An Estate Auction tip

Not long ago I wrote about alternative places to find coins and other numismatic collectibles that included some of my secrets. As an addendum, I am going to provide another secret to an estate auction from a company I have done business with in the past.

If you are in the central Virginia area or willing to pay for shipping, you can bid on the Coin and Postcard Auction from JLR Auctions of Culpeper, Virginia.

The auction has 144 lots of coins along with eight lots of supplies. If you are into old postcards, there are a few nice lots in this auction. A little something for everyone.

I have bought items through JLR Auctions and have consigned surplus items. They are a good company to work with. I have no stake in this auction but passing along a tip to my readers.

Happy bidding!

A growing problem in the collecting industry

It is difficult to turn on the television, read the news, or visit social media without the tragedies of the day smacking us in the face. Although crime statistics are the lowest it has been in generations, there are some crimes that have seen a rise. Those are the crimes that are given the headlines and the most airtime on the news.

Unfortunately, the news extends beyond the mainstream but extends to Main Street.

Numismatics has not been a stranger to the criminal element. If it is not embezzlers using coins to defraud people and governments, there are the counterfeits primarily coming from China. Now there are two new scams that the industry has to watch.

Counterfeiting currency is definitely not a new issue. Counterfeiting the currency that is supposed to be the most secure is something that is now hitting the mainstream, especially in countries that have adopted the use of polymer notes, is important news.

Police in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has reported the confiscation of 72 bogus Canadian banknotes. Counterfeiters are using a combination of printed plastic sheets and physical cut-and-paste of lower denomination notes to mimic higher denomination notes.

Image released by the Saskatoon Police showing the counterfeit currency (Image courtesy of the Saskatoon Police via the Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

Within the same news feed, the Bank of England issued warnings and additional guidance after counterfeit notes were used for purchases at pubs in Lincolnshire. Many stories from the U.K. suggest that the people do not seem to like the new polymer notes, but this does not seem to help.

Bank of England wants people to watch for the color shifting ink in the quill (Bank of England image)

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Australia’s central bank and the primary developer of the polymer substrate used around the world, has found that their currency is under attack by industrious forgers. One particular forger found a plastic substrate similar to the polymer developed by the RBA. The forger bought one high-quality commercial printer from the used market and rented two others to print Australian $50 notes.

According to the reports, the $50 note was picked because it provides is common enough to be used in daily transactions (AU$50 is equivalent to US$39.06 as this is being written) and high enough of a denomination to be cost-effective for the forger. Remember, forgery may be a crime but it is a business.

A counterfeit Australian $50 note has the wrong security stripes and the star field on the right is supposed to be clear (Image courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald)

Although these issues have not directly affected the collectible currency market, it has had an effect on the dealers when their customers pay in cash. Even with the rise of electronic transactions, many European dealers continue to do over-the-counter sales using cash. In some countries, like Germany, cash is still king even when purchasing rare coins.

While discussing these issues with a dealer based in Germany, it was reported that he will not accept large sums of cash from customers he has not done business with in the past. This dealer does not accept credit card payments over 200€ or for any bullion-based transactions. His regular customers can directly wire the funds to a special account the dealer set up. Others must use certified bank checks.

This is not to suggest wire transfers are safe. In a blog post on, they have been contacted by antique dealers that reported money stolen by wire transfers. According to the blog post:

The fraudsters hack your emails and insert their own email, cloned to look like an email from a trusted person, into your email stream.  They then request a wire transfer — providing all needed wire instructions — for something that looks legitimate. Once a bank wire is sent, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get the money back.  If you need to send a wire, be sure to use “old” technology and confirm on the telephone with someone that you know!

Even though I am no longer in the information security business, it is still my obligation to remind you that EMAIL IS NOT A SECURE FORM OF COMMUNICATION! Email is the electronic equivalent of a postcard. Any message you send, unless it is encrypted, can be read, scanned, snooped, and even altered by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

“Oh, it cannot happen to me!”

I used to hear that line when I taught a senior-level college class on information security. Using a laptop connected to an overhead projector, I was able to show the class how easy it was not only to create spam but to make it look like an email was sent by someone else. I was also able to demonstrate how to read the email traffic on the local network with a few keystrokes. Are you using wireless connections? You just made stealing your information easier for the hacker.

Counterfeiting and wire fraud are not just problems for dealers. When dealers are defrauded by these criminals, they have to recover the money in some way. Insurance does not cover all losses or the extra security that will be required to protect their transactions. Prices will have to go up to cover the losses and the future costs of doing business.

