You know there are more ways to bid than eBay

There are many ways to collect numismatics and there are many places that a collector can find items to add to a collection.

Collecting can be an expensive hobby regardless of what is collected. Whether it is numismatics or comic books, one piece is never enough and there is always a desire to collect an entire set regardless of the parts that make up the set.

When collecting numismatics, we know about the coin dealer, coin shows, and online auctions from the major auction houses and eBay. But did you know there were other online auctions that you can tap into to find collectibles with better prices?

There is an entire community of resellers working with estates, relocations, downsizing, and liquidation that offers a way to find bargains.

Estates are an easy concept to understand. Someone dies and the family, executor, or personal representative of the estate has the responsibility to clean out the home, apartment, or condominium of the decedent so that everyone else can move on. Regardless of how gentle we try to be, everyone dies and something has to be done with the stuff left behind.

This is where estate sale companies are a help. These companies are contracted to whoever is trying to sell off the estate and hold a sale of the goods. Some estate sales are held over one or two weekends. Buyers go to the house to see what is for sale and buy what they want.

Over the last few years, there has been a growing number of online estate auctions. Rather than holding a sale, the items are either staged in the home or in a warehouse and people bid online. Estate auctions have been extended to relocations, downsizing, and liquidation of seized properties and even commercial assets.

Online estate auctions work like any other online auction. You bid for the item you want and hope you win. When the auction is over, you pay for the item plus a buyer’s premium, similar to what you would pay if you were buying from an auction house. In most cases, the buyer’s premium ranges from 10-15 percent of the selling (hammer) price. In most cases, local sales tax is charged.

Although you can find bargains at these auctions, it is not always an easy process.

First, not every company works the same. Unlike eBay where there are consistent rules sellers have to abide by, estate auction terms and conditions can be very different than what you are used to. Before you bid, read the terms and conditions. If you cannot abide by them, do not agree to bid on the auction.

How do you agree to the terms and condition? Register on the auction site and click the button for that auction. Registration requires you to identify yourself including entering a valid credit card. When you agree to the terms and conditions of the auction, most companies will put a hold on your credit card for a set value to determine that the credit card is valid. These holds can range from $1-100. Remember this if you use a debit card. In most cases, your credit card will be charged for the purchases immediately up the close of the auction.

The auction platforms may be very different than what you are used to. These auction platforms take their cues from services offered by major auction houses and not eBay. Their catalog is a list of lots for sale that includes pictures an additional information. Not every item includes good pictures or descriptions and not every auction service uses their software to its best capabilities.

Some companies offer a live preview. If the auction is being staged onsite, then you can go to that site during the designated time and examine the items up for bid. Auctions held from warehouses usually hold multi-day previews. If you cannot attend a preview or if there is no preview offered, you have to rely on the pictures. If the picture does not give you the confidence you need to bid, pass on that item.

These auctions allow you to enter a maximum bid and will raise your bid price until someone outbids your maximum, similar to what you may be used to on eBay. One big difference is that most of these auctions use a soft close system. A soft close happens when a bid is received at the last minute of the auction. When a bid is received the end of the auction is extended. Most auctions will extend the end time 3-5 minutes to prevent sniping.

Most of these estate and liquidation auction services set their lots up with a low starting price. Usually, the opening price is $1.00 and sell with no reserve. Some have other practices that they use to protect the seller of higher-priced items. But this scenario can be a recipe for finding bargains. In one auction, I was able to purchase three Carson City Morgan Dollars in GSA holders for about 75-percent of than their Greysheet value even after sales taxes and buyer’s fee were added. I was then able to sell the coins to a client who paid their Greysheet value giving me a nice profit for the day.

Another issue you will have to work around is that many of these auctions do not provide shipping. If you read their terms it will say that if you win you will have to pick up your items at a specific place during the designated pickup time. If you want your items shipped you will have to work with a third-party shipping service such as the local Parcels Plus or UPS Store.

There have been mixed reports using third-party shipping services. Some are very good, contientious, and will take care of you but at a cost. There are others that are not very good and have been known not to pack the items well and pilfer from your winnings. There is no way to know the rating of the auction service’s recommended shipper. You may want to try to find online reviews of that shipper.

