Most collectors are well aware of the problem of forgeries coming from China. Most coin collectors are not fooled by the vast majority of these pieces. They are often wrong in detail, size, color, smell, feel, weight, and artistic rendition. They are often easily discounted and rarely an issue except for the beginning collector. That said, the stakes have risen and the counterfeiting technology has become increasingly more accurate. But what if a forgery could be produced that minimized most of those requirements listed above? What if it could be produced without the fear of
But what if a forgery could be produced that minimized most of those requirements listed above? What if it could be produced without the fear of counterfeiting a federal currency because it actually had no intention of circulation or ability to do so? Welcome to the world of counterfeit blank planchet errors in which the manufacturer has now become so precise that even the best collector would not be able to distinguish the fraud.
Blank planchet errors are some of my favorite errors to encourage new collectors to look out for. They are actually quite hard to find in circulation because they are so easily spotted and saved right away. Yet the frequency with which the error occurs is enough that demand does not outmatch supply and collectors can get smaller denominations like one cent examples for just a couple of bucks.
The error is perhaps the easiest to describe. When a sheet of metal is punched to individual metallic discs to be minted into coins these are known as planchets. The planchets are then often weighed and measured for consistency before moving on to receive stamping of the obverse and reverse from a die. In this case, the story ends with the planchet never making it to the die or moving in such a way (mechanical or by human error) that the die misses striking it.
Generally speaking, the more difficult blank planchet errors to find are the larger denominations. They command a price three to four times that of the lowest denomination and in some cases many more.
Unfortunately, sellers on Alibaba, an aggregate wholesale site for producers of trade goods and private label merchandise have found a way to skirt the law and produce identical examples of what we have been collecting. After all, the trick has hardly ever been creating identical circulation coins. The real challenge has always been evading law enforcement. By producing simply a planchet which is not by itself imitating a circulating coin the producer can skirt the law. Quite simply these planchets could be used for myriad craft implementation, customized coins, and apparently find construction or hardware use, according to the manufacturer.
I have hand inspected several examples from several different sellers. None will be mentioned by name here. Just know that there are dozens of manufacturers of these items on Alibaba and hundreds more who produce commemorative or specialized coins who would be willing to make an order of these if requested.
From what I have gathered they are all accurate on size and weight specifications for American circulating coinage from the one cent to the twenty-five cent. A couple of sellers are off slightly on color which may be a reflection of improper metal content. The others were spot on. Keep in mind, the metal content percentages of a coin are not difficult to ascertain. In fact, they are published in the Redbook each year.
I doubt even a third-party grading company would be able to diagnose such a forgery and for that reason, I am going to stay away from blank planchet errors for a while until I learn more. Their production poses almost zero threat to the various mints whose coins they target, but instead to the hobby as a whole.