Buying coins on Ebay = cross your fingers?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by BDT13, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. BDT13

    BDT13 New Member

    Hey everyone,

    I just started coin collecting. Silver coins fascinate me .. especially the proof coins they are so gorgeous to look at!

    Anyways, I started buying on Ebay because I have noticed prices there can be a bit less than buying from on online coin dealer. BUT .. (and there is always a but, right?) you don't always know what you're gonna get when you go through EBAY.

    I had ordered a few coins already, silver eagles, australian lunar series, maple leafs ... everything looked great and as advertised. Got a 2001 Silver eagle today, it has a decent sized scratch on the obverse side, on the flat part of the coin .... grrrrrrr.

    Still a pretty coin to look at , but if I ever want to sell this coin one day I would assume this scratch pretty much kills the grade of the coin? Just curious as I'm fairly new to collecting :) I'm not planning on selling anything in the near future, but I might one day. The scratch is on the flat part of the coin, to the right of the figure, right above "in god we trust". Other than that mark the coin looks defect free.
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  3. jimmy_goodfella

    jimmy_goodfella New Member

    it is now worth 2 usd lower than you paid for it assuming you bought it at the usual price of around 8 usd

    as its still worth the silver content,and that to be honest is all eagles are worth.
  4. mitchell

    mitchell Senior Member

    I have found that if you google enough, you can find coins from an online dealer at good prices without the bid war or inflated shipping charges.

    These guys have a nice selection and free shipping on orders of $50 or more during July. That is just 5 coins.

    I took advantage of it.

    Australia has some really nice silver dollars.

    Look around the Mexican Mint: they have a lot of different coins, gold and silver.
  5. Ed Zak

    Ed Zak New Member

    My rule for buying/bidding coins on ebay is:

    1.) Never buy from a seller with less than 99% postive rating. Read the feedbacks, especially those that are negative. If you see a trend, move on to another seller. Sooner of later you will find reputible sellers on ebay.

    2.) Subtract 2 to 4 grading point for raw coins. For instance, if some thing is advertised MS66 Red, I bid no higher than MS64RD. AU means EF and EF means VF to me...just from my experience.

    3.) I like to buy slabs and those slabs I buy, I will break them out for my own raw, 2x2 penny collection. For instance, I have found some nice deals on PCI or SEGS graded coins whereby I bid,less 2 grading points, and sometimes got a deal. I broke them out and I am happy with my purchase...especially when I get a early red mint state!

    4.) Check the return policy as well as S&H. Will the seller combine same day multi-purchases? I can't stand sellers that ship as one, but charge 2X for the S&H. Ask the seller before payment. I offer S&H discounts if I can ship in one package.

    5.) Do a search for the coin you want with the grading compnay in the search (i.e., PCGS, NGC, ANACS, ICG) and again, you may find some deals...though PCGS slabs are going through the roof. The same coin, the same grade can be found in NGC, ANACS at much lower costs...for now.

    6.) Watch out for phoney coin "slabbers" like sellers that have their own certified slabs. For instance, SGS Coin grading sells their coins through Aboncom. 99.99% of their slabs are all MS70 and PR70. Think you are getting a deal from an authorized dealer/grader...NOT! But it looks good and this is how many newbies get suckered.

    Last but not least, have some fun!
  6. mitchell

    mitchell Senior Member

    You know Ed, those are very good points to buying on Ebay.

    As much as people here slam Ebay sellers and Ebay, praise the local ANA dealers, and PRETEND the ANA means honesty and integrity, I had one interesting sitution with my local ANA representative just last week. I personally like the guy.

    I was in the area and dropped by the local ANA members shop. I had a bug for a nice Buffalo nickel, since all mine were VG\F at best. So I paid $27.50 plus 9.25% tax for an "AU+". I thought it was a fairly decent coin.

    Well, I did not have my Photograde book, or my Red Book, nor did I think I would need them, as the coin was already labeled and priced. I somewhat trusted and respected this "ANA" dealer, after all, the guys at Cointalk. org act like the ANA is the Holy Grail. When I started comparing the Buffalo to the Photograde book, I realized that I just got screwed. Then I realized that my circulated Buffalo's were not much worse than the one I just paid a premium for.

