Approaching 50,000 Views, Two Houses Soar!

Proxiblog’s Coin and Currency category remains relatively stable with the top 15 or so houses featuring excellent consignments, quality photos and excellent customer service. Back to the Past Collectibles soared into the top 10 by upgrading its photography. We wish one or two other favorite houses at the bottom of our rankings also felt the same way.


Capitol Coin Auction remains in the top slot. If you bid in its March 1, 2014 auction, you know why. Top lots. Accurate numismatic descriptions. Sharp photography. Low buyers’ premium. Great customer service. It’s difficult to beat Brad Lisembee who has perfected the online coin trade.

SilverTowne Auction continues to amaze us with auction after auction with high standards across the board. Leonard Auction is known for top-quality consistency. Meares Auction consistently improves from consignments to photography.

Also holding steady or trading top places with the best coin auctions on the portal are Certified Rare Coin Auctions, Meares Auction, Star Coin and Currency, Southwest Bullion, Western Auction, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, Gary Ryther Auctioneers, Jewelry Exchange, Fox Valley Coins and Krueger and Krueger.

Two houses catapulted into our top 10. Spencer Auction holds infrequent sessions, but when it does, it features top coins, low buyer’s fee, excellent customer service and great consignments. Same can be said about Back to the Past Collectibles with a 10% buyer’s premium. It broke into the top 10 because C. Scott Lovejoy worked diligently, consulting with us, to perfect his photography. Below is an example (click to expand):

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You can even see the metal flow on a 2000-year-old coin. Photography is essential in the online bidding world. Watch for a post about Lovejoy’s enhancements later this week!

We hate to call out houses for lack of improvement, even if they are among our favorites. One house in particular has attempted to improve photos but not enough to tell varieties and flaws. If it did, it would be in our top 10. The house does a great marketing job and scores exceptionally high sales because of it. So it may feel no need to improve. We find ourselves bidding on slabbed coins only because we cannot see which coins are dipped. Because we suspect many of the lots are from coin dealers, we are doubly cautious.

As for Proxiblog, we have exceeded 600 posts and are approaching 50,000 page views. We’re increasingly global with top views from the USA, Britain, Canada, India, Russia, Germany, Australia and the Philippines.

Top view again goes to our post popular post: California Gold, real, replica and fake, closing in on 100 views per week.

We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Fortunately, we have several of our top houses donating funds to our scholarship account. You can also buy our Basic Coin Design book on Kindle. We are extremely grateful. Won’t you consider making a tax-deductible donation 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.


Coin World: Trusting the auctioneer

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Many home hobbyists buy coins online from auction portals like eBay, Proxibid and iCollector, to name a few. A “portal,” in and of itself, is not an online auction. Rather, it provides a uniform digital platform through which dozens if not hundreds of small auctions, timed or live, are occurring at any given time on any given day.


Unlike sessions on portals, major auction companies (Heritage, Stacks and Bowers, Great Collections) usually offer only holdered coins from top grading companies. Hobbyists with little numismatic knowledge can bid with confidence, certain to get an authentic coin, usually at a reasonable price.

Auctions on portals offer slabbed coins, too, not only from those top companies but also from bottom-tier ones that grade every coin — even ones damaged, polished or altered — as high Mint State. To bid successfully here, buyers must know numismatics, or else they risk losing hundreds of dollars on inferior coins, including counterfeits.

So why do hobbyists bid on portals? You can find magnificent coins at below-wholesale prices that have lain dormant in bank boxes for a half century.

Don’t register and bid via a portal unless you trust the particular auctioneer. …

For the rest of the article, click here.

Capitol Coin Wins “Best Auction” a Second Time

7Best Coin Auction

Capitol Coin Auction has won our award for “Best Coin Auction” on the Proxibid portal, garnering “Best Shipping,” “Best Photography,” and “Value Added” honors with honorable mentions in “Best Descriptions” and “Best Consignments.” This is the second year in a row that Capitol Coin Auction has won the top honor.

A close second, once again, was Leonard Auction. It won “Best Consignments” with honorable mentions in “Value-Added,” “Best Photography” and “Best Descriptions.”

