Do you ever buy Chinese silver pandas on eBay? I like the Chinese silver Panda series of coins. What distresses me is how many panda coins listed on eBay are fake. Probably close to half the Chinese pandas listed on eBay are very suspicious looking.
I rarely encounter fake rare American coins on eBay, but fake Pandas are common.
I bought some counterfeit pandas directly from China a few years ago and now know what to look for in a fake. They’re easy to spot when you know what to look for.
The fakes are so well done, I’d swear the China Mint has a night shift going specifically producing fake versions of their own highly regarded silver coins. My coins were in capsules and even mint plastic envelopes. They looked for all the world like they were real.
I’m not sure what made me test one for authenticity, but I got a wild hair and proceeded to remove the capsule from the plastic pouch and then the coin from the capsule.
The first thing I did was give it the ring test. That’s where you balance the coin on the tip of your finger and tap the edge with a Paper Mate pen. It should give a high pitched, sustained tinggg. This one didn’t. It just went thud.
I got out another panda coin I know to be real and gave it the ring test. It rang pleasingly. Then I compared the two coins and noticed the suspect coin was probably 20% thicker than the real version.
The final convicting test was to cut it in half with a hack saw. The interior metal was a dark grey with a silver plating over it. I tried to contact the China distributor, but they ignored my request for a refund.
What makes me think the China Mint might be producing the fakes as well as the real version of their panda coin? The fakes resemble the real ones in every detail except one: the capsule that protects them.
Remember, I said the fake pandas are thicker than their real counterpart? In order for them to weigh the same amount, and have the same outer case dimensions, there must be some extra room in the mint capsule for a thicker coin. And there is!
You see, the genuine Chinese Panda case has three tiny nibs on the outer edge of the capsule to support the thinner coin. The fake coins don’t have these three little nibs. Want to see how many fakes are on eBay? Look for the three little nibs on the capsule.
While getting out fake and real Panda coins to photograph, I also noticed counterfeit Pandas don’t age as well as their real counterparts. They are getting spots on their surfaces, so maybe just allowing them a few years will give them away.
When I’m interested in a silver panda coin where I don’t see the nibs, I contact the seller and ask them to check the coin with the ring test. I almost invariably get a response like “I know the coin is real. I’m not going to test it for you.” Or, I get no answer at all.
I feel like buying the coins and doing the test myself and then reporting it to eBay, if they turn out to be fake. Suddenly reality hits me. It’s a losing battle. It’s my word against the seller’s.
The seller can always claim I switched their real coin for a fake, just so I could accuse them of selling counterfeit coins on eBay. Selling counterfeit coins on eBay is strictly against eBay policy and will get you banned from ever selling on eBay again.
I can’t single handedly stop the sale of fake coins on eBay, but I can educate potential buyers who will listen, and not bid on counterfeit coins. I rarely encounter a counterfeit Morgan or Peace dollar on eBay, but there’s a profusion of fake pandas for sale there.
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