    So I start looking on Ebay. I got the same date\mm Buffalo, that was more accurately pictured and described as "AU", for $17 shipped. So it was my dealer that got the best of me.

    "AU+" my arse. There is no crease in the flank, and there is no definition around the neck on the reverse. Gee, isn't there supposed to be a horn there too?

    I could not tell by the dealers "AU+" just how much detail a Buffalo has on the reverse. When I got the one off Ebay, I was stunned, and pissed. The one I got off Ebay was truly AU, the one from the shop was weak AU if AU at all. I had been suckered into the mentality that my ANA dealer was some super honest guy that always gave the customer a decent value. NOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTT!!!

    All those Numismatic Association credentials on his door, including being a member of the ANA for 20+ years, meant absolutely nothing to him, nor does it to me.

    His silver dollars are higher than any I see advertised, or on Ebay.

    People here like to trash Ebay, and praise anything ANA, like that membership means anything, but my experience is that my dealer will take me for every dollar he can get out of me. He plays the "creative grading" game just as well as any Ebay seller.

    So now I might buy something made of an ounce of silver from him but I will take my chances on Ebay.

    "ANA approved dealer" or whatever it is called means absolutely nothing in the real world. All it means is the guy that is going to take advantage of a customer has a nice decal on his door, and pays money for that membership.

    So folks here can trash Ebay sellers all they want, but the plain fact is the guy down the street with the "ANA" membership is basically no different. Just with him, you get to see who it is that is screwing you.

    ANA dealers are in it for the money, just like Ebay sellers, and they do not care what they have to do to get it. On Ebay, you can see the pictures and compare them to the Photograde book and make the decision accordingly.

    I will take my chances with Ebay sellers anytime. Just take it slow and easy. So far, I have not had a really bad experience.

    The only thing I will get from my local "ANA" dealer, will be silver bullion that is not dependant on grading. My lack of grading expertise has hurt me more in my "ANA" shop, than on Ebay.

    I have also seen them price some Morgans, something I am comfortable with, and was not to impressed with his grading. Especially for an old man that just walked in and said "how much is this worth". He shorted the grade, AND told him "wholesale" price.
  7. jody526

    jody526 New Member

    Hi BDT13,

    The "flat" part of a coin is called the field.

    The "figure" is called a device.

    "In God We Trust" is the motto.

    The "coins" you have mentioned are actually silver bullion, that is sold to the public by various governments.

    Ebay also has a wide variety of numismatic referance books listed. Check under; Coins>US Coins>Publications.

    A world of knowledge is your's for the asking.
  8. National dealer

    National dealer New Member


    As one who praises the ANA, let me share why I do this. It is not because of the dealers. The ANA has wonderful educational programs and an unsurpassed library that is available to all of its members.
    Being an ANA dealer does not nor will not guarantee ethics. People are people. No organization or membership will change that.
    You shouldn't lump everyone into a single group. Now personally I do not like Ebay. This is just a preferrence, it has nothing to do with the many good and honest dealers that use Ebay as a tool. Whether you chose to buy your coins from a shop or online, the same principles must be adhered to. You must know your coins, and you must be satisfied with your purchase.

    There are many predators in this business. The only way to protect yourself is through knowledge.
  9. Ed Zak

    Ed Zak New Member

    I had the same experience with a ANA coin dealer (who will remain nameless) in the Daytona Beach area.

    I was putting together a collection of 1902 coins to commemorate my buddie's tavern (The 1902 Tavern in New London, CT). The finished display (which is now in the bar), detailed the history of the bar whereby all of the coins put the 100 year old tavern into proper historical perspective. I had strikes from all denominations...not MS coins, but all were VG or better to show the age of both coin and tavern. I framed it with a picture from 1902 and it looks great.

    When I was buying a 1902-O Morgan Dollar, this dealer wanted $45 for a EF40 (at best) grade!?! Dumbfounded, I asked if I could borrow his 2004 Red Book and looked up the mintage. I showed him that the 1902-O EF40 was only $16. He commented that prices have gone up at least 30% since the book was published and I told him, okay...add 30% to $16 and I will give him $21. He then told me that it was better grade than EF40, so $45 was the price.

