Detecting counterfeit coins involves a few simple techniques that anyone can perform with some level of expertise. Before investing it’s important to determine if your gold coins are authentic and worth their stated value. This topic has become more important as more investors are buying gold as a hedge in times of uncertainty.
Use a Magnet
Many experts recommend using a magnet to determine the authenticity of the coin. For instance, nearly all of China’s counterfeit based coins are produced with an iron-based planchet. If the coin sticks to the magnet, then it is counterfeit. Only one coin in United States history has been counterfeit. The 1943 steel penny is the only authentic coin that will stick to a magnet. All other gold coins that stick to a magnet will be counterfeit in the United States and China. Canadian coins are the only exception to this rule.
Use a Gram Scale
In the United States, a coin that is off its pre-specified weight by more than 1% is a candidate for counterfeit. The United States has a very low tolerance for errors in weight and diameter. In China, the counterfeiters often use scrap metal to make the coins or cast blanks. The coins made with these blanks are typically underweight.
Use a Caliper to Measure the Dimensions
A caliper may be used to measure the diameter of the coin. Any coin that has a diameter smaller than the country’s specifications will be suspected as counterfeit. Simply slide the jaws of the caliper across the edges of the coin to make the measurement.
Drop the Coin on a Hard Surface
The sound the coin makes when the coin makes when it is dropped or comes into contact with another coin is distinctive. Counterfeit coins are often softer than authentic coins. A plastic-like sound may occur when the coin is thrown onto the floor or when the coin is struck against another coin.
Use a High Powered Magnifier
A high powered magnifier may be used to review the details of the coin. Any suspicious writing or misspellings may indicate that the coin is counterfeit. Bubbles on the surface may mean the coin is counterfeit.
Experts must know the United States coin specifications before determining if the coin is counterfeit. The Red Book will have the correct specifications listed for comparison purposes. All of the tolerances are miniscule. Fine instruments such as 10 times or higher microscope are used to determine the authenticity of the coin.
To determine if a coin is counterfeit, look at the date to determine if there is any damage around the date. Each number should adhere to the design set forth in the country’s specifications. Also, examine the Mint Mark to determine if it is in the correct shape and position. A small depression around the Mint Mark is usually a good indication of a genuine coin. If the Mint Mark is removed completely, this may be a sign of counterfeit also.
Use a Reputable Gold Coin Dealer
If in doubt, solicit a reputable coin dealer to verify the coin’s authenticity. Experts often advise investors to buy gold coins during a recession as a safe investment vehicle as the value tends to increase when other investments decrease in value. Our clients often buy gold coins for investment or for collections. This can be a lucrative hobby or investment opportunity if you purchase from a reputable gold coin dealer or complete the proper research before your purchase.