World Coins

Counterfeiters target rare 1875-H Canada 25-cent

Detecting Counterfeits column from the May 9, 2016, Weekly issue of Coin World:

The Canada 1875-H 25-cent piece is one of the scarcer issues in the Canadian series. It is currently listed in the Standard Catalog of World Coins at $3,000 in Extremely Fine condition, and $20,000 in Mint State. With prices like these, counterfeiters have a strong financial incentive to make copies, and our “friends” in China came through like they usually do.

The fake shown here is not what I would call a “deceptive copy.” Under magnification the details are a bit fuzzy and ragged, and the date was hand-engraved onto the counterfeit die. The hand-cut date is a good indicator that the counterfeiters did not use a genuine 1875-H 25-cent coin to make their fake dies. They used a common date of the same type, transferred the details over to the counterfeit dies, then altered the date on the fake die to 1875. This process eliminates the need to acquire an expensive genuine example.

Additionally, this fake has edge reeding that is much stronger and sharper than on a genuine coin — when you hold the coin by the edge, it has the feel of a modern U.S. Proof quarter dollar. Getting the edge right is not a priority with Chinese counterfeiters, so it is one of the first things a collector should check when making an authenticity inspection.

This fake weighs 5.25 grams, compared to a genuine example, which should weigh approximately 5.81 grams. This amount of weight loss could occur on a genuine coin, but only if it had worn down to About Good or had part of the coin cut off.

An undamaged example that appears to grade at least About Uncirculated should fall into the range of 5.70 to 5.85 grams — anything outside this weight range should be viewed with suspicion.

Any better date Canadian coin should be given a careful inspection with a quality magnifier under good lighting. The flood of counterfeits coming out of Asia is showing no signs of slowing down. 

You should also be cautious with odd-looking examples that are encapsulated in one of the major grading service’s holders — the counterfeiters are also getting better at making fake holders for their fake coins.

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