Disturbed by Fakes and Replicas

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by ahearn, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. ahearn

    ahearn Member

    When I last looked, there were 5300 current auctions on eBay for fake US coins and over 900 for fake world coins, including ancients. Most show photos with the words COPY or REPLICA on them, but it's usually missing when the coins are shipped. Of course, these were only the ones who were not passing the fakes as real.

    What does this mean? Who buys these coins? Why are they buying? This is a HUGE number of coins being sold every day to buyers who are certainly not "collecting" them. How many show back up on eBay as real?

    As a relatively new collector, this causes me great concern. With the increasing high quality of fakes from China, I certainly can't count on my own judgement to distinguish fake from real, nor can I know the ability of dealers to make the distinction -- or even NGC and PCGS experts. There is certainly a point at which, theoretically, a fake can be EXACTLY the same as an original. Are they close to this point now???

    Then, there are the fake NCG and PCGS slabs. How can even an expert spot a fake coin in a fake slab, or a real coin in a fake slab unless the counterfeiter gets sloppy and makes mistakes?

    I'm concerned that the population of collectible coins is being polluted with high-quality, near-perfect fakes, and that we don't actually know the extent of that pollution. Long-time collectors seem confident in their ability to detect these fakes, but the days of easily detected sloppy fakes are disappearing and past experience no longer applies.

    Am I wrong to be concerned?
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  3. desertgem

    desertgem MODERATOR Senior Errer Collecktor Moderator

    No, you are not wrong in being concerned. Many collectors buy the replicas because they will never have a real one in their collection. Some buy them for study, some also buy them to defraud others. Some buy them because they are so new, they are easy targets.

    Dealers should be well concerned as tests have shown that they are just as easily fooled as many collectors, same on the slabs. There are ways to make slabs more secure from faking, but they are more expensive than just molding the holders. Since any guarantees by TPG companies don't apply to fake slabs, perhaps they are concerned, but maybe not as much as you or I that would bear the financial burden. Maybe someday, they will raise fees and change slabbing.

    To see the future for authenticating coins, check the article "Sourcing the cent" in the Numismatist , July 2009. It will be hard to fake isotope analysis for metals used in coining, (copper, silver, gold), can be determined. Sure, the counterfeiters can melt old cents to make replica, but this will be much more difficult to obtain and financially support. Other newer mechanisms of identifying the origin of the metal will be developed for coinage also. If the copper in a US Cent has the isotope contents found from Eastern Asia, it should certainly be considered counterfeit.

    However until the US government stops allowing China to legally ( in China) make and export these coins, there isn't much one can do to stop it. Knowledge will still be the best defense.IMO

  4. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

    Nice write-up! I guess we'll all have to collect Roosevelt Dimes...not even the Chinese are crazy enough to counterfeit them!
  5. Phil Ham

    Phil Ham Hamster

    I wouldn't be overly worried about counterfeit coins. It has been going on since the beginning of currency creation and will probably continue until electronic transfers have replaced currency. Then, we'll have hackers, phishers, etc. to worry about (oops, we already have them). As far as China goes, don't they already own all of our currency anyway so shouldn't they have the right to make a few more?
  6. Vess1

    Vess1 CT SP VIP

    ahearn, you've conquered the first giant step that many people have yet to take and that is to realize and admit the seriousness of the problem. Many people don't have any idea how bad the replica/fake problem has become.

    You also have to remember that some people will buy them for fillers in an album. When they pass away and someone goes to sell the album with no documentation, will the buyer spot the fake(s)? Coinage just had an article where a dealer at a show was ready to write a check for $30k in Morgans before the guy told him they were all made in China.

    I guess we all should be somewhat skeptical when looking at anything these days. I don't believe it's easy for them to make a perfect replica if you know what to look for. For that reason, I think they would rarely if ever fool the TPGs, but it's possible. You really need to learn and pay attention to what you're buying when purchasing loose coins. Fake slabs are far from perfect.

    In any case, it's risky for a newcomer to just start spending money on loose coins.

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Poor choice of words there Jim. We don't "allow" them to do anything. Before you can allow something you first have to have the ability to prevent it. We don't, and neither does the US Govt. They can't even stop them from making billions of fake $100 bills, let alone a few coins.
  8. 900fine

    900fine doggone it people like me

    Not at all. It's never wrong to be concerned, never wrong to be wary. Or, as we say in the sciences, "trust... but verify".

    We should make sure our concern is proportional to the true risk, and not get overly concerned. That's paranoia.

    As mentioned earlier - knowledge is always the best defense.
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