    Here's the best part...he had a display of Morgan Dollars SHOWING each coin, in each grade, from VF-20 to MS65! With coin in hand, I showed him that his 1902-O coin (compared to the EF40 Morgan dollar on display) was not nearly as nice.

    He then asked me to leave...

    But the good news is I did find a local ANA dealer that would tell me if I had good stuff to good junk...always from the hip. Because he was honest, I have been one of his best REPEAT customers and he has "slapped me silly" if I have made bone head buys.

    For instance, he took my SGS "graded" coin that I bought on ebay (it was a MS70 at such a low price...being a newbie at the time, how could I refuse!?!) and told me to cross-it-over at PCGS. He told that if PCGS would grade it MS66 or better, he would pay for the slab cost and S&H. I figured that a 4 point swing wouldn't be possible. What happened is that it came back "dead-on-arrival" as the minimum grade of MS66 was not possible.

    He has sold me coins at prices fair to him and I and let me lay away my 1909-S VDB MS63BN (PCGS) where others offered him more than what I paid. He stated, "Can't do...already have my customer and we already shook on it." Imagine that!! A hand shake still means something!

    So, good, bad or otherwise...I learned to research my coins and READ. This forum is great because I learned from these threads and I hope I contributed as well.
  10. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    There is one other thing that ANA decal on a dealer's door does for you - it means you can return your purchase if you disagree with his grade. And if he refuses to accept the return - then tell the ANA.

    Mitchel I agree with a great deal of your comments. But I'm an ANA member - not a dealer but still a member. It is a great organization and over the years it has done a lot to further this pursuit of ours. They are not the answer to all the problems in the coin marketplace - never will be. But they have certainly helped out with more than their share. And are you aware that the ANA has started a new program by working with ebay to help put an end to the dishonesty and false claims ? I haven't seen anybody else do that yet.

    As for ebay - I buy a lot of stuff on ebay. I love ebay !! But then I have certain rules I don't break and I know what I am buying - before I buy it. I've used ebay since 1998 - they weren't around much before that. And of all the stories I've heard about people getting burned on ebay - and there have been more than a few - the vast majority of them involved people who did not really know what they were buying. That's the key - know what you are buying.
  11. mitchell

    mitchell Senior Member

    Not that I meant all ANA dealers were privateers, but just to point out that there are sharks in all waters.

    From what I have seen here over the months, I would totally trust EVERY dealer that particpates at this board.
  12. satootoko

    satootoko Retired

    Let me rephrase that:
    There are many predators in this business. The only way to protect yourself is through knowledge. :D
  13. Seven

    Seven New Member

    This webpage ( ) is a great tool for plucking just the negative/neutral feedback out of pages and pages of entries. Just enter the ebay username and you're off.

    It makes finding a trend easy. ;)
  14. kaparthy

    kaparthy Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the hobby. The modern silver proofs issued by Australia, the U.S., and other countries are gorgeous. The designs can be innovative and compelling.

    ANA R-162953
  15. mitchell

    mitchell Senior Member

    Thanks seven. That is a very helpful link.

    It is interesting that these guys with low feedback scores have negative feedback on items kept private.

    I am beginning to think from my own personal experiences and what I have seen, that when someone keeps the bidders private, they are trying to prevent the bidders from being warned by other victims.

    I did a quick search of boxofficevideo10 who is selling "unsearched" coins with a 93 feedback score. The vast majority of his negative and neutral feedback are on items kept private in his feedback chart. That prevents future buyers from seeing what the beef is about. Chances are, the beef is about the same things currently up for auction. His current auctions also have the bidders identities kept private.

    The auctions I have seen that were obvious misrepresentations, like for a "GSA Morgan" that is actually a replica, keep bidders private.

    So, can we add to our "buying on ebay" list?

    "Never bid on an auction that keeps the bidders identities private"

    At the very least, bidders being kept private should be one of a few flags that will be reason to think twice before bidding.
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