Counterfeit Detection: Iran 1976 Pahlavi

Posted on 7/11/2023

Trouble with the planchet and striking pressure can be deduced by looking at this fake.

The Pahlavi dynasty was the last to rule Iran. Reza Shah Pahlavi reigned from 1925 to 1941, followed by his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was driven from power by the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Both father and son issued gold coinage known as the Pahlavi. In the 1970s, these coins were struck in nearly a quarter ounce of gold, so genuine examples are worth hundreds of dollars today.

Genuine Iran SH1355 (1976) Pahlavi
Click images to enlarge.

NGC recently received a purported example of a Pahlavi, dated SH1355, the Solar Hijri date that corresponds to 1976 on the Gregorian calendar. The coin’s obverse shows the Shah while the reverse features the Lion and the Sun emblem, which has been associated with Persia for centuries and was even part of the Iranian flag until 1979.

Counterfeit Iran SH1355 (1976) Pahlavi
Click images to enlarge.

The coin in question has several problems. While it was struck in gold, the color and luster are not correct. This can happen for several reasons, such as the metal alloy in the counterfeit planchet differing from what is used in genuine examples.

The coin’s design elements also reveal weaknesses, such as the top of the ear on the obverse, the crown and leaves on the reverse, and the denticles on both sides. This suggests that the pressure used to strike the coin was not sufficient to fully impart the design from the counterfeit dies. One of the greatest challenges that counterfeiters face is that their equipment often can't strike a coin as fully as the legitimate minting facilities used by governments.

Close-ups of the obverse of the genuine (left) and counterfeit coin
Click images to enlarge.

If you are uncertain about your authentication abilities, remember that NGC backs its determinations of authenticity and grade with the NGC Guarantee. You can learn more about the NGC Guarantee, which helps make the marketplace for coins safer and more vibrant, by clicking here.

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

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