I was thinking about my experiences buying coins on Ebay. I consider myself a Numismatist capable of purchasing original coins with above average eye-appeal. I have managed to acquire some really nice proof Jefferson nickels for my personal collection, and have scored some real bargains online.
And I have bought some dogs. Awful coins that were misrepresented in the description or were photographed in a way that hid flaws and defects and cleaning.
The worst case of misrepresentation caused me to leave negative feedback for the first and only time in fourteen years on ebay. The seller refused to honor a return for a refund. The transaction was for two rolls of uncirculated wheat cents. The price was reasonable, the promise was coins from the 1940s and 50s. The listing showed one picture of a group of shiny, mint-state Lincoln coins. I went for the Buy It Now at $11.95 a roll.
When I received the rolls one was completely broken open and the coins spilled out on the my desk and the floor. About six of the coins were nice uncirculated specimens, and the rest were well circulated.
I once bought at auction a really nice AU+ 1928-P Peace dollar. My winning bid was under $200 and I had a bargain for a high grade 1928 silver dollar. So I thought. When I examined the coin under 40X magnification, it was obvious that the mintmark had been removed. It was very well done by a coin doctor, but there was a convenient tiny gouge and a bump where the San Francisco mint would place their mark. That seller was apologetic and immediately refunded my payment, even before I had returned the coin.
The point? Be especially careful when buying online. I request more pictures or better pictures if I can’t see enough details. If they don’t or won’t honor my request, I don’t bid or buy. (There’s probably a reason). I only buy from sellers who have a strong return policy, even if they have excellent feedback.
I recommend five excellent ebay sellers who meet the qualifications I demand. They consistently earn five stars from me. I share this information in the weekly Coins & Collectibles Forecaster, along with all other reports.