There are certain unspoken rules in online bidding, and if you mess up with one of them, you could be looking at a big financial loss. The first few rules below are easy enough to master, and they include:
- Patronizing online auctions whose sellers you trust because of past business experience.
- Never bidding in an auction that allows maximum bid viewing and shill bidding (the auctioneer or consignor viewing your bid and then raising the bid). Proxibid discloses which auctions do this; eBay doesn’t allow it.
- Never bidding in an auction that has poor photography, unless the coins are holdered by PCGS, NGC, ANACS or ICG. (Bid at least 3-4 grades lower and at your own risk on slabs by PCI, ACG and SEGS.)
- Never bidding in an auction that makes you contact third-party shippers. If your item is lost, the auction company or seller has no responsibility.
- Thinking twice before bidding in an auction with high opening bids, shipping fees and seller premiums.
- Don’t engage in bidding wars, especially when newbies or ignorant bidders overpay for item after item that you need. Those bidders will soon run out of money or realize that they should have been patronizing their local coin shop for better deals.
There is one other rule that sometimes I even neglect to honor at times because I am taken by a coin and do not restrain myself. This has to do with coins that I want to cross over to PCGS because I have my set registry with that company and my collection in a bank box, so I seldom get to view my coins except through online photos uploaded to the registry.
The rule is checking on a coin slabbed by NGC, ANACS and ICG to learn the latest sale prices as listed by PCGS CoinFacts. Anyone who bids regularly in online auctions needs to subscribe to CoinFacts because President Ron Guth and his staff list values that guide you so you will not overpay for a coin, as I just did.
I bid in one of my favorite Proxibid auctions for an 1895-O Morgan Dollar in AU50 condition in an old small ANACS slab. I knew that this coin sells for about $1000 in AU50 condition in a PCGS holder and, lazily, did not check CoinFacts for auction prices in a PCGS holder at XF40 and XF45. I did that after a $700 bid with a realized price at $800.
Realizing my mistake after I won the coin, I checked after the fact–which counts as my second error–as one should check beforehand, of course. One PCGS coin in AU50 sold for what I paid; the rest were at or above $1000. ANACS coins sold between $441-$1000, mostly hovering around the $500 mark. In other words, my acquisition was no deal; it was a big risk.
The only thing going for me is my belief the coin will grade at XF45 because it is in an old small ANACS holder, and those seem to crossover well. I give myself a 20% chance at a crossover at AU50. The coin certainly deserves that grade, but a bag mark or two on the obverse lower left field my prevent that. The coin doesn’t looked cleaned. It has luster. It has a chance.
We’ll see just how big a chance because I just sent the coin to PCGS for Secure Plus holdering, checking “ANY” in the crossover box, meaning PCGS can assign any grade to it except Genuine, because I marked “do not holder” Genuine problem coins. Cost is about $100 to send and mail, meaning at best the coin will bring a $100 profit if it grades AU50.
I’ll let you know what transpires in a month or so. Meanwhile, follow the online bidding rules above, subscribe to PCGS CoinFacts and then always check recent auction prices so that you do not overpay for a coin, as I did.
Finally, if the coin was in a PCI, ACG or SEGS holder, the most I would have bid for this coin would have been $400-$425. I probably would have lost the bid to someone who overpaid. Let’s hope that is not you, dear viewer, learning from my bad example.