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:


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.


Tech Glitch Excites, Then Deflates

A technical glitch last week eliminated transparency notices–maximum-bid and ghost-bidding warnings–on certain coin auctions. At first, we were elated and ready to bid with confidence on several different auctions. Then we checked with Proxibid, and soon the glitch was fixed and transparency notices were restored.

Suffice to say we bid cautiously or not at all on any coin auction that sees maximum bids or allows ghost-bidding.

This is just our opinion. Feel free to do what you want on the portal.

Factor this, though: In normal auctions (yes, “normal” is the correct word), we bid above retail on certain coins because of condition rarities or other desired lots. Because bidding is so intense in a Western, Weaver, Capitol, Leonard, Key Date, SilverTowne, Bullock or other top-ranked auctions (see rankings to the right), we only win one tenth of our maximums on a good day and often, nothing at all on a bad day, even though our maximums are so high. That indicates other bidders are bidding with confidence–or overconfidence!

Certain companies such as Southwest Bullion and Liberty Shops Auctions are on to something adopting ZERO or minimum buyers’ premiums to spark competition and bidding wars (and we’ve been in a few of late on Weaver and Western, in particular).

There is NO WAY for auctioneers to secure these retail sell-throughs by viewing maximums and ghost-bidding (often combined with overgrading and hype). By insisting on playing it conservatively at the expensive of bidders, in our opinion, they may be harming their brands.

Conversely, we know that consignors are rough on auctioneers, forcing them to adopt these bad auctioneering habits. Remember, though, sellers need you. You set the rules. And sellers who insist on hidden reserves that force maximum-bid viewing should be charged buybacks for your efforts on their behalf.

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.)

One Big Booyah! to Weaver Auction, not only for identifying a US coin minted on a foreign planchet but also describing why the coin might not be grade-worthy. Pretty sophisticated numismatic stuff going on here.

Boo! to this unnamed auction house for listing an 1881-S as 1881 both in the description and in the title. On the other hand, boo to NGC for its silly designation of “S” for both “Silver” and “San Francisco” mint. (PCGS uses $1 rather than “S.”)

Booyah Nevada Public Auction! for noting that these are copies rather than bullion gold. As we reported previously, due to eBay’s policy on copies, many of these so-called coins would flood the Proxibid market. Be sure to note copy or replica when you see one … and consider not selling it if it lacks “copy” on the surface of the item. Anything else may be a violation of the Hobby Protection Act.

Booyah Kaufman Auction! for noting that this coin has a scratch, which often are too faint to see even on the best digital photography. By identifying flaws in a coin, you earn bidder trust.

Booyah Western Auction! for noting scratches. We encourage every consignor to inspect coins for any flaws, the most common of which are cleaning, artificial coloring, scratches, plugs, whizzing, tooling and environmental damage.

Booyah Key Date Coins! for noting that the consignor graded this coin and, perhaps in doing so, left a fingerprint on the surface. Fingerprints detract from a coin’s worth, but again, digital photography sometimes may not pick that up, so we have to rely on the auctioneer.

Boo! to this unnamed auction house that does not provide pictures of the reverse of a coin. We’ve seen this shortcut before, even by some of our favorite auction houses. So we have to call these shortcuts as we see them and hope that the house provides the reverse before auction time.

Booyah Brian’s Auction! for noting that this seemingly rare coin actually only is a plated replica, probably brass, and not worth listing (in our view). True, some folks collect counterfeits but others try to pass them off as real.

One Big Booyah! to Silvertowne Auction for noting that the holder has been cracked and seemingly opened. Sometimes fraudulent sellers slip in a lower grade or problem coin with the same date and mint mark. Silvertowne calls our attention to that.

Boo! to this unnamed auction house listing an 1853 $1 gold as Type II. That rarer type begins in 1854, so this couldn’t be Type II, which features a different Indian princess and planchet size.

Booyah Fox Valley Coins! for noting that a scarce Liberty dollar has been plugged and repaired, a difficult flaw to detect at times and one that an auctioneer needs to share in the lot description.

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.

