Precious Metals

eBay-branded precious metals enter market

Gold and silver products branded by eBay debuted Jan. 19 on the online auction site.

The precious metals products are a joint venture between eBay, headquartered in San Jose, Calif., and Bay Precious Metals Inc. in Bridgewater, Mass. Bay Precious Metals Inc. is a subsidiary of Coins ‘N Things.

Coins ‘N Things has provided billions of dollars in raw precious metals to the U.S. Mint for eventual conversion into finished precious metals products and is also a major distributor of bullion products for the U.S. Mint, The Perth Mint in Australia, the Royal Canadian Mint, and others.

The current products being offered on eBay by Bay Precious Metals are a 1-ounce .9999 fine gold bar fabricated by the Perth Mint and a 10-ounce .9999 fine silver bar produced by the Royal Canadian Mint.

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The obverse of the gold bar bears the eBay name, the bar’s weight and gold purity, and the Perth Mint logo. The reverse features the eBay name repeated in multiple diagonal lines.

The gold bars are individually packaged in tamper-evident case with see-through window exposing both sides of the bar for viewing. 

The packaging featuring the obverse side depicts the eBay name in red, blue, yellow and green letters, and the Perth Mint logo. The back of the packaging incorporates technical information about the bar’s specifications, a unique serial number, and the facsimile signature of the Perth Mint’s chief assayer.

The obverse of the silver bar depicts the eBay name, RCM logo, the bar’s weight and purity in silver, and a unique serial number on the bar itself. The silver bar’s reverse depicts vertical rows of the stylized maple leaf from the RCM logo, with the eBay name below.

Mark L. Oliari, chief executive officer of Coins ‘N Things and president of Bay Precious Metals, said Jan. 19 that he pitched the idea of eBay-branded precious metals bullion products to receptive eBay officials.

The eBay-branded products were engineered through the business relationships his firms have with world mints, Oliari said. 

When they went on sale at 11 a.m. Eastern Time Jan. 19, the gold bar was being offered at $1,112.40 and the silver bar at $154.30 with Buy It Now options.

“The marketplace is changing,” Oliari said. “We feel there is a need for this to fill a void. Ebay is the single biggest stage for new customers and the furthest reach for getting information out for coins and precious metals.

“We feel we’ve put together products without authenticity or quality problems.”

Oliari said other precious metals products in different sizes may be offered in the future through the eBay/Bay Precious Metals venture.

Mark Flaa, eBay category manager for bullion, coins and currency, said Jan. 21 that more than 900 of the gold bars and nearly 5,000 of the silver bars were sold. “In the first 8 hours we averaged 1 ebay/Perth Mint gold bar every 1.5 minutes & 40oz of ebay/Royal Canadian Mint silver a minute,” Flaa said via email. 

Flaa said eBay is positioning itself in the marketplace as a venue for precious metals dealers to sell bullion products and “get the message out there that we are a respected and trusted player.”

“There’s no better way to do that than through a partnership with sovereign mints with respected brands,” Flaa said.

In an earlier venture, Bay Precious Metals and eBay arranged with Numismatic Guaranty Corp. to authenticate and encapsulate, but not grade, 2015 American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins from the earliest strikes shipped out of the West Point Mint.

The inserts in those encapsulations, with eBay, Bay Precious Metals and NGC notations designated on the label, also are marked “Certified Genuine from Mint Sealed Box.” Bullion coins from Australia were also similarly labeled from 2015 production.

The idea, Oliari said, was to provide buyers access to some of the best quality coins without paying a major secondary market premium, especially for Mint State 70 strikes.

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