US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for June 28, 2021: Don't do it!

Counterfeit coins like this fake Proof 2020-W American Eagle, End of World War II 75th Anniversary silver dollar are increasingly commonplace in the marketplace. Collectors should buy coins only from established coin dealers.

Original images courtesy of Independent Coin Graders.

Don’t do it. Do not buy coins from a source that is not an established, recognized coin dealer. If you do not follow this advice, there is a fair chance that what you are buying is misidentified or even counterfeit.

Harsh advice, I know, but realistic and necessary. Just read some of the other content in this week’s issue — two columns featuring counterfeit coins (“Detecting Counterfeits” and “Readers Ask”; see our digital edition) and a news article about a deceptive fake Proof 2020-W American Eagle, End of World War II 75th Anniversary silver dollar.

Heed also a warning from Matt Slater of Coin Shop Cleveland LLC, whose Ohio firm recently found counterfeit 1964 Kennedy half dollars in what was supposed to be a bag of 90% silver coins.

The warning goes much deeper than the money pit filled with counterfeit coins. Marketplaces such as Facebook and eBay are filled with coins that are misdescribed — pieces like common 1975 Roosevelt dimes sold at ridiculous prices out of ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation as though they were the genuinely rare Proof 1975-S Roosevelt, No S dimes (one circulation strike dime certified as grading About Uncirculated 53 is priced at $999 on eBay; it is worth face value); damaged coins sold as errors, like a pair of 1981 and 1981-D Lincoln cents offered for $250. The examples are many and disturbing.

The growth of social media and online platforms is a two-edged technological sword. It has permitted the sharing of information in a manner impossible before their birth (the warning about the fake half dollars came through the Facebook page of Coin Dealers Helping Coin Dealers), but it also enables criminals and the ignorant to prey on the gullible.

So what is a collector to do?

Importantly, educate yourself; know what you are buying.

Otherwise, buy only from established dealers like those who advertise in Coin World and other major numismatic publications or our own online Marketplace. When buying on eBay and Facebook, again, deal only with dealers with a history of serving the numismatic community honestly.

For pricey coins, stick with coins certified by a major grading service (and remember that fake grading service slabs exist).

In short, be careful.

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