Common Consignment Courtesies

Proxiblog has consigned coins with more than a dozen Proxibid auctioneers, and the professional courtesies vary greatly, from notifying us about consignment arrival to sending the seller’s check.

Competition for coin consignments is heating up, with more buyers looking to invest in coins to offset an uncertain economy and some 40-plus auction houses meeting our standards with more coin-selling companies coming on board via Proxibid.

And yet only a relative few companies provide these common consignment courtesies:

  • Sending the consignor a contract or emailing a FAQ notifying sellers about fees, buy-backs and other auction house rules.
  • Alerting the consignor that his or her package has arrived safely at the auction house.
  • Providing the consignor with a list of coins being entered in a specific auction, and advising the seller if some lots had to be scheduled for a later auction, as is sometimes the case.
  • Informing the consignor after the auction on how well her or his lots did, with a bill of sales minus any fees.
  • Mailing the check within 7 days of the sale so that consignors can balance their own books.
  • Thanking the consignor for placing coins with the auction house and inviting more business in the future.

Proxiblog has cautioned auctioneers in the past that meeting our selling standards will be requisite as more professional coin dealers sign up with Proxibid, iCollector and AuctionZip. Moreover, online auction houses are competing with major Internet coin-selling companies, including Heritage, Teletrade, and one of the best new sites in a decade, Great Collections, a venture by numismatist and auctioneer Ian Russell, whose customer service and professionalism are exceptional.

Now add a couple thousand eBay coin auctioneers, many of them coin shops and dealers who advertise in Coin World, Coinage, and other numismatic publications.

Rather, we have been seeing a few new and even long-time Proxibid auction houses handling consignments informally, which often require sellers to ask if their coins have arrived safely, how well they did in a sale, and when the check will be cut.

An auctioneer never wants to receive an email such as Proxiblog just sent, using USPS tracking service and asking the auctioneer to please go to the post office and pick up the consignment before it is returned. This particular auctioneer is doing many things right, but exercising common consignment courtesies is not one of them. (Note: Name of auction company whited out as common courtesy.)

Some of the best houses providing all of the above courtesies include Silvertowne, Weaver and Leonard Auction. Moreover, Silvertowne and Leonard Auction are after quality consignments–so much so, that often selling fees are waived if the coins fetch good hammer prices. We’ve featured Leonard Auction before in our Best Practices page.

Waving seller fees (except for buybacks) may be a sign of the future as the more competitive Proxibid houses vy for top coins, leaving the low-ball consignments for the rest.

Currently Proxiblog is consigning only with houses offering Leonard/Silvertown deals.

Here is an email Leonard Auction just sent, soliciting consignments. (Click to expand picture.) Note how the auctioneer has taken pains to provide an Internet worthy photo attached to his email blast with all the factual particulars clearly spelled out. In fact, almost one-half of the entire message is factual with tight concise writing–a surefire way to attract attention … and consignments.

In the end, common consignment courtesies mean return business so that auctioneers do not have to hunt after estate auctions or travel to shows to purchase lots for sale. Coins will come to them, along with more Proxibid business.

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.)

The Three “C”s of Proxiblog: Consignments, Coins, Competition

Increasingly, auction houses selling via online portals like Proxibid are facing the three “C”s of Proxiblog: consignments, coins and competition.

  • CONSIGNMENTS. To attract continuing customers, auctioneers have to attract worthy consignments. Some houses charge consignors 15% on the hammer price. Others charge as little as 5% or, like Leonard Auction, nothing at all for high-price coins, letting the coins speak for themselves.

    Conventional Practice: Consignors routinely contact auctioneers who sell successfully on Proxibid, asking if they will handle their wares (especially Honor Roll houses as profiled on Proxiblog). Other times, auctioneers attend estate auctions themselves or purchase from coin shows.

    Competitive Practice: Auctioneers without real houses–places of business where customers routinely bring coins–will have a harder time competing. They’ll have to devise policies that attract consignments while bidding themselves on coins everywhere from estate auctions to eBay and Proxibid itself.

