World Coins

Ferdinand and Isabella coin?

Images courtesy of Jerry Bennett.

While digging through a lot of world coins, I discovered what appears to be a coin from Spain, or one of its territories, from approximately 1480.

I am not positive about this coin; however, it appears to be from the reign of Ferdinand I of Spain, the husband of Queen Isabella of Spain, who commissioned Christopher Columbus to sail to the Americas in 1492.

I wanted to check to see if this coin was worthy of historical interest to Coin World readers.

Jerry Bennett

Address withheld

The find is worthy of historical interest, but only as far back as 1973, and more specifically, the U.S. Hobby Protection Act of 1973.

Judging from the photos submitted, chances are good that Mr. Bennett’s item is a modern-day cast piece, composed of cheap pot metal, that loosely represents a Spanish coin of the Ferdinand and Isabella era. Many of these were made as novelties to represent “pirate treasure.”

Mr. Bennett’s piece does not bear the legally required word COPY, so either it was manufactured prior to the 1973 act or produced later in violation of the act.

Coin World senior staff writer Jeff Starck provides a good explanation of the 1973 act in a June 7, 2010, Coin World article:

“The 1973 Hobby Protection Act, requiring that replica numismatic items bear the word COPY, passed after years of effort from hobby members and legislators intent on addressing the growing number of reproductions, copies, imitations and forgeries of coins in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“The Hobby Protection Act regulates the production of numismatic replicas, including copies of such items as Colonial coins, pioneer gold coins and early paper money. The act requires manufacturers and importers of ‘imitation political items’ and ‘imitation numismatic items’ to mark such items ‘plainly and permanently’ with COPY.

“Previous to the Hobby Protection Act’s passage, copies, imitations and replicas of various numismatic items proliferated, duping the public inadvertently or purposely into believing the pieces were genuine coins, medals, tokens, paper money or other numismatic items.

“The purpose of the law was to curb the misrepresentation and fraud associated with the replica and counterfeit coins then rampant.

“An imitation numismatic item is defined in the act as ‘an item which purports to be, but in fact is not, an original numismatic item or which is a reproduction, copy, or counterfeit of an original numismatic item.’ ”

Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins or other items for examination without prior permission from staff member Erik Martin. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to or call 800-673-8311, Ext. 274.

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