E-bay is one of the hottest places to buy coins online. The selection is endless, the prices are usually on the lower end of the spectrum and it can be fun to bid on coins. While there are many good deals to be had on Ebay, there are some negatives that go along with the positives.
Are you one of the many that have bought coins on eBay? Well I am one myself, and have had mixed reviews when it comes to the coins I received. I only buy certified coins on eBay, because I want to be sure at least that the coin is genuine. While there are always pictures of the coins being sold, many times it is hard to see hidden problems with the coins.
Even when buying PCGS and NGC certified coins, I have been very surprised at some of the coins I have received. Coins with obvious hairlines from being cleaned in problem free holders are just an example of some of the coins I have purchased over the years. I have seen larger field nicks, rim dings and most commonly of all the problems, over-graded coins.
PCGS and NGC are supposed to be the top two grading services, but that doesn’t mean they are perfect. When you certify thousands of coins a week, mistakes are bound to happen over the years. Trust me, I have bought plenty of over-graded coins off eBay. Of course I am not the expert, but I do have a good knowledge of coins being a collector all my life. I also know that a F12 Indian Cent should have a readable or mostly readable Liberty. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen a certified VF20 Indian Cent on eBay and the Liberty was not full.
A survey of various dealers found that they often list their lower quality certified coins on eBay. They use this as more of a wholesale outlet, so they can sell their higher quality coins in their shop, catalog or their own website. This way, they don’t risk their reputation of selling higher quality coins. Many big-wig coin companies of whom I cannot mention names sell coins on eBay, and they are clearly the lower quality coins.
This is not to say that all coins on eBay are rejects. There are many good deals out there on quality coins as well. It is just a risk that you take when you bid on a coin on Ebay. Is it worth the risk? Well that is up to you. Just be sure they have great feedback (99% or higher), and have a full return option. Never buy coins from an eBay seller that does not accept returns. That is a huge red flag. This way if the coin does not meet your expectations, all you are losing is your time and postage cost to return it.