Counterfeit Coin Newsletter No.5
COUNTERFEIT COIN NEWSLETTER Robert Matthews Coin Authentication

No. 5 December 2005

Coin Information


Italy, China and Bulgaria are probably the three countries in the world that produce significant amounts of counterfeit currency across all the categories. They all have significant problems in the international counterfeiting of notes, circulating coins and collector coins.

This edition of the Counterfeit Coin Newsletter attempts to cover some of the features of counterfeiting in Bulgaria. By the very nature of the subject this is very incomplete and partial. Immediately below is a précis of some of the public intelligent reports that have appeared on the web. Below this again is a summary of some of the brief news items that have appeared in the English language media recently. Finally "In print" contains a review of the book series cataloguing Bulgarian produced ancient coin counterfeits.

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One of the problems for those who study counterfeit coins is not exaggerating the problem. Readers must not leave this site thinking that the majority of coins are counterfeit, they are not. However one of the most difficult problems is estimating the extent of the problem in the various areas. When there is a reliable estimate, this is used. However in most cases, especially where collector coins are concerned, all we have is subjective opinions. So please leave this site determined to be careful but do not be disenchanted with the fascinating world of coins.


Bulgarian counterfeiting

Official intelligent reports and assessments

A number of international reports and intelligence assessments allow us to see an outline of counterfeiting and organised crime in Bulgaria. However it must be emphasised the international organisations priorities are mainly notes with some European interest in circulating coins but collector coin counterfeiting is not directly mentioned. However it is the editor's opinion that the organisational structures detailed are probably similar in all three cases.

Between 2000 and 2002 more than 4 million counterfeit USA dollars were seized in Bulgaria. The USA Secret Service estimated that Columbia and Bulgaria accounted for almost half of the counterfeit dollars passed in the United States. They state that the Bulgarian threat had risen relatively recently with the growth of organised crime (OC) in south-eastern Europe. "In March 2002 the U.S. Secret Service formally joined forces with the Bulgarian Service for Combating Organize Crime (NSCOC) to form the Bulgarian Counterfeit Task Force (BCTF)."

Europol in its 2005 EU Organised Crime Report stated that, "Bulgarian OC groups tend to have a cell like structure" (as opposed to a hierarchical structure) "and are ethically homogeneous. They are heavily involved in currency and document counterfeiting...". The report states that, "counterfeiting is considered a high profit low risk activity." The Bulgarian OC groups "seem to be divided into groups that control several print shops and other groups that control distribution."

Bulgaria is currently undergoing a process of guided change to allow it to join the European Union. This means it is changing its government systems including its justice and policing processes. At the end of 2002 Bulgaria agreed with the EU to establish a National Analytical Centre (NAC) in its central bank. The NAC is responsible for collecting and analysing all counterfeit euro notes and coins found in Bulgaria.

An EU monitoring mission in June 2004 made a number of criticisms of this NAC. The NAC consisted of three staff, a head, a note expert and a coin expert/administrator. The counterfeits were examined in one small room. It was equipped with a scanning system to examine notes under differing wavelengths of light and secure internet access to a number of counterfeit euro reference sites. No mention was made of any equipment for examining counterfeit coins but it should be remembered that all suspected major new classes of counterfeit euro coins are required to be sent to the European Technical and Scientific Centre, ETSC, in France.

The monitor did not seem to find the number of counterfeit euro notes recovered in 2003, about 1,100, credible. The monitor stated that, "It is difficult to accept the existing arrangements are equal to any but a lower scale of problem." It was recommended that the resources of the NAC, its staffing and appropriate training be increased.

Other areas criticised were the length of time assembling prosecution cases, the lack of an effective witness protection scheme and the inability of the police to undertake undercover work.

The basic unit of the Bulgarian currency is the lev. This was redenominated (awful word) in 1999 so that 1,000 old lev were equivalent to 1 new lev. The 1-lev coin was introduced in 2002 and circulates along side a one-lev note.

Example of a Bulgarian 1-lev coin

The one-lev coin is a bimetal coin with a white inner section and a yellow outer section. It weighs 7g and has an overall diameter of 24.5mm.

