From the Nov. 3 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:
Are fake coins a growing threat to your enjoyment of collecting?
Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.
I collect ancient coins, and the issue of counterfeiting is very troubling. There are several brilliant artists working in places like Bulgaria, using the same tools and techniques as the ancient minters. Their products have fooled everyone at least once or multiple times. I have been collecting coins of the Seleucid Empire for 25 years, yet I have recently been fooled by more than one item. It is like a contest in which you figure out one trick by the opposition so they just come up with another. Still, I persist in collecting.
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Yes. For a long time now, I no longer buy raw Morgan silver dollar coins.
As long as there have been coins, there have been counterfeiters. For modern collectors, there has always been the specter that a high-end coin might be a fake. But what I find much more disturbing are the low-end counterfeit coins, like the circulated Morgan dollars, that are popping up. These are coins that retail for around $20, yet cheap copies, not even made out of silver, can be had on eBay and elsewhere. Sometimes they are identified as fakes, but often they aren’t. So what’s next, fake Franklin halves? Mercury dimes? Wheat back pennies?
Perhaps when I attend a coin show, in addition to a magnifying glass I should also take a magnet.
Yes, just like Great Britain and their pound coins, it can happen anywhere. Yes, even here in the U.S.A. Rolls of dollar coins here usually don’t have fakes in them. Occasionally, a Canadian Loonie or few, can crop up. Yeah, other denominations can have other foreign coins in them. Occasionally, it’s Canadian, British or Mexican in nature.
In terms of Canadian or British, it’s easier to save these over time to use on a trip to/through these countries. As for Mexican, it’s what you feel if it’s worth it or not. If not, return them to said financial institution with wrapper. This way, they can collect on some “passers” of said coins.
One time I saw a lady pass in a roll of half dollars. I in turn purchased it. On the spot, I counted it. Yes, only $9 dollars worth. The teller knew whom it was, and debited her account. I did get my 10th dollar back. This was the only time I checked on the spot.
I have never and never will buy coins from e-bay, because of fakes. We can thank China for that. I will buy from our coin club auctions and from my local coin shop. I have also bought from well-known dealers online.
I believe fakes are a major problem to the hobby.To me, they are taking the fun out of collecting. I am not an expert collector, but I do not need to read Coin Collecting for Dummies. I started collecting when I was ten, out of circulation. I am sixty-five now.
My advice is to join a club. There are experts in every club. Read Michael Fazzari's articles (Facts about Fakes); read NN; enjoy what you collect. Buy low, sell high. Remember, if the sale price sounds to good to be true, it probably is a fake.
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Without a doubt. I’m a collector/investor. I love to browse for raw Morgan dollars, picking out those from a coin show, dealer stock, or local coin auction that pop with luster, are unique (e.g. cracked dies or die polish...the more the merrier!) or have a nice strike/clear fields and cheek.
On the investment side, I usually can’t afford gold (except in the smallest of bullion, which also drives my coin collecting daughter crazy, as she doesn’t like the tiny gold. “Why would anyone carry that [California gold quarter dollar piece] around in their pocket?" she asks. "They must have lost a lot of those in the wash!”
But the recent news that there is now counterfeit U.S. gold is very disturbing. I can understand how the weight could be right using tungsten, but I don’t see how the electrical properties could be faked.
Regardless, if I have to go to a dealer to verify my third-party graded coin, that very much impacts how I will invest in the future. Maybe our Government should step in and pressure an end to this kind of "flattery" ... and without a doubt (having experienced counterfeit and doctored coins in the past), this certainly also effects my numismatic ‘pursuit of happiness.’
Kansas City, Kan.
The massive influx of counterfeit coins is not restricted to the United States.
In Canada, we have seen a huge increase in high-quality silver coins of not only key dates but common dates also.
The regular collector with a limited budget, always looking for a deal, is getting slammed.
We need the Chinese Government to do a serious crack down on these counterfieters/manufacturers.
Peter M. McDonald
No. Nobody counterfeits the junk that I buy.
Bruce R Frohman
Whilst I have not been personally caught up in this problem to any great financial extent, I have had two examples of copies of items presented to me as genuine: both by dealers who should have known better. Bt often dealers don’t!
The problem has become far worse with quality "meant-to-deceive" copies now rife!
Out of curiosty, I haggled and bought the objects at a reasonable price – for what they were – and got them out of the marketplace.
Yes, if they are taken for and paid for as “real” coins. There is a growing desire with some collectors to “collect” fakes. I myself have “pick-up” coins that I knew as fakes but looked very fine or were of the type I wanted, but I always tagged them as fake.
Fake coins are only a problem relating to less-than-honest dealers, dealing with unknowing collectors, or collectors confronted with a “great deal” for a rare coin at a less-than-average price.
Old words, “Behold for the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But know who has their hand in your wallet.
Mary Esther, Fla.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
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