Auction Stories #1

This is an auction house on out of Ohio that has a LiveAuctioneers feed. I bid on this lot of coins on an impulse, because it had a roll of 1967 Kennedy half dollars, which are 40% silver and with an $50 opening bid, it was a good deal. As I watched the auction, I noticed that despite the low starting prices, most of the other coin lots were going for average auction prices. When this lot came up, my opening bid was the high bid and then came a $55 bid from a competing bidder. So I threw in a $60 bid, expecting to be outbid, at which point I would fold, because I wanted this cheap and had to consider a 20% fee, plus shipping in the equation. But surprisingly I won and the total came to $84.40. If everything is as advertised, I could realize a nice profit from this lot.

The lot I bought was advertised as:


Lot 286

Large US Coin Collection


Large US Coin Collection including 1964-1967 14 total. 1967 uncirculated Kennedy halves, 13 buffalo nickels, roll of 1950’s pennies, roll of wheat pennies, roll of 1950’s nickels, 1954 quarter, and three 1965 quarters.


There were also photos of the coins including the 1967 roll and mark as such on the roll. It appeared to have a strip of blue paper sealed over the heads end of the roll. The tails end was pictured, but not the heads end.

The invoice was received within hours of the close of auction. I paid immediately and the lot was shipped on Monday. Which I have to say is very quick for an auction house. Let’s see what I ended up with.

I opened the roll of Kennedy halves, and to my disappointment, these were 1972D half dollars which are clad and worth far less. Now instead of a profit I was looking at break even, which in this case is a good thing. Oh well, on to the 1950s nickles. In the roll were 26 coins from the 1960s, 10 were from the 1950s, 3 were from the 1940s, and 1 was from 1939.

The Lincoln penny rolls were as advertised and I did end up with 12 40% silver halves, as well as a silver half and silver quarter. The other coins were as pictured in the auction.

Though I was disappointed in the Kennedy roll, I now understood why I got it for seemingly a steal. I’m sure the bidders physically at the auction knew the coins were not as advertised. The under bidder probably knew it too, but the fee to that bidder would have been in 10%-13% range. So why did I take the gamble? The answer is in the last word of my question. Plain old greed made me decide to take a chance. I did a quick risk/reward assessment and felt any loss would be minimal, but that there was a strong upside. Since I had pretty much stumbled on to the auction, there wasn’t much time to vacillate.

I guess I could have called the auction house to complain. After all, the photos were deceiving. But auctions like these always clearly inform buyers that all items are as-is where-is. It is the buyer’s responsibility to check the item, even if he’s 1000 miles away. Some auction houses will take back an inaccurately described item. Still, it wasn’t really worth the bother. Honestly, had I found this a couple of days prior, I would most likely would have bid on it and wound up with the same result.

In the auction game, it’s buyer beware and next time I’ll be a little more cautious.