I have certain rules that I always (most always) hold on Ebay purchases but none of them are fully iron-clad. I do on occasion buy coins from sellers with low feedback numbers if it "feels right" that a small lot or group of coins really does look like somebody's cigar box collection.
Sometimes I will purchase coins from overseas. I avoid Chinese fakes and those with export/import issues, but I have gotten some nice coins at pretty good prices from Portugal, Spain, the UK etc. One must always factor in the shipping costs and don't buy from Europe or Australia if you expect the coin in a day or three.
I almost never buy coins when the pictures are hazy, look photoshopped, altered or enhanced. It is this last "rule" that I broke when I purchased my recent addition-and it paid off. The images were dark, grainy and slightly out-of-focus. The darkness of the pictures lent the impression that the coin was darkly grey with mottled black areas.
However with my inept photography skills, I have produced the same results from coins that had far different in-hand eye appeal. What I guessed had happened was that some darker cobalt blues appeared blackish and the overall patina was being subdued. Also, I felt that the strike was very good and although not FH, it was close with pretty distinct head details if not full.
Chalk this one up to experience as I was right on the money! ( and then some!) The darker areas that appeared black and grey were indeed spatterings of cobalt mixed with specks of lavender and even a few emerald specks. The overall fields were a nice rose blush. The strike of the head has some flatness but far from the worst I've seen. Also the coin is a true Slider. I could see the graders struggling over whether this coin was an MS64 or AU58- fortunately for me, my set parameters and my checking account, they opted for the AU58 grade.
So my nice little 1920 AU58 leaves me with just 2 coins to complete the registry set of SLQ AU's. I try and get nice eye appeal coins for the easier dates like the 1920 since there are more available and I can be even pickier than normal. Throw in the fact that I got it ( I'm sure the shoddy photo helped) at less than 50% of list and this was a nice little score.
Here are the early, quick pics I took and then the images from the sale/listing......