I am a big fan of Great Collections Auctions, Heritage Auctions and Ebay. I miss Teletrade and I avoid Stack’s Bowers Auctions.
Great Collections is my favorite coin auction site because of the outstanding customer service, low 10% buyer’s fee and you get coins at reasonable prices generally set by the market place. Also, their shipping fees are very reasonable. What I am surprised about is that more people have not picked up on the advantages of this site. This is good for me because I have less competition in going after items I want.
Heritage Auctions is another favorite site of mine because they offer a wide variety of coins. They offer high-end coins and they offer common collectible coins.
The minus side of Heritage is their steep buyers’ premium of 17.5% they add to your purchase price - especially when they charge the seller a premium. So they are taking in around 27% of the sale price with absolutely no risk. Other minuses are high shipping cost, will not accept credit cards for purchases over $2,500 and slow or no feedback on auction listing errors. At times they also have sloppy listing practices. For example if you are a pedigree collector, at times Heritage does not list the pedigree name in the title so you may miss the coins you are after. Additionally, they may list it in the body of the description (not in the title) but their search engine is setup to default to searching only on the title description. It is a very clumsy system to use.
Ebay is the workingman’s coin auction site. They bring a wide variety of collectible coins to the market and depending upon timing, you can find a treasure you thought you never would find. Two big advantages that Ebay has is that they offer a “Buyer’s Protection Plan” that is amazing and no buyer’s premium is added to your invoice.
On the bad side of the ledger, Ebay has a tremendous problem with over-priced coins listed year after year after year after year. I am not kidding here. They have coins that have been listed for 3 years or more by sellers that are asking 400% over market value. You flip to Great Collections or Heritage and you can purchase a common date Binion or Fitzgerald for $75 more or less. You start a common date on Ebay at 99 cents and it will sell for between $65 to $75. But because of Ebay’s free seller listing policy, you have hundreds of these same coins listed for $240 to $380 each. Now why will anyone pay $380 for a coin that is worth $65? The end result is that you see the same coin for many, many years and Ebay not only allows this practice to continue year after year, but encourages it by giving sellers free listing services.
Another problem with Ebay is that they make no effort to control outrages shipping charges. I have seen sellers charge $12 shipping for items that cost $1.93 to ship. Now you can report these sellers to Ebay but Ebay does nothing about it. The same sellers pull the same unethical selling practices – again, year after year after year.
I used to enjoy Teletrade and looked forward to their auctions. While their listings dwindled over the years, they would still occasionally list coins of interest to the pedigree collector. I found many pedigrees in Teletrade auctions that I could not find any other place. Now they are gone and we have Stack’s. I used Stack’s for a while many years ago, but found the site very difficult to use. Their auction site is/was hard to maneuver, has/had a poor search engine and an illogical format. To me, it was all just a bunch of clutter thrown together. But the biggest item that killed me on Stack’s is their refusal to show the full slab of coins. I use coin auction sites a lot. And I find errors in listings by looking at the slabs a lot. I also find coins that are pedigrees by looking at the label when the auction house fails to describe the coin accurately. For some unknown reason, Stack’s refuses to show the slab so you do not have the opportunity to fairly assess the coin or see if errors are being made or even omissions in the description. And for these reasons, I don’t even bother to look at Stack’s auctions. I have deleted them from my saved sites. There probably are other deficiencies in Stack’s auctions, but if it is not worth going in the door, why bother to look.