  • COINS. Once the house procures the coins, the next step is how they will describe and depict them. Here the advantage goes to houses that also are coin dealers, such as Silvertowne, with partner Rick Howard as a top numismatist and auctioneer. Howard does coin business through his shop in Leipsic, Ohio. Silvertowne’s descriptions of coins are reliable, as are ones by Weaver Auction, which has been selling coins for 16 years. They will identify weaknesses such as dipping, cleaning, and even possible alterations. They always provide clear photos of coins to back up their claims.

    Conventional Practice: Houses that use the Proxibid boilerplate about sales being final–or that claim consignors wrote the descriptions–will be at a disadvantage over time as buyers come to patronize knowledgeable auctioneers.

    Competitive Practice: If you are going to sell coins, you need to know about them, because federal law requires that you do. Coins are often exempt from taxes. Replicas may violate the U.S. Hobby Protection Act. You owe it to your business to learn more about numismatics or to engage the services of experts who do. Otherwise, over time, buyers will seek wares elsewhere.

  • COMPETITION. Because of U.S. debt and the uncertain economy, many houses realize the profit to be made by selling coins. The down economy is expected to last for the long term. That means more houses will be signing up on Proxibid, giving longtime clients a run for their money–literally.

    Conventional Practice: Too many auctioneers have become complaisant with how they do business, unaware of the emerging competition and unwilling to try new approaches. They complain about Proxibid fees without assessing their own, which include fees from consignors as well as onsite and online buyers.

    Competitive Practice: Auctioneers who own real rather than online houses again have the advantage. They can charge the onsite audience buyers’ fees, solicit telephone bids for more fees and charge 15% or lower to online clients–in addition to charging consignors. That’s the caliber of competition emerging now on Proxibid. Several auctioneers are also Internet savvy, soliciting buyers with Facebook and Twitter accounts.

If you disagree with the above analysis, factor this. Teletrade, one of top two auction houses in the business–so large that it does not need a Proxibid as it boasts 100,000-plus registered buyers–has been conducting no-reserve, 0% buyer fee auctions every Tuesday. Buyers don’t have to worry about counterfeit, altered or problem coins. They don’t have to take risks due to poor photography. The coins already are slabbed by top grading companies. And though the competition for coins every Tuesday is intense, often sales are lower than on Proxibid auctions … without the risk, harsh policies and non-competitive practices.

Proxiblog was created to maintain a healthy competition that helps the hobby. Days of business as usual have ended. Some auction houses now on Proxibid will not be there in a year unless they adopt proactive policies and deal with the competition by maintaining minimum standards, as outlined here.

Weaver Auctions Rises to Top Status

One of Proxiblog’s favorite houses, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auctions, has lowered its online buying fee to 14% for its May 24 auction on Proxibid.

In doing so, and coupled with the firm’s other practices, owners Dave and Cheryl Weaver have catapulted their house to the number 2 spot in our rankings, surpassed only by Western Auction, which still has one of the lowest buying fees among competitors.

Weaver Auction has added values, including coin expertise and email and telephone responsiveness, showcasing the house’s emphasis on good customer relations. An example of that concerns the house updating “terms to catch up with our actual practices, particularly in dealing with counterfeit coins,” says Cheryl Weaver. As numismatists, the Weavers are especially sensitive to fake and altered coins.

“With the increase in counterfeit US coinage we have had to be on our toes to try to avoid selling those replica items,” Cheryl Weaver says. “It can be a daunting task. Weighing by grams is a start, measuring is another option, checking for diagnostics, overall appearance, even seller source–all of these things are part of our regime.

“When a seller notifies us within 5 days of receipt of an item he believes to be counterfeit we ask that he return the coin in the original unopened container insured. After verifying the coin is the same coin we sold & upon determination that it is a counterfeit we will refund the buyer his fees.

“Counterfeit Gold has been the biggest problem for us this year. Our policy now is that all gold sold by us will be in a 3rd party slab or guaranteed authentic by the seller.

Weaver Coin and Currency Auction has been in business for 16 years. Sellers are always paid 7 days following the auction. They receive a personal phone call or emailed consignment order the day following the auction.