Are you interested in investing in gold and silver coins but concerned about forgeries? You’re not wrong to be careful – counterfeit gold and silver coins have been a problem for years and are not going away. The real American Eagle gold coin is a terrific investment, as 22-carat gold bullion with enough rigidity from its non-gold elements to maintain its features as the years go by. But what to do about counterfeits?
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Forged Gold Coins Are on The Rise
In recent years, it seems that technological advancements are helping counterfeiters to ramp up production of fake bullion. In 2012, a major scandal hit New York City’s diamond district when fake 10-ounce gold bars were sold to a number of dealers in the area. The forgeries were only discovered after one dealer, weighing and X-raying the bars, could not shake his suspicions and actually drilled into one, at which point he found that they were in fact tungsten covered with a thin layer of gold.
Last year, a story broke that China has become a major exporter of fake gold, and that fake bullion in particular is flooding the market. Apparently, Chinese producers are using high-tech production processes that mirror those used by the Chinese mint, then selling the counterfeits on the Internet. Tungsten covered in gold remains the preferred technique, which allows the fake coins to pass the acid test for real gold and gives the forgeries a weight that is similar to the real thing.
Identifying Fake American Eagle Gold Coins
Given the advanced techniques being used by today’s counterfeiters, the only truly reliable way to avoid counterfeit bullion is to choose your precious metals dealers carefully. However, if you suspect you have come across a fake American Eagle coin, examine it very closely to see if it has all signature American Eagle features. You may need a jeweler’s loupe, calipers, and a digital scale.
- Marks: Look if the coin has the word “COPY” stamped upon in tiny letters – if not, it’s not a real American Eagle. Some fakes also have date marks that shouldn’t be there. For example, there are counterfeit Silver Eagles from China that bear date marks prior to the actual coin’s introduction in 1986. Knowing the American Eagle’s history can prevent you from falling for such obvious fakes.
- Design: The design of the American Eagle is very intricate: The hair and gown of Lady Liberty should be sharply defined, especially on proof and uncirculated coins. On fake coins, details can look flat and poorly defined. Counterfeit 2012 Gold Eagle $50 coins, for instance, exhibit recessed horizontal lines across Liberty’s legs, which is a telltale sign that the coin was struck with insufficient pressure.
- Font: Small variations in font design can give a counterfeit American Eagle away. The letters and numbers on fake 2012 $50 Gold Eagles, for example, look slightly off: The letters of the word “LIBERTY” have very pronounced serifs while the “2s” in “2012” have no serifs (unlike the original). Real Eagles, like all coins produced by the U.S. Mint, have date numbers with straight-edge tops, whereas counterfeits usually have numbers with curved tops.
- Rim & Edges: The U.S. Mints uses highly precise technology to strike American Eagles according to specific dimensions, including the rims and edges of the coins. Fake Eagle coins often have larger rims and edges.
- Weight: Each coin produced by the U.S. Mint has an exact weight, including the American Eagle. An electronic digital scale allows you to measure your coin within two decimal points in grams. Due to the cheaper metals used in counterfeits, fake American Eagles will likely not have the same weight as the real ones.
- Diameter & Thickness: If you have calipers, a measuring tool that lets you determine the distance between two opposite sides of an object, you can identify the diameter and thickness of your coin. Again, the U.S. Mint strikes coins conforming to exact specifications, so your Eagle is a fake if its diameter and/or thickness don’t correspond.
- Documentation & Packaging: Check if your American Eagle coin came with a certificate of authenticity and was sold by an authorized dealer. Furthermore, uncirculated and proof American Eagles ought to be sealed in plastic capsules mounted in satin-lined velvet presentation cases.
There are also a number of methods to determine whether your coin is made of real gold, but they may harm or diminish the value of a potentially genuine Gold Eagle. Real gold is not magnetic nor does it float in water. If you rub the coin against your skin and your skin becomes discolored, it’s not made of real gold. The acid test involves applying nitric acid to the coin; if the metal turns green, it’s not gold. However, these methods can be risky and may ultimately do more harm than good.
Tips for Buying American Gold
The best possible way to protect yourself from counterfeit American Eagles is to work with a reputable, U.S. Mint Authorized Purchaser dealer. Remember, counterfeit American Eagles can still have the same specifications as the original or come with a forged certificate of authenticity. The U.S. Mint does not sell gold bullion coins directly to the public but instead sells to its network of Authorized Purchasers who meet certain strict criteria. Scottsdale Bullion & Coin is a U. S. Mint Authorized Purchaser and can reliably provide you with American Gold Eagle bullion. Our experts at SBC Gold will gladly answer all your gold-related questions, so don’t hesitate to contact us!