American Numismatic Association

Hello everyone ! I know it has been a while since I posted a blog, but I am last back, and I am here to stay ! The subject of this blog is on how to detect forge silver medal coins. I do not claim to be an expert in the field of counterfeit detection, and I am confident that many of you are already armed with this cognition ; so this web log is geared towards those who are raw to the populace of silver coin or bullion investing. As with anything in life, but specially with numismatics, ‘knowledge is ability. ‘ The more you know, whether you are a dealer or collector, the more money you will save. For this reason, I feel compelled to share my own experiences in dealing with counterfeit silver medal coins and bullion.
As previously mentioned in an older blog, I started collecting coins at 7 years old. I fell in love with Morgan Silver Dollars after I stumbled upon a standard three-coin determined, stored in a felt Crown Royal bag under my Great-Grandfather ‘s layer soon after his die. It was n’t until I was much older and stationed in El Paso, TX that I truly started to specialize in a finical genre ( sulfur ) of numismatics, which is both U.S. or extraneous silver and gold coins. At this point in my biography, I decided that I have last reached adequate fiscal constancy to start collecting and investing in precious metallic element coins. I began looking on Craigslist under collectibles for individuals selling individual coins or stallion collections ( beginning crimson pin ). I was ecstatic when a seller contacted me about a standard 1885 Morgan Silver Dollar. Based on the photograph he sent me, my agile reference of the Grey Sheet, and that day’s silver market value ; I determined that the most I would pay for the mint would be $ 22.00. adverse to following the advice of early seasoned argent investors to constantly bring an earth magnet and a digital scale, I chose to assume the hazard by not bringing these items because I was running deep to my meet-up with the seller, and I rationalized that the odds of the coin being counterfeit was reasonably low ( foolish decisions on my separate ).

I met with the seller at a public location, which happened to be a Burger King, and the seller looked normal and seemed trustworthy ; however, after sitting down and seeing the coin up stopping point and personal, something in my gut told me that something was very wrong. The first thing I noticed was the burden of the coin. I did n’t have my scale to confirm, but the system of weights of the coin in my hand seemed light compared to authentic Morgans I ‘ve held in the past. The other crimson flag I noticed ( and ignored ) was the lifeless color and miss of shininess on the coin. I foolishly rationalized that the coin was cleaned, which explained the lack of color ( this is why I should ‘ve brought an earth magnet ). By now, I ‘m indisputable many of you are thinking as you read this, “ belly laugh, what an idiot ! ” and rightfully then ! Nevertheless, I was determined to buy this coin. The last bolshevik flags I noticed was the detail of the natural tire on the coin. queerly, I didn’t ignore these details. On the obverse side of the coin, I noticed that the words “ familiarity ” were worn polish more sol than the higher portions of coin, such as the cheekbones, the hair, deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as the wreath and crown. On the rearward side of the coin, I noticed similar wear patterns where the details in the eagle ‘s inner wing feathers were worn down more thus than the higher areas, such as the eagle ‘s head, breast, talons clasping the arrows and olive arm, a well as the wreath. To me, these details were significant, because both logically and naturally, the higher areas of the coin should show more wear than the lower areas when circulated over prison term. At this point, I was about 60 % surely that I was about to purchase a counterfeit coin.
While I was examining the coin, I asked the seller where and how he acquired it. He answered vaguely that he acquired the coin from a acquaintance who gave it to him and that he did n’t know how a lot the mint was actually worth. He flush reduced his original sell price from $ 22.00 to $ 15.00 ( again two more red flags ). At this orient, I was now 90 % surely I was holding a counterfeit coin. however, I bought it anyhow. Many of you are now credibly squirming in your chairs saying “ you did what ? ! ” Bear with me, I had my reasons. At this point, you need to remember that I was a novitiate argent mint collector and was not 100 % confident with my forge detection skills. Let entirely basic cognition of the specifics concerning the Morgan Silver Dollar. so at the time, I hoped and made myself believe that I was wrong, thinking that I scored a Morgan for alone $ 15.00 ! last, I rationalized that if it did turn out to be a forge, I would at least be removing it from the coin commercialize, which I viewed as a populace service to all coin current and future coin collectors. After purchasing the mint, I immediately went home to confirm its authenticity, and sure enough, it was all kinds of imposter ! The first quiz I used was the earth magnet, and it stuck alike bees on honey. I immediately knew this was bogus due to the fail magnet screen, but immediately I was intrigued, so I weighed it on my scale and it turned out to be fair over 22 grams rather than the correct weight of being slightly over 26 grams. however, the kicker, and the huge crimson flag that I completely missed ( which made me feel like the biggest idiot ) was the way the eagle was facing when I flipped the mint over laterally from left to right, while keeping the obvers side upright. alternatively of the eagle being correctly oriented top down with its head face to the right, I was sheepishly amused to see that the eagle was upright with its drumhead confront to the left.
I learned my example after this transaction, and vowed that I would never make the lapp mistakes again. After I bought my inaugural counterfeit coin, I compulsively researched on-line, bought guides, books, and watched numerous videos on YouTube to arm myself. I even purposefully bought counterfeits to build a collection of counterfeit coins for my own reference and self-study. I do believe that over the years, counterfeiters have become more sophisticated in their techniques, particularly with smaller denominations. A couple of years ago, I was surprised to stumble upon a counterfeit 1964 Roosevelt Dime in a flee grocery store, while strolling through downtown El Paso, TX. That mint besides failed the magnet test, however, I was blown away that counterfeiters find it cost effective to replicate a dime bag that was n’t evening a key date coin ! so based on my experiences, I leave you the following advice on how to test the authenticity of a silver mint before you purchase it :
1. Know Your Stuff : your cognition is your beginning and best note of defense against buying or ( eden prevent ) unwittingly selling a counterfeit coin. Know and memorize the weights, dimensions, and very well details/characteristics of the writing style or individual coin you are attempting to purchase. You can find this information from on-line through PCGS, NGC, the U.S. Mint, or the Official Red Book. Find a coin you know is authentic and study every contingent of that coin both under a magnify glass and by the naked eye. Study the wear patterns of your authentic coins, arsenic well as the characteristics of the coin ‘s design. For model, the Morgan Silver Dollar has three overrule side variations, and technically a fourth with the 1878 “ Doubled Tail Feathers, ” the mint stigmatize if appropriate to the date is located on the reverse under the wreath, in the first reverse pas seul, the eagle has 8 tail feathers, in the second base variation the top arrow feather is latitude with the rest and the eagle’s chest feathers are concaved, whereas in the third base reverse variation, the top arrow fledge is slenderly slanted and the eagle ‘s chest feathers have a slenderly different appearance. There are many other details to look for, but this is how well conversant you need to be with your coins before you make any purchase. It is besides authoritative to understand the most coarse forge processes, one of which is to take molds of both sides of argent coin and then fuse the two flatware ” caps ” together over or core disk. typically the magnetic disk is made of standard magnetic metals, such as steel. This is precisely why the U.S. mint designed “ reeded/serrated ” edges on most of its mint coins, or which is why you see designs or words engraved on the edge of some alien coins. If you look at the forbidden edge of an authentic U.S. coin, you will see seamless reeds along the entire outer edge of the coin, because the coin was precisely stamped with a die on both sides. Counterfeiters typically do n’t have entree to these dies, and they could attempt to recreate them ; however, the procedure of recreating dies to counterfeit U.S. coins in this manner, requires exquisite skill and funds that most counterfeiters do n’t have access to. So the most common way counterfeiters attempt to replicate U.S. coins are with molds. When you look at the boundary of a forge coin, specially one created by a skilled forger ; you will entirely be able to see the line where the two silver molds were fused together with a blow up glass. The reeded/serrated edges will look authentic from both obverse and turn back surfaces, but the forger will attempt to sand or polish away the line on the very outer edge, and then attempt to carve reeds or serrated edge to promote hide the line.

