In my recent post “Hidden Treasures – Rare Coins in Grand Rapids,” I talked about the prudent Michigan State student who scored with his Grand Rapids coin garage sale find. His trove included a very collectible coin – an 1893-S Morgan Dollar. He wisely chose to authenticate his find with a local Grand Rapids coin dealer (Mullen Coins), and the rest is history.
For every such story of treasures found, there is an obverse side. A number of coin enthusiasts have learned the hard way that the seemingly rare Morgan Dollar they purchased is a very realistic counterfeit coin produced by Chinese counterfeiters. The problem is so rampant that the United States Mint even published a warning about these realistic Morgan Dollars dated pre-1950. In many cases, the counterfeiters use actual decommissioned United States Mint coin presses to create nearly perfect replicas.
Large numbers of counterfeit Morgan Dollars, as well as counterfeits of other collectible coins, came into the United States from China via online auction sites such as eBay. In many cases, the coins were originally purchased online from a Chinese maker as replicas of actual rare coins, and the photograph on eBay depicted a coin with the word “COPY” as required by United States “Hobby Protection Act.” However, when the original eBay purchaser received the coin, in the majority of cases the required word “COPY” was not present on the coin. As these replica coins were sold and re-sold, they appeared to non-experts as genuine rare coins. According to Coin World, now these same counterfeit coins can often be found in jewelry stores, pawn shops, flea markets, and other sources where the sellers likely are not even aware that they are fakes.
As more and more Americans become interested in coins as a good way to invest in metals, counterfeiting U.S. coins has become more attractive for international coin counterfeiters. Their risks are low due to lax enforcement of laws related to counterfeiting in China. The problem has become so well established that five of the United States’ most influential collectible coin organizations jointly issued a more general advisory about Chinese counterfeits, suggesting that coin investors should know their seller or rely on an expert like Mullen Coins. A reputable coin dealer like Mullen Coins in Grand Rapids, Michigan would be aware of counterfeiting trends and how to identify counterfeit coins.
Despite the proliferation of fake coins, even novice metal investors can wisely invest in silver and gold U.S. coins, which are subject to jurisdiction by the United States Secret Service. That special role ensures that the metal in U.S. coins should be genuine, because counterfeiters of U.S. coins will be prosecuted. The caution is that when investing, it is important to realize that coin expertise is required to detect counterfeits.
Coins can be an excellent investment or an engrossing hobby or both. And a high quality Grand Rapids coin dealer like Mullen Coins can be indispensable in pursuing either. Please call us at Mullen Coins or request a call so that we can carefully evaluate your coin to ensure authenticity and an appropriate valuation.
Photo courtesy of Jinghua Shei