The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 32, July 24, 2005, Article 26


Howard Spindel writes: "Following up on my report last week
about problem numismatic auctions at eBay, I'd like to alert
E-Sylum readers that in addition to using the eBay reporting
system I am also working with the American Numismatic
Association to try to effect changes.

While the availability of numismatic material on eBay has
certainly been a stimulus for the hobby, I believe in the long
run that the hobby can only be hurt by deceptive auctions.
A few well-placed emails from those of you who care about
this could make a difference. Drop me a line at
howard at for more information."

Roger deWardt Lane writes: "I've not sold any numismatic
items myself on eBay, but let a numismatist friend sell my
numismatic library for me on eBay. We are probably doing
as good, as if sending them out-of-town to a used book auction,
as only the better books receive average or above average bids.
Many of the book go overseas. A few times I've sold my
Numismatic CD, but I only get the listed price and sometime it
does not sell. Anyway, the reason I am adding to your comments
is the research value of eBay.

I purchased a Indian Princely States Junagadh Kori AH 1274
(1857) for a few dollars at our local club meeting last week.
Spending hours on Internet research (I'm retired and have the
time). I found a copy for sale on INDIAN eBay (didn't know
there was such as thing). The coin seem to be a different die
engraving than my coin, but with the same inscriptions. It's for
sale at 200 Rupees. At the time they were issued the population
of the Princely State was about 500,000 with the Capital city
probably less than 100,000. I don't think the mintage could
have been very large.

So, as you can see, without eBay we would not have this
information and would have to rely on Krause Standard World
Catalogue which does list the whole series. I still like eBay."

Kerry Rodgers of New Zealand writes: "I couldn't agree
with Ron Abler more. I have recently published a longish
article on my first 12 months of eBay. It has appeared in a
number of numismatic and non numismatic publications in
various guises. These include Coin News (UK) and
Serendib (Sri Lankan Airlines inflight mag.)

To date, for me, the advantages of eBay far outweigh the
disadvantages. I have been ripped off in only one unsatisfactory
transaction over this period and then due to my inexperience
of The System. This is no more or less than I have experienced
with conventional mail order dealers. I have had some difficulties
in completing a few transactions but these invariably involved
vendors who implemented additional rules over and above
those of eBay and/or declined PayPal.

For me eBay has helped fill many gaps in my Fiji collection I
could not otherwise have contemplated.

It is a venue in which my expert knowledge allows me to score
a number of A1 successes and one which is causing prices in
my chosen collecting area to stabilize."

Ron Abler writes: "I agree completely with Howard Spindel's
castigation of clueless buyers, clueless sellers, and less than honest
dealers. However, eBay's only contribution to that malodorous
melange is to democratize a situation that has always existed.
Many is the time that I have had to bite my tongue in a dealer's
storefront when some unsuspecting customer walks in the front
door bearing grandpa's cigar box of "old coins," and the shark
behind the counter goes through his "buy low to sell high" song
and dance. Clueless buyers and sellers (who don't know any
better) and disreputable dealers (who do) we have always had
and always will.

When I first started in eBay, I tilted at windmills, too. Like
Howard, I learned quickly that peeing up a rope only got my
hands wet. I found myself roundly cursed at, politely ignored,
and/or barred from bidding with certain sellers. I decided that
"caveat emptor" would be the price I pay for the privilege of
picking my own way through the eBay jungle. The risks are no
greater than were and are those of the storefront and bourse

Dick Johnson writes: "I had several readers respond to my item
"eBay After Ten Years" here in E-Sylum two weeks ago. I see
in this week’s "MoneyMail" from ANA that the American
Numismatics Association and eBay are working together. "On
July 27, they will join again to sponsor a welcome reception for
ANA-member dealers at 7 p.m. at the ANA's World Fair of
Money in San Francisco."

Surprisingly, at least to me, everyone who responded to my
diatribe reported that they had made purchases off eBay in which
they had made money. While the amount of modern merchandise
is outdistancing collectible items there still appear to be good
buys, just fewer of them. My respondents mentioned they are
searching eBay less, on average once or twice a week instead
of every day.

One even mentioned eBay should have a separate venue just
for collectibles. This doesn’t seem practical, however. Another
complained of minors selling on eBay. I can relate to that. I bid
on a medal and won it at one-fifth of its most recent auction sale.
When I received it I observed it was firedamaged (not apparent
in their eBay photos). I emailed my complaint, they hadn’t the
slightest idea what I was talking about. I wrote them and
received a letter – from the seller’s mother!

So I have changed my attitude toward eBay. Bid on the good
items as you wish. If the dummies selling what they don’t know
anything about – or misdescribe it – buy it anyway. It is their
stupidity. If it is not what it is supposed to be, complain.
First to the seller. Demand your money back and postage both
ways. Then complain to eBay. Then the department of consumer
protection in the state where the seller lives. A last resort would
be to the police department in the city where the seller lives. Do
this in less than two weeks. Use the word "fraud" in each of
your complaints.

What should eBay do? Instead of spending money being nice-nice
holding receptions at conventions they should hire a person
knowledgeable in numismatics who would have the AUTHORITY
to DO something – question suspicious offers, immediately take
down obvious fraudulent offers, prohibit repeat offenders from
eBay and prosecute the bad guys."

Ron Abler writes: "Also, I agree with Dick Johnson about the
Freedom Tower "Silver Dollars." The only good thing about
the suit against the issuing company is that the publicity will add
interest and value to an issue that should have been simply
ignored. My ingrained cynicism whispers to me that the refunded
medals will not be destroyed, but will reappear in the
marketplace at some future date, claiming something to the effect
that, since "most of the medals were refunded," the few that
remain must be worth a premium price. The same goes for the
Micro "O" Morgan that PCGS has recalled under its guarantee.
If I had one of those, I'd hold on to it until the unusual story and
undeniable provenance of a slabbed counterfeit makes its rounds
and turns the counterfeit into a collectible variety in its own right."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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