So Ebay ripped you off – whatchya gonna do about it? This blog is devoted to a seller on Ebay. He recently sent me what he thought was a 1919 double dot Melbourne Penny (the coin above). He shared his misgivings at getting involved in coins and Ebay, so I thought I’d share my own development as a numismatic dealer in order to help Brad (not his real name) understand how one can respond to these hurdles we face in becoming experienced collectors.

1. I started a mentoring relationship with a dealer. Spent money at his store. Picked his brains. Learned the game. That dealer was Eric Eigner of I believe in the teacher/learner relationship. This world of must have NOW individualism and ego has created a cesspit that results in places like Ebay. It is the denizen of BS and rip offs. Somewhere along the way from medieval guilds and small craftsmen, the “self-made man” of the industrial period become the bigoted idiot of the modern American styled economy. Finding the nuggets of gold in the crowd from people worth knowing has become a skill of its own today. I devote significant time and resources to that end.

I think of it like the movie The Big ShortIf you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it as a great portrayal of how a few curious souls connected with the right people, asked the right questions and developed relationships and understanding – and backed their mouths with money! It’s going out on a ledge and being curious enough to make those connections with informed people – that’s the tricky part and it doesn’t happen in complacency. As an aside, I know pretty quick when I talk to someone else if we’re going to connect when we turn to politics and economics. As one collector recently let slip – he’s expecting gold to go higher and security to deteriorate, so he bought a shotgun (legally). Yep, I totally understand where you are coming from!

2. However, Eric didn’t give me a fish. He recommended that I learn how to fish with PCGS. Keep sending the coins for grading, reflect on the feedback and the body bagged (details graded) product and learn from the results. Long story short – after thousands of $$ of crapola, I began to “get it” and subsequently improved the ratio of gradable, quality coins against the garbage. It’s the only way to win as a dealer – a numbers game that requires selling enough good stuff to cover the (hopefully) infrequent error that costs money. However, I appreciate that many do not have such funds to lose, so I turn my thoughts to modest subscriptions to help launch others in their numismatic goals with hopefully more tenable results in less time.

3. There is a reason I build relationships with people, communicate politely and effectively with them and even proffer a hand to help them – IT PAYS! The old adage of being nice to others so they are nice to you really does work. To prove the point, Top End Coins is noted with thanks in the latest edition of Marsh’s The Gold Sovereign. Top End Coins’s library is filled with literature that other numismatic enthusiasts have painstakingly researched, published and given permission for me to share. That leads me to the final point.

4. I use that literature gifted to me to research the product I buy. Thus Fred Lever’s excellent research on the 1919 Penny was whipped out upon delivery of this coin and the simple but effective Prism Optical microscope from Australian Jewellers Supplies was put into action to quickly ascertain that this coin was PM’d (i.e, post-mint damage). I couldn’t quite tell from the original Ebay photos – as quality photos are few and far between on Ebay – so I leveraged the Ebay guarantee to take a look at the product and determine its veracity after purchase.

Ebay Ripped You Off Dude

While Fred Lever’s article directed my attention to the fact that 1919M is one die only and has a big, elongated dot up the top – very distinctive. However, let me not forget to mention the next best (AND FREE) tool for determining authenticity – PCGS. Follow the aforementioned link and click on POP REPORT – low and behold, there’s a full range of Australian pre-decimal coins you can browse with high resolution images. I took two of those images from PCGS, joined them with the high resolution image I took at home with my trusty Olympus 60mm macro lens. A quick glance at the images informed me that the coin I had received was not the real deal. Happily Ebay’s strength is to refund a buyer almost without question. However, the crapola one has to wade through today makes that online marketplace my last resort for numismatic purchases.

Unfortunately Australia Post managed to lose the package when I sent the coin back. Aus Post decided that the Ebay moniker Brad used constituted an unknown recipient! It pays to use your legal name when posting to people. Thus I am providing a free coin to Brad and hopefully, via this blog and a few good links, the means to differentiate himself from the myriad and generally poor offerings marketed in Ebay. If one wants to stand out on Ebay – like this Ebay store – then one must realise that one cannot control the actions of other Ebayers. However, one can control the product one accepts from other Ebayers, by diligently studying and knowing the varieties and qualities of various Australian pre-decimal coins.

The other recommendation I’ll make to Brad is that he becomes a specialist. When I started learning numismatics, Eric recommended I specialise in half sovereigns. While I initially took the recommendation with skeptical thoughts that he was pushing me away from his own market, I saw the sense of becoming an expert in one area. As one can see in many collectable stores around the country, you can buy anything and everything that might make you a dollar – a lot of it just collects dust as consumer habits change.

Would selling that myriad assortment of stuff lift you up as a reputable and knowledgeable dealer? Would collectors interested in that specific collectable know that they can turn to you for assistance and advice? Of course not. When I looked at how poorly served the half sovereign market was back in 2017 I took it on as a project. I haven’t looked back. Within three years, who would have guessed that I’d be providing half sovereign images and scarcity ratings for Sydney Mint and Young Head half sovereigns in a global numismatic publication like The Gold Sovereign? (yep, you are looking at my estimates in this section of Marsh’s 2nd ed.)

So Ebay Ripped You Off – Learn From It!

Before I traded Australian pre-decimal coins I learned to trade markets online. It was a soul wrenching experience, where one must be brutally honest with oneself if there is any chancing of surviving in that industry. I learned that I wasn’t cut out to be a day trader and walked away, but I put those skills and knowledge to other purposes that have served me well. I’m also aware that many people live their lives unable to face their own shortcomings.

This is the essence of letting go of ego and above all, blaming no one but oneself. If you can do that, take an interest in numismatics and the specifics of grading coins, you are quickly going to pull ahead of the Ebay crowd. Not only is that a journey worth taking – it’s a must in today’s numismatic marketplace. Technology has levelled the access both sellers and buyers have to quality auctions and products. Going the extra step to attract confidence in those buyers and sellers will ensure you come out a winner – even if it is but one penny at a time.

Hope this helps you Brad! Keep in contact and I’ll try and structure a private learning place for others like yourself. A subscription based environment where investing a few dollars each month leverages better outcomes. Coming soon.