How To Spot Counterfeit Coins
If you have any interest in coin collecting, it's important to learn how to spot counterfeit coins. Counterfeiting has been occurring since man first developed currencies, but man has also developed ways to spot counterfeit coins and bills. Here are a few tricks to help you recognize counterfeit coins.
- Put it next to a magnet. The only circulating US coin that should attract a magnet is the 1943 steel penny, but approximately 70 percent of the counterfeit US coinage produced in China is made from iron-based planchets, and will therefore attract a magnet.
- Weigh it. In order to weigh a coin precisely enough to discern whether it may be counterfeit or not, you need a gram scale that's accurate to the tenth of a gram. Most counterfeit coins are made from scrap metal that is melted down and poured into molds while real US coinage is made from sheet metal that is struck or stamped out, leaving most counterfeit coins underweight. The US Mint considers any coin off by more than one percent of its weight to be suspect. Most coin collecting guides provides lists of what genuine coinage should weigh.
- Measure it. Because of the way counterfeit coins are produced, their diameters are often slightly shorter than real US coins. To measure a coin accurately enough to gauge whether it's real or counterfeit, you'll need a caliper accurate to the hundredth of an inch. Again, you can compare the suspected coin's measurement to a list of measurements in any coin collecting guide.
- Examine it closely. And not just with your bare eyes. You'll need to examine the coin under at least eight times magnification to see the kinds of flaws that are common to counterfeit coins, including bubbling, dimpling, and file marks.
- Look at the edges. All genuine US coins worth more than five cents should have evenly corrugated outer edges. Absence of corrugation or uneven corrugation signals a counterfeit coin.