Star Coin and Currency made a great showing this year, winning “Best Timed Auction” with honorable mentions in “Most Improved,” “Best Descriptions” and “Best Shipping.”

Southwest Bullion and Coin also had a particularly successful year in our rankings, winning the competitive “Best Descriptions” category and honorable mentions in “Most Improved” and “Best Photography.”

SilverTowne Auctions won “Best Shipping” and had honorable mentions in “Best Descriptions,” “Value-Added” and “Best Consignments.”

Meares Auction won “Most Improved” and had honorable mentions in “Best Shipping” and “Best Consignments.”

Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction had honorable mentions in the important categories of “Best Photography,” “Best Descriptions,” “Best Consignments” and “Value-Added.”

The houses above are runners-up in our “Best Coin Auction” category.

We also praise and recommend our other houses that placed in our various competitions, including:

  • Back to the Past Collectibles
  • Black and Gold Auctions
  • Braden Auction Services
  • Decatur Coin and Jewelry
  • Engstrom Auctions
  • Five Star Auction
  • Fox Valley Coins
  • Gary Ryther Auctioneers
  • Heuckman Auction
  • Jewelry Exchange
  • Kaufman Realty and Auction
  • McKee Coins
  • Midwest Coins
  • Rolling M Auction
  • Schultz Auctioneers
  • Western Auction

We encourage all of the houses named above to continue improving in the spirit of service, competition and community that all auctioneers and numismatists share, serving our clients and memberships. Continue to embrace the ethics of both the National Auctioneers Association and the American Numismatic Association.

We also thank Proxibid for its Internet options, quality control and customer service and all houses specializing in coins. We encourage them to visit these award-winning houses above. We know there are some houses that we missed in our rankings; as always, our experience may differ from yours and you should consider these award-winners our favorites. In sum, 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 26000 views since inception.

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.

Leonard Auction Wins … “Best Consignment”

3Best Consignments_Leonard

Leonard Auction, operated by John Leonard of Addison, Ill., has won the category of “Best Consignments,” based not only on the caliber of rarities but also on raw coins that actually grade as described with PCGS or NGC. Fox Valley Coins was a very close second with its Nov. 23, 2013 auction featuring some of the best coins we had seen all year.

Western Auction won the category in 2013 and also in 2012, tying in that year with James Peterson Auction. This year both of those companies were included in Honorable Mention along with Fox Valley Coins, SilverTowne Auctions, Capitol Coin Auction, Kaufman Realty and Auctions, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, and Decatur Coin and Jewelry.

To give you an example of coins that John Leonard routinely offers, look at this slate of brilliant gold coins augmenting top-notch raw key date silver lots.

leonard_consignments

Some of Proxiblog’s acquisitions from Leonard have been profiled in Coin World, as in this piece.

Among the best auctions in 2013 on Proxibid was the Nov. 23 session by Fox Valley Coins. See this slate of Morgans as an example:

FoxValley

The condition of coins in that auction had the look of “age,” lots stored away for decades in some vault or bank box. Bidding was frenetic, with almost every cherry lot selling at retail; or above.

Meares Auction Group also came close to winning with recent bankruptcy auctions. Darron Meares, auctioneer, also has some of the best terms of service on the portal, with low buyer’s premiums.

SilverTowne Auctions consistently offers some of the best lots on Proxibid. It holds more coin auctions than any other company on the portal and thus was a very strong contender.

And our long-time favorite, Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction, continues to impress us with frequent quality auctions, innovations and new directions.

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 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:

photo_capitol

(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:

photo_bad

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

photo_decatur


Western Auction

photo_western


Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction

photo_weaver


Leonard Auction

photo_leonard


Southwest Bullion and Coin

photo_southwest


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.

Capitol Auction heads list of top-ranked houses

Capitol Coin Auction doesn’t hold monthly auctions, but when it does–about 4-6 per year–wow, Auctioneer Brad Lisembee creates an event. His Nov. 9 Proxibid auction is one of them, replete with top holdered and raw coins in nearly all series and denominations. Brad also charges a low buyer’s fee and provides quick, inexpensive shipping, with lots showcased by excellent numismatic photography and grading. No new houses were added to our rankings this month, as so many of our favorites are improving regularly, topping newcomers to the portal. As we always state, however, our top houses are just a matter of choice. (Your experience may differ from ours.)

