Fake Silver Dollars
From China



China is a great nation with a rich heritage, and all of the Chinese people I've met have been honorable. Yet China has a major problem with fakery, a problem for the rest of the world as well as itself. China is the world's capital of counterfeiting, with coins, antiquities, fossils, computer software, music CDs, movie DVDs, books, paintings, clothes, sneakers, jewelry, watches, handbags, toys, sporting goods, film, batteries, food, baby formula, pet food, medicine, cars, car parts, trucks, and much else.

The Chinese make these goods, copying a major brand. But instead of putting their own label or logo on any given product, they put the brand's logo on the product to try to fool consumers into thinking that the company behind the brand, and not the Chinese copyist, made it. They often succeed. China is the worst country in the world in terms of counterfeiting, according to the
International Intellectual Property Alliance, with Russia, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, India, Taiwan, and Portugal following in order. China not only is the worst country in the world, it appears to make far more counterfeits than all the other countries in the world combined. China is the source of about 80 percent of all counterfeit goods seized at U.S. ports by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Entire factories, even entire towns in China, have been built specifically to produce counterfeit goods.

According to Dan Chow, a law professor at Ohio State University who specializes in Chinese counterfeiting and who was quoted in a
CBS News story, "We have never seen a problem of this size and magnitude in world history. There's more counterfeiting going on in China now than we've ever seen anywhere. We know that 15 to 20 percent of all goods in China are counterfeit." According to attorney Harley Lewin, who has been going after counterfeiters from China for more than 20 years and who was quoted in the same CBS News story, "[Chinese counterfeiting] is the most profitable criminal venture, as far as I know, on Earth."

China has a big problem with counterfeiting of its own currency, paper money as well as coins, according to counterfeit expert
Robert Matthews. The Chinese police periodically seize fake large quantities of Chinese notes and coins.

China also has a big problem with the faking of its own past. Chinese antiquities shops and markets consist almost entirely of fakes, as reported in an article at the
China Daily Web site. Professor Yang Jingrong stated that 95 percent of all antiquities sold in China are modern forgeries. Chinese antiquities shopkeepers for the most part appear to knowingly sell fakes as authentic under the subterfuge that it's the buyer's responsibility to determine authenticity.

Many Chinese counterfeit goods are shoddy or dangerous, using low-grade components or ingredients. Chinese imports into the U.S. in general account for more than 60 percent of product recalls by the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Chinese consumers also suffer from shoddy counterfeits. Horrible incidents have been reported multiple times in the news of dozens to hundreds of Chinese babies dying or getting sick after being fed counterfeit baby formula, laced with a deadly chemical to make a diluted product appear to have a higher protein content.

The 2008 Olympics demonstrated to the world just how ingrained fakery is in Chinese society today. China faked the opening ceremony, using digital effects for the televised proceedings instead of real fireworks, as later revealed by a Chinese newspaper; it faked its "national unity" parade by contending that children wearing costumes of different ethnic groups consisted of ethnic minorities when in fact they were all of the Han majority; and it even faked the age of its female gymnists, breaking the Olympic rules, to let underage children compete.

The problem of Chinese counterfeiting has gone on for years and appears to just worsen over time. Fakery in China seems to be official government policy or at least officially tolerated. Whenever major news of Chinese counterfeiting surfaces in the West, the Chinese government takes highly publicized and sometimes dramatic but ultimately superficial steps to try to stop it. The true nature of official Chinese attitudes is more likely along the lines of statements from Chinese officials saying that counterfeiting is the cost that foreign companies must pay to be able to do business in China.

Chinese officials have also been quoted as saying the international press exaggerates the issue, and they have accused Chinese journalists of faking news reports of fake Chinese goods. Chinese journalists have in fact been caught faking. But much bigger than the problem of faking by Chinese journalists is the problem of faking in Chinese society as a whole.

China is a developing country and doesn't appear to recognize international law regarding intellectual property. To the Chinese, copying is entrepreneurship, with copyrights, trademarks, and patents being foreign concepts and largely ignored. Chinese society as a whole in its energetic drive toward economic prosperity seems to have chosen fakery as a shortcut, ignoring conventions in the rest of the civilized world.

When Japan was transforming itself into an industrial power in the years following World War Two, it also competed by making low-cost goods. But for the most part it didn't try to deceive by putting fake labels of companies from other countries on these products and trying to create the impression that these goods are of the same quality as those put out by these companies and are warranted by them. Japan proudly labeled its low-cost goods as "Made in Japan" rather than using fake labels as China does.

On the other hand, China has a rich cultural, scientific, and intellectual heritage. From the time of Confucius and Lao-Tzu, China has contributed to the betterment of civilization. Today, China also makes many authentic, original goods.

Coinage has a long history in China, with the first Chinese coins thought to have been minted at about the same time as the first coins in Asia Minor.

The following six silver dollar forgeries were bought in China by a businessman at a flea market from a Chinese seller who was selling them as authentic old U.S. coins. The seller's asking price for these pieces was the equivalent of about $28 each. The businessman wound up buying them for less than $1 each, which of course is less than their face value. The businessman emailed me their images to help in the counterfeit education effort.

The 1804 dollar fake below is the same type as the 1800 fake that I call "Lightweight" on the
previous page of this site. All of these fakes appear to have come from the same forgery workshop, which would mean that they're made of copper-nickel, not silver, and weigh between 18 and 21 grams, substantially less than the correct weight of around 27 grams.

Fakes of this type regularly appear on eBay, sometimes sold as fakes, sometimes sold as replicas, sometimes sold as authentic coins, sometimes sold as coins that the seller found in his grandmother's attic, and though he doesn't know if they're real or not, they sure look old to him. Many other Chinese counterfeits of U.S. dollars and other coins are out there as well, put out by other Chinese forgery factories. Some coin dealers in California report receiving about one phone call a day asking whether the old U.S. coins the person just bought on the street are real. One person emailed me about a dozen U.S. silver dollars he bought "cheap" in California that turned out to be magnetic, indicating an iron content, which no authentic U.S. dollar coins have.

Some Chinese forgery criminals sell marked replicas on eBay in large quantities. According to several people, all you have to do is ask and the Chinese seller will sell the same pieces to you not marked as replicas. Legitimate replica makers refuse to do this. The quality reportedly ranges from very obvious to very deceptive. Chinese forgery factories appear to be using eBay in this way to find wholesale buyers of their work. This has the potential of flooding the world's collectibles markets with ever more Chinese fakes.















1804 Draped Bust dollar forgery















1848-O Liberty Seated dollar forgery (no silver dollars were minted in New Orleans in 1848)















1877 Trade dollar forgery















1879-S Trade dollar forgery














1885-S Morgan dollar forgery















1922 Peace dollar forgery




Other glomworthy coins:

Oldest Coins

 Athenian Owls

Alexander the Great Coins

Medusa Coins

Thracian Tetradrachms

House of Constantine

Draped Bust Coins

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles

Coin sites:
Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide
Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship
Bogos: Counterfeit Coins

© 2014 Reid Goldsborough

Note: Any of the items illustrated on these pages that are in my possession are stored off site.