Counterfeit Detection: (1945-46) Saudi Arabia 4 Pounds

Posted on 2/1/2021

While this fake is mostly gold, it still comes up a little short.

By Numismatic Guaranty Corporation®

Did you know that in the mid-1940s, more than a decade after Executive Order 6102 barred US citizens from owning gold, the Philadelphia Mint struck two types of gold bullion coins? Though they were struck at the mint, the coins were not issues for the United States. Rather, they were British denominations, a 1-pound and a 4-pound coin, which were struck for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in exchange for oil rights.

Due to their unique history and numismatic allure, these pieces today are worth a significant premium over their bullion value. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) graders were recently presented with the 4-pound coin pictured here.

Counterfeit (1945-46) Saudi Arabia 4P
Click images to enlarge.

Unfortunately for the submitter, this is not a genuine example of these one-of-a-kind issues. Instead, it is a counterfeit that could have been produced for several reasons. With its high quality and gold content (88 percent as opposed to the proper 91 percent), it very well could have been struck to fool collectors. However, it is also possibile that, like many counterfeit gold coins originating from the Middle East, this specimen was struck in order to mask the true source of someone’s wealth or to lend credence to a gold deposit to a bank or sale to a coin dealer.

While we might never know for certain why it was made, we are able to compare the counterfeit to a genuine example to see the differences in quality.

Upon close inspection, the actual 4-pound coin looks quite a bit different from the fake. Even through the real example is of a lower grade, it seems to have stronger details. The lettering on the reverse is sharper and more angular. Additionally, the speckled background behind the eagle on the obverse is more defined on the genuine piece, as are the fine details, such as the lines on the shield.

Details of the obverse design, such as the dimples in the background and
the lines on the shield, are much more defined on the genuine example.

Click images to enlarge.

The counterfeit has much softer and more rounded features. Overall, however, it is a relatively convincing fake that would certainly fool many collectors and dealers.

Esoteric issues like these can be very difficult to authenticate, as the average collector or dealer has not encountered many such coins. NGC, however, has graded over 300 examples and, therefore, has the necessary knowledge to accurately authenticate these pieces.

If you are ever in doubt about the authenticity of any coin, it is often best to simply purchase specimens that NGC has previously authenticated. As always, coins that are authenticated, graded and encapsulated by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation are backed by the NGC Guarantee.


Reproduced with permission from the October 2020 edition of The Numismatist, official publication of the American Numismatic Association.

Did you know? NGC has created a comprehensive Counterfeit Detection resource to help collectors and dealers identify counterfeit and altered coins. Visit

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