Regular readers of Coingrader Capsule know that I keep a blog critiquing coin descriptions on the auction portal Proxibid. One of the site’s most popular features is a bimonthly critique of lot descriptions titled “Boos & Booyahs.”
Typically, I evaluate lot descriptions about grade, varieties, authenticity and condition–a series of mini reviews with photos and links to document my observations, praising the auctioneer for accurate coin descriptions and photos and correcting the auctioneer for mistakes, exaggeration, bad photography and numismatic ignorance. I name the auctioneer’s company when awarding a description with a “Booyah!” However, I do not name the company when designating a “Boo!”
My intent is not to hassle sellers but to educate buyers.
Recently I spent several weeks purchasing coins on eBay and comparing the experience to mine on Proxibid. You can read about that series here.
What amazed me in my time on eBay was how awful some lot descriptions actually were–as off-the-mark as anything on Proxibid–despite eBay having strict rules about what holders and grades can be mentioned in the title and lot description and a general ban on replica coins.
Because I purchase coins in green holder PCI slabs, I can attest that every eBay lot using PCI in the title was removed within days.
eBay must use a search-engine spider to catch references to PCI, SEGS and other company holders. But it seems you can get away with much as long as you use the terms “PCGS” or “NGC.”
Here’s a screen shot of a listing for an MS64 PCGS holdered 1879-S Morgan silver dollar worth $88 with this eBay-allowed lot title: “PCGS MS64 (DMPL), Toned, **Read Description**.” Seems the seller believes PCGS was wrong, and that this is a DMPL coin worth the opening bid of $495.
As for replicas, well, they still abound. Sellers just don’t call them such. Here’s a photo of a proof set with “copy” clearly visible, although the word was not used in the title or lot description. eBay’s search-engine just cannot scan “copy” if it is in a photo.
Although eBay is trying to protect the buyer with its recent rules, it allows obvious coin doctoring, even when the seller states it, as in methods used to artificially tone coins. One popular 100% positive seller displays lot after lot of toned silver eagles, noting that no chemicals were used in the process of artificially coloring them. He uses heat.
Oh, there’s so much more. Obviously dipped coins, as in the example below, said to be deep mirror and rusty cents worth less than a penny dug from the earth with opening bids of $3.95.
But what I didn’t anticipate was how sellers got around ostensibly rigorous quality control recently put into place on eBay.
What has been your experience, both on Proxibid or eBay?