Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Selling Coins on Ebay

I like to collect coins.  I have been doing it since I was a kid.  It started with spare change and whenever family members were going out of the country I wouls ask them to bring back money for me. As I have gotten older, I have focused my collection on circulated coinage of the 20th century, for a couple of reasons.  1) it is really cheap, I can get coins for about 5 to 6 cents per coin and 2) there is so much of it.

Before the internet, the best place to get coins was at a coin shop.  Unfortunately, almost all of them had jacked up prices. Of course, since there wasn't up to date available market information, I was willing to pay 10 cents to 50 cents for a penny that I needed (which was probably only worth 3 or 4 cents).  Good thing I wasn't looking for Morgan dollars at the time.

Recently, I wanted to dispose of some American Eagles and Proof sets that I had received from my grandparents estate. A quick look on Ebay showed me what the going auction rates were.  So, I went down to a coin shop to see what they would give me.  The man looked them over and quoted a price less than half of the Ebay price.  I went with Ebay.

With the money, I bought more coins.  Sellers on Ebay will sell bulk coins for around $6-8 per pound.  The funny thing about many of them is they like to say that they are in "unsearched" lots.  Unsearched by the seller maybe, but anyone in this day and age can sort through a pound of coins (approx 100) and pick out any valuable ones in about 10 minutes or less. What is really funny is when you look at the buying and selling history of some sellers and find that they buy up large lots of coins, and then sell smaller lots the next day (while saying that they are from Grandpa's barrel of coins).

So, after buying about 30 lbs of coins from various sellers, sorting through them and keeping about 15 lbs, I sold the rest on Ebay in two lots.  Of course, I like to distinguish my sales from others so I wrote the following description:
This is my duplicates from collecting foreign coins. Somewhere between 700 and 800 coins based on 100 coins/lb. You’ll notice from the title that I didn’t use the key words “unsearched” or “silver”. Well, there are two reasons.
Reason # 1: If I said unsearched I would be lying. Of course I have searched these. Just looking back through the auctions I have won you can see that I have bought a lot of foreign coin lots in the last month. Why? Because I collect coins that is why. Besides, every lot has been searched. Perhaps not by the current seller, but it has been searched. That being said, let me explain what I collect so that you know what I will have taken out. I collect one each of every different circulated coin (including years and mint marks). That’s it. I don’t hoard copper, nickel, or silver coins. I am not expecting the Mayan apocalypse at the end of the year. I just like enhancing my collection of foreign coins. So periodically, I will buy a whole bunch, sort through them all to find ones I don’t have, and then sell the rest for the next person to search through.
Reason #2: Silver coins are rare enough now, that any you find in a batch have probably been planted there (see also Reason #1 where I mention that all lots are searched by someone before it gets to you). That being said, I can just about guarantee that there are no silver coins from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, or New Zealand in this lot. That is not 100% guarantee, but if you are bidding on this because you think I missed a Morgan dollar, then you are a fool. For the rest of the world’s coins I have a cursory knowledge of silver coinage, but I can be pretty sure that nothing after 1970 is silver, and the VAST majority of things before 1970 are also not silver (Copper, Bronze, Brass, and Aluminum have very distinctive looks from silver, steel is magnetic, and stainless steel coinage is too modern). So if you are bidding on this in hopes of finding that off chance foreign silver coin, you too are a fool.
Now that those reasons are out of the way, what is it you are getting. 7+ lb of foreign circulated coinage. There is something from most everywhere around the world. Probably enough Canadian pennies to have a complete collection from the 1970s with many earlier dates as well – and they aren’t making any more Canadian pennies (I know because my Canadian penny collection is almost complete). Enough British new pennies to have a nearly complete collection (1971 to present) (I know because my British penny collection is almost complete). German Marks and pfennigs galore. Plenty of French Francs and Spanish Pesetas to keep you happy. Mexican pesos in all of their varieties for the last century.
What about money that is currently legal tender? Absolutely. Japanese Yen. Taiwan dollars, Chinese Yuan, British pounds, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Euros! Plus more (its hard to keep track of what money is current in all countries on earth).
Is it just pennies and nickels? No, there are higher denomination coins as well. While any bulk lot is going to be made up of primarily low value coinage, this is because there was a whole lot more low value coinage minted. That being said, I only collect one of each coin. So if I have two 2001 British pounds, then one of them is going in my duplicates bag. Same with Canadian Loonies, Australian 50 cent pieces, or Hong Kong 10 dollar coins.
Well, it must be all modern money? No, most of it is from 1950 to present, but again, that is because more coins were minted from 1950 to present than prior to 1950. When it comes to Thailand, Israel, and the Arab countries, I don’t know what dates they are. However, I don’t hold back. I know there are a half dozen Canadian WWII nickels (with the V back). Large British Pennys and Halfpennys. Again, anything that I already have one of, will go in this bag, I am not particular. Browsing through the Krause catalog there are probably some coins that are worth 50 cents to $2, however, the additional cost to me (in time and storage space) to separate them out and sell them individually or as a separate lot when I have enough, is not worth it. Coin collecting is my hobby, not my full time job. Yes, if there was a high dollar coin that I recognized, I would pull it out and sell it separately. But in the last 40 lb of coins that I have bought, I haven’t found a coin that I would consider valuable enough to sell separated. Probably the people who searched through the lot before me already found those.
Are these just culls? No, there might be a cull or two (although usually I throw culls in the trash if they aren’t silver, copper, or nickel). Look at the pictures, they run the gamut of condition. The pictures are the actual coins you are going to receive. Things I have removed are tokens, medals, and US coinage (although no one is perfect so if one slips through, please forgive me).
Are they washed or cleaned? Yes, now before you panic, are they individually washed? Heck no, I don’t have time for that. What I do though, is wash the pile of them in a hot water and dish soap bath and then rinse with clean water and pat dry. These are common circulated coins, so when I get them, they have plenty of surface grime that will turn your hands black while sorting them. I like to send them off cleaner than I got them so the next person doesn't have to use as much soap to wash his hands. It’s less harsh than putting them through the washing machine in your pants pocket. And they are going to get more banged up in the bag during shipping and handling than they are swished around in a colander. Once again, these are not high dollar coins. Washing them with dish soap is not going to change their value. Hopefully, it will keep you from starting a collection of germs from around the world!
I tell you all of this so that you know exactly what you are getting. A lot of foreign coin lots are slim on the details. Why don’t I tell you exactly all of the coins in the lot then? Because that would take hours. Foreign coin lots typically sell for $7-$12 per pound. It would be a waste of my time to catalog all of the coins. That is why it is sold in a bulk lot!
So now that you know what I know, bid to your hearts content!
 The best thing about this is I received about a half dozen emails from people who didn't even bid on them and telling me how great it was that I was completely honest.  Yeah, there are a lot of sleazy people on Ebay, but every now and then, you run into an honest person like myself.  I sold them for about $8 a pound. Not necessarily any more than the sleazy people, but more than I paid for them originally.

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