Online Coin Auctions
Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.Visit one of our other blogs:
Counterfeits Taken Down on Proxibid
A purported 1799 Draped Bust Silver Dollar, which should have a large eagle reverse, appeared this month in a Proxibid auction. The fake has what appears to be a 1797 large eagle reverse. There are other suspicious diagnostics, but these stand out.
I contacted Proxibid through its "Report the Item" link
when I first encountered the counterfeit. The lot was listed only as
"Silver Coin." Bidders had enough knowledge to know that
early silver dollars are rare; but they seem to have had insufficient
knowledge to tell genuine from counterfeit. When bidding exceeded the
$500 mark, I contacted Proxibid again, and this time the lot was
I also spotted a fake California fractional gold lot in another auction whose seller I know. I sent her an email and a Coin World link and this lot, too, was taken down. This was a conscientious seller who happens to follow this blog, so everything went well.
Connect with Coin World:
This morning I found another fractional gold fake and
reported this to Proxibid, too.
I realize that in the numismatic community we abhor counterfeit coins because when discovered, they so infuriate buyers that they often drop out of the hobby, particularly if the coin is a perceived rarity and they have paid hundreds or thousands to win it.
However, I also keep in mind that Proxibid is a technology company. Its job is to notify the auctioneer. If the auctioneer refuses to take down the lot, because they mistakenly believe all sales are final--tell that to the US Government when selling a fake--then the buyer has some leverage if the "Report the Item" is used.
Selling counterfeits is against Proxibid user rules.
The lesson here is to learn about counterfeits by reading the work of CW's Michael Fahey and other experts. Knowledge not only is power in numismatics; it also is fraud insurance.