Purity: Is it a known fake or forgery?

Purity: Is it a known fake or forgery?
It’s very easy to mistake a coin’s true worth if the coin has been debased in some way. This can have been done in a number of ways, but one of the most common is by substituting lower base metals for a coin which is supposed to have silver, gold or platinum.

There are ways to detect these coins but you really do need to know what you’re looking for here. If a substitute has indeed been made the coin will be subtly altered in some way or other.

Generally you’ll find that the dimensions of the coin have changed and although the diameter will be constant – that would be too easy to detect – the height of the coin might be either slightly thicker or thinner depending on the density of the metal.

Since it’s not easy to get the same thickness as the gold, platinum or silver with a different metal, and since other factors also count towards the overall coin there will be problems and the thickness is one of them.
If the substitute metal is of a greater density then it will be heavier than the originally intended one and therefore the coin thickness will have to be reduced to accommodate the heavier substitute.

And although quite a lot of people forget to check for these factors, depending instead almost solely upon the thickness value of the coin¸ there are a few other methods that should be looked into when testing a coin.
One which is greatly overlooked is the sense of touch. The different thickness of the coin will certainly transmit itself, as will a certain different quality of the metal. I can’t tell you exactly what it is since I personally can’t do this, but a good friend I know, can.

Only a person with a very keen sense of touch will get this properly, or a person who’s used to dealing with the real thing, in which case they can tell straight off just when they hold it.

Here more than anywhere, experience counts and it goes a long way towards finding out whether indeed you have a counterfeit or a forgery in your hands. As I said earlier though, don’t fret about it just yet.

And even later when you gather more experience, unless you’re specifically handling a large number of the same coins on a daily basis you can’t tell just by glancing at the coin that something’s not right. The number of collectors and dealers who can do that, are limited to a precious handful.

The other way you can tell whether a different metal has been substituted is by sound. Each metal will have a different sound property to it. This method of detection is actually easier to learn than the other one. You just need a good ear and practice.

Of course the best way to tell if the coin is a counterfeit is to see if there’s a big mark somewhere on it which says “Copy”. I’m not kidding. If someone is going to manufacture coins, like tokens for instance or coins which look remarkably like legal tender, they are required by law to make it very obvious to the consumer that these are copies and not the real thing.

Just in case your coin doesn’t have a big sign on it announcing that it’s a fake, and you don’t have the experience or the necessary know-how to determine this for yourself, you could always hand it over to an experienced dealer or send it over for grading.

There is also a market for known forgeries, and you might just want to get your hands on one. Just as long as you know that it is a forgery and there’s no misunderstanding that it’s the real thing.

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This content was written by Gary Eggleston. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Gary Eggleston for details.