> I'm thinking of selling a few coins on Ebay, but I've never done it
> Because I've never done it before I have absolutely no reputation in the
> place. Will the hugely adversely affect my selling power?
Yes, it will adversely affect it tremendously. One quick method, before you
read the rest of my response, might be if you have a friend who is already
successfully selling coins on eBay, and knows all the ins and outs, is to
consign your coins to him (someone you can implicitly trust..) .. and let
him do all the listings and selling for you for a small percentage to
compensate him for his time. Say 15% of whatever it sells for is not
unreasonable. You'll lose a little bit of money that way, but you can also
sit by his side and watch what he does and learn the procedures yourself,
which is absolutely the best way to learn how to do anything. If you took
your coins to a dealer and toss them on the counter and say "How much will
you give me for these??" you will lose a LOT more than 15% of what the
"book" value of the coins are.
> Some of my coins are also sitting loose in bags, rather than in specific
> cases (they were purchased in auctions in the seventies). What should I
> them in?
Depends on what they are. Gold bruises very easily and should be in some
kind of holder. Any coin that is worth more than a few cents should at the
very least be in a Mylar plastic flip. The more valuable the coin, the
better it should be protected. If you have hundreds of old beat up Wheat
Cents that you have searched through for key dates and found none, then it's
quite common to put them in something like a Zip Lok bag, and roll it up
tightly and put a band of tape around it so the coins don't bang against
each other in transit. What you put the coins in, if they are all raw,
meaning not in Grading Company Slabs, is up to you, but you can get some
pretty pissed off buyers if they buy an expensive coin from you (and
everyone's definition of expensive is different..) .. you do something like
tape it to a 3x5 card and throw it in an envelope and stick a 37 cent stamp
At the very least, a Mylar plastic flip. If you want to get fancier, 2x2
plastic snap-shut two part holders made to fit that size coin. There are
also cardboard 2x2 holders with a plastic window that need to be stapled to
keep them closed. There is a whole art to stapling them closed. Believe it
or not, when it comes to buying and selling and storing and shipping coins,
technique is everything.
> I also don't have my coins graded - I'm a compete novice - will this have
> be done before I can sell them? Would a high quality, high resolution
> of them suffice?
Some buyers are more comfortable buying coins over a certain price level,
and that level is different for everyone, if the coins are graded and
slabbed first. It makes no sense to have a coin worth $5.00 slabbed. It
makes total sense to have Gold coins slabbed, since so many have been
counterfeited over the years, and to have Key Date coins slabbed, to
guarantee they are authentic, and not altered coins. For instance, many
unscrupulous bastards have altered 1944-D Lincoln Cents which are as common
as dirt by altering the first "4" to look like a "1" and then selling it as
the rare Key Date 1914-D cent which is worth hundreds of dollars in low
grades to many thousands of dollars in High Grades.
So people with half a brain will be extremely hesitant to buy a Key Date,
especially an expensive one, if it is not authenticated and slabbed.
The better the image you can take of the coin, the better it will do. You
need a good digital camera or a scanner, a good lighting setup, and image
processing software, which can range from free to expensive.
You have to learn the meaning of the word "crop." You don't want to shoot a
picture of a coin that looks like it's sitting on a sofa on the other side
of the room, so small you can't even tell what it is. You also don't want to
shoot and upload to your auction such a high resolution picture (many
hundreds of Kilobytes) so that it takes forever to load.
> Does my geographical location affect anything? I'm in the UK - should I
> sell to UK based people? How do I get my coins to them, and payment from
Okay, that nulls out a lot of what I said above, since I know zilch about UK
coins, but if you are selling USA coins, then what I said above still holds.
UK based people who collect UK coins tend not to care all that much about
having them slabbed, from what I have read here over the years. It's mainly
Americans who are slab-crazy :) ..
This is a whole 'nuther kettle of fish. Sell to the market who is most
likely to buy what you're selling. Selling across an ocean to USA buyers
involves Customs paperwork, and higher postage cost and longer transit
times. Selling into your own country, or the UK plus Europe is probably your
best bet. People like dealing with sellers who are reachable easily, and
aren't 12 time zones away.
This doesn't mean people outside the UK or EU countries won't bid on your
stuff. You simply never know who will want something you're selling. So you
have to educate yourself in how to pack stuff to send within the UK, and how
to pack stuff to send outside the UK, including the relevant Customs
Paperwork, Insurance forms, and so on. Or, when you post an Auction, you
can limit what geographical areas you will ship to and forbid people outside
the UK from bidding. That's up to you.
> How good should I expect the prices to be? I have, for example, a few
> eagles from the early 1900s.
There's absolutely no way to tell you "how good" the prices will be without
knowing the condition of the coins, and whether they are common date or
rarer dates. At the very least, a Double Eagle US $20.00 Gold Piece has a
value of an ounce of Gold. About $400.00. At the very most, hundreds of
thousands of dollars, if it's a rare Key date in Superb Gem condition. And
anywhere in between. You're going to have to research what you have, learn
how to grade them, and then price your auction so that you don't***
yourself, but not price things so high that no one will bid on them either.
This takes time and practice and is not something you can learn over night.
> Thanks in advance for any help.
As someone else, Cliff I think, also suggested, people nowadays are into
instant gratification. Putting PayPal on your auctions will get you more
bids. What if a Collector in the USA wins a $500.00 coin from you and you
don't take PayPal??.. Then he has to find out what kind of payment you will
accept, buy some kind of International Money Order or cheque, Air Mail it to
you which can take up to a week, wait for you to get it and acknowledge that
you got it, and then wait for you to ship the coin back to him. And you have
to figure out how much it will cost to ship and insure, get the proper
packing supplies, and so on.
Entire books have been written about how to sell stuff on eBay.
As others have mentioned, if you start out with zero (0) feedback, people
will be extremely hesitant to buy expensive coins from you since you have no
reputation on eBay at all. It's best if you build up some feedback first,
either by selling inexpensive items, or buy buying some inexpensive items
and getting feedback from sellers.
Everyone starts out with (0) feedback and everyone wants to accumulate high
feedback numbers and not get any negatives. This takes time. It takes
education in how to photograph coins, how to grade them, how to pack and
ship them, how to transact business with strangers, there are all kinds of
nuances to it.
The questions you've asked are almost like asking "How do I fix a car?" or
"How do I re-wire a house?" or "How do I raise hogs for fun and profit?"
The answer is education. Learn the basics. Learn as much as you can. Look at
how other people do it successfully. Look at how other people fail. Read as
much as you can. If you ask questions, be as specific as you can.
I could literally sit here and write 100,000 words about selling stuff on
eBay. Start by doing research, reading, even go buy a book about it. If you
just dive in with no idea what you're doing, you're going to be one very
unhappy person. Seasoned coin collectors can be obsessive compulsive
perfectionists about what they buy and sell. After all, money doesn't grow
on trees, and no one wants to buy something and get it and find out it's not
what it looked like when it was advertised. You have to create a
presentation, learn the fine art of advertising, writing descriptions,
photography, packing, shipping, and customer satisfaction.
I'll stop there, otherwise, I'll be writing all day..