Jay Recher writes:
Is there a book out there that has not only the dimensions for coins, but holes to put them in to check for authenticity? Maybe as a precursor of counterfeit detection? I know that the Redbook (among others) have these stats. Just looking for an easier way to see if the coin fits-the-mold, so-to-speak.
Well, back in the day, coin scales incorporated a number of ways to detect counterfeits. Some had slots to fit the coins in as a dimension check, and of course the weight had to match specifications as well. See lots 246-258 in the Stacks-Bowers 2012 Baltimore Auction later this month. Here's one example:
To read the complete lot description, see:
Lot #258. Circa 1882 American Rocker Style Coin Scale By Fairbanks & Co.
As for books, ones I often refer to are the Standard Catalog of United States Altered and Counterfeit Coins by Virgil Hancock and Larry Spanbauer, and Counterfeit, Mis-Struck and Unofficial U.S. Coins by Don Taxay. Both are quite old now, but the content is still relevant. A more recent title is Numismatic Forgery by Charles Larson, which describes how crooks make high-quality forgeries.
The flood of Chinese copies today makes the job even harder, but many of these are relatively easy to detect. I would say the best guide is not a book or tool but first-hand experience seeing both genuine coins and fakes. Go to coin shows and look at a lot of coins. Don’t be afraid to ask dealers for help learning about counterfeits. If they’re not busy, many would be glad to help.
Readers: What advice would you offer Jay?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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