The Swiss issued a series of silver 5-franc medallic coins during
the 1800s commemorating the shooting festivals that would be held
every few years. Unfortunately, they are also becoming popular with
The fake illustrated here attempts to replicate the issue released
to mark the 1867 Shooting Festival that was held in the canton of
Schwyz. The obverse features a lion holding a sword and a shield, and
the reverse features an array of flags, swords and axes in a wreath,
with the Swiss cross in the center.
The fake is reasonably deceptive, but it does have a number of
diagnostics that make its detection easier. It appears that the fake
dies were produced using the transfer process, where a genuine coin
has its details transferred over to the counterfeit dies. Every
contact mark or defect on the genuine coin is also transferred to the
fake dies, leaving marks that we call “depressions.”
On the obverse, diagnostic depressions can be found in the
➤ In the field above the rim at the 6:30 position.
➤ From the left edge of the shield to the lower left edge of the N
➤ Just above the lion’s nose.
➤ In the field just to the right of the lion’s elbow.
➤ In the field between the lion’s tail and the rim at 4 o’clock.
On the reverse, diagnostic depressions can be found in the
➤ In the upper arm of the cross in the center of the coin.
➤ On the lower left flag, running diagonally downwards from the
➤ On the upper left flag, two small depressions in the middle of
➤ On the top right flag, extending from the center of the flagpole
towards the tip of the rifle.
It also appears that the edge collar was produced using the
transfer process, as a number of depressions appear on the edge
reeding that must have been minor damage on the genuine model coin.
If you have an example of the Swiss 1867 5-franc coin that matches
this pattern of depressions, you can be certain that the coin you are
inspecting is counterfeit. Contact marks occur on large silver coins
like these in a totally random fashion, so a series of precisely
matching marks on separate coins is always a cause for concern.
Other things to look for on this type of counterfeit are slightly
weak details, a lack of crisp die polish lines, an odd satiny luster
and a somewhat “ratty” appearance in the fields. Having a coin
certified by one of the major grading services before you complete the
purchase is also a good idea.
Michael Fahey is a senior numismatist at ANACS in Denver, Colo.