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Guatemala 1863 Peso Contemporary Counterfeit Or Modern Forgery

 
 
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 Posted 09/03/2019  10:20 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add PatAR to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
A collection I recently bought contained this obviously fake 1863 Guatemala peso. You can readily see the relatively thick plating over a base metal core at 10h obverse and 8h reverse. In addition to photos of both sides and the edge I've included the measurements: AE 24.41g 37.4mm x 2.5mm 6h Edge: Reeded
Fake of KM#182

At first glance this appears to be a modern forgery, but the plating seems more reminiscent of older counterfeits. I am not very familiar with the economic history of Guatemala and to what extent contemporary counterfeits circulated.

Can someone with more experience in this area confirm whether this is contemporary counterfeit or modern forgery?

Thank you


Edited by PatAR
09/03/2019 8:54 pm
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 Posted 09/04/2019  7:18 pm  Show Profile   Check colonialjohn's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add colonialjohn to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Chinese counterfeiters as far as I know do not silver plate brass or copper core pieces. So IMO its a CCC. So IMO its of the period.

John Lorenzo
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 Posted 09/07/2019  11:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add swamperbob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
This post is a bit longer than most but I am trying to cover the situation completely and at the same time explain my methodology of determining classification.

PatAR Interesting fake and a better question about when it was manufactured. There are two distinct types of fakes that exist. The first are the Contemporary Circulating Counterfeits (CCC) - these were made to circulate alongside the original coins in commerce. The second are the Numismatic Forgeries (NF) - these were made to deceive coin collectors at any point in time AFTER the coin became collectable. In some cases, there is a third class of fakes made to fraudulently take advantage of monetary metal fluctuations on the world market. These are more common than most collectors and dealers realize and to my knowledge no one has yet given the type a name. Because they depend on fraud in terms of metallic value, I see them as very closely related to the NF type. I will refer to them as Monetary Frauds (MF). More about the third classification MF later.

The difference in classification is critical since CCC types are generally collectable as part of the numismatic history of the country it came from while NF's are only of nuisance value for identification and avoidance. The MF type are slightly superior to the NF type but they are clearly not as desirable as CCC types.

The 1863 Peso from Guatemala is known to exist as both a CCC and a NF. I own one of the latter. My example is copper-nickel and the edge was applied as a second distinct operation. Mine is also close to yours in weight because it was struck on a thicker than normal planchet. I have not encountered a centrifugal cast copy but I suspect they do exist. You would need a collector of Guatemalan forgeries to confirm that last fact.

The size of your coin seems to indicate a volume that is too great to match an original coin. Using your dimensions I arrived at a volume of 2.75 cubic cm which would weigh 28.3 grams if it was coin silver. The Peso of 1863 had an actual standard weight of 27 grams. Your coin weighs 24.4 grams.

In the period from 1863 to the early 1900s the use of counterfeit detection balances was very popular and a thick coin or underweight coin would be easily detected. This is a factor that would tend to make the coin easily detected in circulation.

I agree with John when I say that I am unaware of the Chinese producing a layered forgery of this coin but anything is possible. So can you rule out a simple layered coin by checking the edge for a color change? If there is no color change and no bonding seam from the application of a false silver edge, we need to go elsewhere on our quest.

But first there are a couple facts that apply to the world of coin fraud which we need to keep in mind.


Quote:
First: No fake will be made that does not generate a profit for the maker.

Second: No fake can be made before the technology used to make it was invented.


These statements as obvious as they seem are often overlooked by collectors when they attempt to determine the age of fakes.

The first fact is clearly true for a CCC because the coin here is debased significantly to create a profit margin if it was accepted into circulation. It is also clearly true if the coin is a NF since the coin as a collectable has a value far above the worth of the silver.

Moving on to question two - we need to know how was the coin manufactured? All layered coins with the exception of an electroplate are struck. Your description of the plate thickness eliminates that single exception. So the coin was struck using dies.

When you indicate a "relatively thick plating" over a base metal core, exactly what are you comparing it to? Sheffield Plate comes in thicknesses which from my observation not normally exceed 0.007 inches. The technology as first developed (ca 1780) was based on the use of a near pure copper core over which silver was bonded by heat and pressure. The bond created is seamless. Later in time, after 1835-49, Sheffield plate was modified to use copper nickel varieties very similar to German Silver. Once again the bond is seamless. Fouree technology developed in antiquity (B.C.) uses a silver foil surface of variable thickness which is mechanically bonded to a base metal core. Unlike Sheffield plate the Fouree technology leaves a very visible seam that often separates over time due to corrosion along the bonding line.

So to help decide the question of methodology is there a seam?

Presuming that the answer above is resolved, the next step is to determine how the image of the coin was placed on the die. To do so you need to know how dies are made. In 1863 Guatemala used French made coining dies. Hubs were likely employed. France was a leader in coining technologies and they were credited with possessed the technology needed to duplicate some dies very early ca 1845. However, that ability was based on their possessing the die punches needed for the creation of coining hubs. Very few other mints were as advanced. Counterfeiters of the period 1845 to 1865 simply did not possess the technology needed to create a steel die from a silver coin.

