Friday, December 11, 2009

A Bad Spell For Silver

Have you ever accidentally mistyped a search field while browsing on ebay? And found to your astonishment just how badly some people spell? You'd be amazed at the number of variations they contrive. Don't these sellers proofread their listings? Don't people email them to write they're wrong? Okay, so I was a seventh grade spelling bee contestant. Call me picky, but this just rankles me. Maybe, I'll just take advantage of the fact that they're learning-disabled. Their ignorance can become your bliss.

Before we proceed, let me dispel the impression that I might be callous to those with handicaps. Mispelled words could be the result of dyslexia, a real malady which afflicts millions, much to their detriment. From Wikipedia we learn that dyslexia is a learning disorder that manifests itself as a difficulty with reading and spelling. It is estimated that dyslexia affects between 5% to 17% of the U.S. population. Dyslexia is thought to be the result of a neurological defect, and is diagnosed in people of all levels of intelligence.

My title "a bad spell of silver," refers to the fact that a few times, while hurrying, I have mispelled silver when typing in the search field, and entered sliver instead. To my surprize, I found entries listing sliver for sale. Sliver is remarkably similar to silver, as it is sold in face amounts of 90% sliver content coins, it's just spelled differently. And it doesn't cost as much, because bidders don't know it exists. Few people bid on these auctions, because they don't know they're there! They're there now.

Today there are fifty listings under United States coins for sliver, there are sixty-nine under the category Coins and Paper Money, and another fourteen under bullion. Under siver we have thirty four for the first category, sixty for the second, and eight under bullion. How creative can we get? I found three auctions for sivler coins, and five ebay stores carried those items. There were two listings for siler coins and four ebay stores carried similar items. And there was one listing for a selver coin.

There are even listings for silveer items, though only one is a coin. The others are jewelry. Finally, I found one item that was made of slilver. Gold doesn't seem to be as big a problem, for some reason. I guess there aren't too many ways to mess up a four letter word. Though I did find one listing for a gould coin, and twenty-five for gild. Perhaps that can be forgiven, since to gild is to decorate with gold leaf or liquid gold, and these coins are composites of silver with a thin veneer of gold adhered to them.

Do a little research on completed listings and you tell me you can't bargain hunt like this if you're willing to take the time. What I do like to do is type in the broadest search possible, that could in all likelihood encompass all of the tiny niches these weird listings would fall under. I typed in only the word silver and found 1,235,427 auctions. Most of these listings are not coins, the great majority are for jewelry and watches. You'll notice auctions - advertising clothing, shoes, and accessories, and antiques - as well.

But it pays to broaden your search like this. You can find items you would otherwise miss. Just disregard anything but coins, and scan as fast as you can. You'll have items expiring at the rate of thousands a minute. You should probably forget items with less than ten minutes remaining and give yourself a headstart. Otherwise, if your interest is captured by an item, it will take a minute just to confirm that it's something you'd like to bid upon, but in that instant the auction has expired.

If you're going to do this you have to know in advance how much you're going to bid, because you have to be The Flash, in order to read and bid this quickly. But, again, it's worth it. Why? Because - according to the search results produced when silver is entered - if you were to enter "silver coins" you would get 25,212 hits. But how many do you get when you enter silver as the broader category? Then you get 98,525 hits, under the same subcategory of Coins: U.S.

The same holds true for gold. Type in gold and you get 1,219,475 hits, of which 32,256 fall under bullion and 15,834 are classified Coins: U.S. But type in gold bullion and you only generate 7,970 hits. Type in gold coins and you'll only get 9164 hits under Coins: U.S. You're missing out on seventy-five percent of the precious metals auctions you could be bidding upon. And if you're missing out, so are most others. And if they're missing out, then likely the winning bids are lower. And you call yourself a Roman, Centurion?

I've gotten deals in the past where I was able to buy two troy ounces of gold for $100 each under the going rate, all because I took the time to look for mispelled forms of the word Krugerrand. I wound up as the only bidder on two Kruggerands that were listed by a seller in Arkansas. I won the bid at the opening price. A happy camper pitched his tent that day. Mispellings of this gold coin, in particular, are so acute that there is a website that maintains a list of errors:

I think I'll go look now and see if I can't repeat my luck. Looks like there are 282 Krugerrands listed, but only twenty-six Kruggerands. I'm surprized there aren't Freddy Kruegerands as well. Maybe during Halloween? I think I'll go check out listing 350288495224. "Krugerrand 1/4 Ounce gold 1982 kruggerand No Reserve." This guy lives in Texas, land of the chainsaw massacre. Do you think he would slash the price if I told him his listing was worse than a nightmare on elm street?

Buy Silver. Buy Gold. Save Copper. Start Now.

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