Michael Bugeja

Online Coin Auctions

Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.

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"One Flaw Rule" in Online Coin Auctions

If you intend to bid in eBay or Proxibid auctions, you had best temper your enthusiasm to own a coin and adopt what I call "the one flaw rule."

Before explaining that, I want to emphasize how hobbyist feelings get in the way of good sense when bidding on Internet. I know. I have been there. Occasionally, I still get carried away wishing to win a coin or snare a good bargain.

When it comes to raw or uncertified coins, however, more often than not you will not win or get a bargain. You will lose money and enthusiasm. 

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Auctioneers on Internet portals rarely mention flaws in coins. They do this to sell problem coins especially. That impulse in the 1980s led to third-party holding companies such as NGC and PCGS.

You have to be your own authenticator on Internet. 

The "one flaw rule" will help you. Look closely at the online photos of a coin lot. Do not bid on any raw coin that only shows the obverse. You need to inspect the reverse, too.

The 1878-CC coin above is a perfect example. The obverse looks fine. But the reverse has the cut or scratch. As soon as you spot that, leave the coin lot and look at other prospects. 

Do not bid unless the perceived flaw is mentioned in the description.

In this 1878-CC Morgan
, also on Proxibid, the seller identifies the flaw on the reverse: "small scratch on rev." 

Finally, keep in mind that you won't find that perfect coin or bargain every day on Internet. You may find it once a month, and that's plenty. So find the flaw and move on. You'll be glad you did!

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