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eBay Reliability for Bullion Coins


Magnus
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Hi, everyone.

 

I've been considering investing in platinum and palladium coins (US Eagles, Canadian Maples & Russian Ballerinas) and was wondering how reliable the eBay market place for delivering authentic bullion coins.

 

I've looked through a couple articles on the internet about counterfeits on eBay, and they generally advise being familiar with the design of the authentic reliefs to be able to filter out counterfeits just from visual inspection. Unfortunately, I haven't had much experience with bullion coins and would have to rely on checking the weight and physical measurements of a piece to verify authenticity. However, a considerable number of seller don't allow returns, so buyers only have pictures to base their judgment on.

 

Would the general opinion of members here happen to be to avoid all sellers who don't allow returns, or are there also many legit sellers that adopt this policy? Overall, do I have to be on high guard when purchasing bullion coins on eBay, or is the majority of bullion coins not counterfeited at all?

 

Any info/advice is greatly appreciated.

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Hi, everyone.

 

I've been considering investing in platinum and palladium coins and was wondering how reliable the eBay market place for delivering authentic bullion coins.

 

I've looked through a couple articles on the internet about counterfeits on eBay, and they generally advise being familiar with the design of the authentic reliefs to be able to filter out counterfeits just from visual inspection. Unfortunately, I haven't had much experience with bullion coins and would have to rely on checking the weight and physical measurements of a piece to verify authenticity. However, a considerable number of seller don't allow returns, so buyers only have pictures to base their judgment on.

 

Would the general opinion of members here happen to be to avoid all sellers who don't allow returns, or are there also many legit sellers that adopt this policy? Overall, do I have to be on high guard when purchasing bullion coins on eBay, or is the majority of bullion coins not counterfeited at all?

 

Any info/advice is greatly appreciated.

Coins are commodities just like almost everything else sold on eBay. See if a seller has a very good and high amount of feedback (99.5% or better, maybe 1,000 or more feedbacks). If so, they can generally be trusted. However, I do NOT trust the postal system very much for shipping bullion coins because most of the time, insurance coverage will not protect against theft of such items. Numismatic coins are sometimes also excluded from insurance coverage, as in Switzerland.

 

The Chinese are counterfeiting just about every coin that was ever struck, bullion or otherwise. If you are not 100% sure about a coin, don't buy it. Go to a reputable dealer or outlet. Panda America or Kitco, for example, are two good mail-order companies for bullion, but there are many more. Some dealers will only accept large minimum orders of several ounces, while you can order individual coins from Panda. Also, large banks will often buy and sell gold, especially in Europe.

 

I used to buy gold coins a lot on eBay, but only from sellers I felt that I could trust. One of the important requirements IMHO is that a seller accept returns. If they don't, stay away ... there are enough sellers out there who DO accept returns. Once, a rare coin was stolen in the mails from Germany to Switzerland, even sent registered mail and with a tracking number: It got to the Swiss border, then disappeared! Another time, I received an envelope by registered mail, only to discover that the top of the envelope had been slit open, the content removed and then taped back together again ... since the tape was on top of the stamp, it is obvious that this happened INSIDE the postal system. In the first instance, the seller offered a refund and I did get my money back (€750). In the second case, I didn't, and the Swiss postal system covered a certain amount, but not everything. At that time, registered mail was insured automatically regardless of the contents. Shortly afterwards, they changed the rules to exclude precious metals and numismatic items from insurance.

 

My present attitude is this: (1) Only buy things from eBay if I can afford to lose all of my money spent for the item; (2) Only buy expensive stuff from sellers with whom I have already done transactions and who have perfect feedback (or nearly so); (3) Only buy something from eBay that I can't find anywhere else, and only after I am convinced that the article is genuine.

 

Since I can buy bullion coins just about anywhere, I don't normally go to eBay for them. I will make exceptions, though, under the right circumstances.

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One thing to note is that many reputable sellers don't accept returns on bullion coins due to the volatility of the precious metals markets. If you bought a 1oz gold coin today at just over spot, then a week later after you receive it, spot drops $60, some people would try to return it. Return postage wouldn't be much compared to that $60 you could save by returning and then purchasing a different 1oz gold coin.

 

But in general, I'd pick a seller that has great feedback, isn't based in China and has clear photos. Although if you're looking for multiple purchases, it's probably worthwhile going somewhere other than Ebay to purchase bullion.

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Bob and Korn,

 

Thank you very for your input. I find your suggestions to be both logical and reassuring for coin business conducted over the internet. I feel my God-given aptitude for detail will get me across the finish line for aqcuiring authentic coins and filtering out counterfeits so long as I have prior familiarity with an authentic sample. And the simple solution for making sure that the first piece I get is real would, of course, be to purchase it from one of the suggested internet mail-order companies or from a local reputable shop/company. For my palladium interest, though, I've decided to take a chance with eBay sellers with 100% positive feedback in addition to a 3-day money back guarantee, and now have a total of 2 pieces.