Leonard Auction, SilverTowne Auction, Western and Southwest Bullion continue to set the pace with excellent consignments and concise, numismatic grading. Other fine houses–Decatur, Weaver, Meares, Gary Ryther, et. al., continue to appeal with good photography, neat consignments, accurate descriptions and fine customer service. Back to the Past Collectibles is in our top 10 because of continuing improvement. RitMar Exchange is moving up, too, focusing on improved photography and mastering the basics with low buyer’s fee and great customer service.

This is the first time we have scored 24.5 points to the top 15 houses. Essentially, there is little difference between them except for the particular consignment on a given week.

This is a good sign because Proxibid has inaugurated a seller feedback feature. Watch for a post on that latter in the week.

As for Proxiblog, we continue to grow with more than 42,500 viewers since our inception in May 2011. In the past 10 months we have logged more than 17,000 views with most coming from the United States, Canada, Britain, Russia and India.

10monthviews

The most popular post continues to be “California Gold: Real, Replica and Fake.” Typically we identify a handful of replica and counterfeit lots, claiming to the real fractional gold; we report them via Proxibid’s “Report this Item” link. Sadly, we report, we see little action typically by seller or Proxibid.

Hats off to Meares Auction, which had two such replicas on consignment, asked us to evaluate them, and then changed the lot description. That’s why Darron Meares is a leader in this business.

We continue to provide best practices and numismatic knowledge to our viewers for free. Fortunately, we have several of our top houses donating funds to our scholarship account. GreatCollections, operated by numismatist Ian Russell, sponsored an entire month. We are extremely grateful.

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.

Our top post, accessed more than 50 times per week

Kramer Auction Service Terms Are Internet Friendly

Kramer Auction Service of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, has sharp, expandable photography, APN clearance, in-house shipping … and something even more special than all that–service terms that promote rather than restrict online bidding. Click to expand photo below.


kramer_no penalty

The service terms of Kramer Auction state–10% buyer’s fee and no additional buyers’ premium for online bidders.

This is in the tradition of Western Auction, one of our favorite sellers. Dave Zwonitzer has known for years now that coin buying was going to flourish on Internet. Kramer Auction Service knows it. Our top houses know it.

And now you know it, too.

Read service terms. Bid accordingly.

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.

Get Catalogs Up at Least a Week Prior to Sale!

nocatalog
We are flummoxed by auction houses that wait until the last minute (typically day or two) before posting their catalogs. Likewise, we are impressed by houses like Capitol Coin Auction and SilverTowne that post their catalogs months or weeks in advance. The latter take advantage of free advertising in the Coins and Currency category of Proxibid.

The photo above is for one of our favorite auction houses with a Proxibid session four days from the writing of this post. It still doesn’t have a catalog. Also, this house is known by frequent bidders to be very slow in shipping coins. Probably only one person is assigned to do the entire auction from photos to shipping. Too bad. The company is losing out to early bird posters like Weaver Signature Coin and Currency.


True, there are risks posting catalogs too early, especially if your house is selling bullion with reserves or consignor-set opening bids. Silver and gold prices change daily and so those opening bids might not apply weeks in advance. However, late posting does not apply to auction houses that do not see maximum bids or allow shill bidding and that feature choice consignments. You’re simply missing out on an opportunity to showcase those consignments so that bidders like us can decide where to spend our hard-earned auction dollars.

On occasion, with our favorite houses such as Western Auction, for instance, we will email the auction house and ask when the next catalog is expected to be posted, so that we can budget accordingly.

We’re not alone. There are major buyers, bidders and resellers who target favorite houses and who bypass others with tardy catalogs.

If you’re going to pay Proxibid and APN fees, and print catalogs and advertise your sessions, you should be prompt in posting catalogs to keep pace with growing and intense competition on the portal as new companies like Tangible Investments and Decatur Coin and Jewelry–and veteran ones like Meares Auction Group, Leonard Auction and Gary Ryther, among others–set new standards in the Coin and Currency category.

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!

views

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.