Counterfeit Coins


Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) has announced it’s joining an all-star team of coin industry giants to help fight one of the most troubling issues in numismatics today: counterfeit coins. This allied front against counterfeit coins and their nefarious creators includes American Numismatic Association (ANA), the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) and the Numismatic Crime Information Center (NCIC) is promising for an industry that has been increasingly affected by a rash of more sophisticated counterfeiters churning out fakes that are, unfortunately, more convincing than ever.


NGC states in a press release that their involvement in this anti-counterfeiting collaboration “helps the organizations to share information and reach a wider range of people and companies.” Indeed, NGC is an ideal resource for this anti-counterfeit effort, as the iconic third-party coin certification company based in Sarasota, Florida, has identified more than 100,000 counterfeit and altered coins since the company’s inception in 1987.


That’s a lot of coins. Translated into dollars and cents, 100,000 fakes identified and effectively removed from the marketplace means potentially tens of millions of dollars saved from the pockets of hardworking dealers, collectors, auction firms, and other innocents.


Adding invaluable aid to this synergistic anti-counterfeit league is the NGC Counterfeit Detection portal, which was launched last year and lists 50 of the most frequently counterfeited United States coins, 25 most commonly counterfeited Chinese coins, and 25 most regularly counterfeited world coins, along with close-up photographs, diagnostic information, and other key tips to identifying fake coins.


It’s somewhat surprising, perhaps even vexing, to see high-resolution photos of counterfeit coins – some that are obviously fake, others less so to even the most attuned eyes. Surely, many people can memorize die-pair diagnostics and strike characteristics for their series of choice, say Lincoln cents, and spot a fake 1909-S VDB cent from a mile away. But what happens when encountering a potential fake of another series? Consider the 1853 gold dollar – a less frequently encountered coin that is still relatively common enough that many folks don’t give these coins a close second look. Yet, the 1853 gold dollar, listed on the NGC Counterfeit Detection portal, is one of the most commonly counterfeited coins and turns up as fake with some frequency.


The NGC Counterfeit Detection portal is an amazing, free resource that every dealer and collector should use. And, now with NGC formally joining forces with other major organizations in a joint effort to combat counterfeits, the numismatic community has just become even safer.


Collectors and dealers still need to stand vigilant against counterfeit coins, a complicated issue that has grown only more challenging as improving minting and computer technology becomes cheaper and falls into the hands of the “bad guys.” But dealers and collectors can be reassured that, as time moves forward, the team of numismatic crime-fighters is becoming larger and more nimble.


Yes, the war against counterfeit coins continues. But it looks like the “good guys” have just scored another huge victory in the ongoing campaign •••