Image by kind permission of

Police action

There have been a number of reports of Bulgarian currency counterfeiters being arrested in recent times.

In August, the Sofia News Agency reported, a man was arrested after the discovery of a 6.164kg copy of the Panaguyrishte gold treasure. He was also found in possession of copies of other ancient artefacts, of counterfeit Ottoman coins dated from the 15th to the 19th century and numerous moulds for coins, icons etc. The presumption must be that casting produced these items.

In October there were reports from Prague and Austria about two different cases involving euro note counterfeiting. Those arrested were mainly from Bulgaria but also included nationals from a number of other Balkan countries.

Finally in November, Bulgarian police arrested four men in Yoakim Gruevo near the city of Plovdov. They seized a number of "machines" used to make fake 2-euro coins, "matrixes" (dies?) for 2-euro coins, completed 2-euro counterfeits, some "matrixes" (dies?) for "numismatic" coins and seven yellow-coated completed "numismatic" counterfeits. There are no details of the "numismatic" counterfeit coin type.

This case is the first euro coin "mint" found in Bulgaria. Currently we have no estimate of the magnitude of the operation. An operation including both circulating and collector coin counterfeits is worrying but this has been a long feared link in Bulgaria.

Move to IN PRINT

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Fake Roman Egyptian Tetradrachm
One of the fake Alexandrian tetradrachms

Image reproduced by kind permission of Barry P. Murphy

Fake Alexandrian tetradrachms

A group of U.S.A. dealer's/numismatists have issued a warning about a number of counterfeit Roman Alexandrian tetradrachms recently coming onto the market. Barry Murphy, John Lavender, Zach Beasley and Robert Kokotailo have stated that they include tetradrachms of Trajan, Hadrian, Antonius Pius, and Marcus Arelius. The counterfeits are believed to be cast and have originated in the middle east.

Photographs of the known examples have been posted onto Barry Murphy's site. It is not known if this grouping is complete and Mr. Murphy has asked that anybody who knows of any further examples to contact him. It is reassuring to know that dealers identified all of this group and none were sold to collectors. The counterfeits are described as having differing patinas and individually being fairly deceptive.

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The Malaysian RM1 coin was first introduced in 1989 with the symbol $1 on the reverse. In 1993 the ringgit was adopted as Malaysia's currency unit. From that time the reverse of the RM1 was changed to bear the 1 "RINGGIT" denomination. The coin specification remained the same.

The Malaysian RM1 coin

The coin weighed 9.3g and was 24.5 mm in diameter. It was made of an alloy of 84% copper, 12% zinc and 4% tin. No other country is known to use coins of this alloy.

Was the Malaysian RM1 coin withdrawn due to counterfeiting?

On 5th September 2005 the Malaysian Central Bank, Bank Negara Malaysia announced that the RM1 coin would be withdrawn from use by 7th December 2005. The RM1 banknote was to remain in circulation.

Unfortunately these plans had become known a few days before the official announcement. This led to a rush by some members of the public to use up their RM1 coins. Some traders refused to accept the coins because of fears that a large numbers of the coins were counterfeit. They believed the banks would not accepted these coins . The "New Straights Times" quoted one trader as estimating six or seven out of every ten RM1 coins were counterfeit.

This led to the central bank issuing a number of press releases to attempt to clarify and calm the situation. It denied the coin was being withdrawn because of counterfeiting. It claimed that it was being withdrawn due to lack of use. It also, "reiterated that the RM1 coin remained legal tender until 6th December" and that, "All businesses must continue to accept the RM1 coins". The bank claimed that, "There have been isolated cases of forgeries in RM1 coins but they do not involve significant amounts."

However the bank had a credibility problem. The media queried the very short time allowed for the withdrawal compared with that used with the previous phasing out of RM2 and RM20 notes. There were also questions by opposition MPs complaining about the inconvenience being experience by the public. A three-month withdrawal period for a coin is very unusual when the coin is used in a significant number of coin operated machines.