 

The two are the aforementioned Russian Palladium Ballerina bullion coins minted in 1989. A direct visual comparison shows identical diameters, relief contrast/sharpness/proportion/size, mean thickness at the rim, and vibrational rings when tapped on the fingertip. However, a rather oustanding difference (in my opinion) is that one has that typical reflective shine with the cart-wheel effect under the light and the other is a consistent matte/satin finish with the exception of near-microscopic abrasion spots near the edge in which the surface texture there is reflective/shiny. So far, I haven't been able to weigh these on a digital scale (will do ASAP), but from the feel of it, I'd say both are close enough to the point where I can't feel any deviations. Of course, hand-weighing is a far cry from accuracy, but I would just expect a noticeable difference if it were any other solid material under a silver/palladium plating. (This is based on my adopted principle that two objects of the same shape and size must have the same weight if they are composed of the same material.)

 

Would any of you happen to know if the Moscow mint produced Palladium Ballerinas with different surface textures in 1989, or is something like this never supposed to pop up from any mint with hypothetical exceptions being categorized as errors?

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Leningrad mint struck ballerina coins in UNC and PROOF condition. Are you sure your coin is struck in Moscow Mint? As far as I know, all palladium coins were struck in Leningrad mint otherwise it's a really rare error or my memory is blur.

 

The condition that you are describing seems to be UNC. I own them in both condition and they are very different from all other metals that I own such as platinum and silver. UNC palladium seems to give a shine of stainless steel whereas PROOF palladium looks like polished greyish metal. It does not have the same reflection of platinum and silver.

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GX,

 

Thank you very much for the clarification. Yes, the Ballerinas are stated to be from Lenigrad on a web retail page, although the COA simply states "Soviet Mints." I must've seen "Moscow Mint" somewhere and that stuck in mind.

 

Here are the coins with the cartwheel effect:

PA110007a.jpg

PA110008a.jpg

!B6jIjcQCGk~$(KGrHqF,!icEyeHlhgeuBM)u-2tI,!~~_12.JPG

!B6jIkS!BWk~$(KGrHqV,!h0Eyc)GBh+PBM)u-5ZPV!~~_12.JPG

 

And the satin one:

!B7JNU)gEGk~$(KGrHqF,!hUEyrpjJQP,BMz,BikkM!~~_12.JPG

!B7JNZrQ!2k~$(KGrHqF,!lEEy+jC1)KIBMz,BqVR8Q~~_12.JPG

!B7JNcRQBGk~$(KGrHqR,!lMEy+jC)IIDBMz,BuR,Ww~~_12.JPG

 

Taking another close look, I could find no trace of a casting seam, and there is that common 'second step' on the very edge of the rim (like pictured on top coin), which indicates to me that the satin coin was indeed struck with a die, yet the dullness is strongly consistent. However, I'm familiar with neither the die nor casting processes and could be mistaken if this detail could be recast or if counterfeits are also struck with dies. Also the satin coin does have a cartwheel reflection, but it's extremely faint and predominantly masked by the heavy dull finish. When consulted with an employee from the US mint, I was told that uncirculated bullion coins can vary slightly in surface texture, but shouldn't be to the degree at which I'm seeing here (but perhaps it's a different case in Russia?). I'm quite sure the reflective coins are not proofs because proofs have a mirror polish on the backdrop surface--or so it appears in the pictures I've seen. And I'm not sure if it matters, but the reflective coins both came with a COA, whereas the satin one didn't. Other than this, the only other relevant info I can add right now (still waiting for digital scale) is that the seller has 100% positive feedback and above a thousand total feedbacks, and offers a 7-day return period with this purchase. If the scale doesn't arrive within this time, I'll have to make a judgment without knowing the precise weight.

 

Do you think I should send it back if I can't confirm the weight in time?

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I happen to own three different ballerina coins and I understand better what you are on now that you have shown me the photos.

 

I'm suprised to see that you get such different lustre on the same year coin and that might be worthwhile researching. However you can also get the same effect with current Russian coins in circulation. The two uncirculated palladium ballerina coins that I have are the 1990 1/2 oz coin and the 1993 1/4 oz coin shows what you have - one with really dull lustre and cartwheel effect. I unfortunately can't take a picture to compare them as they are all several thousands of kilometers away in different cities and countries. :wallbash:

 

I am quite sure that what you have are genuine UNC palladium coins. I understand that those one ounce coins do not come cheap and it would really suck if one of them is counterfeit. But then again, I've never heard of it but that doesn't mean counterfeit coins are not in the process.

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