Auction returns?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Steelers72, May 7, 2021.

  1. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    Have you ever returned an item from an auction house due to not mentioning flaws in the auction description?

    I have a coin which I am considering, did not mention any smoothing; subsequently determined it has been smoothed by a third party.

    I try to be 100% sure before bidding in auctions, but some times these things happen. No coin is perfect, and I dont like returning coins for minute flaws; I’d much rather continue being a customer than create a bad relationship.

    Appreciate your experiences/advice
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  3. El Cazador

    El Cazador Active Member

    Could you please share a picture of the coin and the auction house involved?
  4. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    I do not want to bad mouth the auction house before I give them an opportunity to reach out & fix the situation. This was the auction description:
    RR Feine Tönung, kl. Schrötlingsriß, fast vorzüglich

    which roughly translates to “fine toning, small planar crack, almost extra fine” (I am not fluent in German but know their grading terms). There is no mention of edge chip, or smoothing. The planar crack is typical for the type, and isn’t my concern at all. I accept that flaw.

    here are the third party pictures in encapsulation:

    5CBE8FF2-5FE9-4A6F-AE35-B9BEF248F0E7.jpeg 8DCA6C5E-A215-40BC-9BB8-C778AF1C7E19.jpeg

    Smoothing is definitely a concern to me. I wouldn’t have bid if I had known it was smoothed to the degree it was - With an edge chip to boot. I buy raw coins all the time; I like getting them authenticated solely for another set of eyes to take a look at any issues. Grade is irrelevant to me, as opposed to outright issues
  5. Roma

    Roma Active Member

    I returned a coin bought from Lanz in one of their premium auction. When I received the coin I realised the suspect it was a modern forgery. I sent it back and I had a refund.
    Steelers72 likes this.
  6. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing. How did that go?
    did you explain the whole situation or did you simply request a return?

    i’d like to avoid sending a novel explanation, and just return it. Unless I have to justify my decision to return. I haven’t returned a coin from an auction house before.
  7. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    First of all I think the 1/5 surface is too harsh. The photo is not good enough, but I think I see some cleaning scratches in the fields around the bull. I think the problem is the area to the right of the portrait. It looks like flow lines but this is what I believe triggered the smoothing note. The edge chip is also not easy to understand in the dealers photo. I would suggest that you contact them saying that the coin has some defects that were not described and not clear in the photo, you are not happy with the coin and you would like to return it. Give them also the ngc number so they can check themselves
  8. El Cazador

    El Cazador Active Member

    Bummer, I would definitely return it, know the house, judging by pictures:)

    but why do you slab all your coins?
    Steelers72 likes this.
  9. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    Thank you. Yes, i think 1/5 is a little harsh but the grading numbers never really matter. Its more the flaws I am concerned with.. but i digress
  10. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    I slab just for the extra set of eyes to help identify any tooling/other issues that I could miss. I try my best to identify issues on my own though
  11. El Cazador

    El Cazador Active Member

    Would be hard to see smoothing on the pictures provided by the auction house. But i did notice in their recent 2-3 auctions, once you zoom in, you would see surface issues and imperfections almost on every other coin, even though those were graded xf or better. I guess, confirms everyone’s opinion here, that grades listed are meaningless and you have to judge for yourself.

    Out of curiosity, why are you obscuring ngc numbers? Is there some personal/private information hidden behind those numbers? Never knew why folks do that
    Steelers72 likes this.
  12. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    interesting. I definitely couldnt see the smoothing through their pictures.

    I honestly didn’t even see the edge chip through the photos…in hand upon arrival it was much more apparent, but I still wanted to have another set of eyes look at it before I initiated a return. The chip + smoothing is too much, I honestly wouldn’t have bid on the coin (even if noted and discounted as such - the latter it definitely wasn’t!)
  13. scarborough

    scarborough Well-Known Member

    I have three experiences from well known auction houses where I have considered return

    1. Low specific gravity and holes in the plating under magnification proved (in my opinion) that the coin was a fouree. The dealer took it back for a refund, then re-auctioned it as authentic. He said he disagreed with my diagnosis but accepted the return for good relations. Since then the coin has been re-sold twice.

    2. A ‘flan flaw’ that in my opinion under magnification is really a major scratch. The dealer’s representative said I was wrong and refused the return. I did not escalate the matter to the owner and now regret it.

    3. Another case of low specific gravity and dark pits in the plating under magnification which showed (in my opinion) plating. The sales rep refused, but the owner said he’d take the coin back for a refund. I then tested the coin by XRF and electron microscope which showed the coin to be solid silver, so I am keeping it.

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  14. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    thank you for your experiences, sorry you went through those

    i am really trying to avoid back and forth dispute over it. I feel like having paid the fee to have a third party look at it and confirm the flaws is more than sufficient justification.

