As a regular buyer of hammered coins on ebay, and a member of all the hammered coin groups, I often experience or hear of problems related to lack of care and a bit of thought on the part of some sellers. So I have written this guide to offer a few suggestions to sellers in order to make life easier for the whole ebay hammered coin community. No offence is intended in writing this guide, and I offer an unreserved apology for any taken.
Know your coins.
When listing hammered coins [pre-c.1662] it pays to know under which monarch your coin was minted. This will make selling the coin much easier, and buying a more pleasurable experience. The easiest way to identify the majority of hammered coins intended for sale on ebay is to search through the listings, both the live auction listings and the completed sales, for similar examples. Simply match up the portrait [if any] and legend to other coins. Coin reference books are also very useful, beginners need initially only invest in one, 'Coins of England and the United Kingdom', which contains reference numbers for every monarch and type of English coin known from Celtic right up to modern-day. Its published yearly by Spink. This book currently costs around £25, but older issues can be had very cheaply here on ebay and of course the reference numbers are the same, later issues are simply updated. Also go along to coin fairs, local dealers, coin clubs etc... to get a feel for the coins and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge retained by the people involved. There is simply no substitute for first-hand knowledge.
Not as important as knowing the monarch, but any relevant information can be useful to buyers as it saves time on researches. This kind of information needs to be fairly accurate if added to a listing, and guesswork as a rule should not be employed, or if it must be then it should be clearly stated as a possibility only. Some types are obvious, size gets larger the higher the denomination from farthing to groat, but if you can say when it was produced, where and under whose authority then your coin is as good as sold. Again reference books, websites and experts can advise on what type or class of coin you have. Or why not join one of our friendly coin groups here on ebay, we would be glad to help and advise you.
Not a coin ?
When is a hammered coin not a hammered coin ? When it is a token, medal or jetton. All of these were produced in some numbers and were hammered similarly to coins. They are generally recognisable by the metal they are made from, which is usually not silver as for most hammered coins [in varying dgrees of debasement]. Some difficulty in identifying these 'non-coins' can arise in the later Tudor and Stuart smaller denominations which were produced in copper alloy, although they are generally smaller than the above stated. Anglo-Saxon stycas of Northumbria were also minted from copper alloy but these dumpy little coins are too different to cause much of a problem. Beware that some early Medieval jettons [counting board tokens] have crowned busts similar to the reigning monarch of the time, for example Edward I, II & III, and can look very similar to a hammered penny especially if plated in silver !! But unlike coins these have no legend, and so are not ambiguous. Many 17th century tokens have a legend and were used as an unofficial coinage. Specialist works on tokens, medals and Jettons tend to prove very expensive. Much easier and cheaper to ask someone for a positive identification if unsure.
Photos added to a coin listing should be as clear as possible, with no blurring or light 'bounce-off' and the whole flan in shot. They are best taken in natural daylight or with a professional set up, as dark pics can be infuriating as little detail is visible. Coins scanned into the computer on a scanner produce ideal pictures for listings. It is only necessary to add two photos, one of each side. I have seen ten or more used !! They should be large enough to see the detail on the coin clearly, but not too large or every imperfection will be visible. Too small and research on the coin becomes difficult. No pictures at all added to the listing will cause the vast majority of potential buyers to bypass it, as we like to see exactly what we are getting !! If adding pics of multiple coins in one photo please spread them out so that they can all be seen clearly, dont pile them up or arrange them in a pretty pattern .... Again two photos should be provided so that the obverse and reverse of all the coins can be viewed.
Any useful information added to a listing is a bonus, and will be helpful to buyers and sellers alike. A short paragraph with monarch, type, mint, moneyer, year etc... is all that is necessary. Please dont write masses on the monarch and time period, as any serious buyers will already know their history and find this tedious. All coin listing pages on ebay contain a section to fill out on useful information under set headings, but many sellers dont use it. Please fill it in and add any further relevant information, which may include authentification, provenance, findspot, distinguishing details, whether the coin is royal or episcopal etc... anything which is helpful in selling the coin.
What not to list as !!