A few of these estate auction companies will provide shipping services. If you require shipping, you may have to do this as part of the registration or contact the company immediately following the close of the auction. Those companies that provide shipping will charge a service fee in addition to the postage.

Remember, the larger and more expensive the item, the more will be required for it to be shipped.

When purchasing anything from an estate auction, it is important that you read and understand their terms and conditions before you bid and buy. Each service has different terms and conditions that could turn your purchase into a nightmare. If you are careful, you can find bargains.

Where can you find these bargains?

This is where I give up the secrets that have allowed me to build a collectibles business. I have used these resources to travel the region to find cool items that have made a lot of people smile.

My first go-to resource is EstateSales.net. I have found no other resource with the most complete listing of every estate sale and auctions for whatever region of the country I am located. It is a free service for buyers. Either select your state or enter your zip code to find all of the sales in your area. Even if you are visiting your relatives out of town, enter their zip code and see if you can find some bargains.

Listings on EstateSales.net include the address and hours of the sale. If it is an online auction, it will provide a link to the auction site. Each sale page can include photos of the items for sale. While photos are not required, most listings include them. You can get a preview of the items for sale to help you decide whether it is worth the trip or the effort to bid.

They also have a mailing list you can sign up for that will send you sales in your selected region.

Using the listing on EstateSales.net, you will learn who some of the local auction companies are. You can either watch for their sales on EstateSales.net or go to their website and sign up for their mailing list. Some of these auction companies continue to have live, in-person auctions and it may be something you will consider attending.

Another place to find estate auctions is on the site that provides the auction services to the various companies. One of the largest services is HiBid.com.

HiBid is a great site for finding a lot of auctions in a lot of places and supports a few different auction formats including online only, live webcast auctions, absentee bidding, or just catalogs for auctions that will be live or even on another platform. They will allow you to search across auction companies and regions.

As I am writing this, there are 1,134 open auctions with 794 being internet online-only. Of those online-only auctions, there are 3,607 lots in the Coins & Paper Money category.

AuctionZip.com is another auction hosting service that is very auction company-centric. While you can search across auctions its model is to try to protect the propriety of the companies that use its site. Once you see the difference in the interface between HiBid.com and AuctionZip.com, you will understand why the former is more popular.

One nice feature about AuctionZip.com is that when you do a search it lets you look at the auctions open for a particular day. If you have time restrictions, it will allow you to better tailor your bidding times. This is good if you are traveling so that you do not have a conflict with the end of the auction.

LiveAuctioneers.com is a similar service but serves a more upscale audience. Their service has stricter requirements as to who can list auctions on their platform. What this does is provide better assurances for the buyer that they are dealing with a more established company. Currently, there are 7,780 items listed for auction in the Coins, Currency & Stamps category.

A feature of LiveAuctioneers.com, aside from its clean interface, is that they have a consignment service that helps connect you with an auctioneer that will help sell your items. If you have something that you want to sell at auction but do not know who to speak with, this is a good service to help get you started.

One of the oldest services is icollector.com. They are a strictly collectible market auction service. Although their catalog is smaller than the others listed, their listings are comparable in the collecting categories. iCollector.com may not be as elegant as other services, but they do have the inventory for you to look at. There are just under 15,000 lots of various numismatics. Their strength is that the numismatic categories are divided by country and type. Where other auctions make have a general category, iCollector.com has categories to allow you to narrow your search down to what your interest.

Last, but definitely not least, is Invaluable. Auction companies that use Invaluable are what could be classified as mid-to-upper range companies. These companies are more concentrated around art and furniture but have added collectibles and other categories likely to facilitate sales from companies that buy higher-end estates in order to keep them as clients. Most of the auctions on Invaluable are absentee bid auctions with some items available for immediate sale. As I write there, there are 20,485 lots available in the Coins, Money & Stamps category. In fact, over the last few weeks, gold and silver bars dominate the listings on the first page of the category.

