The photos in this gallery were taken inside a Chinese coin counterfeiting operation. This counterfeiting ring is suspected of putting thousands of fake coins onto the world and U.S. coin markets every month. These striking photos first emerged on certain Web-based coin discussion boards in Europe and the Far East. They came to my attention through a numismatic watchdog/satire blog called Biddle’s Bank. These are the same coins which are being put into counterfeit PCGS and NGC coin holders although they are most frequently sold raw (non-slabbed.)
The sheer size, scope, and professionalism of this counterfeiting ring will astonish you. Although the working conditions often appear dirty and the minting equipment is old, this is obviously a well-funded enterprise that is run like a legal business in China. There is no law in China against making these “replicas” as long as they are sold as such.
This photo depicts a worker in a Chinese counterfeiting ring in the process of feeding a planchet (coin blank) into the press to strike a fake silver coin. The counterfeiting ring whose equipment and products are shown in this photo gallery is a large, well-funded organization that employs numerous people in a factory-like environment. In addition to striking fake coins, they manufacture a variety of fake Chinese antique art and antiquities items.
Fake Morgan Dollars Being Struck
This is a closer photo of the coin press in the previous image. Several freshly struck fake Morgan Dollars lie to the right of the machine. They look like they might even be Proof Morgans, which would almost certainly be struck on a machine that uses hand-fed coin blanks, but some of the machinery in this operation looks pretty old so maybe they’re just normal Morgans after all. Whatever quality of striking they have, whether it be Proof or normal, one thing is certain: they’re FAKE!
Here’s a close-up image of a few freshly-minted fake Morgan Dollars struck in China. I don’t know if they were struck by the coin press on the previous page, or one of the several other coin presses this counterfeiting ring has, but those fake Morgans sure look to be pretty high-quality counterfeits. Of course, this counterfeiting ring will process them so that each one appears to have a different amount of wear, toning, contact marks, and other minor imperfections so that they don’t all look too much alike. Some of these fake Morgan Dollars will also find their way into counterfeit PCGS and NGC slabs, but my sources tell me that most of the fakes these counterfeiters sell are sold “raw” (rather than slabbed).
Edge View of Fake Morgan Dollars
Here is an edge view of the same handful of fake Morgan Dollars shown on the previous page. Again, what stands out most to me is the high quality of these fakes. The coins may or may not have been struck on genuine .900 fine silver planchets, though. The Chinese have been experts at creating lookalike alloys for more 1,500 years.
Chinese Worker Applies Edge Lettering to Fake Coins
Here’s another one of the coining machines in use at this large Chinese coin counterfeiting factory. A worker, who looks to be a woman, is operating a machine that applies edge lettering to the edges of the struck coins. This machine is somewhat different from the Schuler edge lettering machine in use at the U.S. Mint for the golden dollars. According to reader Henry N., this one operates more like a Castaing Machine, which was the first machine ever developed for the express purposes of putting edge lettering and other marks on the edges of coins. Minting experts Mike Diamond and Fred Weinberg also concur, based on what they can see in the photo, that the machine is applying edge lettering. Reader Kostas K. pointed out that if you look carefully just to the left of the large tube, you can actually see a coin traveling through the machine!
An Assortment of Fake Coin Dies in China