Don’t Call Counterfeits Replicas

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This is a prime example of a Chinese counterfeit that is being sold as a replica without the word “copy,” indicating the auctioneer knows about the U.S. Hobby Protection Act.


If your consignor sends you a counterfeit coin and calls it a replica, don’t be fooled. Replicas must have the word copy on the obverse to be in compliance with U.S. Hobby Protection Act. Also, the US Mint has specific instructions on the manufacture of replicas.

We strongly recommend that all auctioneers create a consignment agreement that specifically states that sellers are responsible for all counterfeit coins returned for reimbursement.

Several auction houses already have such contracts. Here is such a clause from Leonard Auctions:

REPRESENTATION OF GENUINENESS. Consignor represents and warrants each item to be genuine. Consignor agrees that any item found to be non-genuine within 30 days of the auction date, will be returned to the Consignor, and upon return, Consignor will pay Leonard Auction, Inc., the net proceeds of the returned item.

Sometimes it takes 2-3 months to prove that a coin is counterfeit. For instance, last year we purchased one that was so skillfully done that we had to send it to NGC for authentication because we would not have been able to prove it was a contemporary copy of an 1869 coin. That cost us $70 in NGC fees, but it was worth the money.

The Proxibid auctioneer took back the coin, to his credit.

In general, the consignor and not the buyer should be held liable for all doctored, counterfeit or otherwise altered coins. Create a contract protecting you rather than focusing on the “All Sales Final” mantra of auctioneers. That does not relate to U.S. Coins and Currency.

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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Kudos to another house that read the Unified User Agreement; your lawyer should, too

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Nostalgia Connection, new to the portal, is off to a great start because its policies are aligned with Proxibid’s Unified User Agreement concerning counterfeit, doctored or misrepresented items.

 

Unlike many other Proxibid houses that maintain, often in all caps–ALL SALES FINAL; NO RETURNS!–Nostalgia Connection reiterates the Unified User Agreement in one concise sentence:

We only give returns if a product is fake, counterfeit, defective or inaccurately described.

The Unified User Agreement states:

If, within a reasonable amount of time, Buyer gives notice in writing to Seller that the lot so sold is a counterfeit and after such notice the Buyer returns the lot to Seller in the same condition as when sold, and establishes to the satisfaction of Seller that the returned lot is in fact a counterfeit, Seller as agent for the consignor will rescind the sale and refund the purchase price.

We encourage all Proxibid auctioneers to read 6.3 of the Agreement, to which they are bound, which covers disputes concerning when lots are significantly not as described.

If your attorney has encouraged you to put in your service terms, “ALL SALES FINAL!,” you should encourage him or her to read the US Hobby Protection Act and US Federal Code: Chapter 25: Counterfeiting and Forgery (Sections 485-492).

Violate the Hobby Act, inform your attorney, and you can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission. Sell counterfeit coins or currency, and you will be dealing with the Secret Service. We like to remind Proxibid and its clients that national experts on counterfeiting are located right there in the Secret Service Office in Omaha, where Proxibid is located, at 2707 N 108th St.

Here’s some good news, though, for auctioneers. You don’t have to be entirely liable for fake, defective or counterfeit lots. You just have to create a contract with your consignor, as some of our best houses do, stating that all non-genuine and/or defective lots will be returned to the seller with any payment due to the auction company.

 

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.

More California Gold Replicas on Proxibid

We continue to see fake, plated and replica California Gold misidentified as authentic on Proxibid, eBay and other portals. It’s time something is done about the problem.


A few Proxibid auctioneers continue to offer fake, plated and replica California fractional gold, often without knowing how these so-called tokens have undermined the hobby. The replicas are essentially worthless, or worth a few dollars. Often, however, they are billed as rare and valuable pioneer gold from the 19th Century U.S. West.

The coins below were listed on Proxibid using language from CoinFacts whose president, Ron Guth, has been interviewed by Proxiblog about the problem on eBay, Proxibid and other portals. Watch for a Coin World column quoting Guth.

(Click photo below to expand and read auctioneer’s descriptions.)

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You can read the language about authentic California coinage by clicking here on a CoinFacts page citing BG numbers for authenticity. “BG” are the first initials of surnames of Walter Breen and Ron Gillio, authors of California Pioneer Fractional Gold.

CoinFacts:

    Throughout the early years of the California gold rush there was a constant need for coinage to satisfy the commercial needs of a booming community being based on gold dust. … Over 450 varieties are known to exist, some undated but most bearing dates between 1852 and 1882.

Proxibid Auctioneer:

    Throughout the early years of the California gold rush there was a need for small denomination coinage to satisfy commercial needs. Over 450 varieties of these California Gold Tokens are known to exist, most bearing dates between 1852 and 1882.

If you are going to take language from CoinFacts, you might as well go the extra step and verify the BG number, which in this case, the auctioneer cannot do because these have bears on the reverse and are most probably replicas. (A few tokens with better images of bears–as opposed to ones that look like pigs or rodents–are copper replicas and were sold from a booth in 1915 at the Panama Pacific exposition; but these are scarce and need to be authenticated by PCGS or NGC because replicas of these, made of goldine, base metal or plated copper were sold as souvenirs in 1948 and 1972.)

We give Proxibid auctioneers the benefit of the doubt in cases like these. Nonetheless, sale of these replicas as authentic may violate the U.S. Hobby Protection Act, which states:

  • The manufacture in the United States, or the importation into the United States, for introduction into or distribution in commerce of any imitation numismatic item which is not plainly and permanently marked “copy”, is unlawful and is an unfair or deceptive act or practice in commerce under the Federal Trade Commission Act [15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.].

See how Cece’s Sales correctly lists similar coins in the photo below. (Click photo to expand.)

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See how Engstrom Auction correctly lists plated replicas. (Click photo to expand.)

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For more information on fake California gold, see the most accessed article on Proxiblog by clicking here.

If you are a bidder who has purchased a replica billed as authentic, you might contact Proxibid, which has been proactive and helpful in cases such as these. Proxibid wants authentic coins sold on its portal with proper descriptions. Anything else may be a violation of these clauses in the Unified User Agreement:

  • Buyer gives notice in writing to Proxibid with documentation from a reputable authenticator or provides a police report that the lot so sold is a counterfeit, Seller will rescind the sale and refund the purchase price including all fees. At such time, Proxibid will refund any fees paid by the seller to Proxibid for the lot sold.
  • Proxibid will generally require the Buyer to ship an item that the Buyer claims is Significantly Not as Described back to the Seller (at the Buyer’s expense), and Proxibid will generally require a Seller to accept the item back and refund the Buyer the full purchase price plus original shipping costs. In the event a Seller loses a claim, the Seller will not receive a refund on his or her APN or Proxibid fees associated with the transaction. If Seller loses a SNAD Claim because the item sold is counterfeit, Seller will be required to provide a full refund to the Buyer. Seller liability will include the full purchase price of the item and original shipping cost (and in some cases, Seller may not receive the item back).

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.