It used to be the case that trolling for good notes through the myriad of listings on eBay.com was like panning for gold. Inevitably, some great finds were mixed up with nothing but pyrite (fool’s gold), usually in the form of replica or novelty notes. To be clear, the vast majority of these notes sellers were not trying to fool anyone and pass off something fake as genuine to an unsuspecting customer. Instead, they used Friedberg note identification numbers and standard methods of describing paper money so their replicas would show up in eBay search results. This made browsing eBay.com annoying for serious paper money enthusiasts who weren’t quite interested in an imitation 1905 $20 Technicolor note for $8.95.
To eBay.com’s credit, they have now put replica/novelty items in their own category. When one attempts to list a note for sale, eBay.com makes it clear that replica notes should NOT be listed in the authentic currency section. Still, some notes slip through the cracks and wind up being displayed where they shouldn’t be.
To be fair, replica currency is just like any other item that gets sold on eBay.com. Many people happily shop eBay for imitation art work, non-name brand fashion, and other items that are more affordable and yet still serve the purposes of collecting. Most people don’t want to spend over $1,000 on a rare print when they can get the same bang for their buck at $29.95. Even better, should their print get stolen or damaged, they’re only out a few bucks compared to hundreds or thousands.
The following are arguments for and against including replica/novelty currency at eBay.com.
For Replica/Novelty Items:
The purpose of eBay.com is to create a marketplace for reselling all kinds of goods. Toys, cars, plates, silverware, antiques are all available. Some people even auction electronics, retail items, and clothes. Therefore, it would be unfair to discriminate against those selling replica currency because eBay.com’s purpose is not to serve as a high-end auction gallery. Rather, it is place where there’s something for everyone, and if there are buyers for replica currency, it shouldn’t be forbidden to sell these items on a global auction website.
Further, eBay.com would not necessarily be acting in its own best interests by banning replica items, as long as it is made clear to consumers that the items are not authentic. Whereas a $10,000 banknote might sell once a week at most to a high level collector, it might be possible to sell thousands of pieces of replica currency to a broader consumer base and make the same (if not more) money in auction fees. The same argument can be made for imitation sun glasses, china, or handbags. It’s not unlawful to sell these items unless they are intentionally being identified as genuine where they truly are not.
As long as consumers are reasonably protected in eBay.com’s trustworthy environment, there should be no problem selling copies of real notes if there is a demand for them. The same holds true for any other collector item worthy of imitation and sought by customers on all budget levels. Otherwise, eBay.com risks becoming a boutique auction website opposed to an all-inclusive marketplace.
Against Replica/Novelty Items:
Customers seeking genuine currency can become understandably annoyed when they have to sift through pages and pages of both authentic and unauthentic notes. It wastes time, confuses people, and clutters search results. There’s nothing worse than finding that one note you need for your collection, only to discover that it is not genuine. Such experiences frustrate serious buyers of real collector currency, and it discourages them from returning to eBay.com. Why even bother spending an hour browsing through pages of items for sale if there’s a good chance it will end up being wasted time?
More importantly, there is a small, yet noteworthy minority of sellers who actually try to trick people into buying unauthentic notes. This happens to many breaking into the hobby who may not know the warning signs of a bad auction or a bum note. Their innate trust in the eBay.com system is their folly, and unscrupulous people are always waiting to take advantage of someone for a quick buck. Allowing replica notes to be posted alongside genuine notes lulls some buyers into a false sense of security, and in many cases just plain confuses people. This type of situation is ripe for scammers to pounce on an unsuspecting paper money enthusiast.
Some might also begin to question eBay.com’s credibility as a trustworthy online auction house if all they can find are reproduction items in search results. There are thousands of items for sale at any given moment, and eBay.com staff can’t police every auction unless there is an egregious violation of its policy. One can also make the Walmart vs. Sak’s 5th Avenue argument: when you want a quality product, you have to go to a quality store. Sure, Walmart makes the grade for everyday purchases, but don’t tell your future wife that you purchased your engagement ring during a price rollback sale. It’s OK and even best practice to segregate items so that the right customers are shopping material they might actually want to buy.
Overall, eBay.com is still a great place to buy and sell paper money. Many dealers sell most of their inventory on eBay and have built great reputations. Outside of currency, some people have even founded their own businesses based on reselling items on eBay. It’s actually an amazing phenomenon and one of the great stories in e-commerce’s relatively short history. Connecting buyer and seller is now just a matter of a few mouse clicks. No longer does someone have to wait for a big currency show or major auction to buy notes: if they’ve got a half hour to kill and a few bucks in their wallet, they can get the perfect addition to their collection sent by mail in a couple days for a great price.
If you’re still annoyed by various eBay.com shenanigans, we encourage you to browse our website, comprised off 100% genuine United States currency from the hobby’s top dealers. If you’re serious about buying currency, you should definitely browse our pages for the next big addition to your collection!