Buying silver bullion on eBay can be a minefield. Silver bullion is a precious commodity and a good investment, if the price is right. Bullion coins and bars are also often quite attractive, so are fun to collect just as hobby/conversation pieces. However, it is wise to be aware of pitfalls when purchasing silver bullion.
In the UK, new silver bullion is subject to VAT which removes some of its investment potential. Second hand silver is thus a better bet, and ebay is a good place to buy this. If you are serious about purchasing large amounts of silver bullion, eBay is possibly not the best place to do so as the markup is usually quite large, although you can find bargains.
IMPORTANT NOTE: With silver bullion, as well as gold and platinum, if the price seems too good to be true, AVOID! In particular, avoid the "Chinese dynasty" silver bars that come up from time to time as it is extremely difficult to prove the authenticity of these bars. Assume fake, or silver plated at best! To guarantee authenticity, stick to big name assayers/refiners like Credit Suisse, Johnson Matthey, Englehard, Northwest Territorial Mint, A-Mark, Pamp Suisse etc.
In terms of investment, 1oz silver bullion coins are often considered preferential to silver bars as they can often be picked up cheaper ounce for ounce and also have a numismatic value that may increase over time. Nevetheless, bullion bars are more impressive and can be bigger- anything from a few grams to about 500oz.
Silver bullion usually comes in three purities; FINE (.999 or 99.9% silver), BRITANNIA (.975 or 97.5% silver) and STERLING (.925 or 92.5% silver). Obviously, FINE silver is the most expensive.
Bear in mind the market value of silver before purchase (currently about £6-7 per ounce); often if the markup of a bullion product is greater than 100%, you may be able to find it elsewhere for cheaper- sometimes on another eBay auction. Contrary to popular belief, silver bullion is not difficult to get hold of in the USA, however in the UK there are only a few outlets that will sell silver on a small scale.
So, three golden (or should that be silver?) rules to remember when bidding on silver bullion:
1. As with all eBay items, shop around for prices, and bear in mind the market value of bullion
2. Avoid too-good-to-be-true prices and "Chinese dynasty" type silver brick-bars
3. Stick to well known assayers/refiners, and buy bullion coins if you are interested in long-term investment potential
Hope you found this guide useful; happy eBaying!