May 25, 2008

Fake vs. Authentic: Why do Contemporary Fakes Sell More?

If you are going to check Ebay and type the word “contemporary counterfeit” under the category of “coins and banknote", you’ll be amazed to see how counterfeit coins and banknote are doing well. For the new collectors, it seems odd that sometimes fakes are more expensive than the original. Well, I myself collect fake coins and banknote and I consider these materials as pieces of history. For example you’ll be amazed to know that there are very interesting stories behind these unusual materials. Recently, I have added to my collection several Five Pesos that were counterfeited by a Taiwanese syndicate. I have catalogued several specimen and found out that other than the known 2002 date, there were also other samples accounted for dating 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2001. What is the reason behind this activity is still a mystery up to this date since the cost of counterfeiting this coin is more expensive than the original coin itself. Some says that this is part of an economic sabotage, someone mentioned that there is more on the content of the metal than the coin’s monetary value, other than those gossips no other explanation has surfaced.

Fake One Peso (Macapagal-Castillo signed)


For me the interesting side of this story is the stupidity of the crime. If an organized syndicate could counterfeit such denomination then why not the highest. It is very hard to believe that even an operation of such scale was idiotic.

Fake Twenty Pesos (Macapagal-Castillo signed)


In my opinion, counterfeiting is an art and an act of resourcefulness before digital printing and imaging was born. It seems very hard to understand but I observe that during the early introduction of money, it was very unusual for an individual to acquire and posses some since money originates only from a single source. The fiscal and monetary control during the earlier period was so tight that most people consider barter as the medium of trade and commerce.

Fake Fifty Pesos (Marcos-Fernandez signed)


When the people began accepting money, the barter system deteriorated and government regulation enforced the people to use money to buy goods. The few colonial masters, producing, controlling the world and distribution of money was not as efficient as what we have right now. Boats and ships carrying the necessary supplies either were robbed by pirates or were lost to storms and thus, there were periods in history that the people took to their own hands the production of money to sustain their needs. Some utilized the use of tokens and other resorted to more felonious means by copying and mass-producing money and thus, counterfeiting was born.

Counterfeiting was very effective that even governments themselves utilized such acts during the times of war and hardship. During World War I and World War II, several organized underground operatives manufactured and distributed war scripts, coins, and certificates either for propaganda purpose or to escalate inflation. Such tactics were proven effective in destroying an enemy’s economy, the reason why counterfeiting is a crime of national security.
Japanese Counterfeit Note Five Pesos

I do not emulate the act itself, what I admire about the earlier counterfeited materials were the craftiness and the determination of the counterfeiter to duplicate the originals. Despite the limited resources that they have, they have still managed to create something that can be mistaken for real. I have seen and acquired locally counterfeited notes and coins and some specimen were more valuable than the genuine article themselves.

Another Fifty Pesos Fake Belong to a different counterfeiter
(Marcos-Licaros signed)


For example, Spanish-Philippines Gold Pesos were counterfeited during the height of its production. The amazing fact about the counterfeited coins was it was substituted with platinum instead of the normal gold content. During that time, platinum was not highly regarded and has no value at all except that it is an imitation of silver but with the weight closer to that of gold. Assayers often considered platinum as cumbersome since it is very hard to shape and the metal cannot be melted at lesser temperature unlike gold and silver. Thus, the mint itself produced copies to be distributed in the South America and few in the Philippines to save the Spanish treasury of gold.

Fake Ten Pesos (Magsaysay-Cuaderno signed)


The actual coin can be very hard to recognize as fake since the platinum plan was coated with gold to imitate the texture of the actual gold coin itself. A specimen had been reported by a fellow numismatist that surfaced in the province of Iloilo based on the report published in the Central Bank publication, “Barilla”. But no confirmed specimen had been catalogued nor brought forward for public viewing so this still remains an unsolved mystery.

1944 Altered Date to make it appear 1949


Another amazing counterfeits were the "sepings" or the copper coin dollars produced by the Ifugaos, Japanese counterfeited notes, and coins counterfeited during the early republic period. I’ll discuss each and every one of them in my next coming articles and you’ll be surprised to find out how crafty, artistic, and resourceful our grandfathers were. Meanwhile, try to expand your view. Search and explore, because the next million dollars worth coin might just be a change from the grocery store.

Happy hunting!

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