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Detecting Counterfeits

June 1, 2016
Jun 1, 2016 | coins, counterfeit, education | 0 Comments

lustro

Detecting Counterfeits

This is first article of a 6 part series:

Introduction <- you are here

Visual Inspection

Measurements

Specific Gravity

Currency

Final Word

Historic, genuine 1803 Draped Bust design U.S. silver dollars in Very Fine condition are currently valued at about $3,000.  This counterfeit 1803-dated dollar was recently offered in a Hong Kong flea market for less than $3.This counterfeit 1803-dated dollar was recently offered in a Hong Kong flea market for less than $3.

Counterfeiting has been a problem since the beginning of money. It has been tried by people of all skills and even tried by nation states. The quality of the counterfeit depends on the talent of the counterfeiter, the amount of time and resources the counterfeiter has to create the counterfeit, and their access to the technology.

There has been a rise in counterfeiting of both collectible and circulating coins. The biggest source of counterfeit collectable coins has come from China. In some cases the counterfeiters had purchased the presses and other machines from the U.S. Mint and other government mints after they were replaced with more modern machines through government surplus sales, providing a supply of machines that could strike high quality coins.

To add to the problem, at one time the U.S. Mint did not fully deface used dies after its useful life. Rather, they would carve an "X" in the surface leaving large areas of the design showing. These cancelled dies made it out of the various branch mints as souvenirs and have been available on the open market. Counterfeiters have purchased these dies, mostly Morgan dollars, and use them as the basis to create their own dies that have fooled even the most experience numismatist.

Today, the U.S. Mint grinds the design completely off of all cancelled dies.

Starting in 2010, Great Britain began having problems with counterfeit