The editor was able to find details of arrests in four alleged counterfeit coin manufacturing facilities in the last two years. Two of these came to court and were settled relatively rapidly. The other two seem to involve substantially larger numbers of counterfeits. One has a February 2006 trial date and the other with arrests as recently as November has a trial date of July 2006. This last case allegedly involves over 40,000 pieces and 5 counterfeit "machines".

Over the same period there have been a larger number of arrests for the possession or the passing of counterfeit RM1 coins. These appeared to accelerated between September and December. The imminent withdrawal of the coin appears to have caused some to take risks changing their holdings of counterfeit coins. In October one man was arrested after trying to deposit 5,000 counterfeits at a bank.

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Peter the Great set-up four mints to introduce machine manufactured coins into Russia in 1704. He initiated a decimal coinage system with 100 kopeks equal to a rouble. This system remained with relatively few changes for most of the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

Obverse of Nicholas II gold counterfeit

The obverse of a gold counterfeit coin of Nickolas II, the last tsar.

Counterfeit Russian collector coins

Collecting Russian coins has been popular for a long time. However since the break-up of the old soviet empire it has become significantly more popular. Unfortunately a number of knowledgeable contributors to the Google coin discussion site have recently reported an upsurge in Russian counterfeits for sale on the internet.

One of the contributors is American author, R.W.Julian. He wrote, "From Rus to Revolution; Russian coins through a thousand years". He has noted that at least three sellers of these counterfeits although nominally from varying countries all appear to have e-mail addresses originating in Belarus. On this discussion group Bob Hairgrove has posted images of a probable counterfeit of a 1899 10-rouble coin with diagnostic features and comparisons with genuine 10-rouble coins.

The counterfeiting of Russian collector coins is not new [see also Counterfeit Coin Newsletter No.3]. The first edition of the "Bulletin on Counterfeits", in 1975 reprinted an article from the Swiss newspaper, "Tagesanzeige". This reported the conviction of a 47-year-old American citizen for selling a counterfeit 1833 12-rouble platinum coin to a Swiss banking house. He later tried to sell a counterfeit 1830 6-rouble platinum coin. Both these coins were produced in the Lebanon.

This same edition also reported on the examination of three counterfeits of Russian gold coins. These were an 1897 15-rouble counterfeit coin, an 1902 37½ -rouble counterfeit coin and an 1896 25-rouble counterfeit coin. In the first ten years of its existence the "Bulletin on Counterfeits" reported on thirty-six counterfeits of Russian coins dating from 1726 to 1911. The successor "Counterfeit Coin Bulletin" published details of four Russian counterfeits in 2000/2001.

Finally on this subject, Ed Rochette reported in "World Coin News" on the counterfeit coins to be found in the Moscow flea markets. These markets are aimed at the tourist and contain examples of the "bargain" fakes that can be found all around the world.

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Collector coins

Parthian counterfeits

The web site specialising in Parthia and its coins, has, with the permission of the IBSCC, posted a copy of the "Bulletin on Counterfeits" Vol. 19 No.2, 1994/95 on to its site. This volume was devoted to examining and cataloguing a "hoard" of counterfeit Parthian drachms that appeared on the London market between 1988 and 1990.

The volume consists of Alan Walker's meticulously researched introduction and catalogue of the counterfeits and an appendix by J.F.Elmen on the microscopic examination of some of the pieces. We have very few information sources about Parthia. Its coins provide us with one significant source of information. Counterfeits such as these have the potential to disfigure this historic record.

John Jay Ford, Jr. (1924-2005), "Greatest forger ever"?

John Jay Ford, Jr. coin dealer and collector died on the 7th July. Obituaries in the mainstream media have ranged from the respectful to the laudatory. However the obituary on the fake-gold-bars website by John M. Kleeburg, former ANS curator of modern coins, is scathing. Kleeburg claims of Ford that, "in financial terms he was the most successful numismatic forger in history". The editor is not in a position to verify the majority of the facts but if only a few are correct this surely has been a stinking mess at the heart of the American numismatic community.

It should be emphasized that no accusations are being made about the authenticity of the contents of the auctions of John Ford's collection that have been taking place recently.

