US Coins

Anything goes in eBay sales

The oddest things sometimes turn up in eBay auctions, such as a well-circulated 1879 pattern dollar that sold Jan. 17 to a best offer of $1,775.

The Proof 3 pattern dollar was designed to test a new goloid metric composition, a predominantly silver composition with a tiny part of gold. The piece is designated Proof because it was originally produced as a Proof (even if its mirrored fields have long been lost to the ravages of wear).

Examples of the pattern dollar, with its design by William Barber, exist in goloid, silver, copper, aluminum, lead and white metal, making it one of the more available patterns of the era.

A representative from Gaithersburg Coin said that the silver pattern had been listed for quite a while. He said that the coin was purchased by the firm in 1982 with a lot of Colonial American coins from a longtime collector.

That firm, and many others, are increasingly using eBay as a way to sell coins and reach an audience that may not attend coin shows.

Now, this isn’t a new trend. Collectors and dealers have been using eBay for the past two decades. But, as eBay improves its consumer protection and as third-party certification becomes the norm even for lower-value coins, buyers’ feelings of security have been enhanced.

The relationship with eBay and the Professional Numismatists Guild further helps legitimize eBay as a valid place to buy often high-end and expensive coins.

Nearly 300 people are watching a 1907 Saint-Gaudens Extremely High Relief, Roman Numerals, Lettered Edge gold $20 double eagle graded Proof 69 by Professional Coin Grading Service. It’s currently priced at $4,042,500 — or best offer — from California firm Rare Coin Wholesalers.

While six-figure rarities rarely trade on eBay, collectors seem to be increasingly comfortable spending up to $10,000 on rare coins from trusted dealers.

Dealers, especially specialists, continue to report being able to cherry-pick rare die varieties from the site, aided by the proliferation of high-quality photography that now even a smartphone can provide.

Of course, “bread and butter” numismatic items like U.S. Proof and Mint sets, pre-1965 90 percent silver coins and classic U.S. collector coins priced at the $5 to $50 level continue to thrive on eBay. ¦

Community Comments