Michael Bugeja

Online Coin Auctions

Michael Bugeja

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.

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Factor Opening Bids Before Placing One

​True, an 1884-CC Morgan dollar ranks among the most popular lots in any online auction, and you can find dozens of these on Proxibid and hundreds on eBay. The coins come in first-, second- and bottom-tier holders as well as government holders from the General Services Administration. GSA dollars are particularly coveted.

In the 1960s, the US Treasury discovered 3 million uncirculated Morgan dollars in sealed bags. In the 1970s, the dollars were sold to the public. The 1884-CC is the most common of the hoard. It had a mintage of 
1,136,000 with 962,000, or   84.6% of the run, found in those bags. The majority of these grade MS64, according to PCGS CoinFacts.

The coin above was offered in a recent Proxibid sale with an opening bid of $600, a 300% mark-up from recent auction prices as listed by PCGS CoinFacts. The coin sells retail for about $275. Add to that Proxibid opening bid a 15% buyer's fee plus shipping and handling--assuming you win the lot with the opening bid--and you're paying hundreds more than the coin is worth.

You can buy a GSA MS65+ (or with some negotiation, an MS66) for that price on eBay. Here's an example, a rainbow-toned 1884-CC graded MS65+ by NGC in a GSA holder with a $688 buy-it-now price with the option of making a lower offer.

The Proxibid example has three strikes against it: the high opening bid, the sub-standard photography, and the inconsistent slabbing company. There's no way for me to tell the true grade of the coin, and what appears to be toning can be assessed by a top-tier company as environmental damage.

One last thing: If you really want an auction lot like this, wait until the session begins online. Sometimes Proxibid auctioneers open with an exaggerated price, wait to see if there are any takers, and then start with a low bid, trying to work up competition and higher hammer prices. 
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