exchange, Back to the Past, Meares, et. al.–who could ask for a better selection!

Even Kaufman Auction is getting coins shipped in a timely manner and posting photos within a week of the event. McKee Coins is improving, as are Auctions By Wallace and A New Day Auctions.

Proxiblog also had one of its best months ever with almost 1500 views in 30 days. See our graph below:

septrankings

We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Please consider making a donation. We post daily during the week, which takes time and effort, and do this for educational purposes, informing auctioneers about best practices and viewers about numismatics. With our sponsorships, we fund media ethics 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.


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.


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.)

defects

One Big Booyah! to SilverTowne’s Dave Nauert for identifying flaws in this otherwise attractive coin.


hardly

Boo! to this unnamed auction house maintaining this bagmarked slider is a super gem. If you don’t know how to grade, don’t hype.


fakegold

One Big Boo and then Booyah! (or several) to this auction house that featured a fake California gold piece and then retracted it when informed. Watch for a post on this soon.


hype

Boo! to this unnamed auction house for hyping ridiculously high this common silver lot worth $28-30 and not thousands.


investment

Boo! to this auction house that has the nerve to label what may be the ugliest flawed silver melt dollar “an investment.” The $19.95 shipping rate is about the worth of this coin.


nomintmarkmentioned

Boo! to this auction company that doesn’t know where to look for the mint mark. Bidders can rob consignors blind when this happens, and it happens too often.


onesidephoto

Boo! to this long-time Proxibid auction house that refuses to show both sides of a coin. Would you buy a car, or any item, if you saw only half of it?


polished

Booyah Traders Cottage! for noting this Peace dollar is polished. Always note flaws, and gain trust with bidders.


cleaned

Booyah Jewelry Exchange! for noting this coin has been cleaned, often hard to cipher from online photos.


varieties

Booyah Liberty Shops Auction! for taking the time to note varieties on coins, which add to value.



values_NGC

Booyah Southwest Bullion and Coin! for taking the time to note values on lots, using the right price guide for the coin in question.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Capitol Coin Auction Wins … “Best Shipping”

4Best Shipping_Capitol

Capitol Coin Auction, which already won our “Best Descriptions” Award, chalks up another in the Shipping category.


Capitol Coin’s shipping policy is online-user-friendly:

    Shipping Instructions: The Buyer is responsible for the actual cost of shipping and insurance. If the item is heavy or if you wish to ship outside the USA, please contact us for an estimate of shipping costs to your location. Unlike other auction companies, we DO NOT charge our buyers a fee for handling or packing their purchases. All items are shipped within 2-3 business days following the auction.

Capitol Coin won this category because it uses numismatic packing with adequate insurance. Basically, the auction house does the work at the Post Office and sends you your coins securely and quickly. That is all most bidders want.

Capitol Coin and Honorable Mention houses–Engstrom Auctions, Key Date Coins, SilverTowne, Five Star Auction, Midwest Coins and Star Coin and Currency–have an eBay-like etiquette when it comes to shipping. They’re not afraid to specialize in it, knowing that online buyers need quick, inexpensive shipping so as to become return customers.

SilverTowne Auction, in particular, is the fastest shipping–sometimes within hours after a session. Key Date Coins updates you regularly about your shipment.

We bristle when we read shipping instructions like this from an unnamed auction house on the portal:

    PLEASE READ- NEW SHIPPING POLICIES: Items will be shipped by The UPS Store. The UPS Store will charge for Pick-Up, Packing and Shipping Items.If you want your items shipped, please contact The UPS Store within 24 hours after the auction ends with payment information. Per Proxibid regulations-We no longer have access to your payment information to transfer to The UPS Store. You can provide this information to them by phone, fax or email. Their information is XXX-XXX-XXXX. If you don’t contact them within 24 hours, you will incur a $1 [fee].

Compare that with the shipping terms of service from our Honorable Mention houses:

Engstrom Auctions

Coins and jewelry will be shipped via United States Postal Service to locations in the United States at a flat rate of $10 (shipping, and handling) for most orders, which will be added to your invoice. If you have purchased coin books or items that do not fit into a small flat rate box, we will charge a flat rate of $17.50. Our intentions are to ship the day after the auction. All packaging is done by Engstrom Auction employees. We double check your items against our packaging slip to ensure you get the correct items.


Five Star Auction

Shipping Instructions: All items will ship by USPS with postal insurance with the exception of firearms and ammo. … Buyers will pay actual shipping cost with no handling fee. Shipping will be within 2 business days of receipt of payment for item (items) purchased. Your credit card will be charged for shipping at this time. Multiple items will be combined to save shipping costs when applicable.


Key Date Coins

Shipping Instructions: Key Date Coin Auctions does charge a … $3.00 to $5.00 Handling Fee per Package. Bidders are responsible for these charges and will be charged using the credit card on file. If you have a preferred shipped please contact Auction House. Shipping time will be within 1-3 days after payment has been received. We always try to Ship your Items the next Day after the Auction.


SilverTowne

Shipping Instructions: Auction lots will be shipped via US Mail within two business days upon receipt of payment. Packages $10.00 – $1,000.00 will be shipped Insured US Mail. Packages $1,001.00 and over will be shipped UPS.


Midwest Coins

Shipping Instructions: Winning bidders will be billed for all shipping, handling, and insurance charges. We do all packaging and shipping in-house and ship USPS with insurance in the amount of your invoice with $10.00 FLAT RATE for Shipping/Insurance. We will plan to ship your purchases within 3 BUSINESS days of auction payment being received. $10 FLAT RATE only applies to US purchases of coins.


Star Coin and Currency

Shipping Instructions: We provide fast low cost shipping to our bidders. We ship most items for $4 or less for all items won. Sometimes additional postal services or insurance may be added to the invoice if need, based upon value, weight, size and destination.


We congratulate Capitol Coin Auction and our Honorable Mention houses for their emphasis on shipping inexpensively, quickly and securely.

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.