World Coins: Mexico 1982 Onza

This counterfeit Mexico 1982 Onza was made to deceive collectors.

With the ever increasing price of silver and gold, coins that were put away years ago are now making their way back into the marketplace – including counterfeits that are once again fooling people. For example, several counterfeit Mexico 1982 Onza coins were received by NGC for grading and authentication.

First reported in The Numismatist in the early 1980s, the counterfeit Mexico 1982 Onza was made to deceive collectors. The 1982 Mexico Onza was the first year of issue for this popular bullion coin and supplies at that time were scarce. Collectors eager to buy were paying significant premiums over bullion for the coin. A counterfeiter sought to take advantage of the situation and made counterfeits of the new coin to meet the overwhelming demand. The fakes were quickly discovered and published. However, almost 30 years have elapsed and these coins are reappearing on the market with high silver prices.

Mexican 1982 Onza Mexican 1982 Onza
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Mexican 1982 Onza Mexican 1982 Onza
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The counterfeits are made of a silver content very close in composition to the authentic coins. Additionally, when the counterfeit coins were sold to the public in 1982 the onza design was new and relatively unknown. However, when the counterfeits are compared to an authentic 1982 Onza they are easily distinguishable, as there are significant differences in the design details.

For example, the counterfeit features a smaller, thinner date, and a larger “Ley 999,” “PLATA PURA,” and “onza” when compared to an authentic piece. On this counterfeit the dress fades out at the bottom near the foot, the toes are ill-defined, and the face differs significantly from that of the authentic onza coins. The mountain and ground areas have a granular look on the counterfeit pieces when compared to the smooth design of the authentic onza. On the reverse the lettering of the counterfeit is larger and more closely spaced, the head of the eagle is significantly different in feather shape and pattern, and the wreath and cactus are also designed differently - the cactus has un-circled spikes on the counterfeit.

While the Mexico 1982 Onza does not possess the same monetary premium over bullion today that it did in 1982, the counterfeits from that time still exist and the savvy collector can avoid them when armed with the right knowledge and a keen eye.

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