Probable counterfeit trade dollar from a
 recent internet auction

A probable trade dollar counterfeit from a recent internet auction

Chinese counterfeit U.S.A. silver dollars

Reid Goldsborough has recently added photographs of a further five counterfeit silver dollars from China onto his website. These pieces were bought in local flea markets in China. They were made from a copper/nickel alloy rather than silver and weighed between 18 and 21g.

The Phillipines National Bureau of Investigations have "expressed alarm" over the numbers of fake U.S.A silver dollars in Manilla markets. The advice to American tourists and internet purchasers must be, do not buy silver dollars from asian sources.

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Circulating coins

Euro and other european coin counterfeiting

In January 2005 EUbusiness reported the discovery of more than 31,000 counterfeit 2-euro coins in Poznan, Poland. A local engraver was arrested at the workshop where the counterfeits were found. If convicted he faces a sentence of up to twenty-five years in jail.

In June 2005 Invest in Serbia reported that members of an organised crime group had been arrested for planning to make tools for manufacturing counterfeit 2-euro and Danish 20-krone coins. The group were reported to be planning to make, in value, up to 10 million euro of the Danish coins and to release them into circulation in Denmark. Like the UK, Denmark is one of the EU countries which has not joined the euro.

The Budapest Business Journal has reported on the arrest of two suspects and the discovery of a counterfeit euro coin "mint" on 6th October 2005. 2,659 counterfeit 2-euro coins and 15,540 centrepieces for coins, "along with machines and plates" were found. The Hungarian police appear to believe that this is the largest counterfeit euro operation to be discovered. This may be an over estimation and we need to wait for a more measured opinion. The counterfeits produced appear to be two-piece coins presumably joined in a final operation by striking in a press.

Italian authorities reported an increase of 50-cent euro coin counterfeits in the first six months of 2005.

Japanese 500-yen counterfeiters convicted

Japan Today reported the conviction of two men for the importing and passing of 500-yen counterfeit coins in January 2005 (please see Newsletter 4). 18,000 counterfeit coins were imported from China's Fujian Province in metal pipes. 1,032 [about half million yen] of these coins were deposited via coin machines into Post Office bank accounts and immediately withdrawn as notes. A further man who allegedly masterminded the operation is still being sort by police.

Other reports

During the August-December 2005 period there have been reports of counterfeit coins in Pakistan, India, Russia, New Zealand [one coin], Uganda and the U.S.A.

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Click here to connect to 'The Proceedings of the Old Bailey', home page
Click the above to connect to "The Proceedings of the Old Bailey", home page

Image reproduced by kind permission of the Old Bailey Online Project


Old Bailey online

This site reproduces a commercial publication recording the proceedings of the English Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, between 1674 and 1834. For the social historian it is a goldmine of information on crime, criminals and society in general. For the student of counterfeit coin in the late seventeenth, the eighteenth and the early nineteenth century it is a unique resource.

The proceedings were written for a popular audience of the time and have some limitations. The editors explain the accuracy and value of the proceedings and these qualification need to be kept in mind by those using the site for research. However for those interested in learning about some of the varying counterfeiting techniques of this time or just interested in social history the site makes fascinating reading.

The site allows the use of a number of different search types. Using a simple keyword search for "counterfeit coin" produced 433 references. A similar keyword search using "coining" produced 301 references. One trial in 1721 concerned the counterfeiting of Portuguese Moidores. It was alleged that these were produced by coining silver covered by a thin sheet of gold. The defendants in this case were found not guilty. A much later trial from 1831 concerned the casting of shillings from Britannia metal. Shockingly this resulted in death sentences on a twenty year old man and a twenty-two year old woman.

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Modern Counterfeits
 and Relicas of
 Ancient Greek and Roman Coins from Bulgaria by Prokopov et al

"Modern counterfeits and replicas of ancient Greek and Roman coins from Bulgaria"
by I.Prokopov, K. Kissyov and E. Paunov


"Modern counterfeits and replicas of ancient Greek and Roman coins from Bulgaria"
by Ilya Prokopov, Kostadin Kissayov and Eugni Paunov, published Sofia 2003.
Paperback, 76 pages, UK price £16.

