Counterfeits Still a Problem for the Hobby

Posted on 7/1/2003

Counterfeit coins can still be easily found in the marketplace.

Despite efforts of organizations like the American Numismatic Association (ANA), the International Bureau for the Suppression of Counterfeit Coinage (IBSCC)and several professional grading services and hobby publications to educate the collecting public about counterfeit and altered coinage, they can still be easily found in the marketplace.

“As demand for NCS conservation and certification services have increased, so too have the number of counterfeit and altered coins that we see each day,” says Brian Silliman, NCS Assistant Director of Operations. “We not only receive fakes for our Details Grading and Authentication services, but many have been showing up in the conservation submissions.”

NCS evaluators, all of whom are highly skilled in authentication, routinely find spurious coins and coins displaying altered dates or mint marks in conservation submissions of uncertified coins. A few encapsulated counterfeits have also been spotted.

“At the recent Baltimore ANA convention we saw more than a dozen counterfeit and altered coins while giving informal opinions at the table,” says Silliman. “In fact, in recent months with increased activity in the coin market, we have seen dramatic increases in the number of counterfeits seen at shows and at headquarters.”

Most, if not all of the counterfeit and altered coins seen in the hobby are relatively easy to detect. The ANA published several references that highlight genuine and counterfeit diagnostics as well as general authentication techniques that, if utilized, would help most collectors and dealers avoid making costly mistakes.

One of the more up-to-date sources of information about counterfeits is a column written by NCS senior conservator F. Michael “Skip” Fazarri for Numismatic News. This column not only provides information on counterfeit and altered coinage, but also tips on grading coins. The column is a great starting place for developing the knowledge and skill needed to spot counterfeits in the marketplace.

Other valuable references can be found through numismatic book dealers and the ANA Library.

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