Re-stampings, mis-stampings, replicas and forgeries

Re-stampings, mis-stampings, replicas and forgeries © Own image

When is a coin actually "genuine"? Does a genuine guilder have to be from the 19th century? What is the difference between restrike, mismint, replica and counterfeit?

Reprints

The term "restrike" may sound negative to laymen, but in the world of coins it usually has a completely neutral connotation. A coin is considered to be a restrike if the impressed year is earlier than the actual date of issue. In fact, many bullion coins in common use today are modern restrikes of historical curant or trade gold coins.

1 Ducat Gold coin
1 Ducat gold Austria | Gold coin 261,20 

Classic restrikes are, for example, the modern gold ducats, which are issued as bullion coins by the Austrian Mint. They are restrikes of the historical ducat and bear the year 1915.

Modern restrikes are based on the original, usually have no collector value, but are traded as bullion coins close to the material value.

Minting error

Embossing of a 5 pfennig piece

A minting error, sometimes also called a false minting, is the term used to describe unintentionally produced, defective coins. Minting errors can be divided into different categories, depending on where in the minting process the error occurred.

In the case of the blank error, the coin blank already has a defect, in the case of the die error, a mistake was made in the production of the die, and in the case of the actual minting error, something went wrong during the minting process.

To stay with the example of the ducats: Once upon a time, the die cutter did a sloppy job when producing the die and instead of the year 1915, the year 1951 was incorporated. As a result, a few pieces of single ducats with the wrong year 1951 came on the market.

With collectors, these stamp error mintings are in demand today because of their rarity. Therefore, the value of this "Dukat 1951 Fehlprägungen" is far above the material value.

Replicas

Clearly distinguishable from them are replicas and imitations. Coin replicas are mintings that imitate a specific coin, but are clearly different in terms of material and thus in terms of value. If the distinguishability is deliberately concealed, one must already speak of counterfeits.

Krugerrand Replica / Copy
Krugerrand replica with "Copy" embossing

Besides replicas of old Roman coins or coins from the Middle Ages, imitation gold coins are often put on the market. These are minted from base metals, such as copper or brass, and then gilded very thinly.

In order to be offered legally, these pieces must exclude any risk of confusion with the original. Therefore, the imitations must be stamped "Copy", "Replica" or similar.

Fakes from base material

In practice, however, this replica marking is often missing, so that for the layman the difference to a real coin is not immediately discernible.

If you have a genuine piece for comparison, it is relatively easy to recognize counterfeits made of brass, lead & copper, since a counterfeit made of these alloys will inevitably differ from the original in diameter, thickness or weight.

Fake Krugerrand coins are offered online

However, since the imitations are usually offered in (fake) online stores or on platforms like Ebay, AliExpress, etc., this is easier said than done in practice.

TIP: Checking gold coins for authenticity. With these methods you can check the authenticity of your gold yourself at home. 

The best counterfeit gold coins are made of tungsten. Due to the almost equal density of the metal, the dimensions and weight of the fake coin are almost identical to the originals. However, since tungsten is much harder and more brittle than gold and therefore very difficult to mint, counterfeit tungsten coins can usually be identified by their minting quality.

Counterfeiters get around the problem by either coating tungsten cores with real gold, which can then be minted, or by alloying tungsten with other metals to be able to mint it.

Coins with too low gold content

American Eagle: Real and fake © Own work

In addition to fake gold coins made of base material, which are merely gilded with a thin layer, "real" gold coins are also produced, but their gold content is significantly lower than the original fineness.

Modern gold bullion coins are not always made of pure gold (999.9/1000 or 24 carats), but they rarely have a gold content below 900/1000 (21.6 carats). The further counterfeiters push the gold content of the coin, the more profit they can make with their forgery.

Because the increase in the proportion of other metals in the alloy naturally also changes the hue of the gold coin, counterfeiters focus primarily on coins that also have an approximately reddish hue in the original. Again and again, for example, Krugerrand coins or American Eagle coins appear, which instead of the actual fineness of 916/1000 (22 carats) only have a gold content of 750/1000 (18 carats), 585/1000 (14 carats) or even lower.

Beware of supposed gold bargains

There are no gold bargains that are significantly below the general gold price! If you are nevertheless offered gold at suspiciously low prices, there is certainly a catch! Especially when buying on the Internet, you should be particularly careful. Most counterfeits in the field of gold investment products today come from China and enter circulation via online platforms such as Ebay or Alibaba.

We generally advise against buying gold from private sellers, as the seller can in fact not be held accountable to you if something should go wrong. Therefore, never buy investment gold - whether in coin or bar form - from "private", but go to reputable precious metal dealers. Only then you have the guarantee to get real gold.

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