Have you ever wondered how you can participate in a coin auction of a company located thousands of miles away from your home? We bet this post will answer all your questions.
JUMP TO SECTION
There are several reasons that have inspired us to write this article, perhaps some of them are yours:
- There are many collectors and investors who have nowhere to go to see and buy new pieces and that may be because they live in an area where there are no collectors or numismatists or because those that exist are already well known.
- Another reason may be that the coin we are looking for is not easily found in organized auctions in our country, so we must look abroad and in countries where such pieces are more common or cheaper. Either because they were produced there or because there are fewer collectors looking for those same pieces.
- In addition, since COVID-19 came into our lives last year, we have been forced to follow other ways to keep up to date and acquire coins outside of stores, conventions, fairs, exhibitions, etc.
Here you will learn a little more about how online coin auctions organized by numismatic companies work, as well as some useful tips to improve the way we follow them, study them, bid and save costs.
How Can You Follow Active Auctions?
Hundreds of coin auctions are held throughout the year, so it is very difficult to see them all. There are several options to keep track of the auctions. The first option that you can consider is to register online in the auction house that you like the pieces that are usually auctioned at any time and, at the same time subscribe to receive their Newsletter and be informed at all times of future auctions that will be launched in the future. We must take into account that in the application for registration in that auction house we are usually asked for references as clients/buyers of other auction houses and, if we do not have them, we must wait a reasonable time for our application to be approved. This option, as we can well think, is laborious and expensive since there are hundreds of coin auction houses all over the world and some of them with 5 or more auctions active per month.
Auction aggregators or auction indexers, a great option
Undoubtedly one of our recommendations is to use numismatic auction aggregators. They are websites specialized in offering many auctions that appear in chronological order. In this way you only have to register in this web to be able to follow the pieces of all the auctions that are appearing. Some of the most widely used auction aggregators are: Sixbid.com, numisbids.com, biddr.com, bidinside.com or deamoneta.com.
Another advantage is that some of them allow bidding in the online auction and even live bidding directly and without further requirements.
What (free) services do numismatic auction aggregators offer?
In addition to the above, the use of aggregators offers certain very useful tools for collectors.
- Save searches with alerts. They allow us to save keywords of pieces that we are looking for so that when a lot with those or similar words appears in an auction we are notified via email.
- Favorites. We can track lots that interest us and appear in future auctions. The aggregators will notify us that the day of the auction in which the lot appears is approaching or that the auction house is about to close the acceptance of bids for that lot.
- Auction prices. In some of these aggregators there is the possibility of knowing the auction prices of past auctions and also of lots that we put in favorites at the time.
As a novelty, Sixbid has recently developed its auction file of lots auctioned in the past that can be of great help as a price guide. Here it is.
- Previous bids and live bids. In this section it is essential that prior to the holding of the auction we decide whether we want to leave a submitted bid or bid live.
And it is essential due to the fact that some auction houses only allow live bidding on their own website or through their own app that we must have previously downloaded. In the example of the previous image by means of the session in the web biddr the auction house Heritage Auctions only allows us to send previous bids, to be able to bid in direct we will have to request the discharge in its web and that they approve us as bidder.
- Information service of previous bids. Some auction houses are informing us on their own website or app of the bids that are accumulating for each lot.
Other auction houses send us an email when we have been overbid, which means that some other bidder has placed a higher bid than the one we had previously submitted.
Key aspects to consider before placing your bids
First of all, you should know the most common costs when buying at online auctions:
- Auction house commission. It is a commission charged by the auction house to the buyer (it is also usually charged to the seller). It is calculated as a percentage of the Hammer Price that the piece reaches at auction. It is usually between 15 and 23% of the hammer price.
- Commission on live bids. Some auction houses apply an extra commission on bids placed in the live system. This commission can be calculated as a fixed price (3 or 5 € per piece) or as a percentage (2 – 3 %) and is added to the auction house commission.
- Shipping cost. This is the amount that the auction house will charge us for sending the piece to our home. It is important to know the shipping method and cost before bidding, since the high shipping cost in some countries may increase excessively the total cost of the purchased piece.
Pay attention to shipments between different countries or geographical areas, shipments within the EU are not the same as shipments to third countries.
- Shipping insurance. Some auction houses may apply an extra cost for insuring the shipping of the piece to certain countries. Applying different costs depending on the price of the pieces awarded to the same buyer.
- Customs. Be very careful in case the piece that we have won must go through customs since we will have to pay an excessive extra for the piece. The customs tax is calculated by applying a percentage on the auction price + commission + shipping. It is also necessary to add the expenses for the customs management that the transport company makes us, but they are not usually high.
- Currency effect. Another point to take into account when the auction is held in a currency other than that of your country is the currency exchange effect. Since you are bidding in auctions of foreign companies the auctions can be in euros, usd, chf, … and you should calculate the price of the currency in local currency.
With all the costs assessed and when you are clear about the bids you are going to place and you want to attend the live bidding system you should read the auction conditions. At this point you should first check the day and time of the auction (noting the time difference with your local time) and secondly, the bidding increments depending on each tranche. Here are two examples:
These tables mean that during the live auction the bids will increase according to the price range of the lot.
For example, following the table of the photo nº 1 if the lot starts at 85 € the bids would go from 5 € in 5 € up to 99 €. After 99 € the bids would increase by 10 € in 10 €.
What other aspects do you ought to consider?
Even if it takes you some time, you should read the Terms and Conditions of the auction you are bidding on. Why? You will see key aspects such as if the auction house guarantees the authenticity of the lot for life or if you have a few days to examine it at home and after those days they will not accept returns. You can also find out if there are some lots in the auction that will not accept a return, for example: “Sold as is, no returns”. This is often seen in lots with many coins of medium-low quality. In these cases it is better to be able to examine the lot before bidding on it. In lots of pieces not encapsulated by grading companies, you must remember that the grading is done by the auction house worker, so the grading may differ significantly between different auction houses for the same piece.
One last thought
As we have already mentioned above, the use of auction aggregators seems to us to be the best method for saving time and resources, provided that the auction house you are interested in is within that aggregator. Get to know the auction aggregators in depth and make the most of their utilities.Start with auction houses in your country that you can know in more depth and feel more secure. When you are comfortable you can consider bidding in foreign houses, calculating the costs and the currency effect that we have explained before.
I have a degree in Business Administration and Management and numismatics studies at the University of Murcia (Spain).