Invaluable is also a site with a very clean interface that is very welcoming. They also divide their larger sections into individual categories so whether you are interested in US Coins or Ancient Coins, you can browse that section without clutter.

Since I started writing this article, I won several silver Chinese Panda coins from an online estate auction. Most of the coins were purchased at or below the spot price of silver even when adding the buyer’s premium. One of those coins that were purchased a little over the spot price is the very popular 2000 Panda that can sell for a lot of money. There are other coins that I purchased at less than market value.

Even though I am not a fan of third-party grading services, especially for modern coins, I will send these coins to one. Although I think all but one is genuine, and it is possible it was a pocket piece, as long as the 2000 and amake up of the pre-2000 silver Panda coins are genuine, I will more than makeup for the cost of the entire purchase plus the grading fees.

Now go out and find your own bargains!

Weekly World Numismatic News for February 11, 2018

The news article that caught my eye this week is a commentary produced on the website for WDEL, a radio station in Wilmington, Delaware about an advertisement that appeared in Wilmington’s News Journal newspaper for the “First-Ever Official Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Champions Legal Tender Coin.”

An online search found the item for sale at the Bradford Exchange.

According to the product page (I am not providing a link since I am not endorsing this product), it is a legal tender coin but does not indicate the country of issue. The “coin” is plated in 24-karat gold and comes in a holder that looks very similar to a popular third-party grading service.

The images provided on the product page are of one side of the coin. There are no images of the reverse of the coin or the holder. Even with the description that does not include the coin’s metal content including the amount of gold it contains and the country that granted legal tender status. They want buyers to shell out $49.95 plus $4.95 for shipping and handling.

This is worse than the Gold Buffalo Tribute Proof from the National Collector’s Mint. If you have the opportunity to watch the business cable channels during the day, they are consistent advertisers. At least with the Gold Buffalo Tribute Proof you will only be ripped-off for $19.95 plus $7 shipping.

Simply, the amount of gold in the plating is so thin that there may be less than $1.00 worth of gold. Even if the base coin is brass or bronze, the amount of copper would make the metal value less than $2.00. Since the Bradford Exchange has indicated it has licensing agreements with the NFL and NFL Players Association, their costs may be higher in order to pay off these concerns.

Even though they are creating only 2,017 of these coins, the resale market is very limited. When you or your heirs try to sell these coins, they will find that if the coin can be resold it will probably bring pennies on the dollar versus the original price.

If you are a Philadelphia Eagles fan and want a numismatic-related souvenir of their win in Super Bowl LII, then it looks like a nice, albeit expensive item. If you are only interested as a speculator, you can find something better to invest in.

And now the news…

 February 5, 2018

Bank to act amid concerns over private firms selling medals marking historic events → Read more at irishtimes.com


 February 5, 2018

More than $50 million worth of gold bars, coins, and dust that has sat at the bottom of the ocean since the ship it was on sunk in 1857 is about to go on public display in California. → Read more at fox10tv.com


 February 5, 2018

Today marks 100 years since the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which was the first piece of law that gave women the right to vote in elections. And to celebrate, the Royal Mail has released a set of eight special stamps, commemorating the piece of legislation which extended the right to vote to women over 30 and to millions of men over the age of 21 who had previously been denied the opportunity. → Read more at digitalspy.com


 February 5, 2018

WE'RE getting used to plastic fivers and tenners and are now awaiting the official announcement from the Bank of England on when the polymer £20 notes will be introduced. The polymer tenner came into circulation in September 2017, with hundreds of millions in circulation. → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 February 6, 2018

Page 6A of today's News Journal carries a half-page ad for the "First-Ever Official Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Champions Legal Tender Coin". Doubtless this very same ad appears in newspapers all over our region. → Read more at wdel.com


 February 6, 2018

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Rochester man has been sentenced to three years of probation for selling counterfeit coins. Timothy Meacham, 32, was also ordered to pay over $5,000 in restitution. → Read more at wivb.com


 February 6, 2018

Most of the coins in the Knights of St John collection were contained in Professor Salvatore Luigi Pisani’s donation. Photos: Chris Sant Fournier Coins from every era of history have for the first time gone on permanent display at the National Museum of Archaeology, offering a glimpse of the commercial and political forces driving Malta through the ages. → Read more at timesofmalta.com


