Internet auction company eBay announced April 17 that it will
implement changes to its coin listing policy that will restrict the
use of numeric grades in listings and what coins can be sold without
being graded by one of the grading services that meet eBay’s
standards, and the policy will introduce new criteria for grading
services recognized by the firm.
In a press release and in an email sent to eBay account holders,
the firm stated that the modifications to its policy are “to provide
shoppers and sellers with greater confidence in their coins transactions.”
This change in eBay’s policy follows on the heels of other recent
eBay initiatives, including a ban on sales of replica coins on the
website, a move that became effective Feb. 20.
Beginning May 30, all new listings and relistings for coins being
sold on the company’s website at eBay must meet the following requirements:
➤ “Listings for coins will be allowed to include a numeric grade
in their listing title or item description only if the coin grading
company providing the grade meets certain objective standards. Coins
that haven’t been graded by such companies will be considered raw or ungraded.”
➤ “For U.S. coins only, grading by companies meeting these
standards will now be required for all coins listed with a Buy It Now,
reserve, or start price of $2,500 and above.”
In the press release, Brooke Segaran, eBay’s senior manager of
collectibles, is quoted as saying, “The coin industry is extremely
dynamic and exciting, and eBay’s goal is to continue to offer new ways
for collectors to connect with dealers in the most trusted experience possible.”
The auction company worked with John Albanese, founder of
Certified Acceptance Corp. and Numismatic Consumer Alliance, to
develop the standards for third-party grading services that must be
met for listing coins as “certified” on eBay.
Under the new rules, grading services must meet the following criteria:
➤ The company must have graded at least 50,000 pre-1956 coins.
➤ The grading service must possess a live, online population report.
➤ The company must employ at least three graders on its staff who
are considered “numismatic experts” (according to the eBay policy, “an
individual who has been a full-time numismatist for at least five
years”). At least one of the three graders should be a member of
Professional Numismatists Guild and all three should be members of the
American Numismatic Association.
➤ The firm must have a stated buyback guarantee in writing for
coins later determined to be counterfeit, damaged, over- or
mis-graded, or misattributed.
➤ Coins being encapsulated must be kept in “unique,
state-of-the-art, tamper-resistant holders with anti-counterfeiting
measures” (for example, holograms). Archival materials should be used
➤ The company must enable online verification of unique serial
numbers on its holders.
Currently, eBay states that only Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and
Professional Coin Grading Service have met the new standards. However,
eBay stated that other third-party grading services that meet these
standards are encouraged to contact the company for future eligibility.
Coin World requested from eBay clarification on certain
aspects of the new policy, namely: Why did eBay select “pre-1956
coins” as a cut-off date, as opposed to other dates? Will eBay exempt
from the $2,500 rule expensive modern coins or sets of coins that
aren’t generally certified and are most commonly sold in original U.S.
Mint packaging? Were there concerns with coins from other grading
services (as opposed to PCGS and NGC encapsulations) that precipitated
the change? Was the American Numismatic Association or other
coin-related organizations/businesses consulted or did they have any
input in this decision?
As of the time this issue of Coin World went to press
April 27, eBay officials had not answered these inquiries.
ANACS speeds registry plan
The new policy elicited responses from several third-party
services that the policy would exclude if in place now — ANACS,
Independent Coin Graders and Sovereign Entities Grading Service.
Paul DeFelice, vice president of client relations and marketing
for third-party grading service ANACS (www.anacs.com), sent an email to ANACS
“Many of you have contacted us about the email sent out by eBay
regarding changes in their coin listing policies that specifically
impact sellers of ANACS graded coins. We want to assure that you that
we are absolutely confident that this issue will be addressed by the
May 30 deadline that eBay has established. We would also like to take
this opportunity to address some of the specific questions that have
been raised, and to share with you what we are working on, which we
believe will ultimately be of benefit to you.
“In its email to
sellers of coins, eBay mentions ‘certain objective standards’ that are
required of coin grading companies. We were not made aware of these
standards until April 17th — the very same day that eBay chose to
notify its sellers of the change. Now that we have been able to review
these standards, it is our contention that we exceed every standard
that has been set, with the exception of what we consider to be a
“Of the six standards that we have seen, we feel it is important
to stress that we exceed any standards set with regard to the
expertise of our graders or the quality of our service.
