Capitol Coin Auction wins … “Best Photography”

2Best Photography

Capitol Coin Auction does many things right, but perhaps what it does best is combine excellent digital photography with accurate numismatic descriptions.

Only a relative handful of Proxibid auction houses showcase exemplary coin photography that captures detail, luster and color. Capitol Coin Auction does that better than anyone else on the portal. Here’s an example:

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(This coin, by the way, graded MS65 at PCGS, certification 28957041.)

Compare the above photo with this one below, all too typical on the portal, purportedly showcasing another toned 1880s Morgan dollar:

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Now more than ever, sharp expandable photos of obverse, reverse and close-ups of any flaw or variety will be essential on Proxibid because sellers are being rated–not only by us but by Proxibid itself! Auction houses that have gotten away with poor descriptions and blurry photos will be noted as such. In the end, the better the photo the less an auction house has to worry about the numismatic description, although both are indicators of excellence.

Last year’s winner in Best Photography was Key Date Coins, which has not held a recent auction. (We miss you, Eddie Caven!)

Here are photos from Honorable Mention houses in this year’s TOP Awards, showing detail, device and condition (click to expand):

Decatur Coin and Jewelry

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Western Auction

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Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction

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Leonard Auction

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Southwest Bullion and Coin

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Those wishing to improve their photography should visit this post in Coin Update News.

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.

Southwest Bullion and Coin Wins … “Best Descriptions”

1Best Descriptions

Southwest Bullion and Coin, operated by Justin Quinn–a top-ranked house through much of 2013 on Proxiblog–has won the category of “Best Descriptions,” based on numismatic knowledge–especially the ability to identify flaws and rarities in consignments and to honor basic ethical tenets with regard to value.

As was the case last year, this was a hotly contested competition, as you will see in the Honorable Mentions category, with seven houses also cited for best practices in descriptions. Capitol Coin Auction won this category last year and was a very close contender again this year mainly because of the grading prowess of Auctioneer Brian Lisembee. SilverTowne Auction, a previous winner, also was a strong contender.

Other Honorable Mentions are Jewelry Exchange, Decatur Coin and Jewelry, Leonard Auction, Star Coin and Currency, and Weaver Auction.

Click and expand the picture below to see how Justin Quinn describes value in this ANACS-graded coin.

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Southwest’s accuracy in descriptions led to three separate posts last year:

As noted previously, several Honorable Mention houses came close to winning this year. SilverTowne’s Dave Nauert and Rick Howard continue with succinct and accurate descriptions of flaws as well as highlights for each coin. John Leonard of Leonard Auction is a conservative and respected numismatist; Dave Weaver of Weaver Auction is combining better photos with accurate descriptions; and Jim Haver of Star Coin and Currency does similarly with weekly auctions.

Finally, Dave Bluestein is so skilled in descriptions that he co-hosts a radio show “In the Money” in San Antonio.

Accurate numismatic descriptions are mandatory in Proxibid auctions because online viewers cannot always discern flaws in coins. These houses are aware of that and go the extra mile because the pay-off is return customers.

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.

Seller Asks About Descriptions: Installment #2


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A new coin seller on Proxibid asked us pertinent questions about best practices, and we promised to share our opinion and to solicit yours in the comment section. Auctioneers look to this site for recommendations on how to sell, ship and improve their services. The more you and we share, the more bidders will be drawn to our sites. We will treat each question as a post running throughout the week. Scroll down to view previous questions and answers. Here is installment two.

QUESTION:What do you look for in descriptions?

PROXIBLOG: Rule #1: Lot descriptions must match photos and titles. Too often, especially with new sellers, they do not.

Rule #2: The title should carry the date and denomination of the coin along with a condition descriptor. Do not use the Sheldon Scale (0-70) if you are not an experienced numismatist. Use “Good (G),” “Very Good, (VG)” “Fine (F),” “Extra Fine (XF),” “Almost Uncirculated (AU),” “Uncirculated (Unc.),” “Brilliant Uncirculated (BU).”