    Sent them an email, hopefully it is rectified.
    Nicholas Molinari likes this.
  15. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The auction house should have mentioned what NGC said about the surfaces, smoothing. The slab is part of the item, and the comment about smoothing and the low surface score, 1/5, would have a significant effect on the value of the piece.

    If the auction house ignored the NGC description entirely, I think that you have grounds for a return. I think that NGC was a bit harsh in dropping the surface grade to 1/5. The work done on the lower right of the obverse is bad, but not that bad in my opinion. Maybe two or three out of five would have been more accurate.

    The chip you mention would not bother me at all, but maybe that reflects my inexperience with ancient coins. To me it seems normal.

    My only experience with a coin auction return was with a U.S. coin that turned out to be a counterfeit. It was a darn good counterfeit of a circulated 1798 dime that fooled some experienced dealers, including me, and one of the top auction houses. The auction house made good on it despite the fact that the sale had been a few months before. Auction houses say that authenticity is an iron clad guarantee, and they made good on it.

    Returns for grading issues are tougher. The only one I had was for a political button that had foxing stains. (The metal in the button rusts and stains the paper above it.) The auction house said “excellent condition” but it wasn’t. I got a refund, perhaps because I acted immediately.


    Edited to say OOPS! I though that the auction house sold the coin to you in the slab. They didn’t. They should have mentioned the smoothing on the obverse, but you too might have picked it up in photo. You might get them to take it back, but it could be a battle. If they don’t, I would either not do business with them again or be very careful in the future.

    My policy has been that I only do business with such people if I can see the item in person.
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
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  16. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your insight. I had gotten it graded once in hand because the surfaces looked smooth and clarify the edge. What they called “Feine Tönung (fine toning)” was aggressive poorly executed smoothing. Auction was in mid March and the coin just made it back from NGC’s grading this past week

    If the coin was clarified as smoothed and edge chip, it would have reduced the value of the coin by more than half for sure. Another coin of this type w/ smoothing with slighty better surfaces (no edge chip) recently went for a third of this one’s final price.

    they’re a reputable European auction house, but definitely feel slighted by the lack of description & pictures. Harsh or not, 1/5 for surfaces pretty much means the surfaces cant get any worse lol. In hand that edge chip sticks out way more than the photographs by the auction house. To market it solely as “fine toning almost extra fine” is way too lenient.

    we will see how they handle it, I paid via PayPal so before escalating a dispute I’ll hope for the auction house to do what’s right.
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
  17. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    They may have interpreted what NGC sees as smoothing just as cabinet friction on the highest points. Coins sliding around in trays can develop some wear which can have a similar effect as smoothing.

    The auction house likely will only accept a return for authenticity issues; this would fall under condition and is why viewing coins in-hand prior to an auction is critical.

    I haven't seen it in hand but from their images, I don't mind the coin. Without NGC's condemnation of the surfaces (which seem overly harsh), it's otherwise a very attractive example of the type.
    Scipio, Carausius, Carthago and 2 others like this.
  18. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    thanks for your thoughts. There was no mention of cabinet friction…just “fine toning”. Their pics blended in that edge chip a little too well. In hand it’s much clearer. Coin has a much darker patina than the photos.

    I’d be lucky to get 25% of what I paid for it if I am ethical and disclose all of the issues properly.
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
  19. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    My own observations and thoughts about this coin and the accompanying thread are pretty much in alignment with AncientJoe's post, above.

    My first reactions on seeing the actual coin after reading that it had been smoothed were: (1) Really? It's pretty rare for Roman denarii to be smoothed (although the frequency of this is higher in the last few years), and (2) So what? I still found the coin to have an artistic obverse portrait, with the reverse well-centered and equally attractive.

    As for the "chip," I'm not even sure why it was noted. For example, would you find the "chip" on my Domitian denarius (below) noteworthy?

    Cc - Domitian AR denarius.jpg

    If the radial striations on the obverse of your coin are, in reality, the smoothing marks to which NGC's comments refer, I would be far less concerned than if they were actual re-engraving or tooling. The term "smoothing" connotes (to me) that surface detritus that was NOT part of the coin when it ceased to circulate (but accumulated afterwards) was removed. That's all.

    Ultimately, the choice is up to you regarding the coin. But my personal opinion is that most of the negative issues raised, especially NGC's low "grade," are exaggerated and overblown.
  20. Steelers72

    Steelers72 Well-Known Member

    nothing wrong with your coin, in my opinion. I dont see an edge chip in yours equivalent to my coin. Yours is actually a very nice coin looks problem free to me

    you can see the smoothing marks to the right of the bull (looks like a wire brush? Not sure) in the fields, edge chip a little better from my in hand picture:

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  21. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I agree that the smoothing marks in the reverse fields are much more obvious in this picture.

    Is there any evidence that the edge chip was NOT made when the coin was struck, or part of the coin's circulation in antiquity?
    Steelers72 and Volodya like this.
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