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Scary photos and it's not Halloween

What’s scarier, experts who have a difficult time detecting an especially good Chinese counterfeit, or people who call themselves average collectors who can’t spot a badly done fake when it is in their hands?

I think it is the latter. There are more of them.

I received a letter and a packet of photos. In it, the writer tells the story about having gotten the whole group for just $20. He sent them to me. He wants F. Michael Fazzari, an authenticator who writes a Numismatic News column to take a look at them.

The photos are of early American coins. They are exceedingly bad fakes. This reader did not notice?

They had everything from crooked letters to irregular rims. I expect they were light in weight compared to regular coins, too, judging from the photos. No counterfeiter worth his salt would waste precious metal or good copper on such terribly done fakes.

Why did this reader not notice that these are fake?

I did not use any sophisticated analysis techniques. You could compare these photos to black and white photos in a 30-year-old guide book and still figure it out.

I know there are collectors who don’t want to buy books. Using the $20 to buy a copy of Coin Digest or other popular reference book would be better use of the money.

I also wonder what else this particular average collector doesn’t know and it scares me.

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