Counterfeit Panda Coins

Posted on 11/1/2006

A rash of skillful counterfeits are endangering the integrity of the popular Chinese Panda coin series. Find out how you can tell a true Ling-Ling from a cunning fake-fake.

When most people think of counterfeit coins, they often think of Gold, Key Dates, and older coins. However, recent issues of coins are now being counterfeited at an alarming rate. These pieces are not only a danger for collectors and dealers, but they usher in a new era in which possibly no coin is safe from replication and fraud.

 
 Real
Panda

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Counterfeit
Panda

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 Real
Panda Eyes

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Counterfeit
Panda Eyes

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The Chinese Panda coins have been popular among collectors and dealers since their introduction in 1982. Almost immediately, counterfeit Pandas began to surface. The 1982 Gold Panda coin was so popular that it quickly and dramatically rose above gold in value, sometimes trading for more than double. 1982 Gold Pandas were the first coins in the series to be counterfeited. While this was a sad reality, the counterfeits for the most part remained scarce.

In early 2006, a counterfeit 1987 Silver Panda was identified. The piece had a number of obvious features that distinguished it from real 1987 issue Pandas. It was mint state and not proof, as all 1987 Silver Pandas are. Next, a number of design details were amiss, including the panda's eyes. There was a substantial number of raised tooling marks on the lettering, something that genuine Chinese Pandas don't have. Finally, the reeding was infrequent. Because of the coin's numismatic value and the fact that it was an earlier piece, it was not surprising that the coin was counterfeited.

The previously mentioned examples were more highly valued items. However, in recent years, counterfeits of lower value Panda coins have been discovered. This was first brought to light with a 2001 Panda that appeared to have been struck twice. This piece, later confirmed as an authentic panda with a counterfeit second strike, was cause for concern.

Numerous rumors spread about the vast amount of counterfeit pandas making their way into the marketplace. Certification became key with collectors who feared these counterfeit pieces. Ever vigilant, it was only a matter of time before more counterfeit Pandas would make their way to NGC. In October, they did.

Going through a box of mixed modern world coinage, a 2001 D Silver Panda jumped out as just wrong. The 2001 D Panda coins differ from generic 2001 Panda coins, as they feature a "D" incused into the design. This D was used to distingu