Altered and Counterfeit Coins

On the next several webpages, we will show and discuss various altered and/or counterfeit coins, and items otherwise "not the real McCoy".  Our goal is to help educate our collector customers to learn how to distinguish genuine, unimpaired coins from spurious or altered items.  Please note that this is for purely educational purposes only.  Even "experts" sometimes disagree on the authenticity of an item, or whether it has been altered from the original state, so the information here should be considered a guide only and not taken as an absolute.  If there is any doubt about a particular coin, token, etc. in the mind of a viewer of this material, we recommend strongly that professional authentication by competent authority be considered.

(The copyright notice shown on the images is used to make sure these cannot be used to "spoof" anyone on any other website or electronic media.)

We define "altered" as a original, struck coin, token or medal having been changed or modified in some manner from the original state or material.  This includes practices meant to remove some of a coin's precious metal content, such as sweating, shaving, and filing, in other words for commercial purposes rather than to fool a collector.  It also includes the wide field of practices imposed upon collector coins in order to improve appearance, "increase" a coin's grade, repair or hide damage or otherwise "add value".  Among the worst of these practices is the addition or removal of a Mintmark in order to create the appearance of a valuable "key date" coin.

We define "counterfeit" as a NON-GENUINE article, created from whole cloth to simulate a genuine coin, token or metal.  This can be done for commercial purposes, such as older counterfeits produced to spend in commerce, or an item produced to fool dealers and collectors.