Friday, January 25, 2008

1984-D DIME

Circulation strikes: 704,803,976
Designer: John R. Sinnock
Diameter: ±17.9 millimeters
Thickness: ±1.35 millimeters
Metal content:
Outer layers - 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
Center - 100% Copper
Weight: ±2.27 grams
Edge: Reeded
Mintmark: "D" (for Denver) above the date
Value: $1.25 (MS-65)

Because it's been in the news… I just don't get the whole eBay coin listing thing.
I get that buyers were having issues. I get that some sellers were listing coins that were graded by less than reputable grading companies and representing the coins in a fashion that suggested that the grading was by a top level company. I get that coin descriptions were made to contain reference to the pricing of coins that were graded by top level companies.

But I never really understood the problem. I'm a big believer in Caveat Emptor. Not in any sort of cynical, all sellers are out to screw you, kind of way. But if I see a coin I'm interested in online. And if the seller claims a particular grade, shouldn't I expect to see a picture of the coin IN it's slab? And once I've seen the slab… shouldn't I take some responsibility for looking to see what company's slab the coin is in? And who cares if the seller lists a value based on an NGC graded coin when the coin was actually graded by ASA? I shop for vintage music equipment on eBay all the time. I often see people claiming that an item is worth X number of hundreds or thousands of dollars. So what? If I am looking for an item I also do some research into the current market value of said item. I don't take some sellers word for what it's worth. And the supposed 'value' has no bearing on what I'm willing to pay anyway. My price is a product of how badly I want something. With modifications based on the perceived condition of the item, what I can afford, how hard is it to find… I don't think it's really any different, or at least it shouldn't be, with coins. If a buyer can not be bothered to educate themselves why should the seller be punished? Mind you I'm not a self interested eBay seller, I've never sold anything on eBay. But choking a public market to protect lazy buyers who won't take personal responsibility for bad purchases is the wrong choice.

And now eBay is being sued.
And I'm a bit flummoxed here as well. Not by the lawsuit, well partly by the lawsuit, but mostly by the steps eBay took that opened them up to it. Seems to me that eBay should have done was disallow any textual claims of grading or certification on coin listings. Period. Then add two radio buttons. One where the seller could select, from a list, the company that graded/certified the coin (with options for 'other' and 'none') and another where the seller could select the grade. With this in place a buyer could filter a search by grading company(s) and grade(s). No mystery, no fuss, no mess. No one forced to list a coin as ungraded simply because the grading wasn't done by a company that eBay chooses to recognize. No problems. Now I'm not familiar with the grading of paper money, but in theory the same arrangement could be made for those listings as well…

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