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Time for government to stop fake coins

When the Secret Service makes a big counterfeit paper currency bust, headlines are made.

This was the case when $30 million in fake U.S. paper money was seized in Peru.

But what should be making headlines in numismatics is the lack of Secret Service activity in the area of fake coinage.

Anything that the U.S. Mint has ever struck since 1792 can be faked in China.

Perhaps we can have a parallel celebration next year.

The Mint celebrates 225 years. Fakers can celebrate 225 years of opportunity.

We might think we know what counterfeiting is, but do we?

A widely understood definition agreed to and then enforced would be a big help.

Perhaps the American Numismatic Association board of governors can pass a resolution calling for this.

What should we consider coins that try to look exactly like an issued coin but has a different date?

What about something that once existed that was purportedly entirely destroyed?

What about copies of older designs overstruck on genuine U.S. coin issues entirely obliterating the design underneath so it can be truthfully said that the piece was produced originally at the Mint?

How about the latest news of the treated 2004 silver American Eagle that is privately called a reverse proof?

The Mint strikes reverse proofs, but not in that year.

How about plated coins? Colorized coins? Neither of these are manufactured by the Mint. They are interesting as souvenirs, but more are finding their way into unknowing hands.

While all collectors have grasp of the issue, not all would draw the line against fakes in the same place.

Most collectors would agree that if a line can be drawn by common agreement that it should be officially enforced by government law enforcement.

There have been educational presentations at coin conventions about these issues, but collectors have not made enough noise.

It is time to start making noise.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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3 Responses to Time for government to stop fake coins

  1. I think it’s time the mint started counterfeiting Chinese coins! Why not what’s good for the goose is good for the gander! I mean let’s see how they like spending there money on fakes. Turn everything around. Why not I’m sure we would get a big kick out of it. See how they feel. I bet they would raise all heck. Not like here. They would start a war. What do we care. Why should we bother everyone has tons of money to buy them. We’ll even encapsulate them for ourselves. It’s totally out of hand and it turns my stomach. I do believe the silver eagles are made here. Sold at shows. But again so what. To much trouble for our government. Just my opinion. Mike.

    • badon says:

      This idea won’t work at an official level because the Chinese coin market is vastly smaller and more immature compared to the USA coin market. This is because coin collecting was artificially suppressed starting in the 1911 revolution, and then totally eliminated by communism in 1949. The last restrictions affecting coin collecting were removed in 2003. Basically, it’s foreign collectors who do the most collecting of Chinese coins, so any fakes produced in the USA would only serve to make the problem worse for for people in the USA.

      In general, I have to disagree with the notion that the problem of fakes is out of control. Because there is so little being done to stop fakes, there is very little effort put into making the fakes high quality, so they are easy to identify simply by comparing with a genuine specimen. For coins of high value, we have NGC, PCGS, ANACS, and ICG who do credible authentication and grading. In the end, the ultimate source of security against fakes is to buy from a few favorite dealers, and remain loyal to them. The only thing a coin dealer has is expertise and reputation.

      For what it’s worth, my “badon’s ebay spam filter links and custom searches” (BESFLACS) list is my own personal effort to combat fakes, and it has been working well in the small venue where I operate it. See it here:


  2. coinkiddu says:

    The Chinese Mints does not counterfeit US coins @Michael Byrne, it’s small individual counterfeiters that do that.

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