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An important part of collecting coins of any type is being able to spot fakes, post mint damaged or intentionally altered coins.

Unfortunately, there are less than moral people in the world who will attempt to pass off a worthless coin as a rare find. The best way to keep from being a victim, is to be an informed collector.


1. If purchasing coins from a dealer, always ensure that the dealer has a good reputation. Many dealers do not handle error coins on a regular basis or not at all. Always work with dealers who specialize in error coins. Not only will you get a better deal, you will avoid being scammed.


2. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Some error coins have extreme value, and these are the ones that are faked most often. If you are offered an error coin that you know is highly valuable for a sum far less than others would charge, be wary. 9 times out of 10 it will be a fake. Talk to a dealer, or contact the authorities to find out if the person you are dealing with is known. Look for tool or other marks that might give away how it was faked.


3. Ask questions. The only dumb question is the one that is never asked.

There are several places one can find answers. Talk to a dealer, or jump on the Internet. The web is full of discussion forums dedicated to coin collecting. These forums allow pictures to be posted and most have readily available, knowledgeable members to answer questions.


4. Something to keep in mind is this. There are coins, some that are true errors, that are illegal to own. Certain coins that were never meant to be released to the public, were smuggled out by U.S. Mint employees, which means they are not legal tender and therefore illegal to own. If you believe that you have found something that falls into this category, contact the U.S. Secret Service. It is their job to inspect and either release the coins as legal tender or confiscate and destroy the coins.


5. Beware that there are several different methods that can be used to alter a coin. Electroplating is often found, especially when it comes to the famous 1943 copper cent. Sulfur treating is also known as a way to tone coins. As well as soldering.


6. Lastly, never purchase a two headed or two tailed coin as an error. There are less than - known examples of this error known, because the mint strikes both the obverse and the reverse at the same time. Most two headed or two tailed coins are intentionally altered magic or novelty coins and carry no value.

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