Counterfeiters from the Far East have been focusing their efforts
on silver dollar sized coins for many years, producing fakes of
Spanish Colonial 8 real coins, Japanese silver yen, U.S. Seated
Liberty and Trade dollars, and European talers.
The counterfeit shown here is one of the better made fakes ANACS
At first glance this fake looks like a typical corroded silver
8-real coin, dated 1776 and with the Mexico City Mint’s Mo Mint mark,
plus the FF assayer’s initials.
Since many of these coins were either buried in the ground or
recovered from shipwrecks, genuine coins with etched or corroded
surfaces are commonly encountered.
What sets this fake apart is the fact that the date, Mint mark and
assayer initials combination does not exist. When a counterfeiting
operation produces large quantities of fake dies, eventually they will
match up an obverse and a reverse that do not belong together.
Other examples of die mismatches that we have encountered are an
1879-S Trade dollar and an 1894-CC Morgan dollar.
When you take a closer look at this fake 8-real coin, other
counterfeit diagnostics begin to show up.
The finer details are a bit more ragged than they should be, and
the fields exhibit microscopic raised lumps and lines.
On the other hand, the corrosion around the lettering and the rims
has a very authentic appearance.
We are not sure what techniques are being used to apply artificial
corrosion to the surfaces of fakes of silver coins, but if it makes
them more difficult to detect, they will become more popular.
The counterfeit 8-real coin is not the first fake Spanish colonial
coin ANACS has examined. As reported in this column in the Feb. 1,
2010, issue of Coin World, ANACS has also examined a
counterfeit 4-real coin. That 1761 4-real counterfeit coin was not one
of the better examples ANACS has seen over the past year, but it could
easily fool collectors who are not familiar with this type of coin.
Diagnostics for this 4-real counterfeit include ragged devices and
fields plus a rather crude edge design that appears to have been hand cut.
Experience with the appearance of genuine Spanish colonial pieces
is the best way to avoid counterfeits of these pieces. Many of these
fakes are sold via online auctions, so avoid these unless you are
comfortable with your authentication expertise.
Michael Fahey is a senior numismatist at ANACS in Denver, Colo.