World Coins

Counterfeit 1776 coin moderately deceptive

The re-engraving of the fake obverse die gives the king’s mouth a comical appearance. A number of depressions and raised lumps appear in the fields.

Images by Raymond Bruels III, courtesy of ANACS.

Detecting Counterfeits column from the July 13, 2015, issue of Coin World:

The Mexico silver 8-real coin was a standard trade unit during the 1700s and 1800s. Millions of these coins were produced using metal from the Mexican silver mines, and they were accepted in trade by many of the world’s emerging countries, including those in North and South America, parts of Europe, and Asia. So many were struck by the Mexican mints that today’s collectors have no trouble locating coins for their collections, although choice, problem-free pieces can be elusive.

In an attempt to “enhance” the remaining supply of Mexico 8-real coins, the counterfeiting mills in China have produced huge numbers of fakes. The counterfeit shown here is a moderately deceptive fake — it is an accurate copy of the genuine design, but it has a number of diagnostics that make detection reasonably simple. 

Begin with a close look at the king’s face — a poor job of re-engraving the fake die has given the king’s mouth a rather comical appearance. I am not sure why the counterfeiters felt that this die work needed to be done, but there was evidently no stopping them.

In addition to a number of depressions and raised lumps in the fields, there is a raised line at the throat of the king, another raised line from III to the back of the king’s head, and a spike on the P of HISPAN. The weight of the fake is 25.84 grams, which is more than a full gram less than the weight of a genuine coin in high grade. 

An inspection of the edge design reveals that it is too even and “modern-looking,” especially if you have a genuine coin for comparison purposes.  

Finally, the date/mint/assayer’s initials combination is wrong. A 1776 8-real coin from the Mexico City Mint with the FM assayer’s initials is a common coin, but the FF initials did not appear until later years. This type of error occurs when counterfeiters mix and match fake obverse and reverse dies without checking to see which combinations actually exist. 

Interestingly, several pricing guides have recently listed the 1776-Mo FF 8-real coin alongside the FM variety, despite the fact that there are no genuine coins, only fakes. Hopefully this listing mistake gets corrected before collectors end up with these in their collections.

Community Comments