Counterfeit Detection: 2012 Year of the Dragon Silver 10 Yuan

This particular counterfeit has reflective areas not seen on the authentic coin due to the die not being sufficiently frosted.

The problem of counterfeiting in China is very real, and it is believed that most of the new fakes seen in the market over the last decade or so have originated in the country. These forgeries generally target non-Chinese coins or coins that are otherwise not legal tender in China, including vintage Chinese coins struck prior to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. It is rather rare to see counterfeits of legal tender Chinese coins because these would likely be aggressively pursued by government officials.

Nonetheless, spurious Chinese modern coins are still seen by NGC at both its Sarasota and Shanghai offices. This Chinese 2012 Year of the Dragon Silver 10 Yuan is one such example that was recently submitted for grading.

Counterfeit 2012 China Dragon 10 Yuan
Click images to enlarge.

This counterfeit would likely fool many collectors. It does not look all that bad based on a cursory inspection. Some details are a bit softer than one might expect, but the overall quality is not exceptionally poor. A comparison with an authentic example, however, reveals numerous differences.

Genuine 2012 China Dragon 10 Yuan
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One of the most obvious differences is the size of the stars on the date side (although this is officially the obverse side, NGC encapsulates these pieces with the dragon facing up). The genuine piece has much larger stars than seen on the fake. In addition, the obverse of the counterfeit has reflective areas not seen on the authentic coin because the die was not sufficiently frosted. The weakness of the details, especially on the Temple of Heaven, becomes much more apparent under magnification.

Close-up of counterfeit (left) and genuine (right)
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As you can see from close-up images, there is far less detail on the counterfeit than on the genuine piece. The temple looks extremely soft and ill-defined on the fake. There are similar issues on the dragon side as well.

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

For example, there is significant loss of detail in the clouds behind the dragon. While they are very sharp and well defined on the genuine piece, the lines on the fake are weak and blend together in many places. As for the dragon itself, the colorization is of a much lower quality on the forgery. The colors are slightly off and it looks pixelated.

Buyers should always be vigilant and carefully study any prospective purchase whether it is vintage or modern, domestic or foreign. Even coins in mint packaging must be scrutinized because that can be faked as well. As always, one of the best ways to know how to identify a counterfeit is to be extremely familiar with genuine examples. If there is any doubt about a coin’s authenticity, remember that coins graded by NGC are guaranteed to be authentic.

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