There is all manner of bad numismatic photos, and you can find examples of them everywhere on HiBid.com. I am an expert grader, but that doesn’t exempt me from making mistakes. You learn by experience in the coin-buying world. The goal is not to identify sellers but share common types of poor numismatic photos so you can identify them in auctions, not only in HiBid.com but also in Proxibid, eBay, and other online sellers.
Featured Lot Number
The photo is blurred. On top of that, for some reason, the auctioneer showcases the lot number instead of the lot. You’ll see this type of problem in several online auctions, a holdover from onsite sessions where buyers can inspect coins. If you’re going to sell online, showcase what you’re selling, taking sharp, large photos of obverse and reverse.
Featured Seller Name
Not only is the person’s hand featured, but the company’s name is also overlaid precisely where one would look to ascertain whether this is a small or large motto 1864 two-cent piece. (See this post to tell the difference.)
Your company’s name has no business obscuring the details of a coin. Whenever I see this common practice, I stop bidding.
This 1864 two-cent coin doesn’t have writing across it, but the photo is so blurred that one cannot make out any devices. The auctioneer needs a new camera and maybe some lessons on focusing.
How in the world is one supposed to grade a coin when it is taken from a distance and displayed like this? I know why the seller is taking these awful shots. Again, they need a new camera with a close-up lens and lessons on focusing.
Slanted photos hide flaws and distort luster. You can’t tell whether this coin has any eye appeal, let alone any cleaning. I never bid on coins depicted in this manner because you cannot grade accurately.
Washed Out Photos
While the devices are sharp in this photo, the surfaces are washed out, so it is impossible to tell if the coin is cleaned or has other issues, such as hairlines. I used to bid in this seller’s auctions. Suffice to say I don’t anymore.
Now compare the above photos with one by Legend Rare Coins, which also sells on HiBid.com. This is as close as it gets to holding the coin in your hand onsite.
That means you can bid with confidence.
In the end, grading coins is a learned skill. But when that skill cannot be applied in an online auction, because of the issues discussed here, you are taking a big chance and have to rely on the auctioneer’s description. We’ll leave that issue for another day.