"Contemporay coin engravers and coin masters from Bulgaria - "Lipanoff" Studio"
by Ilya Prokopov, published Sofia January 2004.
Paperback, 88 pages, UK price £16.

"Cast forgeries of classsical coins from Bulgaria"
by Ilya Prokopov and Eugeni Paunov, published Sofia May 2004.
Paperback, 88 pages, UK price £24.

["Counterfeit studios and their coins - Handbook of the individual collector"
by Ilya Prokopov and Rumen Manov, published Sofia 2005 (not reviewed)]

These books were written and compiled by a group of numismatists from Bulgaria led by Dr. Ilya Prokopov. They attempt to catalogue modern counterfeits produced in Bulgaria; one of the world's leading nations in the manufacture of counterfeits of ancient coins. In a brief biography Dr. Prokopov describes himself as an expert in ancient coins. He has worked in several museums in Bulgaria and was director of the National History Museum, Sofia from 1998 to 2001. He is currently employed by the First Investment Bank, Sofia.

The reviewer cannot pretend any great expertise in ancient coins. This review concentrates on the presentation, usefulness and rigour of the scholarship in these books.

The first of the series published in 2003 catalogues 192 pieces [112 Greek, 78 Roman and 2 Byzantine]. Eight of the entries describe "Slavey" coin dies held at the Archaeological Museum, Plovdiv. Each catalogue entry contains two actual size black and white photographs of the obverse and reverse of the counterfeit. Each side is briefly described and the assumed alloy, diameter, die axis and die engraver or mint master stated. Some of the entries also note a weight and where held.

The majority of the entries have been ascribed to Slavey Petrov of Haskovo who submitted all the available coins from his [legal] shop to be photographed and detailed. Obviously with these pieces there was not a requirement to detail why they were classed as counterfeit. However the reason for classifying the other pieces as counterfeit is not detailed.

Ilya Prokopov

Ilya Prokopov

An informative interview from 2000 with Slavey can be viewed at Bill Puetz's site. Note although the site home page states all the pages have been transferred on to the Vcoins site it has not been possible to find this interview on that site. The same site has a partial listing of the known Slavey counterfeits.

The second book in the series published in January 2004 catalogues coins from the "Lipanoff" studio. Again these appear to be produced legally in Bulgaria. 6 Greek and 146 Roman counterfeits are catalogued along with two die sets corresponding to two of the counterfeits. The presentation is very similar to the previous book except that as well as the actual size photographs two enlarged black and white photographs of each of the pieces are included. A weight is documented for each piece but not the metal used for the majority of the counterfeits. Perhaps the following from the introduction should be kept in mind, "made mainly from non-typical metals and had their weights changed".

The third book in the series published in May 2004 is based around a "hoard" of counterfeit coins seized by Bulgarian Customs in the autumn of 2003. This "hoard" consisted of two struck gold pieces, one struck "Lipinov" Hadrian Denarius plus 73 cast silver dinarii. Also catalogued for reference are 11 contemporary cast counterfeits, a pseudo-hoard of 11 cast bronze provincial counterfeits, 16 other cast counterfeits and a series of mainly coloured photographs illustrating the casting process. All but six of the coins listed are Roman. The details and presentation are similar to those in the second book of the series. There is an improvement in the inclusion of more diagnostic comments for individual counterfeits.

This series of books put into print a permanent record of a number of the counterfeits of ancient coins originating from Bulgaria. The books appear to be aimed at the coin collector rather than being scholarly works. As such I feel the explanatory text is insufficient and lacks clarity. They fail as scholarly texts by not being rigorous enough. They need much more details of the pieces origins and piece weights in the earlier books. They generally require a more detailed examination of the individual pieces and the coins they are attempting to ape.

Not with standing the previous paragraph these books are a useful addition to the relatively small amount of literature on numismatic counterfeits.

The fourth book in the series published in 2005 has not yet found it way to British suppliers. Reid Goldsborough on his very good site on ancient and U.S.A. counterfeit coins describes this book as, "the best of Prokopov's books".

