Detecting Counterfeits column from Sept. 14,
2015, issue of Coin World:
An important consideration in authentication is determining if a
given coin is valuable enough to attract the attention of a
counterfeiter. The fake shown here easily meets this requirement — it
is currently listed in the Krause Standard Catalog of World Coins
1701-1800 at $25,000 in Extremely Fine condition. Better date
Russian gold coins have been heavily counterfeited for decades, so any
example you encounter should be treated with strong suspicion.
The coin’s design features a portrait of Catherine the Great on the
obverse, with the St. Petersburg Mint initials (in Cyrillic letters)
near the rim at 7:00. The reverse features the Russian imperial eagle
as the main device.
The crown above the double-headed eagle symbolizes the emperor’s
control over both the church and the state, a concept that dates back
to the Byzantine era.
All of the specifications are accurate for this fake, including the
weight, diameter, and gold content. This is to be expected with
counterfeit Russian gold — evidently the individuals that produced
these fakes did not want their product to be too easily detected.
Unfortunately for the counterfeiters, they did not take the time or
the expense to create top-quality fake dies or properly strike their
counterfeits, so there are some easy diagnostics.
During the production of fake dies and the actual striking of the
counterfeits, one area that tends to lose definition and accuracy is
Coins struck without an edge collar, as was the case with both the
genuine piece and the fake, exhibit this peripheral distortion to a
much greater extent than coins struck with an edge collar.
The close-up image shows the distorted, malformed lettering on the
right side of the obverse. You can see how the strength and sharpness
of the individual letters fades in and out, especially the tops of the
letters, which are closest to the rim. The fields also exhibit a
semi-prooflike “shimmer” that is unlike the luster on a genuine coin,
although most collectors will not have access to any genuine examples
for comparison purposes.