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   A look at forgeries.

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Forged Coin Menu: [ Introduction & Early Milled :|: George III ]
[ Victoria - Now ]

Victorian and Edwardian Forgeries 

There seems to have been a move away from the forgers choice of brass/copper and silver type metals up to the 1830's. All of the Silver and gold coin forgeries I have from the Victorian era and later seem to be made of a metal that resembles lead in appearance but is lighter like steel. Although it cannot be steel because there is no sign of any rust or corrosion on my examples. I have a few broken fakes too and the metal inside has a Crystalline appearance. **Thanks to someone who wrote to me, informing me that this metal is a zinc alloy with a low melting point, and is also used for making die cast toy cars** Please email me if you have any other information.

Forged Victoria large copper penny.

Never mind the Churchill Crown, this coin absolutely the most disgusting coin I have ever handled, in fact it makes me cringe to look at it! The illiterate forger of this coin seems to have hired a child to engrave a portrait of Queen Victoria and the result is truly awful. The forger should have been hung for artistic mis-representation, because in comparison his forgery attempt is a very minor crime. All the 'R's are lower case, the 'N's in 'BRITANNIA' and the 'F's in 'FID' and 'DEF' are upside-down and the wrong way round. The relief is far to high and the coin, dated 1841 is around two thirds the thickness of the real thing. I intend putting this coin in a dark envelope and never setting eyes on it again! 

This is the real thing and what the coin should look like....

A real Victoria large copper penny.

Forged Victoria Crown and widow head florin.

The Victorian public were obviously not convinced by these attempts, both made using the metal mentioned at the top of the page. Suspicious folk have gone to the lengths of cutting these coins, revealing the Crystalline interior to prove they are indeed fake! I also have a couple of fake George V Half Crowns that have met with a similar fate.

Forged Victoria Half Crown.

A quite good counterfeit Half Crown dated 1845. Good weight and definition with some of the original silvering remaining on the lead coloured metal. I have another of these dated 1874 which seems to have been struck with different dies, like the real later Half Crowns were, but is of slightly inferior workmanship. I also have a fake shilling dated 1864 which even has a small die number above the date like the original. It's too worn to read, but did that die number get into the wrong hands?

Forged Edward VII Florin.

Not much left of this heavily worn counterfeit Edward VII florin. It seems clear that the metal used in many of the fakes of this period is not as resistant to wear as silver or even gold. This coin feels significantly lighter than the real thing but has the right dimensions. 

Forged Victoria Jubilee head Half Sovereign.

As you can see, some of the gold colouring is still visible around the lettering. The quality is good and would have looked much better at the time with full 'gold' lustre and no wear. I don't know if it fooled many people because it is so much lighter than the real thing.

George V to now

I have a few low quality fakes from George V, George VI and even Elizabeth II. They all appear to be made from the same lead coloured metal as the coins above and are mainly Shillings and Half Crowns. Occasionally, if you live in the UK you will come across fake coins from time to time in the form of One Pound coins that seem to circulate with increasing frequency. I have a fake 1997 One Pound coin with the English reverse but incorrect Welsh edge legend. I suppose it was only a matter of time, but recent reports have also been coming in about fake Two Pound Coins (the bi metallic type).

The Royal mint recently said they estimate 1% of the £1 coins in London to be fakes, many think the proportion is much higher. Fake £1 coins can apparently be bought for 20p each and have been supplied in their natural alloy silver colour, with a can of gold spray paint to finish them off!

As coin making technology gets more and more advanced it is difficult for forgers to make convincing copies, but that certainly won't stop them trying! Most modern coins have unique levels of electrical conductivity and most vending machines are tuned to only accept coins with the right electrical resistance. 

In years to come the modern attempts will be just as important as pieces of historical evidence as the real thing. I do not necessarily think that defrauding the government or the public is right, but the results of people trying with varying degrees of success do provide an interesting glimpse into the darker side of numismatics. 

I hope you found this section of some interest. Please do email me with comments, additions and corrections.

Chris Perkins 5th July 2003.

Updated slightly 22nd March 2005.



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