How To Avoid Buying Counterfeit Coins

It is important for the new or novice coin collector to be aware of the possibility of mistakenly buying a counterfeit coin.  There are always counterfeit coins posing as the real thing that are being sold all over the world to unsuspecting coin collectors who mistake them for the genuine rare coins that they presume they are buying.

Recent reports say that there are over a million different types of counterfeit coins that have been sold that are made overseas.  Some of these are sold as “replicas” and others are just passed off to customers as authentic rare coins they are supposed to be.  It is very important that any coin buyer become a quick study of coin collecting as the price difference between a fake and an original can be huge and quite costly to the poor collector who gets suckered into the purchase of a fake rare coin.

Hobby periodicals report that more than a million counterfeit coins manufactured in China have been fraudulently sold in the United States posing a significant financial risk for unsuspecting consumers. Buyer beware! Consumers who buy an item based only on its perceived rarity and who have no knowledge as to how to determine whether the coin is genuine subject themselves to great risk of losing their money.
The American Numismatic Association (ANA), the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA), Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), Professional Coin Grading Service ( and the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) urge consumers to educate themselves before making purchases: know what you are buying and purchase only from reputable, experienced rare coin dealers (professional numismatists).
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The sale of coins that are replicas and are unmarked, as such, is illegal in the U.S. and is a violation of federal law in America.  The U.S. Hobby Protection Act requires that all manufacturers and importers of imitation numismatic coins be clearly marked with the word “copy” in accordance with the Code Of Federal Regulations.  Unfortunately, there are still hundreds, if not, thousands of such coins being passed off as originals, many of them coming from China and elsewhere.

We urge all of those who are interested in purchasing numismatic coins and rare coins to educate themselves and to use some common sense when making a purchase.  Beware of online auctions, as they are good places to be ripped off.  It’s better to go into a coin store and visit a local rare coin dealer in your area and to do business with a reputable business who has been around for a while.  In New Jersey, one such place is American Coin & Stamp Co., which has been around since the 1950s and has an excellent reputation for good and honest service, fair pricing and good customer relations.

Here are some additional tips concerning making a purchase of a collectible coin and avoiding buying a counterfeit rare coin from

•    Compare the sale coin with an authentic coin. Fake coins will usually exhibit slight differences in color, texture, thickness or weight when compared side-by-side to originals.
•    Zero in on design details. Get to know the piece you are looking to purchase as intimately as possible. Remember unique die characteristics of an authentic coin when considering the piece in question.
•    If you have any question at all on the piece you wish to purchase, consider buying a certified coin that has already been authenticated by a third party.

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So, just be aware of the risks and act accordingly with some common sense and some understanding of the risks associated with dealing with unknown sellers and online sales and auctions.  Do a little research and purchase wisely.  A little knowledge goes a long way, when buying rare coins.

Striking it rich with your pocket change

If you look hard enough and have the right information at hand about what coins are rare and collectible, you can strike it rich, as they say.  That is what a recent article had to say about a coin collector that wishes to remain anonymous, who had found a very rare 1983 copper-alloy cent.

The woman said that she found this coin after purchasing a book called “Strike it rich with pocket change” that was co-authored by Ken Potter and Brian Allen.  She found the rare copper one cent coin after reading the author’s account of how a man named Billy Crawford of South Carolina found one of these.  He had separated all of his pennies from 1983 and began looking for a double die coin and other types.  During his search for something else, he stumbled onto his find.

The cents struck from 1963 through about mid 1982 are of a solid brass composition made up of 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. They weigh 3.11 grams. The cents struck from about mid 1982 to date are struck on planchets made up of a solid zinc core (with a trace of copper) that are barrel plated with pure copper and weigh 2.5 grams.

Crawford hoped that his efforts would result in him finding a transitional error of a 1983 cent struck on a planchet left over from the early part of 1982 before the copper plated zinc cents were introduced later in that same year.


Eventually he found one and we detailed his story on the find on Page 64 of the second edition and on Page 75 in the third edition of our book.

In our book we placed a possible value of $15,000 on an AU/Unc. example but it was just a guess. The owner now has this coin slated for sale in an upcoming Heritage auction, so we’ll see how this one goes and report on the result.

This story has been unfolding for a while. The finder of this second example first contacted me Aug. 6, 2010


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So, if you are a collector and are willing to spend the time searching and sorting through your pocket change and perhaps some coin rolls, you could possibly be the next lucky person to find a coin that has substantial collector value.  As the author stated in the conclusion of the article, it will definitely repay the owner many times over for the cost of the book.  Pick yourself up a copy of this book and you may never look at pocket change the same way again.