On the authenticity of eight Reales 1730 Mexican silver coins by x-ray diffraction and by energy dispersion spectroscopy techniques

I.Rojas-Rodriguez, A.Herrera, C.Vazquez-Lopez, R.Apolo, J.Gonzalez-Hernandez-Landaverde and M.E.Roderiguez,
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B, 215(2004), pp 537-544.

This scientific paper describes the attempt to authenticate seven 8-reale 1730 Mexican silver coins. Prior to the emergence of these coins in 2000 it was considered that machine struck 8-reale coins were first produced in 1732. Three of these 1730 coins had a noticeable patina. The coins were examined and compared with two 8-reales coins dated 1733 and 1734.

The coins were analysed by energy dispersive x-ray analysis in conjunction with a scanning electron microscope. Remarkably apart from analysing at the edge of the coin and the middle no consideration appears to have been made as to how representative this surface analysis was of the whole. The coins were considered genuine from the surface analysis and their weights. Microscopy and x-ray diffraction were considered to show that some of the coins had been cleaned and those with a patina had probably acquired it artificially.

This paper should be understandable to those with a layman's knowledge of this area.

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Photographs of Israeli counterfeits reproduced by kind permission of Meir Sapir. Click on the image to view larger images.

The top photograph shows the obverse sides of the examples.

The top image of both photographs is an example of a genuine 2002 10 NIS coin.

The second line of images show two correctly aligned counterfeits.

The third line of images show what appear to be die faults on the obverse side.

Photographs of
 obverse sides of Israeli counterfeits

The forth line of images, inner sections misaligned with outer rings.

The fifth line shows one coin with 180 degree misalignment of the obverse and reverse sides.

The sixth line shows one coin with about 270 degree misalignment of the obverse and reverse sides

The seventh line shows two examples of counterfeit 5 NIS coins

Photographs of
 reverse sides of Israeli counterfeits


Focus on Israeli counterfeit coins

Newsletter 4 illustrated a number of 10 NIS counterfeits found in Israel. This brief feature describes the examination of two counterfeits the editor purchased from an Israeli coin dealer. One of the counterfeits was a copy of a 10 NIS coin, the other a copy of a 5 NIS coin. This examination has been augmented by information and photographs submitted by Meir Sapir, an Israeli coin collector.

Examination of a 5 NIS counterfeit

The 5 NIS [New Israeli Shekel] is a 12-sided 75/25 cupro-nickel coin weighing 8.2g. Meir Sapir states that 5 NIS counterfeits are "very rare and of extremely poor quality." The finding on the 5 NIS are summarised in the table below. The counterfeit had a greyish white colour not unlike 75/25 cupro-nickel. Its table and especially the edge had considerable damage that probably had been made by a combination of poor manufacturing quality and circulation damage. The main design elements of the counterfeit were clear but a number of the fine elements, for example: the beading, were indistinct.

The counterfeit was slippery or soapy to the touch and was able to make a black mark on paper. This tended to point to the metal being a lead alloy. Further confirmation was the "dull ring" sound made by the counterfeit when it was dropped onto a solid surface. This "dull ring" is symptomatic of either a low melting point alloy [usually lead/tin] or a piece containing a number of voids [usually from casting]. The relative density of the counterfeit was 8.7 g/cc. This falls within the range of a number of alloy systems. One alloy with which it is compatible is a 50/50 lead/tin alloy.

PropertySpecification Counterfeit
across flats
24.00mmN/S 23.62mm
E/W 23.54mm
Edge thickness-2.36-2.47mm
Relative density8.96 g/cc8.7 g/cc
Alloy75/25 cupro-nickelLead alloy

Examination of the counterfeit with the unaided eye and with an x3 eyeglass showed an number of surface cavities due to casting. This was confirmed by examination under a stereomicroscope that showed a number of much smaller cavities not previously apparent. The damage on the edge did not allow the detection of any file or tool marks due to the removal of casting sprue. Sprue is the solid metal remaining attached to a casting from the pathway used to feed molten metal into the casting mould. From the size and number of the casting cavities it was concluded that the counterfeit had been produced by simple gravity feeding of the molten metal. More sophisticated methods such as centrifugal or vacuum casting would usually leave very few large cavities.

