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Observations and Lessons learned from my first on-line auction experience

PppPpp Posts: 462 ✭✭✭✭

I have been collecting for many years and lately I have been trying to reduce my collection (but for some strange reason it keeps growing, hmmmm). 🤔

I have never sold anything on the internet through any platform until now. I am not going to mention the platform I used because it is irrelevant.

I am not a very good writer and this post is not meant to be negative or soured grapes. There are many on this forum with much more experience than me and I would enjoy getting comments using auction platforms.

I posted previously I have many pcgs and ngc graded ms70, proof 70 and burnished 70 first strike/early release/ first day silver eagles that I was considering to sell besides other coins. I finally decided to use an auction site where I only heard and read very positive reviews as a test case for 50 of my coins to start.

I understand that nothing is a guarantee and there are risks going to auction but that’s why I relied on the experience of the company to sell these for me. In discussions with the auction house they gave me their conservative estimate on what this group of coins should bring based on their experience. So I looked at this estimate as a worst case scenario and if realized it would be acceptable to me.

Unfortunately, I was concerned when the auction house posted my coins at a very low percentage, about 30% on average $30- to $40- ea, of their conservative estimate. You could easily buy raw silver eagles for these prices and these starting prices were much lower than even greysheet.

Results of the the auction were:
-all my coins sold
-gross total sales were 30-40% less than the conservative estimate from the auction house

-I would definitely use this platform again to sell coins. The staff at company was very helpful and responsive. The platform was easy to use and the fees were very reasonable.
-unfortunately I had a negative experience with the company setting the price (again I understand nothing is a guarantee and I hope this was a one off). so for me I plan to set my own minimums going forward to protect my downside
-unfortunately in total I lost money but the winners of the coins got many of them for what I consider to be a great price, congratulations. I would have bought many of these coins at the final prices too, therefore I plan to start being a buyer on this platform.

In the the end this was a great experience and even at my advanced age I am always learning. 🙂


  • 1630Boston1630Boston Posts: 13,772 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I do not know enough about auctions to offer any advice.
    Sorry things did not work out the best for you.

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    Bad transactions with : nobody to date

  • gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,424 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Unfortunately I think many people have paid too much to buy the special labels. Most ASE grade 69 and 70. I'm glad that you didn't lose too much. I think down the road people that bought the 2021 Morgans are going to lose their shirts. Especially the ones who bought from the flippers.

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  • Project NumismaticsProject Numismatics Posts: 1,339 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’m sorry you didn’t realize the proceeds hoped for. In my experience, auctions are a very difficult venue to maximize value for moderns unless you have something truly high-end like a 1995 W or a beautiful toner. I’ve had the most luck selling moderns at fixed prices on eBay.

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,828 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I agree with the previous posters. There are few moderns that will do well in that environment.

  • logger7logger7 Posts: 8,069 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Results like this are highly predictable. Did you do your research first, in the auction company's archives of results as well as recent ebay results?

    I would have tried ebay with buy it now pricing at a level you would be comfortable with. There is no magic in auction companies such as GC unless you have coins in high demand and short supply.

  • PppPpp Posts: 462 ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 19, 2022 11:04AM

    Thank you for all the comments.

    1madman I understand the logic of $1- starting price however for these more recent graded common coins I personally felt starting that low when a raw silver eagle can be bought for in the low $30s- didn’t make sense to me.

    Tomb I do understand your analysis and I took the easy way out and followed the auction company’s advice. The expected conservative price and the starting bid came from the auction company not from me. I went with their experience and what they said. In retrospect I should have asked several questions to the members on this forum regarding approach to selling these coins. One good question would be “who should set the starting price, the auction house or me and why?”
    Note, I did ask the auction company why do they think the actual vs. their conservative estimate was so far apart.

    Logger7 I did do some (obviously not enough) due diligence and I was happy with them starting at 70% of their conservative estimate (which did not happen). From my conversation with the company they expected their conservative estimate to be worst case, but I am smart enough to know that anything can, and in this case did, happen.
    One example of a coin that I did not do good on was a 2020 (p) first strike emergency release pcgs ms70 greysheet $120- and it the final price was $50-. Note, I have sold several of these for well over $120- in the past year.

    I don’t do eBay (I just never liked them) however since I am a the stage of trying different resale approaches I may have to reconsider my stubbornness.

    Maybe my experience will help someone else that is thinking of unloading inventory. I chalk up my loss as a learning experience and I do expect to use this company again but I plan to set the minimum price.

  • MaywoodMaywood Posts: 1,884 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The market for "70" graded modern bullion tends to be a one-way buyers market with a loss coming at the point of sale.

  • U1chicagoU1chicago Posts: 5,583 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’ll echo some of the other sentiments to say the results were a combination of moderns/70s/large supply all at once. The auction house could have also messed up their estimate by including results from prior years when these items were hotter. Often (not always) moderns reach their max prize within a fairly short window of selling. So a 2020 emergency Eagle had its peak demand in 2020 and by now a lot of people have moved on to the latest item. So the prices realized in 2020 (or even 2021) are less likely to be reached in 2022 unless some particular item has staying power (and very few moderns do-even the popular 2001 Buffalos are lower than peak prices).

  • winestevenwinesteven Posts: 4,044 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I feel bad for you with your final results, but I’m glad to read that it seems like you have a positive attitude.

    I buy most of my coins online (and I’m almost always happy with the result, even when I “overpay” for a special coin). We “swim in different pools”, as I collect “Classic” coins. But I think we have a lot more in common with auction experiences than one would guess.