2. Use the Luster and Sound Test : most ash grey coins have a certain luster to them, even when inappropriately cleaned, particularly Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars. You can perform the luster examination with argent coins while silent encased within the standard cardboard and plastic coin holders, however, you will see the luster more distinctly if you remove them and are directly under good light. I recommend that you wear clean cotton gloves while holding your coins by the rim or by its boundary. While under proper unhorse, manipulate the lean of your coin by oscillating it from left to right in a clock wise gesticulate. As you do this, you will see the luster appear or flash across the coin as you manipulate the slant under that light. Silver coins besides have a certain timbre that produces a higher frequency or ring when banged together. The sound is elusive, but is distinct from non-silver coins. Please do not do this with your high quality coins, and alone do the good test with silver coins you know is only worth its melt value, besides known as ” cull ” eloquent coins. Grab a couple of these wear silver medal coins, suspend them about 6-12 inches off the mesa and let them fall. then grab a handful of standard nickels and quarters and repeat the operation. If you do n’t here the deviation the first time, repeat it the procedure for both group of coins and you will start to hear the difference. The silver coins will have a elusive ring to them, whereas the other coins will sound flat and heavy. alternatively of a lighter “ plangency, ” the non-silver coins will have a definite “ clanking ” to them.
3. Always Bring an worldly concern magnet : let ‘s say you are confident with your cognition and you now plan to purchase a silver coin. Whether it is a secret transaction from Craigslist or in an official mint workshop, always bring an earth magnet with you. The reason why I specify worldly concern attraction, is because the earth magnet has a stronger magnetic field and will broadly detect most silver plate coins or bullion. When dealing with coins or bullion containing up to 1 Troy Ounce of silver, a minor dime bag sized earth magnet is more than enough. Based on my feel, counterfeiters have a hard time argent plating small denominations like dimes or quarters that will replicate that demand slant and diameter of an authentic mint without using a heavier magnetic alloy. Most of the counterfeit argent dimes or quarters you may encounter are legitimate standard date silver coins with either their mint sign or date altered to impersonate a key date or rare mint marked mint. Most people will not be able to spot this revision without the aid of a magnify glass 10X21 MM or higher. This is another reason why my first gear point is sol crucial. When dealing with larger denominations, counterfeiters can afford to use more silver medal plating – enough to pass the magnet test, and more accurately mimic the official weight and diameter of a coin, particularly when dealing with silver bullion bars or coins over 1 Troy Ounce. however, for most U.S. minted silver coins, the earth magnet is in truth all you need. Do n’t be embarrassed to test your mint in front of your seller. A legitimate and honest seller or principal will not mind if you test their mint with a attraction, in fact, they should expect it. You may offend a license mint dealer while testing their coins in their store, but they ‘ll get over it ; besides you need to protect yourself. Most thoroughly coin dealers will not be offended, because they are convinced with their product. good coin dealers vet their argent coins and bullion before selling to the public, because they know that the one thing worse than buying a forge coin or bullion, is to sell one. So this article is in truth geared towards the collector or investor who is attempting to buy argent outside the safety and ethical confidence of purchasing from a attest mint dealer.
4. Use a Pocket Scale and Micrometer : lets say you are about to purchase a silver coin and to the best of your ocular cognition everything looks good, and the coin passes the attraction test, but you inactive are n’t convinced. Weighing your coin in combination with the magnet test and your understanding research should give you about a 95 % assurance that you are about to make a good leverage. I say 95 % because the other 5 % depends on your accuracy and how correct you very are with your own research. however, using a scale is identical potent on its own. I mention using the micron so you can measure the coin ‘s diameter. For case, a newly minted ( uncirculated ) Morgan Silver Dollar weighs 26.73 grams and has a diameter of 38.1mm. Though difficult, counterfeiters can mimic the weight and diameter of silver coins to the contact, but are broadly reasonably far off concerning the specifics when examined with a scale or micrometer. Keep in mind that over time, argent coins will lose some weight, due to circulation, but the loss is insidious. It is not rare to find circulate Morgan Silver Dollars at 26 or 25.8 grams with a diameter of 37.7, however anything lower than these figures makes me fishy, which prompts me to validate with the attraction test if I have n’t do so already. obviously, if the seller is claiming that the coin is in mint state condition, then it needs to be precisely or within .1 or .2 of the mint ‘s measurements. last, it should immediately sound alarm bells in your read/write head if the mint is heavier by .1 or .2 of its mint measurements.

