By Richard Giedroyc
The Professional Numismatists Guild has recently posted a warning that there are an increasingly significant number of counterfeit coins appearing in the market.
“It is clear there is an increase in the types of fakes sold by unscrupulous dealers,” said PNG President Dana Samuelson. “These sales of counterfeit coins are potentially a multi-million dollar problem for the public. There’s an old saying that can help buyers avoid problems: If you don’t know coins, you better know your dealer.”
Samuelson continued: “We conducted an informal inquiry of PNG members and PNG Accredited Precious Metals Dealers (APMD) about what they’re encountering now in the marketplace. They have seen everything from counterfeits of vintage rare coins to modern precious metal items. These include fakes of popular century-old U.S. Morgan and Peace design silver dollars to current gold and silver American Eagles, gold U.S. Buffalo coins, silver and gold Chinese Pandas, and Canadian silver and gold Maple Leaf coins. We’re also seeing spurious gold and silver ingots.”
According to Samuelson, “Professional dealers who look at classic U.S. coins and bullion items all day long are usually not fooled by these spurious items, but to the untrained eye they often look like the real thing. Many of the fakes apparently are originating in China and then offered online by various sellers. It is imperative that collectors, investors and the general public deal only with reputable, knowledgeable experts who offer a guarantee of authenticity.”
Max Spiegel is a vice president of Certified Collectibles Group, the parent company of Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. In turn, NGC is the official grading service for PNG. Spiegel recently acknowledged the company has examined fake 2012 gold American Eagle $50 coins exhibiting poorly defined facial and hair details on the obverse. The same coins used incorrect lettering fonts for the legends and date. Since these fakes were not composed of gold the metal color was incorrect as well.
Two PNG member dealers recently reported viewing counterfeit 19th century Draped Bust, Seated Liberty and Morgan silver dollars, as well as 20th century Morgan and Peace silver dollars, all being sold in both mainland China and Hong Kong for as little as $1 to $3 at flea markets.
Speaking from personal experience, I recently viewed a counterfeit 1933 $20 Double Eagle and a gold American Eagle dated 1901. Counterfeit Trade dollars are commonplace, typically struck of non-precious metals.
Professional Coin Grading Service has previously reported counterfeit encapsulations meant to mimic their encapsulations. The coins in these fake “slabs” were also bogus.
The Royal Canadian Mint began adding micro-engraving as a security device to its gold Maple Leaf coins in 2013. This was followed by similar technology being added to the silver Maple Leaf coins the following year. The field of the silver coin has been changed from being flat to having finely cut radial lines. The mint’s patented multi-ply plated steel technology is planned to be used on its circulating $1 and $2 coins in the near future.
The Perth Mint in Western Australia recently added microscopic images to its silver Kangaroo coins, with plans to add similar security devices to its other bullion coin products.
It isn’t difficult to find and purchase counterfeit coins online that are being sold as replicas. I viewed an online store in preparation for this article. A six-piece set of “1988-1991 Russia USSR Replica Coin 150 Rubles Zinc Alloy with Silver Plated Commemorative Coins” was selling for $7.90 while a replica of an English 1643 Charles I triple unite was being offered for $3. A one-ounce gold-plated Credit Suisse ingot described as “layered bullion bar ingot replica coin – Switzerland fake gold bar” was available for $8.49.
According to the seller’s commentary, “I only sell replica coins for collections, none of the coins I sell are original. Please don’t buy them as the original coins. I sell these copied coins only want to make your collections more perfect.”
Replica coins being sold on the Alibaba.com web site included a copy of the 1983 South African Krugerrand and a Canadian Maple Leaf “replica coin/gold plated tungsten coin.” Both were to be shipped to the buyer from Shenzhen, China. Alibaba was suspended from the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition in May.
According to a June 13 CNN Money newscast, “Chinese-manufactured fake products are just as good – if not better – than the real deal, according to Alibaba founder Jack Ma.”
This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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