 February 7, 2018

IT MAY seem baffling why anybody would want to burn money, and there are many rumours about what would actually happen if you were caught destroying currency. We’ve debunked the fact from the fiction, so you can keep on the right side of the law. → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 February 7, 2018

MARQUETTE — A standing-room-only crowd of nearly 1,000 people filled the Mather Auditorium in Munising Wednesday to be part of the launch of the first America The Beautiful quarter issued in 2018, which honors Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. → Read more at miningjournal.net


 February 8, 2018

During the reign of William III, in the second half of the 17th century, it was the fashion for a young man to give a crooked coin to the object of his affections. The suitor would bend the coin, both to make it an amulet and to prevent it being reused. → Read more at theguardian.com

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Help Wanted: Numismatic & Bullion Industry Public Policy Writer

Do you have an interest in public policy and its impact on the numismatic community? How are your research skills? Can you search multiple sources to find those issues from the local, state, federal, and international politics that could be reported to numismatic and bullion dealers? It would be a real plus if you were able to contact and network with people on Capitol Hill to find information whether it is on background or that can be published.

Can you keep up with the policy changes during the month and write about it in a monthly newsletter?

If you have an interest in writing about the public policy of the numismatic and bullion industry as it affects dealers, then please contact me.

Aside from being interested in the topic, you must be able to write for a general audience. This includes having a good understanding of the policy (sausage) making processes and be able to write about it coherently. To get a better understanding of the type of writing this work requires, you can read the posts here under the legislative category.

This is a once per month newsletter with a stipend.

I am not the person doing the hiring but I am helping the hiring manager fill this position.

If you are interested or have further questions, please contact me.

U.S. Mint revises precious metals pricing

2018 American Eagle Platinum Proof obverse, Preamble to the Declaration of Independence Series — Life (U.S. Mint image)

The U.S. Mint published its 2018 Pricing of Numismatic Gold, Commemorative Gold, and Platinum Products table with a range of updated prices for the year. The new table removes the First Spouse gold coins and the Centennial Gold coins that were produced in 2017.

Price for the American Gold Eagle proof coin was raised by $17.50 while the one-tenth ounce coin was raised by $2.50 across all price points (averages per troy ounce). The price for the 4-coin proof set was raised by $37.50.

The one-ounce American Gold Eagle uncirculated, American Gold Buffalo 24-karat Proof, and American Eagle Platinum proof coins were raised by $20.00 also across all price points.

The price will not change for the American Liberty Gold Proof, which will use the same design as the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Proof. There will be a one-tenth ounce option that will go on sale February 8 now included in the table. If the price of gold remains steady, the opening price is expected to be $215.00.

The price for the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative “Pink” Gold $5 proof coin will be $6.35 more than the 2017 commemorative gold coin while the uncirculated version will be 25-cents less expensive.

You can find the U.S. Mint pricing table here (PDF).

Remember, precious metals pricing is not a matter of a table lookup. They use average prices based on the prices set by the London Bullion Market Association (also known as the London Fix Price). You can find the Pricing Criteria here (PDF).

Weekly World Numismatic News for Super Sunday, February 4, 2018

Super Bowl 52 Official 2-Tone Flip Coin
(Courtesy of the Highland Mint)

In 1966, discussions between the upstart American Football League and the National Football League led to the development of a championship game. The idea came from Kansas City Chief’s owner Lamar Hunt to have a single game to crown the championship during the five years it would take to merge the leagues.

The game was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game and was first played in the Los Angeles Coliseum on January 15, 1967, between the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. The game drew 61,846 in a stadium that held over 90,000 people. Halftime entertainment featured Al Hirt and the marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling State.

Green Bay, coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, won the game 35-10. Bart Starr was the game’s MVP. Kansas City was not a bad team, coached by Hank Stram and led by quarterback Len Dawson. But the Packers were just that much better.

The game was broadcast by both NBC and CBS who charged $42,000 per 30-second commercial. It is estimated that the game was seen by more than 51 million people.