In conclusion this type of counterfeit has been found for hundreds of years and is found across the world. They are usually only produced in relatively small numbers. Careful examination can detect this type of counterfeit at any time. Lead alloys are relatively soft so that with circulation the counterfeit becomes damaged and easily detected.

Examination of a 10 NIS counterfeit

The 10 NIS coin is a bi-metal coin weighing 7.0g. It was introduced in 1995. It consists of a high tin/copper plate on a 5% tin bronze alloy inner section with a nickel-plated steel outer ring. Meir Sapir states that there are a variety of 10 NIS counterfeits varying in their quality.

The findings on the 10 NIS counterfeit examined are summarised in the table below. The counterfeit was made of two pieces, as is the genuine coin. The colours of the two sections were similar to the alloys used in the genuine coins. The outer ring was found to be magnetic and the central section non-magnetic again as in the genuine coins. The colour of the inner section of the counterfeit suggested a relatively high copper alloy [85% plus copper] such as an aluminium bronze or similar alloy. The outer ring of the counterfeit was coated with a white metal, probably nickel as in the genuine coins. The join between the two sections of a bi-metal coin can trap air bubbles during immersion in a liquid. This precludes the accurate measurement of relative density on the whole piece to assist in material identification.

PropertySpecification Counterfeit
23.0mmN/S 23.10mm
E/W 23.08mm
Edge thickness-2.14-2.4mm
High tin copper plated bronze
Nickel-plated steel
Copper alloy
White metal electroplated steel

Examining the counterfeit with the unaided eye the obverse appeared of reasonable quality with all the main design features relatively clear. The vertical lines of the outer ring aligned with the similar lines on the left hand side of the inner section.

The reverse of the counterfeit was slightly convex. The denomination value 10 and the vertical features were easily apparent with the unaided eye but the lettering on both the inner section and the outer ring was very indistinct.

Under an x3 eyeglass the inner section showed significant scratches radiating from the centre towards the edge. This is usually indicative of a coin struck with insufficient lubrication or metal dust present. Under the x3 eyeglass the coating on the outer ring was very granular typical of inefficient electro-plating.

It was concluded that the counterfeit had been produced by striking between two dies. Prior to this the outer ring had been coated by electro-plating.

The edge of the counterfeit was partially milled. About 10 to 20 percent of the edge was not milled and this was of a slightly larger diameter. This unmilled section was adjacent to the reverse side. It would appear the counterfeit was not fully in or was partially pushed out of the milled collar during the striking operation.

Examination of the counterfeit with a stereomicroscope showed that a large part of the design was very poorly made. This may have been due to low pressure being used in the "coin press". Alternatively it may have been due to poorly reproduced dies or a build-up of metal dust in the die design. The poor quality of the design reproduction made it impossible to ascribe how the coin dies had been copied. Examination of the outer ring showed nodules of the coating material confirming the conclusion that the coating had been electro-plated.

The alignment of the two sides of the coin and the inner and outer sections of the counterfeit examined copied that of a genuine coin. However Meir Sapir has experienced a number of 10 NIS counterfeits where either the obverse/reverse alignment or the inner/outer section alignment was incorrect. He assures the editor that the inner sections of these counterfeits do not rotate. Obverse/reverse misalignment is probably due to incorrect setting of the dies in the coining press. Meir Sapir speculates that the inner sections of the counterfeits with inner/outer section misalignments had fell out and were replaced incorrectly.

Summarising this 10 NIS counterfeit is a struck piece made of materials similar to the genuine coin. It would probably pass a cursory examination by a member of the general public. The quality of this type of counterfeit appears to be variable. More care and attention by the counterfeiters would have produced even more worrying copies. The use of materials similar to those used in a genuine coin probably indicates an attempt to be able to use the counterfeits in coin-operated machines. This type of counterfeiting usually requires a country to have some industrial infrastructure and the counterfeiter to have some engineering expertise.

Copyright Robert Matthews 2005

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