Serious coin collectors focus their collections on coins that are rare. Coins with minting errors, those that were only circulated for a short period of time, have considerable historic significance, and/or are endowed with other factors that make them rare are the most prized coins among coin enthusiasts. It’s an unfortunate fact that rare coin forgeries have been around for as long as coins have been struck. The equipment used to forge coins has become more advanced often making it difficult for even experienced collectors to tell the difference between an authentic coin and a fake. If you are interested in purchasing rare coins, it is best to play it safe by only buying from a reputable coin dealer.
Fake coins are produced with either one of two objectives in mind: to deceive tourists or to deceive experienced numismatic experts. The first scenario is easily avoided by only purchasing coins from a well-known coin dealer. Never purchase coins off of the street. Many deceitful forgers prey on tourists who are far from home. Buying a “rare coin” from a street dealer while on vacation is a sure recipe for disappointment. By the time you arrive home and discover your mistake, it will be too late to do anything about it.
The second scenario mentioned above—fake coins to deceive coin numismatists—is more difficult to get around. Even experienced collectors may hold an authentic coin in one hand with an almost identical fake in their other without knowing the difference. So, how can you choose a coin dealer you can feel confident in? Your most reliable option will be a dealer who is a member of at least one professional coin organization such as the Professional Coin Grading Service, the American Numismatic Association, or the Professional Numismatic Guild. Dealers who are connected to such notable numismatic organizations will be able to provide coins that have been put through rigorous testing to ensure their authenticity.
Another benefit of choosing an experienced dealer who is connected with a major numismatic organization (or several) is that they will provide recourse if you should discover that a coin is not what you thought it was at the time of purchase. An experienced dealer will be wary of their reputation and will take the coin back for evaluation, and will provide compensation if the coin is worth less than you bought it for or is not authentic. Working with a reputable coin dealer will give you peace of mind as you expand your collection.