Counterfeit Detection: 2012 5-ounce Silver 50 Yuan Panda Commemorating the Issuance of the Gold Panda

Posted on 5/10/2022

There are several problems with the design of the fake, and the edge holds a clue as well.

For the 30th anniversary of the Gold Panda, China issued several coins in 2012 to celebrate the occasion, including a 5-ounce Silver 50 Yuan. According to the NGC Chinese Modern Coin Price Guide, an example of this coin near the top of the grading scale can be expected to sell for about $250 to $400. This includes a nice numismatic premium over the value of the coin's silver (which is worth about $100, as of May 2022).

Genuine 2012 5-ounce Silver 50 Yuan Panda commemorating the Issuance of the Gold Panda
Click images to enlarge.

NGC recently received a purported example of this large coin, whose diameter of 70 mm is nearly twice that of a Morgan Silver Dollar. It is so large that NGC uses its Oversize Holder to encapsulate genuine examples. But before that can happen, the NGC grading team needs to determine whether an example is genuine.

Counterfeit 2012 5-ounce Silver 50 Yuan Panda commemorating the Issuance of the Gold Panda
Click images to enlarge.

In this case, there are plenty of indications that the coin submitted to NGC is not genuine. The depiction of the biggest panda, for instance, has a misshapen nose and is missing half its mouth. The eyes don’t quite match up with what is seen on genuine examples.

Close-up of genuine coin (left) and counterfeit
Click images to enlarge.

A closer look at the eyes and other parts of the face of the panda show diagonal lines that do not exist on genuine examples. This is a remnant of the counterfeit dies, which were likely created using a highly computerized process. While this is enough to condemn this coin as a fake, it’s worth considering what else is wrong with it.

Close-up of counterfeit
Click images to enlarge.

An examination of the other side of the coin reveals additional problems. On the counterfeit, the details at the top of the Temple of Heaven, including the Chinese characters, are actually too strong. In other places, the design elements are sloppy, including the architectural features underneath the middle and lowest rooflines. On the fake, they have been simplified into wavy lines.

Close-up of genuine coin (left) and counterfeit
Click images to enlarge.

Collectors often use scales to check the weight of a coin, so a counterfeiter would make sure a coin like this falls within the expected range. But collectors typically do not have access to the equipment needed perform a metallurgical analysis. This counterfeit is 59% copper, 36% zinc, 4% nickel and 1% silver, instead of the expected 99.9% silver. (So in addition to having no numismatic value, the counterfeit has an intrinsic value that is only a tiny fraction of the expected $100 or so.)

Close-up of edge of counterfeit
Click images to enlarge.

Because silver has a higher density than the other elements in the fake, a counterfeit that has the same weight and diameter as a genuine coin will have a thicker edge than a coin made of pure silver. Knowing how thick a coin should be can offer clues to whether a purported example is real. If you want to be confident that a coin is authentic, remember that NGC backs its determinations of authenticity and grade with the NGC Guarantee.

Did you know? NGC has created a comprehensive Counterfeit Detection resource to help collectors and dealers identify counterfeit and altered coins. Visit

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.