Counterfeit Detection: Schwarzburg-Sondershausen 2 Thalers

Posted on 4/1/2019

Two fakes bear identical imperfections but different dates.

By Numismatic Guaranty Corporation

Recently, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) graders identified an interesting pair of fakes. The 2-thaler specimens from the German state of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen were submitted together and are virtually identical.

These two counterfeits were struck from transfer dies. In this process, a genuine coin is used as a model for the dies. Therefore, all the pieces struck from these dies display the same imperfections (circulation marks, wear, etc.) as the host coin. These characteristics are easy to see when you compare the examples side by side.

OBVERSE DIAGNOSTICS: Identical depressions can be seen on the counterfeits in front of and on the forehead, on the ear and on the jaw.
Click images to enlarge.

As you can see from the photos shown here, numerous depressions appear on both coins. While they seem to be contact marks, it’s statistically impossible to have the same damage in the same places on two coins.

REVERSE REPETITION: Small incuse lines can be seen in and around the lower right quadrant of the coat of arms, notably below the point of the shield; in the bottom right corner of the checkered pattern; and above the left side of the “M.”
Click images to enlarge.

What makes these fakes even more interesting and unusual, however, are the reverses. Although the designs and imperfections are carbon copies, the dates are different—1841 and 1845! It is clear the counterfeiter skillfully altered the last digit of the date on a pair of dies created from the same genuine host. Nevertheless, the surfaces and overall feel of the coins were not quite right and tipped off the authenticators.

As counterfeiters gain access to more powerful technologies, such as three-dimensional scanning and printing, the numismatic marketplace likely will continue to be inundated with high-quality fakes. As numismatists, we must be ever vigilant and protect the hobby against the threat posed by this new generation of counterfeits.

When shopping for coins, you should familiarize yourself with the characteristics of genuine specimens. If you are not confident in your abilities, buy coins certified by a reputable third-party grading service.

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

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