? Why are the 1883 nickels with ?CENTS? on them so much more valuable than those without, despite the much higher mintage?
Mintage figures don?t ?lie,? but they don?t always tell the whole story. Because of the publicity surrounding the racketeer nickels and the change in the design, everyone at the time thought that the ?no CENTS? variety would be the rarity and hoarded them, so that today there are many more available than the ?common? ?with CENTS? variety. The other factor involved is the almost automatic saving of any first issue of a new series. It has the same effect on the number available to collectors, almost regardless of the mintage.
? Was there a big influx of counterfeit gold coins into the hobby in the 1950s?
In a two-year period ? 1952 to 1954 ? more than 20 million fake gold coins were sold. The copies of every major gold coin of the past were produced by a group of private mints scattered over Europe, the Middle East and North America. The coins contained at least as much, and in some cases even more, gold than the genuine originals. The principal reason for the illegal traffic was that at the beginning of the period, gold coins were bringing an average of $54 per ounce on the Paris gold market. That was roughly a 35 percent premium for the bullion.
? How is silver wire used in making counterfeit coins?
A description of the method in use during the 18th century indicates that silver-plated copper planchets had a piece of silver wire wrapped around the outside edge before being struck. This was done so that test cuts or filing would not show the base metal core.
? I have a Mexican coin that is possibly a counterfeit, but it has die breaks. I?m told these ?can?t be faked.?
Die breaks, die cracks, hub doubling and other changes to the die can be readily faked, so your source is wrong. Get the coin authenticated.
? Weren?t some of the early penalties for counterfeiting pretty rough?
The common practices were remarkable for their cruelty. Early German counterfeiters were forced to swallow molten metal. A maker of counterfeit dies would have one of his dies heated and used to brand him. In France the culprit faced a cauldron of boiling oil or water. English authorities chopped off a hand. In Italy counterfeiters were burned alive. It was a hanging offense in the American colonies, later reduced to cropping off an ear.