Editor’s Note: Michael Bugeja’s columns are based on his buying experiences on eBay, Proxibid, and HiBid. He mostly bids on raw (not holdered) coins. In his monthly columns here, he provides tips on how to grade, identify varieties, spot doctoring, decipher subpar photos, and much more. Even with his expertise, he regrets most of his buys after he sees the actual coins in hand. In this three-part series, he takes inventory of his 2022 purchases and shares his top ones for each platform, along with what he learned and how that will guide his purchases in 2023.
This is the last installment of my review of 2022 purchases in online auctions. In Part I, we covered my eBay purchases; in Part II, my Proxibid ones.
We finish here with HiBid.
I won some 167 coins on the platform and was pleased with 16 lots. That means, once again, I must make adjustments in my buying habits.
I lost out repeatedly to bad photos and descriptions, cleaned and dipped coins, obscured or hidden pin scratches, lack of luster or eye appeal, and other flaws.
Of the HiBid lots, this is among my favorites, a California Fractional gold dollar won with a $900 bid:
SEGS is a lower-tier but often highly reliable holdering company. I think this will crossover to PCGS or, perhaps, be downgraded to MS-64. It might retain the Prooflike status.
At MS-65 PL, the retail value is $5,750; at MS-64, $4,000.
I also won other California gold coins at lower than usual prices, mainly because so few buyers and auctioneers can tell the difference anymore between a replica, a souvenir, and an authentic fractional gold piece.
Here are three of my won fractional gold lots, which I identified later with their BG numbers. The “BG” refers to Walter Breen and Ron Gillio, authors of California Pioneer Fractional Gold.
I also won amazing toned coins. Here is an 1880-S Morgan, which slabbed MS-64 at PCGS:
I won several PCI-toned coins in green labels (the most conservatively graded of that company):
You probably would pay much higher prices for the above coins on eBay, again, because there are so many bidders there.
I won this much-desired Athenian tetradrachm, already slabbed and one of the world’s most desired coins, with a $440 bid. That’s about half what I would have paid on any auction platform, including GreatCollections and Heritage.
I won several toned coins of various denominations that I am keeping for my collection. Here is one of my favorites:
I overpaid for the above coin, $130, because the bull’s-eye toning looked superb. It also may have full bands on the reverse. It’s currently at PCGS.
I rarely bid on ICG-holdered coins, but really liked the rainbow on this one, which I won with a $110 bid and later sent as a crossover to PCGS. The TrueView photo should showcase those colors.
Among my favorite toned coins is this 1884-O Tidy House Morgan:
You have to be careful with these since sometimes the best-toned coins are swapped. In this case, I paid $330 because it came with original packaging and promotions — which by themselves also go for about $100+.
What Did I Learn?
Before my inventory, I assumed that I spent most of my funds on eBay with an equal amount on Proxibid and HiBid. I purchased 111 coins on eBay and 58 on Proxibid and, in each case, was satisfied only with 7% of my purchases.
As I noted earlier, I won some 167 coins on HiBid and was pleased with 16 lots for a 9% satisfaction rate.
In total, I won 336 coins on these platforms, mostly un-holdered lots. Of that amount, I kept for my collection a mere 30. Again, that’s only about 9% of total winnings.
They’re in my bank box. I invest in PCGS TrueView and NGC photos to see them whenever I desire.
What did I do with the coins I didn’t keep? They went on consignment to eBay, Proxibid, and HiBid sellers. There wasn’t any return on investment there because my consignors either describe flaws or require slabbed coins by NGC and PCGS.
In other words, they got holdered coins with no-grade “details.”
So, yes, I lost hundreds. But I have been sharing successes and losses with you throughout the year on Coin Update. Numismatic education never ends for me and everyone else.
What did I gain? Some magnificent coins which, in some cases, would be worth hundreds more than I paid for them.
Nevertheless, I can improve. I will be buying less on eBay, going for the best quality coins there with high bids.
I will bid less on Proxibid. Several sellers have quality coins that somehow only go above retail, time after time, with some of the latter reappearing in new sessions. Rather than browse for new auctions there, wasting time on the platform, I have subscribed to my favorite sellers on Proxibid, who inform me of their next auctions.
I will continue to bid more on HiBid because of the wide variety there, searching for new auction houses and bidding more selectively. Instead of 167 won lots, I aim to bring that figure down below 100. But by far, here is where I will be spending most of my 2023 browsing time.
In closing, I hope you enjoyed and benefited from my 2022 inventory. You should do the same. You’ll learn about your buying habits and then, perhaps, like me, make adjustments.