The first game to be officially branded as the Super Bowl was Super Bowl III played at the Orange Bowl in Miami. It was also the game that introduced us to significant pre-game hype when New York Jets Quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed a Jets victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. The Colts were led by Coach Don Shula and the legendary Quarterback Johnny Unitas. The Jets’ 16-7 victory has been said to have accelerated the merger between the leagues.

Super Bowl LII will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a nice city but not exactly a “hot” spot in February. U.S. Bank Stadium will be sold out to its capacity of 73,000 and should be seen by a national television audience of over 111 million people. It is estimated that another 30 million, including 4 million from Canada, will be watching around the world.

Advertisers are paying $7.7 million per 30-seconds for their commercials. Adjusting for inflation ($42,000 in 1967 would be the same as $314,711 today), it is costing advertisers almost 24½-times more than the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game. Although the production of the commercials has been a big deal, the gauntlet was thrown down in 1979 when Coca-Cola aired “Hey kid, Catch” starring Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Tackle “Mean” Joe Greene. If you have not seen it or want to see it again, you can watch it at https://youtu.be/xffOCZYX6F8.

Super Bowl LII marks the 25th year that the Highland Mint of Melbourne, Florida will be striking the medal used in the coin toss. Prior to the making of the official coin, each game either used a coin of their choosing or the host city created their own medal. Of course, the NFL could not pass up a marketing opportunity and has decided to control the process.

After the game, the coin used for the coin toss is sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. If there is an overtime game, as there was for Super Bowl LI, the same coin is used as the pre-game coin toss.

The official coin “is carefully struck of fine silver plate and selectively flash plated with 24kt gold,” according to the Highland Mint. Each 1½-inch coin is individually numbered with a mintage limit of 10,000. Super Bowl fans and the fans of the winning team can order one directly from the Highland Mint.

And now the news…

 January 29, 2018

The Wilmington Symphony will premiere ‘The Dance of the Coin’ Feb. 3 at the CFCC Wilson Center. Handling coins is still a regular occurrence for many people. Writing this story served as a reminder that touching these artfully cast pieces of metal is as close as most of us ever come to touching history. → Read more at starnewsonline.com


 January 29, 2018

More than $50 million worth of gold bars, coins and dust that’s been described as the greatest lost treasure in U.S. history is about to make its public debut in California after sitting at the bottom of the ocean for more than 150 years. → Read more at foxnews.com


 January 29, 2018

The Royal Mint is set to honour four generations of the monarchy with a new coin depicting the Queen and three future kings. A new £5 coin will feature Her Majesty and her son the Prince of Wales, grandson the Duke of Cambridge and great-grandson Prince George. The historic coin will show their initials E, C, W and G, and three crowns. → Read more at standard.co.uk


 January 30, 2018

New culture of asking for change surfaced after VAT says Al Tayer → Read more at gulfnews.com


 January 30, 2018

Metal detectorists Paul Adams, 58, and Andy Sampson, 54, began dancing around a field in Suffolk, crying out in joy when they stumbled upon a handful of ancient coins potentially worth £250,000. → Read more at dailymail.co.uk


 February 1, 2018

The pool drains into a fountain called a “nymphaeon”—the first such structure found in Israel.  → Read more at newsweek.com


 February 1, 2018

The US Mint recently began accepting mutilated coins from scrap recyclers after a 2 year hiatus while it investigated an alleged massive Chinese coin fraud operation. → Read more at motherboard.vice.com


 February 1, 2018

While many countries are winding down use of physical money in favour of card and app payments, Germans are stubbornly clinging to the clink of coins and rustle of banknotes. → Read more at gulf-times.com


 February 2, 2018

Dubai resident explains his fascination with coins and the story behind his collection → Read more at gulfnews.com


 February 3, 2018

A new 50p coin will be in circulation this year to mark 100 years since women first got the vote. → Read more at bbc.com


 February 3, 2018

One of the most important pieces of the Super Bowl has a Florida connection. Going inside the factory making the official game coin. → Read more at firstcoastnews.com

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