How many times do we see the listing header as 'Hammered Coin' or 'Silver Penny' etc... This couldnt-care-less attitude makes life hard for anyone interested as they then have to fully research the coin from monarch onwards, and gives the impression that the seller cant be bothered. Many coins listed this way are ignored by serious buyers, which is in itself a shame as bargains can be had if the seller hasnt done their homework. Another bad listing is 'detector find' or similar, which is fair enough but then 95% of hammered coins sold on ebay are found with a metal detector. All praise to the detectorist [or I for one could not collect hammered coins] but please do some very basic research before you list the coin. Its more helpful all round, and you will also know exactly what you have found of course, and can then discover its value. Otherwise more bargains can be had .... Some other offputting headers are 'Estate Lot', 'Part of my late fathers/grandfathers collection' etc... these imply dishonesty - even if the seller is perfectly genuine. Estate Lot simply says that the seller cant be bothered to have what he is selling authenticated, and it is sold as seen. And unless the 'late father' in question was a known collector [in which case the coin will sell for more if you name him] it is a waste of time listing coins this way as no-one will be interested. Provenance can if necessary be given to the winning bidder privately after the auction has ended. Listing coins as 'Penny found in Gloucester' or anywhere else is also futile as unless the coin is a great rarity and the findspot information crucial, most buyers will not care where it came from, and anyone interested will ask.
Putting a reserve price on a coin defeats the object of auction selling, and most buyers will simply ask what the reserve is. A high grade or rare coin will attract sellers whatever the start price and should sell itself without concern. If you think the coin will sell for less than you are prepared to accept for it then dont auction it !! There are buy-it-nows and ebay shops for selling this way. Similarly starting the listing with a high but open price is counter productive, and many dealers list coins this way. For the same reasons as stated above it says to a prospective buyer 'this coin is not quite worth what I am asking for it' - because I darent risk starting the auction at 99p ....
From time to time buyers wishing to learn a little more about a coin for sale on ebay may email the seller [there is a link on every page for this] and ask them questions. If this happens please answer the email, even if you cant provide the required information. Please let the enquirer know this - politeness costs nothing. Also sometimes ebayers will identify an ambiguous or unidentified listed coin for a seller. This admittedly is unsolicited, but with the best intentions in mind they are trying to help the seller - and the information provided might just sell the coin !! Most sellers of coins listed this way will email straight back to say thanks very much for the help, but some ignore it [some ignore the email and then amend the listing with the info provided, which is rude] completely. Again it takes two minutes to email a quick thankyou.
Sellers, please dont assume that all buyers have or indeed use Paypal, just because it is your only or preffered method of payment. Some dont like Paypal or just dont have it. If your listing states that you will accept other forms of payment, then please ensure your name and address is on file with ebay. This saves the trouble of asking for them and you get the payment quicker.
The old favourite moan of ebayers .... Please dont recoup your losses by adding high postal charges. This is unfair to buyers - and other sellers - and can lead to bad feelings upon enquiry. A standard postage rate is also uneccessay unless it is very low. Five pounds [for example] across the board is ridiculous. Its ok for a heavy book or next day Special Delivery, but for hammered coins won cheaply its far too high. By weight a hammered coin will ship on a first class stamp, although this is not recommended except for very inexpensive coins. Recorded Delivery [signed for] should cost an ebayer no more than about £2.00 including envelope, capsule and packaging. Special Delivery [next day, insured to £500.00] need only cost around £5.00 including extras. Any more than this and the seller is making money on postage.
Please vote for my guide if you agree with it or find it helpful or useful in any way. If you need a coin identifying please contact me through my profile, my ebay group or my website Daves Rare Coins, [please see my 'About Me' page for address] and I will be very happy to help in any way I can.
I have now written five ebay guides in relation to hammered coinage and I am a Top 1000 reviewer. I am a Council Member of the British Numismatic Society and my ebay group is called Early Medieval Hammered Coinage. Please come along and join us, we welcome anyone interested in hammered coinage to Stephens reign. We currently have over 100 members and counting. My good friend Clive [a moderator in my group] also has an ebay group called British Hammered Coinage, and Richards group is called English Hammered Coinage. Look forward to seeing you around the ebay hammered coin community.
Thanks for taking the time to read my guide. Please vote below. Kind Regards, Dave.