Sunday, May 12, 2013
Pick a particular section of the silver coin and bullion market and become an expert. Research ebay guides, review hundreds of auctions, search the internet for every article about 90% junk silver if that's what floats your boat. If not, then become an expert in uncirculated Kennedy and Franklin halves, Morgan dollars, US Mint bullion products, etc.
The coin or bullion you decide to specialize in doesn't matter. Silver is basically silver. What matters is that if you're going to start spending hundreds or thousands of dollars that you know what you're talking about. Too many people on ebay and in other silver buying sites have more money than brain cells. I heard from one commenter about how happy he was with his purchase of old 1957-1967 Mexican peso silver coins. It broke my heart to tell him that the coins he bought weren't 90% silver as he assumed based on his experience with old US dimes, quarters, halves, dollars, but only 10% silver! He had no business dipping his toes in a pool that was to him nothing but a murky oil slick.
Research the counterfeit silver sites. Learn about the counterfeits flooding the US from China. After you think you're an expert - then read some more. Our Chinese friends have no appreciation of intellectual property, copyright, or US counterfeiting laws. Morgan silver dollars are probably some of the most counterfeited coins on the planet, especially the CC Carson City, NV minted silver dollars. Based on this problem, I would strongly suggest you avoid buying very rare and expensive coins online. Even coins in PCGS and NGC holders are being counterfeited. Sometimes the holders are real and the coins are fake. Sometimes both are of Chinese manufacture. Stick with coins that have most of their value in silver content, not numismatic rarity. More common coins aren't faked as often, and potential losses are much less.
Buy from Auctions:
Auctions have been shrinking for years now as ebay tries to compete in Amazon's playground. But all the Buy it Nows and ebay stores in the world can't beat the sheer exhilaration of winning that last minute auction. Moreover, the chance of winning a steal in a "Buy it Now" environment is virtually eliminated. For my money, if I want to just outright purchase something at the going rate I'll click on Amazon.
Just last week I won a roll of 20 2004-S Kennedy 90% silver proof halves that some entrepreneur liberated from proof set packaging for $176. The going rate is $250 and up!
Having an Edge
I'm a silver coin bargain hunter, and I win 20% of the auctions I select to bid on. That's pretty darn good with a category as hot as US silver coins! How do I do it? I use sites like Coinflation.com, Fatfingers.com, Photograde.com, WatchCount.com and various Sniper sites. My attitude is if it's allowed by ebay's rules, then take advantage of it. Of all the sites I listed above, the ones that really get ebay user's juices flowing are sniper sites and sniping. Many feel it's unfair or ineffective. Well, I snipe, and I do pretty darn well. Sniping keeps you out of bidding wars and last minute foolish bidding. I set the sniping program clock for 5 seconds, and my bid hits automatically at that preselected time. No muss, no fuss. I can watch the auctions or I can sleep, work, watch TV, etc. Using the ebay automated prebid system is like telegraphing your punches. All a competitive bidder has to do is to continue to bid to expose your high mark. Heck, I've seen my share of what looks suspiciously like the ebay sellers bidding on their own auctions to get the bids up. I have no interest in playing their little games - just winning silver coins auctions.
Use your Watch List to store and manage your selected auctions. Do your homework, and don't wait until the last second to locate and auction and bid. That leads to sloppiness and wasted money. Many auctions are straightforward, but others are either intentionally or unintentionally vague. If you're not sure if the proof coin is clad or silver, DON'T BID. If the photos are blurry, non existent, stock, or don't match the heading, DON'T BID. Chances are, something is fishy in the State of Denmark.
Do look for auctions with low bids & views, misspellings, and incorrect categories. Bidding during the week can be inconvenient, but usually nets lower competitive bidders than does a weekend night between 8-10 pm. Watchcount.com can help you discover low bid auctions even when there is no counter on the auction page.
Selecting the Seller
Sometimes for fun I'll read negative comments left for some sellers. They can be quite entertaining, from a grammatical, as well as a sociological, psychological, and sometimes pathological viewpoint. However, I have zero sympathy when I see a buyer leaving a negative comment for a seller that has already racked up hundreds of negative feedback! Why would you buy from a seller like that? I can only conclude that the buyer didn't do their due diligence on the seller before bidding - caveat emptor my brothers and sisters! I remember one buyer left negative feedback because he didn't get silver in his "unsearched roll". When I was five my father told me you don't get something in this world for nothing. The unsearched rolls are probably the biggest coin scam on ebay today, and this seller had hundreds of negative feedback from other disappointed, if naïve, buyers to his discredit. If you willingly swim with sharks, you WILL GET BITTEN!
Make sure your seller has over a hundred positive feedback, and at least 2 years with ebay. Check their feedback and look for anything weird or off. Do they have 50 recent positive feedbacks from folks to whom they sold a $1 worth of crap? If so, avoid them. They're covering up something, or setting themselves up for a major score at your expense. Instead, look for the experienced seller with a plain no nonsense auction, good pictures and clear description, reasonable shipping, and a past history of selling coins. If your roll of uncirculated Franklin halves are more AU than BU, then don't blame the dilettante seller - blame yourself!
Finally, I want to re-emphasize that I buy coins on ebay whose value is primarily due to their silver content. They may be junk silver or uncirculated 1963 Franklin halves, but at least 85% of their value is silver-related. Some "super counterfeits" being turned out by the Chinese can only be detected by an expert with a magnifying glass, caliper, and a scale. Amateur photos taken of coins on the kitchen table under glaring light will never expose the tiny flaws in these clever fakes. Moreover, if the price is way to good to be true...