Sunday, February 3, 2013

2/3/13 Report - Counterfeits, Pillar Dollars, Ambergris & More

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

What a beautiful morning.  It doesn't get much nicer than this in Florida.

Photo by Pandesalapi of the Forum
This and other photos can be found using the link below.
I was watching a TV show the other day and saw a coin collection that was found in a abandoned storage unit.  Some of the supposed silver coins turned out to be counterfeit.  That is a huge and growing problem.  Any and every thing of value is being counterfeited, especially coins.

I was doing some research on Pillar Dollars, which you may know are sometimes found on the Treasure Coast, and I discovered a nice coin collecting forum.  One of the threads in that forum posted some nice photos (including the one shown here) of a Pillar Dollar that was bought on eBay and asked if people could tell if it was real or fake.  People immediately identified it as fake.

One of those who responded to the thread had been doing research on Mexican coins being sold on eBay and after having looked at well over 100,000 auctions.  He identified 75% of the listed Pillar dollars as being counterfeits.  He said some days 100% of the Pillar dollars up for auction were fake.

That is a warning to anyone buying on eBay or anywhere when you do not know for certain that the seller is reputable, and it speaks of the high percentage of fakes that there are and that could be dug up on a beach.

In addition to the modern counterfeits that he included in the above figures, there are also what are called contemporaneous counterfeits, which were made back when the coins were in circulation.  Whereas modern fakes are junk, contemporaneous counterfeits can be highly sought and valuable.

Of the auctions he looked at in his sample over a period of 48 weeks, he did not find one Pillar dollar that he thought was a contemporaneous counterfeit.  He did find other types of coins that were identified as contemporaneous counterfeits.

He gave some additional data that you might find interesting, and other parts of the forum might be of interest to you as well.

Here is the link.

Scroll down a few responses to find the response that I was talking about here.

Back to the TV show.  In that collection, many of the fake silver coins were identified by using a magnet.  A magnet won't stick to real silver coins, but it will stick to coins made of a base metal, even when silver plated.

Given the number of fakes that you can encounter both on the beach and other places, it is worth knowing about the prevalence of fakes and something about how to identify them.

You might remember the silver Spanish coin that I posted about two weeks ago that I thought might be fake when I dug it but which turned out to be real.

A man walking his dog on a beach found a fragrant treasure worth nearly $20,000 dollars.  What was it - ambergris.

Here is a nice video clip showing the treasure and telling how to test it and what it is.

Here is the link.

Detectorists look for the silver lining that comes with storm clouds, but we should remember that it is not all fun and games.  Sandy gave us a few coins and things, but she also took away houses and lives.  There are still victims of Sandy up north that are still suffering despite all the photos of smiling politicians who were quick to take advantage of what the storm could do for them.

Here is a link for more about the lingering effects of Sandy up north.

On the Treasure Coast the ocean is calm.  The surf is down around one foot, which makes for easy low tide and shallow water hunting.  The wind is mostly from the north.  Occasionally the wind and waves pick up for a short time and cause the water to get a little rougher.

The next few days are predicted to be about the same as today.

Low tide this evening will be around 7:30 PM.

I'm still easily finding old bottles and non-metallic treasures.

Happy hunting,