Rule #3: The lot description should cite PCGS values for PCGS Coins, NGC Values for NGC Coins, and Redbook or Coin World Values for ANACS and ICG. Be careful about assigning any dollar value to raw coins or lots slabbed by bottom-tier companies. Never cite PCGS Values for raw coins or coins holdered by any other company.

Rule #4: Note any flaws: rim bumps and dents, holes, scratches, cleaning, dipping, etc. If you don’t know how to identify these flaws, bone up on the skill with our “Find the Flaw” series on Proxiblog. (Type “Find the Flaw” in our search box for results.)

Rule #5: Check out our top houses to view examples of some of the best lot descriptions on the portal. For a primer, we recommend SilverTowne, Decatur Coin, Weaver Auction, Southwest Bullion, Capitol Coin Auction, and Leonard Auction.

Next installment: Any insight on shipping and packing?

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.

Southwest Bullion Shoutout

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Every now and then we will showcase exemplary lot descriptions. This one is from our top house, Southwest Bullion and Coin, which continues to improve with each auction! (Click to expand photo.)

This lot description not only contains all of the basics–holder, condition, sharp photo, zero percent buyer’s premium … and retail value. Auctioneer Justin Quinn also puts in red text why NGC values are being used for an ANACS coin with a caution to “bid accordingly.”

Hard to beat this numismatic, ethical lot description. Kudos!

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.

Southwest Bullion Enhances Descriptions

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We continue to document how small changes greatly enhance online interactivity in Proxibid auctions. Here’s another case, this time with numismatic descriptions by Southwest Coin and Bullion. (Click to expand above photo for detailed observation.)

Southwest Bullion and Coin typically does a good job describing coin lots, citing the right price guide and providing sharp, expandable photos for the online bidder. Recently we have seen enhancements in lot descriptions.

In describing the 1878 7TF 2nd Reverse Morgan Dollar, the company notes the luster, relief and condition of this uncirculated coin. The description notes nearly flawless fields and conservatively deems the condition to me MS60, “but we think the coin could be in up to MS-63 condition.” Southwest cites the Redbook value at $68-$120 and cautions buyers to “examine the coin and bid according to your own judgment.”

This and other descriptions in its Aug. 26 Proxibid auction establish trust with the Internet bidders who also enjoy 0% buyer’s fee and quick, professional shipping, reasons why Southwest continues to be in the top 10 of our personal rankings.

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, More Than 40,000 Views!

Competition among coin-selling houses on Proxibid continues to be intense, with more houses making small enhancements that result in big gains with online bidders. For the first time ever in our rankings, three houses–Southwest Bullion and Coin, Capitol Coin Auctions, and Decatur Coin and Jewelry–earned perfect 25-point scores based primarily on low or zero percent buyer’s fee with accurate numismatic descriptions, sharp photography and quick, inexpensive shipping. Other top-house standbys continue to focus on continuous improvement, indicating that standards are rising with consignments across the portal in the coin and currency category.

SilverTowne Auctions, Leonard Auction, Weaver Auction, Western Auction, Gary Ryther Auctions, Meares Auction, Engstrom Auction, Star Coin and Currency, and Jewelry Exchange, focus on the basics and earn our respect as our favorite houses. Each has innovated a component of their auction. Consignments continue to be cherry.

What passes for second-tier in our rankings would have been top houses a year ago–yet another indicator of improvement on the portal. In fact, we’re excited when any of them schedule an auction because we admire their customer service and consignments. Each of these houses has something special to offer the bidder and consignor, for that matter!

We also commend other companies on our list that may still need a little work on photography, shipping or lot descriptions.

As we always note in our rankings, these are based on our experience and should be considered Proxiblog’s favorite houses. Your experience may differ from ours.

As for Proxiblog, we took a break in August to welcome students back to campus. We provide this blog for free to raise scholarship money via our online account with the Iowa State Foundation and via our numismatic work, Basic Coin Design, on Amazon Kindle.

Our audience keeps growing! On Aug. 23, 2013, we surpassed 40,000 views!

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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.