Fake 10-Ounce Silver Bars Reported|
September 17, 2013
Last Friday, Sept. 13, a customer came into our store in Lansing, Mich., with some genuine silver dollars plus two specimens of what he claimed were struck Engelhard 10-ounce .999 fine silver ingots of the variety that had the globe on the front (not the eagle as used in later issues). One was wrapped in plastic, while the other was not.
The employee assisting this customer immediately knew the pieces were counterfeit as they were too large. Genuine struck Engelhard 10-ounce ingots are about 90 millimeters high and 45mm wide. These two pieces were each about 120mm high (4.8 inches) and 60mm wide. Please see the accompanying photographs showing how these measure against a ruler.
The piece with the plastic was put on a scale. Including the plastic, total weight came out to 9.66 troy ounces, far too light to be genuine.
In addition, the serial number punched into the front has the appearance of each digit being separately hand-punched, with an irregular look. Genuine ingots have the entire serial number evenly struck in a single stroke.
We asked the customer how he came by them. He did not say who had sold them to him, but claimed that he had purchased them a few years ago as an investment. We don’t have any way of knowing if this is an old or a new scam, similar to the fake “replica” 1-ounce brand name silver rounds and ingots that were being sold in internet auctions.
In a quick review of eBay auctions, for instance, I was not able to find these obvious counterfeits. Whoever made these pieces, you can expect that they did not stop at just these two specimens. We have never seen them before in our store. Has anyone else encountered them? Can you provide the time and circumstances?
Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at http://www.libertycoinservice.com. Other commentaries are available at Coin Week (http://www.coinweek.com and http://www.coininfo.com). He also writes a bi-monthly column on collectibles for “The Greater Lansing Business Monthly” (http://www.lansingbusinessmonthly.com/articles/department-columns). His radio show “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at http://www.1320wils.com.
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