The cost of doing business in this environment is not a trivial subject. While dealers of all types of collectibles want you business, fraudsters are making it difficult for dealers trust the off-the-street buyer. This makes counterfeiting and fraud a problem for everyone.

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 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 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, you will learn who some of the local auction companies are. You can either watch for their sales on 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 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. 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 and, you will understand why the former is more popular.

One nice feature about 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. 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, 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 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. 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, 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 18, 2018

“Clad in 31 milligrams of pure gold,” or $1.34 in gold at the current price of $1,349.10 per troy ounce. (YouTube screen grab)

If there is one story from this week that makes my blood boil is from the Houston Chronicle. They reported that a 72-year old woman was duped by the National Collector’s Mint (NCM) into purchasing $1.3 million in alleged rare coins.

The elderly woman, like many other elderly who may not have the experience to deal with the sales pitch or understand the nuances of the particular investment, was smooth-talked by one of their salesmen who played on her emotions.

According to the story, the woman has infrequent contact with her children and used to look forward to the sales call from the NCM representative. Like similar scams, the representative likely fed on these emotions to convince her to buy NCM’s overpriced products.

The National Collector’s Mint settled on a fine of $750,000 from the Federal Trade Commission for advertising they were selling “official” 9/11 commemorative coins. The FTC claimed the ads were deception because no such coin was authorized by Congress, the only constitutionally legal entity to grant legal tender status to any coin from the United States. NCM settled without admitting guilt.

With all due respect to the National Collector’s Mint, they have advertised garbage collectibles before. Whether it is the not-so-official 9/11 commemorative coin or the tribute proof plated with gold with less than one-dollar in value, the television commercials that I have seen even on allegedly reputable cable channels is enough to make one gag on their coffee.

If you have elderly relatives living alone, give them a call. First, you will be doing a good thing especially if they are your parents. Even if there have been problems in the past, get over it. Life is way too short to hold a grudge. While talking with them, make sure they are not being taken advantage of by the likes of these scam artists. By talking with them they will not feel lonely and have to seek comfort in the voice of a smooth talker sitting in some cube farm in some sterile office.

Please remind them that if the deal sounds too good to be true, it is not a good deal! This includes the overpriced coins that are sold on the television shopping channels!

And now the news…

 February 13, 2018

Our colleague Martin Shaw thinks he may have actually found a fake → Read more at

 February 13, 2018

Thursday is the last day that one-cent, ten-cent and 25-cent coins can be used as legal monetary tender in Jamaica.However, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) will continue to redeem them indefinitely, during its regular business hours of 9 a.m. to 2 p.m…. → Read more at

 February 13, 2018

In many quarantines, these coins were the only form of money that patients affected by the disease could access. → Read more at

 February 14, 2018

South Africans can expect a new coin and banknote issue with former President Nelson Mandela’s face on it later this year. → Read more at

 February 14, 2018

An elderly Houston woman says an on-line coin seller based in New York took advantage of her loneliness to sell her $1.3 million in gold and silver coins at inflated prices. Patricia Thomas, 72, sued the National Collector's Mint in federal court in Houston, alleging that one of its sales representatives, under the guise of "checking in" with Thomas, smooth-talked her into to buying the coins, which cost more than twice what they were worth, according to court documents. → Read more at

 February 15, 2018

To ensure you the best experience, we use cookies on our website for technical, analytical and marketing purposes. By continuing to browse our site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. → Read more at

 February 15, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) – Timberwolves players, coaches and fans paid tribute to the late Coach Flip Saunders at the Target Center. Saunders was honored as part of “Flip Saunders Night” at Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. → Read more at

 February 16, 2018

Blackpool Tower is set to feature on a new silver £5 coin, an announcement by the Queen has revealed. The commemorative cash, which will be released ahead of the iconic structure’s 125th birthday next year, will be part of a series to celebrate British landmarks. → Read more at

Coin Collectors News

ANA: January is National Hobby Month

Did you know that January is National Hobby Month?

Letter from the ANA received in February.

After reading that, you are now saying, “But Scott, it’s February!”

Yes, but I did not know that January is National Hobby Month until I received a letter in the mail from the American Numismatic Association informing me of this fact.

The ANA, like other non-profit organizations, periodically send out what I like to call “beg letters” to members and those who have previously donated in order to solicit donations. There is nothing wrong with these letters. In fact, when I can I do respond to the organizations I regularly contribute to including the ANA.

What is unusual about this letter is that across the top, it tells me that January is National Hobby Month after being sent and received in February.

Since this came on a Friday and it was not opened until after hours, I have not attempted to contact the ANA to ask about this letter. However, if the ANA wants to tell me that January is National Hobby Month, maybe they should do it in January.

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