“Of the technicality mentioned earlier: eBay is requiring grading
companies to ‘enable online verification of unique serial numbers.’
There are two things we would like to make clear: 1) ANACS does offer
verification of unique serial numbers, but has not made that service
available online as of yet, and 2) ANACS is, in fact, in the final
stages of making serial number verification available on our web platform.
“ANACS appreciates that eBay is taking steps to protect the coin
community from the actions of unscrupulous sellers and questionable
grading practices. It has been our company’s mission to protect the
integrity of our hobby for forty years! As stated earlier, we have no
doubt that this issue will be addressed in such a way that you will
not be affected by this policy change, and we are hopeful that we can
work with eBay to do even more to protect both buyers and sellers of coins.”
DeFelice met with eBay officials April 19 during the Central
States Numismatic Society show in Schaumburg, Ill., and assured them
that the grading service would be eBay compliant by the May 30
deadline. As well, he said ANACS officials support eBay’s coin listing initiative.
DeFelice said the majority of the criteria demanded by the
impending eBay policy implementation involves minor technology upgrades.
DeFelice said that information from the firm’s registry by serial
number for each coin the grading service has certified and
encapsulated is currently available from ANACS by telephone during
normal business hours, but not online.
ANACS had planned to roll out the online registry sometime late
this summer or early fall, but the schedule for 24-hour registry
access has been moved up to meet the May 30 eBay compliance deadline,
ICG addressing new criteria
A message at the front page of the Independent Coin Graders
“In recent days, we have received numerous telephone
calls and e-mails from our clients questioning the eBay announcement
that ICG graded coins will no longer be listed with the grade in the
listing title or description as of May 30, 2012. We received notice of
this change on April 17, the same day that our clients were notified.
We are presently in the process of addressing the standards and
requirements set forth by eBay.
“We are confident that we will be able to meet these standards by
the May 30 deadline. Our graders are among the most experienced
numismatists in the country. ICG-graded and listed coins have been
sold on eBay for many years and we look forward to continuing our
relationship with eBay in the future.
“ICG takes great pride in the level of service and expertise we
provide to our clients and the industry, and we will continue to do so
for many years to come.
“Thank you to all our clients who have shared their concerns with
us regarding this issue. Rest assured that we will do everything
possible to resolve it promptly.”
SEGS expects negative impact
Larry Briggs, an Ohio dealer and owner of Sovereign Entities
Grading Service in Tennessee (www.segsgrading.com), said he
didn’t appreciate the firm being considered as a “low-tier” grading
service when he believes the collecting community considers his firm
among the top five third-party grading services.
As a dealer, Briggs said he does little posting of items on sale
on eBay, but buys and sells coins that are encapsulated in holders
from multiple firms, as well as raw coins. He said he and SEGS are
noted for their variety attributions.
Briggs believes that SEGS will be indirectly impacted by eBay’s
policy updates because of the effect the policy will have on
collectors who use SEGS and offer such encapsulated coins on eBay as
either a part-time or full-time venture.
Briggs expects there will possibly be a slowdown in the number of
SEGS-encapsulated coins listed on eBay.
Briggs did not indicate what steps he would take at SEGS to make
the service compliant with the new eBay policies and thus permit the
numerical grade of SEGS-graded coins to appear in the title and
description of listings.
Officials at eBay said while the new policy currently would
exclude SEGS coins from being listed with a numerical grade or
adjectival-equivalent description alluding to a numerical grade, the
coins could still be listed and illustrated showing the grading insert
that carries the numerical grade.
The title and description are the elements that eBay buyers use in
their searches to locate specific numismatic items.
Impact on market?
How eBay’s new policy will impact the market is the primary
question that remains to be answered, and is the question pressing on
the minds of many hobbyists and dealers who regularly use the auction
Collectors posting on message boards such as
Collectors Universe (forums.collectors.com) and on
eBay’s discussion board (forums.ebay.com) displayed a wide
range of reactions to the new policy announcement, with some
expressing support of eBay’s actions — or at least the intent behind
the policy change — while others expressed frustration, particularly
those who buy or sell coins predominantly from grading services other
than PCGS and NGC. ■