Some authors postulate the existence of a technology using the principles of electrical erosion or deposition to create such dies. In my experience and based on my research I believe that it is simply not true. While electroplating could produce a very decent copy of a coin in copper in 1835 creating a steel die was not possible.

Spark erosion the first methodology employed by counterfeiters did not produce clean die surfaces. I base this on my own examination of hundreds of examples of coins made with this technology which circulated before 1900.

Having examined the pictures of the counterfeit coin and genuine examples, I am of the opinion that the counterfeit dies were essentially perfect lacking the same identification traits seen on CCC dies of the period. It is hard for me to believe that these dies could have been produced anywhere other than an advanced die shop equipped with genuine die punches for the 1863 Guatemalan Peso before 1900.

I also read a bit on the history of Guatemala to determine when the 1863 Peso would have circulated. In 1869 the Peso standard in Guatemala was changed from 27 grams of 900 fine silver to 25 grams of 900 fine silver. That devaluation ended the circulation of the older Pesos. After 1869 this coin did NOT circulate.

So based on the historic data and the method of manufacture as far as that has been determined - the coin must be a form of Numismatic Forgery made to defraud dealers in bullion coins or people who viewed the coin as containing excessive silver.

This classification is third class of fraudulent Guatemalan coins neither a true CCC type nor a typical NF. In the period from roughly 1870 up to the depression in 1929, many countries faced similar issues with the world metal markets. Coins in circulation either contained too much silver for the face value or the value of silver fell below the face value creating an inverse opportunity. There are many similar situations - the Spanish 5 Pesetas of the 1880 and 1890s is the first that comes to mind, but the Morgan dollar in the US fell into the same category after 1893 when world silver prices plummeted. The Peruvian silver sols of the 1920's and 1930's created another type of MF.

So I conclude by saying that this coin is extremely unlikely to be a counterfeit made for actual circulation. It was produced later as a Monetary Fraud - a classification akin to Numismatic Forgery.
My book on Counterfeit Portrait 8Rs is available from Amazon http://ccfgo.com/TheUnrealReales or from me directly if you want it signed.
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 Posted 09/08/2019  12:21 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jgenn to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Perhaps "Bullion Fraud" would be a good label for this type of post-contemporary counterfeit.
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 Posted 09/08/2019  12:36 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add swamperbob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
jgenn I do like Bullion Fraud as a name for this composite category. Clearly it is somewhat better than Monetary fraud.

As I see it, there are three aspects to bullion fraud and initially I was tempted to present more than one name depending on metallic content, however, I though that it is likely better to limit the categories for now to the minimum number for the sake of people who do not yet understand the motivational elements involved in fraud.

There are the coins made to slip into bullion lots that have little or no silver content which create a profit based on the level of debasement. The Guatemala Peso, the Peruvian Sols and some late Spanish colonial 8Rs fall into this group. These coins are salted into batches of silver being sold at bullion price and because the value is low no one checks carefully. These are closest to the Numismatic Forgeries but target bullion dealers and not collectors - the margin is not numismatic but purely bullion value.

Then there are the coins made to match the correct silver content of the original issue (or to be undetectable as not matching the specs) which create a profit primarily based on a higher Fiat value of the coin. The micro-O Morgan dollars, the Spanish 5 Pesetas of the 1880-1890's are this type of BF. The profit derives from the difference between melt value (standard value) and the value set by law (fiat) where they are current. These are clearly opportunistic issues as the period of time when this occurs is often a short interval. Think of 1893 when silver prices fell to 30 cents and ounce and a dollar US coin had a Token value above bullion. These are made while the coin is still in circulation and might be referred to as a CCC as well. However, CCC as defined in my book was based on a lower than standard bullion value (the normal condition of counterfeiters operating from antiquity). I see the distinction as clearly valid and as a representation of different motive for production. The distinction between this BF type and Numismatic Forgeries made in full weight metal is the date of production. The NF type is made after circulation has ceased and normally after a premium value over bullion has been established in the numismatic market. The motive for NF is to defraud collectors as opposed to BF where bullion dealers are the target.

The third category are creations made using full weight metal (silver and gold) specifically to fill a marketing niche where the design of the coin is critical to the buyer/user. The MTT (in Arab countries and Africa) and the Carolus (Bustman) Dollar (used in China and the orient in general) are in this category. However, there are many others. The unofficial Fat Man dollars of China made and circulated by groups other than the official Chinese government, various trade coins like the Rider and Dog Dollars, the gold ducats and gold sovereigns. I would even include some unofficial bullion ingots made to resemble ingot types that carry a bullion premium. The difference to be drawn here is that CCC types are debased and circulated along side commonly seen current coins without regard for design while the BF types are made anytime the coin is valued in commerce above either the fiat or bullion value.

