The fake coins aren't all coming from China. The Times of India reports on counterfeit coin operations across India. Thanks to the Society of
Paper Money Collectors' News & Notes of August 6, 2019 for mentioning the article. -Editor
You know it’s serious when the government sends out a warning. The state archaeology department in Maharashtra has been issuing advisories since March this
year, alerting coin collectors and history lovers that several coins of the rare and vintage variety floating around on online portals are counterfeit, urging
them to get their coins authenticated by numismatic experts.
Topping the fake list of spurious coins, according to the department, is the Shivrai paisa, a copper coin of low value minted during the Maratha reign that
remained in circulation from the 17th till the end of the 19th century, primarily in Bombay Presidency.
The scam was evident when a fresh stash of Shivrai coins were flying off the Internet shelves for anything between Rs 400 and Rs 1000 — one third the
existing price — and none of its features matched the original version of the coins minted at Satara between 1664-1819 which lacked sophistication, were
octagonal, weighed not more than 9 grams and its letterings worn out with time. Instead its doppelganger flaunted a shiny veneer, a round and uniform shape,
weighed heavier, and bore an inscription as clear cut as new.
Several counterfeiters are reported to be active in Gujarat, Bengal, Mumbai and Delhi while Saharanpur in UP and Murshidabad in Bengal are a hub of
workshops given their ancestral knowledge of how to carve out a die and strike copper coins from the colonial times. If carbon dating – a method used to
determine the age of ancient coins – were applied on these, they’d pass the acid test.
Part of the problem is a lack of formal policing. While the state archaeological departments are involved in security responsibilities of antiquities, it is
the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), whose task is to regulate all archaeological activities in the country. Changes in central rules and insufficient
manpower have relegated the task of targeting counterfeits to the background. Coins were recently exempt from the Indian Antiquities Act that obligates objects
of stone, miniatures, paintings, bronzes and terracotta of more than 100 years old to be registered with ASI.
“While collectors believe they’ve hit a treasure trove, what they’re taking home are worthless locally made counterfeits,” says Manish Khanna, a 52-year-old
coin collector turned anti-counterfeit crusader in Mumbai who has been standing against the wave of fake coins and diligently documenting them.
Khanna a dealer in electrical hardware started an anti-counterfeiting community on Facebook called ‘Vigilante Numismatics’ four years ago after his personal
brush with fake coins when he spent Rs 3.5 lakh on what he thought were Mughal coins but turned out to be a sham. His effort to publish diagnostics of
forgeries to help coin collectors spot the false ones has over 3200 members today who have helped report at least 25 cases of coin scams in the country. “We
keep track of the bestsellers; help analyze an allegedly fake coin. After thorough verification we pin the name and photograph of fraud dealers on the group
and also help in lodging FIR if required,” explains Khanna.
A sudden flush of Travancore chakrams was the first counterfeit case the group managed to bust after the market was suddenly flooded with coins in
brilliant, shiny condition,” recalls Khanna. “Apart from its look, quality and weight, the supply is a giveaway. Rare coins will change hands, not multiply.”
Although this team of vigilantes were able to draw attention to the scam and drive collectors away, “the coins are back in circulation again,” rues Khanna. A
quick Internet search reveals Travancore coins on sale for Rs 20,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
There are several instances of such audacious con jobs. In 2015, a Jalpaiguri resident was ready to dish out Rs 13 lakh for a fake “rice puller coin” minted
by the East India Company for its seemingly magical properties before the dealer was arrested.
Can anyone tell us the story of the rice puller coin and its supposed magical properties? Internet searches are swamped with fakes and misinformation. Where
can a legitimate article/image/lot description be found? -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Fake or fortune? Technology, e-stores and weak legislation h ..
To visit the Vigilante Numismatics group on Facebook, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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