    I truly believe that the advice given by others in this thread is both meant well and is often very true. I think a very key point was made by @TomB, when he stated that by putting up 50 of these coins at once, you created too much competition against yourself. In theory, if only one of these coins was the ONLY one like it in the entire weekly auction, I suspect you would have done noticeably better. But with possibly only a limited number of people interested, they figured if they didn’t get the first one, there were plenty more to go minutes later, and they were right!

    My selling experiences are only a small sample size. However, like you, I’ve been burnt by following the advice of a “low” starting bid, as well as the sage advice of starting at only $1. Many contributors to this forum are correct when they say that starting with a price too high will indeed keep many from bidding at all, and even watching. But with that said, a coin buddy of mine on this forum has had great success at starting his bids at 80% of what may be a fair price. True, he may not get a lot of action, but most of his coins sell at the first listing, and if they don’t, the auction company you may be using will then list it up to four more times at no extra charge! Check with them. You can even choose if you want to lower your starting price a bit in those later auctions.

    I truly wish you better success going forward. Regardless of your starting price, I think the best tip, as noted, is from @TomB - don’t compete against yourself by having coins too similar to each other in the same auction!


    A day without fine wine and working on your coin collection is like a day without sunshine!!!

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  • alaura22alaura22 Posts: 2,646 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 19, 2022 10:23PM

    @1madman said:
    My best advise going forward with this auction house is to start your coin auctions at $1, or start them at the full price you want for them. Don’t do the 30% of true value. It’ll only hamper bidding, trust me.

    I kind of disagree with that.
    I start all of my coins in auction at 80% of value. At 80% of value I'm in the green on the coin, and that's after all the fees. If 80% doesn't get me in the green I either don't list it or I jack up the percentage to where I would be in the green, with all the fees.
    Does the high starting price drive people away? Maybe, but I only need one person to bid to make it a success. Did it curtail bidding? I don't know. All I know is if someone, only one wants the coin, they will get the coin.
    I don't get any extra from the auction house if the coin gets 100 bids or just one.
    My coins are not modern coins, most are sort after type coins, all certified and CAC stickered so this is not a comparison to the OP but I read your response and had to put my 2 cents in.
    It's just the way I do it so I don't lose my shirt

  • calgolddivercalgolddiver Posts: 1,393 ✭✭✭✭✭

    sound advice from @TomB & @winesteven. Have you ever tried BST on this forum? Another venue for possible sales.

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  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Ppp.... Thanks for the summary of your experience. I am not a seller of coins, and though I have sold occasionally, I have never auctioned a coin. The comments from @TomB are insightful and helpful. Cheers, RickO

  • Stingray63Stingray63 Posts: 299 ✭✭✭

    @Ppp - I think I may know which platform you tried and if correct I have used it three times now and have had mixed results. I try to time my auctions when submitting my coins based on upcoming, possible conflicts like major sporting events and holidays. I did better with my old coins and started the bidding at $1 for them knowing the risks. It seems to get the bidding started and in my listings the competitive nature came out toward the end. I do own two MS70 ASE that I don't care for and wouldn't considering auctioning them off at this point in time. Can definitely see taking a hit on those. I feel for your loss. I have seen various coins listed at higher percentages and either not sell or just sell with one bid. Guess it depends on the coin and whose out there looking.

    Pocket Change Inspector

  • DollarAfterDollarDollarAfterDollar Posts: 3,214 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 20, 2022 4:40PM

    First, you're not selling "coins", you're selling bullion or moderns With older coins there's volatility in auctions because eye appeal becomes a major factor. You don't get much variation with Eagles so the values tend to be very consistent.
    Accordingly, liquidating should take place either through a coin shop that will buy your Eagles or moderns near Grey Sheet bid or in an auction where consignor fees are no more than 10%. To get that you must accurately describe exactly what you propose to send and be flexible, like consolidating Eagle lots by year as an example. Everything's negotiable.

    Not trying to be Mr Know it all but rather, offering factual info.

    If you do what you always did, you get what you always got.
  • airplanenutairplanenut Posts: 21,899 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As someone who has sold tens of thousands of consigned coins on eBay, I'll give a few thoughts, which I've explained to many potential consignors:

    -Some weeks are good and some aren't. Even high quality examples need a few interested bidders to get great prices. If they happen to run during a bad week, the results will show it.

    -Some coins just don't do as well as hoped for no good reason, and others do better than expected.

    -You're taking a bigger gamble when you put all your eggs in one basket with one type of coin, especially when it seems like we're talking about moderns/bullion which can have much greater fluctuations one listing to the next, or over a period of time.

    -Lower priced items can do more poorly because other costs (shipping fees, buyer premiums with a minimum) can take a much bigger percentage of the item value.

    I've found that the most likely consignors to be disappointed are the ones who send me a few similar items of decent or lower quality, which have the potential to all do poorly no matter what I do. On the other hand, consignors who send me lots of material (varied or not; if not, they know the market well) tend to do much better. Sure, they still have some unexpected poor results, but those are balanced by real winners, and over time, they end up with more winners than losers, and they do very well. You seemed to have more than just a few coins, but if they're all the same, it exposes a risk of poor results across the board.

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  • PppPpp Posts: 462 ✭✭✭✭

    I am putting together my next submission to the auction company which will be a combination of Morgan’s, peace, walkers, franklins, Indian head, and Lincoln’s. I like alaura22 idea of a starting bid of 80%. I learned long ago not to be greedy therefore, I don’t need to maximize on the sales side and if a coin doesn’t sell that’s ok.

    In retrospect I think my problem with my first auction was not making a big issue when the company did not use a 70% starting bid like they said they would. Granted some of my coins probably would not have sold which would have been ok.

    I really appreciate all the different opinions and experiences from everyone on this forum.

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