Coins bought through online auctions present challenges to the buyer. some are not quite what they claim to be. This might be accidental, or might be deliberate, on the part of the seller.
Photographs of coins can be misleading. some coins, like the United States two cent piece usually photographs as a round, brown, featureless item. Showing the details necessary is difficult. so, the seller may have no option other than scanning the coin. But scans can hide flaws. New coins with extensive mint luster also are difficult to photograph. The reflected light may make any flaw obscure, or may even wash out the image. strange colors are likely to be caused by background objects reflecting, which might cause the coin to look the wrong color. in fact, silver coins often photograph as gold coins. Read the auction. an honest seller will point out any flaws and discard those photographs that make the coin look too good.
Have a resource book handy, and use it for any coin that you are not familiar with. one auction on Ebay for a Trade Dollar had a coin dated before Trade Dollars were in existence, and this was not a typo. The photograph of the item showed the same date. Obviously, the coin was a counterfeit. in this case the counterfeiter produced a lower grade coin trying to hide the fact the coin was not genuine.
Watch for misleading auctions. some offer empty boxes, and make the fact there is no coin obscure. some sellers photograph several coins and use the photograph in several auctions, each auction being for one coin. never rely on the photograph alone. then some people make errors in their listings, inadvertently calling something what it is not. Read and view the photographs carefully before bidding.
Although a coin that is not genuine should be made obvious in the title, photograph, and text of an auction, some sellers skip one or two of these. look carefully for the word copy, tribute, and miniature. some have the word copy hidden, such as in the feathers on the reverse of a Morgan Dollar. Miniatures should never display the weight of the original item, but rounds now are showing up with 1 Troy ounce 0.999 silver stamped on them. The coin that it copies is one Troy ounce 0.999 silver, not the miniature round. This is incredibly misleading. many bullion buyers do not care if they buy coins or rounds, but do expect the fair amount of precious metal advertised.
Some people advertise one Troy ounce coins with higher weights. one must always be aware that coins cannot simply be weighed on any scale. Ounces and Troy ounces are not the same. if the seller does not know the difference, the buyer should.
Weight problems are frequent with ten dollar Casino Strikes. A ten dollar Casino Strike should have just over six-tenths of a Troy ounce of fine silver, but the brass ring makes the coin weigh higher. These are often advertised as one Troy ounce fine silver coins. When bidding, be knowledgeable of the item you are trying to win, or use a good reference source before placing the bid.
Some sellers use the word gold, or the word silver, in the title. only after reading the description thoroughly can the word plated be found. since the plating is gold or silver, they get away with it.
Some very nice coins occasionally appear at very low prices. Remember the adage, if it looks too good to be true something is probably wrong with it. Check the country from which the item ships. many apparent bargains ship from China or Thailand. are these coins genuine? ask yourself how many five Troy ounce silver coins can someone sell at twenty dollars each unless the coins are silver plated.