Missing Mint marks in online auctions

This 1922-D Peace dollar (missing any reference to the Mint mark in its description) was won with a $27.50 bid.

Image provided by Michael Bugeja.

Sellers in online auctions, from eBay to HiBid.com, are notoriously difficult to contact, in as much as you typically have to navigate portal programming to ask a simple question. Emails and voice mail go unanswered.

If the issue is serious enough, I search for the auction house’s telephone number and place a call. (In their service terms, some estate auction houses even state not to phone them on issues of shipping, handling or other fees.)

While it is true that Proxibid has a “report the item” link, that is mostly for counterfeits. To its credit, the Omaha-based portal does have the best customer service staff in the business, with a person taking phone calls and contacting auctioneers for you when necessary.

Some auctioneers are readily available via email, especially if you’re a frequent buyer or consignor. When I spot an error or oversight, such as a missing Mint mark or rare variety, I routinely contact them so that they can fix the description.

That is not so easily done when a seller is difficult to get hold of, which occurs frequently on the HiBid portal. That platform has no central customer service staff like eBay or Proxibid do, and HiBid won’t take questions, even about counterfeits. (You can only contact them about technical issues, such as glitches in their online system.) That being the case, buyers have be careful bidding there, because you never know if an auctioneer is seeing maximum bids or allowing employees to bid up lots.

Because of that, when I spy a description that is missing a Mint mark identification, as was the case for the description accompanying the 1922-D photo above, I often don’t take pains to contact the auctioneer. I simply place a bid. Sometimes I win a coin, as I did with a bid of $27.50 for the one depicted above, which was described as a common 1922 Peace Dollar when the reverse image shows a D Mint mark.

The coin looks much better than the photo. I think it will grade Mint State 64.

A 1922 Peace dollar has the highest mintage of any silver dollar, with 51,737,000 coins minted, and retails for about $50 in Choice Mint State. A 1922-D coin, in contrast, had a mintage of 15,063,000 pieces, and retails for about $150 in high Choice Mint State.

The lesson here is twofold: If you’re an auctioneer, make an effort to engage with your Internet audience. If you’re a buyer, you’re under no obligation to contact a seller when an oversight is made in describing a desirable lot.