I have been monitoring some social media groups and it seems that lately there has been an increase in fake numismatic coins being brought into pawn shops.
One pawnbroker warned that he “got burned” on two fake silver coins, which amounted to a loss of $4,000. A skilled and experienced pawnbroker, he was still fooled because “All looked good, they had sealed Professional Coin Grading Services (PCGS) holders as well as holograms, they weighed properly, and their numbers matched the PCGS website. Even scanning the bar code gave the correct number.” Since PCGS is reputable in third-party certification, he sent the first coin to them for regrading after it defaulted.
According to the PCGS website, “Grading is a way of determining the physical condition of a coin. Grades range from Poor (almost completely worn out) to Perfect Uncirculated (a coin with absolutely no wear and no flaws of any kind). Over 99.9% of all coins fall somewhere between these two extremes…. The grade of a coin goes a long way in determining the coin’s value, and sometimes a seemingly insignificant and easily overlooked flaw can make thousands of dollars of difference.”
If you are new to coins, PCGS offers a great glossary of coin collecting terms.
After analyzing the coin, the pawnbroker was informed that not only was the coin a counterfeit, but the holder was fake as well.
He took the second coin to a refiner who used an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer on it while it was still in the holder. XRF analyzers provide a fast, accurate, and most importantly, a nondestructive method to test the purity and composition of all precious metals. XRF quickly provides the exact karat weight and percentages of all elements within an item – easily identifying non-standard, under-karated, and even advanced counterfeit material that acid testing is incapable of differentiating. What did the refiner find?
Lead and nickel, but NO SILVER.
The pawnbroker later discovered that many different counterfeit PCGS and NCG slabs (encapsulated coins) – with varying years and conditions — had come out of China a few years ago, and are still being sold on auction websites. Luckily, the seller was caught by police and the pawnbroker may be able to collect restitution, but it’s too bad that the store owner had to suffer the monetary loss in the first place.
I will be blogging about this topic in several more articles, so keep watching for more numismatics info. In the meantime, you can see how a portable XRF precious metals analyzer works in this video.