Some people, in particular those who see all fake coins as falling into one category will say all of this as overkill, but to a true specialist in Fraudulent coins motive is inherently an element and one of great interest. I would compare the distinction as being similar to the difference between being a type collector and a specialist looking for every date, mint mark and assayer combination available. Neither is inherently better just different.
My book on Counterfeit Portrait 8Rs is available from Amazon http://ccfgo.com/TheUnrealReales or from me directly if you want it signed.
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 Posted 09/08/2019  11:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jgenn to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Given your wonderfully pedantic explanation of the sub-categories of "Bullion Fraud", I will happily stop using the term "Type II CCC" when referring to those Carolus 8 Reales made for the China trade.
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 Posted 09/09/2019  8:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PatAR to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks to all for your responses. A wealth of information as always. Thank you

I've taken a liking to jgenn's term "post-contemporary counterfeit" (PCC) and humbly submit that as a candidate for the official terminology.

Bob, my observations of the coin do not reveal a seem along the edge nor at the rim. Based on this and your statements the method of manufacture existed circa 1840s. However, the manufacture of dies that you mentioned could be a limiting factor unless, as occurred in Spain and the USA in the same era, there was some moonlighting at the nation's mint.

I very much appreciate your insights. Is it feasible to further narrow the time and place where a coin such as this might have been made and used?

Specifically, when and where would it have been advantageous to manufacture a Guatemalan peso? That is, why would a counterfeiter of any period, whether for commerce or bullion trade, choose a coin like this rather than a more widely circulated Mexican or Spanish colonial issue?
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 Posted 09/10/2019  12:50 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add swamperbob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
PatAR You hit the nail on the head when you say:


Quote:
Specifically, when and where would it have been advantageous to manufacture a Guatemalan peso? That is, why would a counterfeiter of any period, whether for commerce or bullion trade, choose a coin like this rather than a more widely circulated Mexican or Spanish colonial issue?


That is precisely the kinds of questions I see as needing a good answer every time you run across a counterfeit.

As I see it there are only two really strong possibilities for when and where making an 1863 Guatemala Peso makes sense. The first is for circulation at home while it was current (a CCC type). The second is that the coin was made much more recently to defraud collectors (NF).

The problem with the first option (CCC) is that the dies were made with a technology not available to potential counterfeiters before the coin went out of circulation. The "possibility" of a debased coin being made in the mint is always held out as the "reason" however it is an overworked explanation and it actually happened only in a few rare cases.

If you can locate a documented instance of debased coins being made at the Guatemala mint secretly then your postulate could be true. However, in my experience it did not actually take place very often and I have seen nothing that would lead me to believe it happened in this case.

Ockham's razor makes sense in this case.


Quote:
Ockham's razor is the principle (attributed to William of Occam) that in explaining a thing no more assumptions should be made than are necessary.


Why accept a theory that requires mint fraud (a rarity) instead of accepting the simple answer that it is most likely a Numismatic Forgery. If evidence ever comes to light proving that debased coins came out of the mint you can always reverse the categorization at that point.

The use of post-contemporary counterfeits as a numismatic term is that it does not follow the principle first advanced by Charles Larson in his book "Numismatic Forgeries" in which he attempts to create distinct names for the two major categories of Fake coins - namely the Counterfeits and Forgeries. He based the distinction as based on the motivation for production. A PCC would include the entire NF category and the larger part of the BF just proposed as well. In my opinion this would add more confusion to the naming process than already exists.
My book on Counterfeit Portrait 8Rs is available from Amazon http://ccfgo.com/TheUnrealReales or from me directly if you want it signed.
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 Posted 09/10/2019  9:32 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PatAR to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Bob, I am similarly particular about terminology and appreciate your explanation. However, I fear that we may have moved away from the intent of my previous question.

Do you have a theory regarding the particular time or place this coin may have been used for its nefarious purpose?

Thanks again for your help!
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 Posted 09/12/2019  01:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add swamperbob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
My best guess, if I was forced to guess, I would say that this coin was most likely made after 1900 as a Numismatic Forgery. The other categories CCC or BF seem to be too unlikely to propose without some supportive factual reason.

A silver over base metal planchet could be created any time from the late 1830s until today. The dies however, most likely date much later 1900 to present.

In the 1860s the only time a CCC could have been made - the dies could not have been created. I am not aware of any published record of a mint forgery occurring either so there seems to be no reason to consider the CCC possible.

There is no point in time where a BF would have provided an adequate incentive for forgery.

It is only after the numismatic value of the coin created an opportunity for a profit that it would have been targeted. Since this coin is not rare the manufacture most likely dates to a point AFTER world silver prices rose.

So my guess is it dates to sometime after 1970.
My book on Counterfeit Portrait 8Rs is available from Amazon http://ccfgo.com/TheUnrealReales or from me directly if you want it signed.
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 Posted 09/13/2019  5:08 pm  Show Profile   Check colonialjohn's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add colonialjohn to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Bob does make a good point. These dies are well made for a CCC? Since you are in the U.S. you could send it to me for a FREE XRF. We will shoot the XRF gun in that opening. My E-Mail is on the Internet and starts with johnmenc ...

John Lorenzo
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 Posted 09/19/2019  8:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PatAR to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
colonialjohn, thank you so much for your generous offer.

The coin is on its way to you.

Looking forward to the results!
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