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:
Online Photos Require Both Obverse and Reverse
This seemingly pristine obverse comes with problem reverse
So a coin that might have been worth more than $1,500, if reverse was in the same condition as obverse, suddenly plummets to ungradeworthy based on cleaning and ink (?) on the reverse. (The hairlines in the left and right field show the cleaning; the scrawls litter the reverse.)
The coin's blazing luster may have more to due with Jewel Luster (a dip) than strike, because Morgan dollars rarely if ever retain the sheen of a freshly minted strike, especially if kept in an album, folder, envelope or cabinet. Nonetheless, if the reverse was in the same condition as the obverse here, I'd still bid and take my chances.
Sad to say that some sellers on Proxibid still only provide obverse of coins. Even more do not include reverse if the coin is graded by a holdering company, despite that being of importance to ascertain overall quality, as a weak reverse strike or ugly toning could affect value.
Here's an example, a 1953-S Franklin Half Dollar, with only an obverse photo. Yes, the chances are astronomical that the reverse would display full bell lines (FBL), making such a coin worth between $10,000-$20,000 at MS64-65, as only a scant 50 FBL 1953-S halves have been holdered by PCGS; but that is what makes coin hunting exciting and educational. (In the case of a 1953-S Franklin, such a coin would be worth $100 or more if some of the lines on the reverse bell are almost in tact.) As it stands, I cannot bid.
This post affirms once more the hazards of bidding online--clicking too quickly, imagining the reverse is as pristine as the obverse; or bidding without viewing the reverse. And that applies only to coins whose photos are relatively crisp enough to ascertain condition. If you make a mistake bidding, such as clicking too quickly, you can retract that by telephoning Proxibid customer service. (On eBay, you can retract online as long as the auction is at least 12 hours from time of retraction.)
The best advice is not to bid if you cannot be sure of the condition. And never believe what the seller or flip states about the condition of a coin unless it is slabbed by a top-tier company such as PCGS, NGC, ANACS or ICG.