Fakes have bedeviled coin collectors since our very beginnings.
In fact fake ancient coin production in Renaissance Italy might have aided in the improvement of civilization as reigning princes vied with each other to obtain them and to live up to the ideals of ancient Rome.
Now fakes seem to be bedeviling the U.S. Mint, according to a story on NJ.com.
The online report indicates possible fraud in a Mint program to buy back genuine coins that can no longer be used in circulation.
It is perhaps ironic that as collectors we must look with suspicion on coins that are too good to be true while the Mint apparently must be on its guard for fake coins that are too bad to be genuine.
What will happen to the alleged perpetrators will be revealed as the wheels of justice turn.
But one thing that can and should happen is an increase in vigilance against fake coins of all kinds.
A step forward in that regard came in December when the Industry Council for Tangible Assets reached success in its efforts to shepherd through Congress the Collectible Coin Protection Act.
As the ICTA website points out, the new law put teeth in the four-decade old Hobby Protection Act
This new law also allows the “prosecution of ‘any person who provides substantial assistance or support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller’ knowingly engaging in any act or practice that violates the Act.”
Perhaps with the Mint climbing into the same boat as coin collectors, there will be a little more vigilance by the Secret Service regarding fake coins of all descriptions.
The Secret Service has naturally put a priority on protecting us against fake paper money, but this priority has been at the expense of protecting collectors and bullion coin buyers against fake coins.
Now that the Mint is under threat, perhaps this means there is good news in bad news – just as bad ancient coins were good news in a roundabout way in Renaissance Italy.
Action will be taken.
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Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."