Editor’s Note: Michael Bugeja’s columns are based on his buying experiences on eBay, Proxibid, and HiBid. He mostly bids on raw (not holdered) coins. In his monthly columns here, he provides tips on how to grade, identify varieties, spot doctoring, decipher subpar photos, and much more. Even with his expertise, he regrets most of his buys after he sees the actual coins in hand. In this three-part series, he takes inventory of his 2022 purchases and shares his top ones for each platform, along with what he learned and how that will guide his purchases in 2023.
In 2022, I made 111 coin purchases on eBay. After doing inventory, I was happy only with 8. That’s about 7% of my buys and a sad commentary about bidding on this platform.
This qualifies as one of the worst. Here’s how it was depicted, fooling me into believing it had rainbow toning. Look at the upper-left corner where the light is bright. In actuality, the person taking the photo must have been wearing colorful clothing or photographed by something multicolored, reflected on the coin.
While I could forgive myself for not deciphering that, I must take the blame because, in my haste to bid, I didn’t look at all of his photos. The false toning appeared in all but one below, held at an angle that didn’t reflect external color. The blurry photo also showed a pin scratch that I missed:
I won’t waste time here on my many unhappy buys, almost all of which involved a hidden pin scratch, cleaning, dipping, altered cheek, doctored photos, and/or coins. I won a half dozen double mint sets, all of which had one or more original toned coins replaced with an untoned substitute. You can read about that by clicking here.
That said, I made some spectacular buys. This has to be my favorite, won with a $65 bid.
It slabbed as MS-66 at PCGS with TrueView:
Here’s another Kennedy half almost as beautiful and currently at PCGS, won with a $35 bid:
I also won some spectacular PCI-toned coins, paying top dollar, $351, for this one:
Here are two other PCI-toned Morgan dollars, each won with a $175 bid:
I won another PCI-Toned Morgan at a good price, $125:
Viewers know I collect rainbow coins, and some of the best come in American Savings and Loan advertising giveaways. Here’s a rainbowed Peace dollar won with a $125 bid:
Perhaps my best score was this 1882-S toned Morgan, won with a $324 bid:
It slabbed MS-64 at PCGS:
What Did I Learn?
Wow. I lost hundreds of dollars bidding on problem coins. Then again, I managed to win some of the most treasured coins in my collection. What’s the lesson for 2023?
There are too many buyers on eBay continuously raising bids. Also, you can’t really rely on your grading prowess or the sellers’ descriptions and photos. In one case, I won flawed coins and sent them back, as was guaranteed — no questions asked — in return for a favorable rating . . . only to be banned by the seller from future purchases. That says a lot about eBay. Although not part of my buying experience, I routinely reported counterfeit and replica coins on the platform, with no action taken by the company.
Consequently, in 2023, I will bid less often on eBay and only when the coin’s quality is readily apparent.
The eBay lesson is apparent: When you spot a great coin, as I did with the eight showcased above, you have to put in a high bid and be willing to pay for the quality.
In the end, it’s worth it.