Some of you may be asking, “ how do I validate slabbed coins, ” or “ what about the acidic tests ? ” Do n’t worry, I did n’t forget about these issues, however, there is a reason why I saved these topics for last. unfortunately, counterfeiters have developed a way to forge/replicate very convert PCGS or NGC slabbed coins. The best way I have found to validate my PCGS coins is through an application on my I-phone called ” PCGS Cert. ” It is an application developed by PCGS that is directly connected to their data base of graded and file coins. I do n’t have an answer for NGC “ slabbed ” coins. I am sure NGC has their own application ; however, by preference, I have only purchased “ slabbed ” coins from PCGS. I ‘m not saying there is anything wrong with NGC certified coins, PCGS has equitable been my preference for many years. I highly discourage using acid or chemical tests on ash grey coins. It will work, however, it will forever destroy any collector ‘s agio you may have had for that coin. “ Cull ” silver coins is of naturally a unlike matter. I highly recommend utilizing acid tests on silver medal bullion rounds or bars. Combining using a scale and a chemical examination on a ash grey bar or round is closely a fool-proof direction to ensure authenticity. Keep in mind that 1 Troy Ounce = 31.1 grams, and similarly you should only accept a .1 or .2 ( +/- ) deviation from this measurement. I personally do not purchase argent rounds or bars that are over 10 Troy Ounces, plainly because it is excessively easy for counterfeiters to create “ fake flatware. ” For 1 Troy Ounce bars or rounds, I am comfortable validating the bar with just my scale. For 5 Troy Ounce bars or rounds, I will use my plate and then use a charge to file away the surface of the bar and then use a chemical test on the area I equitable impertinently filed. For 10 Troy Ounce bars or rounds, I use all of the above techniques, plus a drill. Unless you have special and expensive equipment that can scan for the purity of your bars or rounds, the methods I ‘ve mentioned here are the common and widely used techniques by most silver bullion and bar investors.
I hope many of you find this blog utilitarian. I am by no means an expert, but I precisely wanted to parcel with you all my experiences, adenine well as the techniques I ‘ve learned over the years that have assisted me in making more informed investment decisions. I am silent a learn coin enthusiast and one who learns something new every day ; so if any of you find errors in my assessments or techniques, and have extra or more accurate advice for myself and the other electric potential readers, please do n’t hesitate to make a gossip and plowshare your cognition. Thank you again for learn !

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