Sunday, February 5, 2012

eBay bans replica & copy coin sales from February 20

Good news for coin collectors and investors who source some of their purchases on eBay.

In late January members of the US site ( received the following email from eBay:
The eBay marketplace for coin collecting is vibrant. Buyers and sellers alike enjoy access to both a great selection and a highly engaged community. Customers within the Coins & Paper Money category have told us that the ability to shop and sell confidently on eBay is an important factor for them.

Based on this feedback, and after closely reviewing the coin experience on eBay, we have decided to update eBay's Stamps, currency, and coins policy to disallow replica coin listings on, effective February 20. Any replica coin listings on eBay on February 20 will be allowed to end normally.

This update reflects standards across the coin industry and helps ensure compliance with applicable laws that require replica coins to be permanently marked with the word "copy." We also expect that this update will increase marketplace confidence by letting our community know that coin listings on eBay are authentic, so they'll receive the most positive eBay experience possible.

As always, thank you for selling on eBay.

The eBay Seller Team
President of David Lawrence Rare Coins posted he following based on their meetings with eBay:
This new policy is designed to draw a clear line in the sand that eBay sellers cannot offer copies of coins (or copies of any coin-related exonumia like tokens, badges, etc) for legitimate sale on the site. We all know that counterfeits are offered for sale on eBay but these have been and always will be illegal, so that's not what at issue here.

What is at issue is that sellers of the so-called copies were often offering counterfeits with the word "COPY" stamped on it, but delivering coins without the stamp. There was no real way to police this on the eBay side and eBay came to the PNG (Bob Brueggeman, the Board and the membership) for advice on the issue. They heard -- in no uncertain terms -- from all of us that copies must be removed from the site as a first step to cleaning up the eBay marketplace. And, to their credit, eBay has responded very quickly and decisively. All of these will no longer be sell-able on the site as of Feb 20.

Does this solve all the problems on eBay of people selling counterfeits? Of course not. But this is just the first step that eBay is taking and they have assured us (to me, personally) that more steps will be taken next. They are looking into ways to increase community policing because it takes a village to keep an eye on all of these listings and stay one step ahead of the counterfeiters.

I, for one, am extremely encouraged by this first step and look forward to seeing more positive actions. It's good for the entire industry that we clean up the online sellers and protect consumers as much as possible.
It's a shame that they are only implementing this on the US site this month, but it's a step in the right direction and hopefully flows through to other global eBay sites in the near future.

The action still does not make eBay a "safe" place to shop for bullion and coins and you should always be on your guard and carefully test any products purchased from the site.

Some eBay listings are specifically labelled as selling replica products, many get trapped by this even though they are clearly labelled as such. I wrote up a piece on my other blog (Bullion Baron) recently with some wording to look out for when trying to identify replica/copy/fake items:

German (Nickel) Silver: This is a copper alloy with nickel and often zinc. The usual formulation is 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc.

100 Mills/Mils: Refers to a Silver (or Gold) plated product. While the very thin exterior layer *might* be real Silver or Gold, the inside will be something else (usually copper).

HGE Gold: Stands for Heavy Gold Electroplate and consists of a base metal that has been plated in Gold.

Gold Flakes: Often sold in vials this alloy is unlikely to contain significant amounts of (if ANY) real Gold.

Columbiam (Niobium) / Molybdenum Bullion: Other metals may be manufactured into bars and coins and sold as a “precious” metal, but ultimately they are of little value to the investor.

Other keywords to look out for when avoiding products which are likely to be fake and contain little or no real Gold/Silver: Copy, Replica, Plated, Layered, Clad, Token.

OzCopper has collated a list of some of the most common copied products which are circulating at the moment:

Fake silver ingots and coins include:
1 ounce Sunshine Mint
1 ounce Scottsdale
1 ounce Pan American
1 ounce American Prospector
1 ounce 2012 Perth Mint dragon
1 ounce Canadian Maple Leaf

Many generic 1 ounce ingots including the USA flag design, scales design and “worth its weight in silver design.

Fake gold coins include:
2011 Perth mint 1 Ounce gold Kangaroo
Gold Krugerrands
1/10th ounce Austrian Philharmonic gold coin

Here is a picture of a replica Sunshine Mint 1 ounce Silver bar (not actually Silver):

Replica Sunshine Mint 1 Ounce Silver Bar (not .999 Silver!)

There are also some great videos worth watching where OzCopper destroys the products to show the copper coloured metal beneath the plated exterior.

Some eBay sales will sell the above items without listing them as fakes so ensure you take appropriate actions to protect yourself. As much as I dislike PayPal when I'm selling it's a great tool for protecting the buyer in the case you purchase a fake/replica product without realising it. 

Many of these replica items can be identified with simple tests such as ensuring the product meets the original specifications of weight and size (many fakes will weigh over or under by a large enough amount to identify them), however if you want to be sure there are some methods listed in this thread at Silver Stackers, such as a water displacement test which is easy to carry out at home if you don't have access to more advanced testing methods (such as use of an XRF machine).


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