Counterfeiting and Deception of coins, well some will call this the “second oldest profession” in the world. It has been there since 600 B.C when the first coin was struck in Lydia. The most popular method was mixing base metals. The most used practice was called “shaving” and “clipping” of coins. Precious metals such as gold were collected this way by the shavings and then to be made as a new counterfeit coin. Today it is very rare to find counterfeit coins, however there are coins making their rounds.
When paper money was introduced in China in the 13th Century they used the wood of mulberry trees to make paper money. Guards were stationed at Mulberry Forests to control access of paper and counterfeiting.
What are counterfeit Coins?
Counterfeiting is imitation currency produced without the legal sanction of the Government, usually a deliberate attempt to deceive the recipient. It is perfectly legal for Countries like China to make “replica” coins from another country and they are always achieving better counterfeiting techniques .To create a basic skill set would help to avoid costly mistakes. If you are going to spend big money make sure and understand the risks involved.
Some guidelines that can help.
1.Build up a relationship with a knowledgeable Coin Dealer.
2.Be careful of the “bargain”.
3.Third party graded coins has been verified either by companies like
NGC, PCGS or SANGS.
In South Africa you do get forgeries, examples would be the “van Niekerk” forgery when it comes to Ponde from The Z.A.R. era, or even some French Paul Krugerrands making their way just by examining the Nose. Tungsten seems to be a popular way to fake gold. Think about it you can have a tungsten bar or coin plated with 24 ct gold, who would cut their gold bar in half?Here is a link to find out more about tungsten https://www.tungsten.com/materials/tungsten/.
However, these occasions are rare and we have ways to test if gold and silver is real or not so let’s jump into the methods.
Methods in detecting
Method 1: Fisch Scale test – This a detection kit that is available at authorised coin dealers, this test enables you to determine the diameter and weight of the coin.
Pros: Quick and effective way to test a coin size and weight.
Cons: Tungsten Gold Fakes can pass this test.
Method 2: Ring Test - Living in the modern world we can test by downloading the mobile Application “Coin Trust App “which picks up Gold Frequency by hitting it with another coin or your fingernail. http://www.cointrustapp.com/en/app.php
Pros: Has the ability to catch Tungsten Gold Fakes. Cheap and effective way to catch bullion coins.
Cons: It does not measure size or weight.
Method 3: Magnet test – Tilt your bar or coin at a 45-degree angle and let a magnet slide over it. A Fake one will slide fast whereas real silver and gold will take the magnet much slower to pass.
Pros: Incredibly easy and cheap method
Cons: Can only test larger bars and is less accurate.
Modern Minting processes have enabled it to make it hard for counterfeiting to succeed. Processes which use computers, hydraulic presses and automated processes ensures that it is virtually impossible to distinguish any coin from the next.
In the quest of detecting fakes and forgeries is a lifelong process and keeping up to date and familiarising yourself with news and knowledge is always advisable.