Early this year, I began tracking the coin counterfeiting activity that was coming out of China. A sometime blogger by the name of "BiddlesBank" had posted photos of a Chinese counterfeit coin-making operation. I was able to track down the owner of the photos, a journey that took me through at least 20 different coin-related discussion forums in at about a half-dozen different countries. When I reached the end of the chain, I found "Jinghuashei," who claims to be the largest replica coin producer in China. His annual replica coin output is measured in the 7 figures, but fortunately 90% of these fakes are ancient Chinese coins that are sold within China itself.
I published some of the photos and a brief account of what they depicted here on my Web site in late March. Coin World editor Beth Deisher became aware of these photos and sent me an email asking if I had any contact information for the counterfeiters or any evidence that the photos were anything other than an elaborate hoax. As I relate in the Coin World articles, Jinghuashei is very forthcoming about his minting operation because he isn't breaking any laws in China. He takes great pride in his work, and does a creditable job of striking fairly deceptive replicas of U.S. coins, including U.S. error coins, such as off-centers, double-struck coins, and other simple minting errors.
Although Coin World generally doesn't make its print magazine content freely available on the Internet, Deisher feels that the information in these articles is so critical, so important for collectors to be aware of, that she made a rare exception and placed the entire series on the Coin World Web site, even though most print subscribers wouldn't have received their Dec. 15th copy in the mail yet. (The cover dates for the series are Dec. 1, Dec. 8, and Dec. 15, 2009.) Coin World's Web page layout of these articles is beautifully done, and includes the numerous photographs that appear in the print version. The images can all be seen in enlarged versions by clicking on them.
Here are direct links to the three articles:
- Chinese Coin Counterfeiter Legal in China - Overview of a counterfeiting operation
- Chinese Coin Counterfeits Deceptive - Mint technology and error coins
- Diagnostics to Help Identify Fake PCGS Slabs From China - Photos and tips
Deisher is an absolutely wonderful editor to work with! She gave me all the time I needed to further develop my sources, and when a significant breakthrough seemed to be on the horizon, she readily rescheduled the deadline for the article. She has taken a passionate interest in this story from the very beginning, devoting significant time and energy to behind-the-scenes research and work, even asking a personal friend to do Chinese language translations for me. She is truly one of our hobby's biggest champions against these counterfeiters! Beth and I will be presenting a talk about the Chinese counterfeiting threat at the FUN coin show in Florida in January, so if you'll be in the vicinity and would like to see these counterfeit coins first hand, keep an eye out for our talk. I'll post more information as we get closer to the show (which is Jan. 7 - 11, 2009.)