Counterfeit Detection: 1964H Hong Kong 5 Cents

A contemporary coin with a rare date is the impetus behind the alteration of a more common specimen.

By Numismatic Guaranty Corporation

The 1964H Hong Kong 5 cents is the key date in this series. Though the coin was not released for general circulation, some examples survived and are sought by collectors.

Because of the small number of extant specimens, pieces can fetch hundreds of dollars each, making this coin a target of counterfeiters. Indeed, graders at Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) have noticed an increase in the number of fake 1964H Hong Kong 5 cents submitted for certification.

This forgery was created by altering the date on a more common Hong Kong 5-cent piece
Click images to enlarge.

At first glance, the coin appears genuine. Nothing in particular really stands out, and it seems to be simply a lower-grade 5-cent piece. A less-informed numismatist might not even know it represents a particularly rare year and thus would not notice the numerals of the date. However, further examination reveals the true nature of this coin.

In the photo below, notice that the fields around the “4” are scratched and lighter than the surrounding areas, suggesting this coin was created by altering a more common specimen. The forger painstakingly moved metal on the coin’s surface and the last digit to create a “4.” The resulting abrasions are called toolmarks and are commonly seen on altered pieces.

Close examination of the date on this 1964H Hong Kong 5 cents reveals tooling around the numeral “4.” The discoloration, marks and odd style of the last digit are proof positive that this specimen was altered. Click images to enlarge.

If you are considering purchasing a coin that has a small design element (such as a date or mintmark) that makes it much more valuable than a normal example, it is important to closely study that area of the coin. Collectors also should be aware that contemporary Asian coins are among the primary targets of forgers. In fact, two of the top five coins on NGC’s list of most commonly counterfeited world coins are Asian specimens minted in the 1940s: a French Indo-China 1943-44 tael and a Vietnamese 1945 20 xu. (View the “Top 25” at

As always, numismatic items certified by NGC are backed by a guarantee of grade and authenticity.

Reproduced with permission from the April 2018 edition of The Numismatist, official publication of the American Numismatic Association

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