By Richard Giedroyc
How to handle a counterfeit coin at auction
Reader Richard Stevenson adds his personal experience to the recent question regarding third-party certification services lack of published reports on the number of counterfeit coins encountered. According to Stevenson, “It would have saved me a bunch of time and money recently getting burnt on an 1882 $3 gold coin that came back from Numismatic Guaranty Corporation as counterfeit. It had the correct weight, size and gold content. When I questioned NGC the answer they gave was, ‘We cannot tell you why it is counterfeit for security reasons and referred me to their website which listed hundreds of counterfeits. So now I’m an educated coin buyer. What I thought was finally my big payday turns out to be just another day in estate auctions.”
I will add to this that Stevenson should advise the estate auctioneer the coin is counterfeit and try to get his money back. He will need to prove the coin determined to be counterfeit is the same coin sold by the auctioneer.
Have U.S. coins ever been cast or are all of them struck?
All U.S. Mint-produced U.S. coins are struck. However, the undated 1776 New Hampshire copper by William Moulton and some late 18th century imitation British halfpennies were cast.
Is there any advantage of casting a coin rather than striking it?
Modern technology makes striking a coin more efficient both for mass production and for quality. Some medallic artists prefer to cast their medals to achieve a higher quality for these fine art pieces. These are not mass produced and many of them are of very high relief.
How can an uncirculated gold coin have an orange toning on its surface? My understanding is that gold doesn’t tarnish.
U.S. gold coins are composed of 90 percent gold and 10 percent copper. It is the copper that gives the attractive toning to many uncirculated gold coins. The lack of any hint of such toning may suggest the coin has been dipped at some time.
Can lead composition medals and tokens be lacquered?
Lead medals and tokens should be immersed into heated bee’s wax or into liquid paraffin. The liquid wax should then be shaken off, followed by blotting the medal or token on paper. Blow the wax residue away using a household fan or blow dryer, ensuring a skin-thin layer that penetrates the porous surface is all that remains.
During what time frame was lacquering prevalent in the U.S.?
I believe this was most popular during the later 19th and early 20th century. Readers a welcome to add their thoughts.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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