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Technology fights fakers

Counterfeiters beware. A new method of securing high value circulating coins has been developed.

A closer view of the new German Planet Earth 5-euro coin with the polymer ring colored blue.

A closer view of the new German Planet Earth 5-euro coin with the polymer ring colored blue.

Ten years of German research went into a coin that was unveiled by the Federal Republic of Germany at the Media Forum held in conjunction with the World Money Fair in Berlin Feb. 5.

A new 5-euro circulating coin honoring Planet Earth will be released April 14. It would be just another commemorative except for its revolutionary new composition. Instead of being a standard bimetallic coin with an inner disk surrounded by an outer ring, a thin ring of polymer is placed between them during the coining process.

That polymer ring by the use of nanotechnology can be filled with tiny elements that would make the coin machine readable and therefore counterfeits could be detected by the lack of the proper elements in the polymer ring.

High face value coins used by everyday people have always been targeted by fakers because most individuals do not attempt to determine whether they are genuine or not. They just take them. As a consequence, it has been estimated that up to one-third of the round pounds in the United Kingdom, face value $1.45, are not genuine.

Both old and new were on display at the introduction of the German 5-euro Planet Earth coin. A easel was next to Dr. Michael Meister as well as the large screen multi-media projection system.

Both old and new were on display at the introduction of the German 5-euro Planet Earth coin. A easel was next to Dr. Michael Meister as well as the large screen multi-media projection system.

Making a coin with a polymer ring in it is not easy, and counterfeiters cannot duplicate the security devices embedded in it. Because the security elements in the polymer can be changed at will, coins made one year can be differentiated from coins made in another year.

The cost basis is such that this technology could be widely licensed and adopted.

The face value of a 5-euro coin is roughly $5.60 and that is a tempting target for fakers.

Whether this new technology will be widely adopted remains to be seen. The Planet Earth coin in the meantime is designed to appeal to collectors. The polymer is colored blue to represent the atmosphere surrounding earth and separating it from space. Other planets are depicted on the outer ring. The polymer ring is 80 percent translucent.

Because it is so easy to differentiate the elements in the polymer, there are actually five shades of blue that will be available, one from each of the German mints.

Albert Beck, left, receives a new polymer-ringed German 5 euro from Dr. Michael Meister.

Albert Beck, left, receives a new polymer-ringed German 5 euro from Dr. Michael Meister.

Most of the 1.7 million coins will be issued at face value, but 250,000 will be made of proof quality for collectors and sold for 15.55 euros each.

Dr. Michael Meister, the parliamentary secretary of the German finance minister, presented dignitaries with examples of the new coin, including one to Albert M. Beck, founder of the World Money Fair.

If the door to a high denomination circulating coin has been opened in Europe, will the United States eventually copy the idea with a $5 coin?

Also, along the lines of security, the Royal Canadian Mint launched its DNA program in Europe at a reception last night. Details were revealed by Sandra Hanington, President and CEO of the RCM, and Ian Graham, RCM director of sales for bullion and numismatics in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Gold Maple Leaf bullion coins made since 2014 can be machine read by a scanner and pronounced genuine or fake by matching it will the die that made it at the mint. The same can be done with silver Maple Leaf bullion coins made since 2015.

Sandra L. Hanington, president and CEO, of the Royal Canadian Mint, hosts a reception to introduce the DNA scanning device that can authenticate gold and silver Maple Leaf bullion coins in seconds as well as reveal counterfeits. DNA stands for digital nondestructive activation.

Sandra L. Hanington, president and CEO, of the Royal Canadian Mint, hosts a reception to introduce the DNA scanning device that can authenticate gold and silver Maple Leaf bullion coins in seconds as well as reveal counterfeits. DNA stands for digital nondestructive activation.

Dealers can use this technology by buying a scanner that works with a PC for $500 in U.S. funds and then use it for no further charge as often as they want.

This technological leap was first unveiled in the United States at the American Numismatic Association convention this past August in Rosemont, Ill.

This blog would not be complete without acknowledging the find of a 2016-D nickel in circulation in Los Angeles by reader Michael Wielock. Congratulations on this report of a first find.

Now for me, it is back to the bourse floor to see what I have been missing by sitting through 20 presentations over nearly four hours at the Media Forum.

More Collecting Resources
• Come on down to the Chicago International Coin Fair in Rosemont, Ill. on April 14 to 17, 2016 to see impressive world coins, meet new collectors and participate in Heritage Auction’s fantastic coin auction.
• Keep up to date on prices for Canada, United States and Mexico coinage with the 2016 North American Coins & Prices guide.