Counterfeit Detection: Great Britain 2011 Aquatics 50 Pence

Posted on 3/12/2024

A cheap knock-off of a variety has plenty of variations from a genuine modern rarity.

To celebrate the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Great Britain issued commemorative 50 Pence pieces with 29 different designs honoring various sports categories. One of these coins, which celebrates aquatics, can sometimes be found with a rare variety called “Lines Over Face,” in which the water lines of the design appear to obscure the face of the swimmer.

Great Britan 2011 Aquatics 50 Pence - Lines Over Face variety
Click images to enlarge.

Only a few hundred coins of this variety are believed to have been released, making it far rarer than the standard coin, which shows the swimmer’s face clearly. Examples of this variety have been offered for thousands of dollars, making it one of the most desirable modern varieties in British coinage.

The Lines Over Face variety (left) and a typical Great Britan 2011 Aquatics 50 Pence
Click images to enlarge.

NGC recently received a coin that is a poor imitation of this variety, and it offers an excellent opportunity to explore some of the questions that coin collectors should ask themselves. For instance: Are the surfaces correct? On this particular coin, the mirrored Prooflike or Deep Prooflike finish that is typically seen on this issue is missing.

Non-genuine Great Britain 2011 Aquatics 50 Pence – Lines Over Face
Click images to enlarge.

Another important question is whether there are differences in the design from what is expected. This coin is lacking detail in the queen’s hair and crown on the obverse as well as in the 2012 London Olympics logo on the reverse. The Olympic rings are muddled, and the word London embedded in the first ‘2’ is indecipherable. The trademark symbol to the right of the logo is actually produced with more detail than the ones on the genuine examples.

Imperfections in letters and numbers on fake coins often give them away. In this case, the letters are too thin. In addition, the Gs on the obverse lack the extra descending stroke at the bottom-right that is found on a genuine example, and the initials beneath the queen’s portrait should be rendered in a sans-serif font.

The lettering on the fake coin (left) and a genuine coin (right)
Click images to enlarge.

A fake coin similar to this one was offered on an online auction site earlier this year as a “gap filler” for a collector’s album. Unfortunately, without being marked as such, these coins can eventually find their way into the numismatic marketplace. If you want to make sure your coins are genuine, 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

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