Collecting Gold Sovereigns and Avoiding Fakes - Part 2

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I hope you have arrived here after reading the first part of this article.

In this part, I will be showing you some more examples of the dubious and the downright ugly that at some time have been passed off as coins.

The first example is very interesting:


The obverse is clearly very crudely engraved, though the reverse is a bit better and the reverse on its own might have fooled someone. Sadly, the seller - who did withdraw the coin from eBay - was duped himself and bought the coin in good faith from a coin fair. This shows the value of good photographs and of being able to see pictures of both sides of the coin.

Here is something I noticed yesterday - 26 August 2006:

The seller was offering this as a sovereign and has told me that the reverse is of George and the dragon. However, this obverse appears to be that of the half sovereign and there is no picture of the reverse. The seller took the picture from someone else's listing and subsequently put up the following poor picture:


This appears to be a fairly low grade bullion coin but it also appears to be a single photo showing both sides of the coin!

The learning points from this example are that you should never buy a coin without seeing pictures of the reverse and obverse and never buy a coin on the basis of a purloined photo - the one thing that will be certain is that the actual coin will not be the same as the one pictured and may be in worse condition.

Here is a very interesting one from early September 2006:


On the face of it, this looks like a perfectly good sovereign. However, if you look closely at this item, particularly the obverse, by comparing it to another on eBay, you will see that there small differences between this and a real coin. The milling is obviously too deep and the inscription on the obverse is too close to the edge.

I suggested to the seller that the coin was probably fake and he took the coin to an antique dealer who told him that the coin was a re-strike (reject), which is of course, rubbish. The point here is that it is difficult to  spot some fakes and that antique dealers usually know nothing about coins, which is probably why you never see a coin on the Antiques Roadshow and why two lovely cased Maundy sets were recently valued at a ludicrous £20-30 on Cash in the Attic but sold for £110.

If you need advice about a coin, go to a reputable coin dealer and not an antique dealer or a jeweller. The seller withdrew the coin.

When you buy from a coin dealer, you can reasonably expect him/her to have some knowledge but don't expect the same from antique dealers and jewellers - when did you last see an expert express an opinion about a coin on the Antiques Roadshow? So today, 29 November 2006, I am adding a particularly laughable fake being sold by someone who seems mainly to deal in antiques. The item number is 270060482277 and some of her photos are shown below:


This is one of the silliest looking fakes I have ever seen and the pictures in the catalogue only prove this point. However, this has not stopped people bidding for the item which comes with the benefit of a chain described by the seller as 18 or 22ct carat gold, which is unhallmarked  and is actually brass. By the way, claiming that an item you are selling is gold when it is not, is a criminal offence in the UK.

You do have to admire the determination of this seller, who colorfully calls herself 1st_ladyof_e-bay, because despite the fact that I told her that the coin is a fake and reported that to eBay, who removed the listing first time but only because she was inviting payment in cash, she has put it up again! Of course and as usual, eBay has now refused to act to remove the listing, claiming that they cannot be sure that the item is a fake, a timely reminder of the quality of protection offered to buyers by eBay. They have also changed the bidding system to Bidder 1, Bidder 2, etc because one of my colleagues and I threatened to email the "successful" bidder, copying to them our emails to eBay. By the end of 2007, this eBayer had disappeared but whether she has changed her name or truly disappeared is uncertain.

In the end, this disc and brass chain sold for £265 to cf2005kr, so if you know this eBayer, please tell them that they have been ripped off but they too have left the scene - in disgust?

Again and from the same seller we have items 270059371403 and 270059377698, seemingly identical coins:


These look wrong to me but apparently a jeweller has said that the coin is real! The coin looks like a casting and the edge is very poor. By 1892, quality control at the Royal Mint was much better at the striking stage and whilst the odd error might have crept out two identical coins would be very unlikely.

You can add to this the fact that some real coins described as sovereigns are actually half sovereigns - the seller has ignored me here too - and the Spanish coin, item 270059313242, is actually brass and has bidders and I think that we can safely say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I will add further rubbish from eBay to this guide, whenever I find something new to warn you about and it is now the new year and I have found the first truly daft item of the year - please see part 3 of this series!

Please feel free to contact me, lapidary99 at hotmail if you have any questions or concerns and I will do my best to help you but please do not offer to sell me your coins by email or request coins from me as this would certainly be in breach of eBay rules.

Please move on to my next guide.

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