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Use Size, Edge to Spot Fake Pandas
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
August 22, 2013

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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Is there any quick way to differentiate genuine from fake Chinese silver bullion Panda coins?

Genuine Panda coins weigh exactly 31.1 grams, with a diameter of 40 mm. Fakes have been recently reported with a diameter of 39.72 mm and weight of 31.1844 grams. The diagonal edge reeding on the bogus coins is not consistent. Since the obverse design changes annually, it is difficult to become sufficiently familiar with each design to use it to identify fakes.

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I recently read there has been some confusion regarding which coins work in vending machines in Abu Dhabi. Can you give me some further information?

Actually there have been a host of problems with United Arab Emirate coins that circulate in Abu Dhabi. The latest of these is the relatively new 1-dirham coin, which is too similar to the 50-fils coin that is of half its value. Parking meters in Abu Dhabi were not re-calibrated to accept the new dirham, causing all sorts of problems. And, this isn’t the first time there have been such problems. In the past the Australia 10 cents, Philippines 1 peso, Oman 50 baisa, Pakistan 5 rupee and the Morocca 1 dirham have all been improperly accepted by vending machines in Abu Dhabi.

I’ve been told style as well as condition, centering and rarity is important regarding ancient coins. Can you explain what is meant by style?

Today all working coin dies are made from a master die. For this reason each is identical. Prior to modern machining techniques, all working coin dies were engraved by hand. In ancient times this engraver was called a celator. There were celators that were masters at their craft. Some of them such as the ancient Greek artist Kimon signed their work. Other celators were likely lesser employees whose work was not of the same quality. As a result the style or quality of the artistic work will differ from coin to coin within the same coin type depending on the die employed. Specialists and advanced collectors can identify which coins of a particular type are of superior style to others.

How can a mint ensure the center plug won’t be easily dislodged from a ringed bimetal coin such as the Canada $2 “twoonie?”

When Italy introduced the first modern ringed bimetal coin during the 1980s, this separation of the two coinage parts was a problem. The center could easily be dislodged from the ring. Patrice Cahart was master of Monnaie de Paris (the French mint) about 1992. In conversation I had with him at that time, Cahart said the French solved the problem by ensuring there were small indentures within the inner edge of the outer ring so that when the blank containing both parts was struck there would be some metal flow from the center plug to this outer ring, locking the two pieces. Any ringed bimetal coin can be separated into its parts if someone really wants to force them apart; however, the intention is to avoid having the coin come apart when it is used in normal circulation. Canada, as well as any other country striking ringed bimetal coins for circulation, employs this practice.

What do the terms medal alignment and coin alignment mean?

Rotation or orientation may be better words to use than the term alignment. Regardless of your choice of words, the description explains how the obverse and reverse designs are positioned in relation to each other. When examining the obverse of a coin, medal or token, flip the piece on its vertical axis to see how the obverse design relates to the positioning of the reverse design. If the reverse is right-side up, you are looking at coin alignment. If the reverse is completely opposite, you have medal alignment. Wording it another way, the reverse design on a coin alignment coin should be 180 degrees opposite the orientation of the obverse design. In Great Britain, medal alignment is sometimes called British turnover. Coins that typically have medal rather than coin alignment include those of Great Britain, many of the Commonwealth nations, Japan and the European Union. Those coins on which neither coin nor medal alignment is perfect are collected as die rotation errors.

What is a box taler?

Coins, especially those of crown size, have occasionally been hollowed out in the center, then hinged or machined to be screwed together. The hollowed out central area has been used to contain discs on which appear images of people or places. This hollowed-out area has also been rumored to have been used to smuggle contraband, although this is unsubstantiated. This tale is why such coins have also been dubbed Opium dollars.

Can you explain the origin of the pudding coin at Christmas?

The custom was adopted in Australia and in England (likely elsewhere as well). A silver threepence or sixpence was placed in the pudding. Whomever found it would have good luck—assuming the person didn’t choke on it first. The custom appears to have originated by placing a silver amulet in the plum porridge to ward off evil spirits. If the amulet was a silver thimble, this indicated a spinster in the family would remain unmarried during the coming year. If the amulet was a silver ring, this would indicate a wedding could be anticipated. In 1840 Queen Victoria took the tradition one step further, having a gold sovereign placed in the Christmas pudding at the royal palace.

Are there any important differences between the various chop marks appearing on Mexican 8-reales coins, 1780 Maria Theresa talers, U.S. silver dollars and the like?

Chop marks on these coins are marks added by Chinese merchants concerned with the coins being of the correct metal purity added their personal marks to these coins. While some collectors consider these coins defaced, there are others that collect them. An individual merchant’s marks may not necessarily be more valuable than another; however there are at least 11 types of marks, some of which are scarcer than others. Manchu marks are particularly scarce.

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