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EBay: Silver Trumps Gold

NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- In the battle between gold versus silver, silver shines with investors, according to recent data from eBay (EBAY - Get Report), and coin dealers expect this trend to continue in the second half of the year.

Demand for silver bullion items ranging from coins to bars has consistently outpaced gold from 2007 through the first-quarter of 2011, according to data collected by eBay. Although gold demand grew 60% on the auction site from 2007-2010 and silver demand grew only 40%, in total there were 1.8 million more silver items sold than gold ones.

"Silver has been growing significantly faster than gold," says eBay. "Based on the buyers we have spoken with, we believe this is because silver is at a much more accessible price point than gold." It takes 42 ounces of silver to buy 1 ounce of gold, which means retail investors looking for a bargain might be more apt to tap the cheaper metal.

In the first-quarter of 2011, this trend continued at a gangbuster rate with silver buyers beating out gold buyers by two times in the first quarter. EBay says that almost half of these buyers were first timers. "One new buyer we spoke with started investing in precious metals after he was unable to obtain a mortgage. He felt precious metals were a better option than putting his money in his savings account because of the increase in spot price."

Silver trumping gold looks set to continue. According to Commerzbank, the U.S. Mint said silver coin sales reached 22.3 million ounces in the first half of the year, the highest level since 1986, compared with a 14.4% drop for gold coins.

"The last 6 months have been really very strong [for silver] with the increased price," says Scott Thomas, president and founder of American Precious Metals Exchange, which buys from the U.S. Mint. "It's been as strong as I can ever remember."

Thomas does admit that demand has slacked over the last 6 weeks as gold and silver recover from a steep selloff in May and enter a seasonally slow buying period. But "as summertime comes to an end," argues Thomas, "focus will be back into the metals."
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