Monday, March 24, 2014

3/24/14 How To Detect Fake Bullion Coins, Another Gold Ring & 18th Century Spanish Colonial Platinum

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Gold Diamond and Pearl Ring.

As I've been showing, there are some holes that continue to produce gold along the Treasure Coast.  Old finds on the beach are rare now though.  This ring came from one hole that has been producing on a regular basis.

Today was a good day to get down low on the beach.

Whether you have found or bought bullion coins you should know that for bullion coins, like virtually everything else of value, there are fakes or counterfeits.  I found the following linked web site for bullion coin collectors that makes a clear distinction between fakes and copies.  According to their definitions, fakes are made of the wrong metal while copies are made of the correct metals.

A fake silver bullion coin, for example, might be made of silver-plated copper, while a copy of the same coin would be made of he correct purity of silver.

Copies are therefor made when the value of the coin is considerable greater than its melt value, such as with rare coins.

Here is the link to that article.

The article also explains that gold and platinum are very dense metals, and fake bullion coins are usually made of lighter metals, therefore the fake coin will usually be either too light or too big.  That makes it fairly easy to detect fake gold or platinum bullion coins.

Here is a list of some known fake bullion coins as described in the above linked article.

Silver Pandas. Around 2005, fake pandas started being distributed, apparently from China, and apparently made out of silver-plated copper.

2002 1/10 oz platinum eagle. This fake coin was made of a copper-colored alloy, with a white platinum colored coating, and is lighter than a genuine coin (2.13g versus 3.112g).  

Canadian Maples. There are likely many counterfeit Canadian maples, probably all fakes (wrong metal), but most likely all the 1oz size.

Krugerrands. There are likely many counterfeit Krugerrands, probably all fakes (wrong metal), but most likely all the 1oz size.

1994 Australian Nuggets/Koalas. These are actually replicas that were created for Monex to show what the coins look like. They appear nearly identical to the genuine coin (even the hard plastic holder is nearly identical), except the reverse is blank. It is believed that only 1 oz and larger (10 oz and 1 kilogram) sizes were made.

There is a device that will help you check bullion coins such as those listed above.  It is called a "Fische."   Here is a link where you can learn more about that.

If you've been reading this blog you know that I recently discovered a series journal articles that describes what appears to be the earliest discovery and refinement of platinum.  Documentation from the Archives of the Indies talks about early attempts to separate and refine platinum at the Bogota mint by assayer Sanchez in the first third of the 18th Century.

At first platinum was considered nothing other than a nuisance.  However before long they had learned to refine platinum into a malleable form and were able to manufacture items made of platinum.  Apparently the first refinement of platinum was actually an alloy.

One of the first "uses" of platinum was to debase gold and cobs.  It was easier to overlook some of the inexpensive metal than to remove it.

Those who had learned how to work platinum were told not to disclose their methods.   The king wanted Spain to have a monopoly on the new noble metal.

The king wanted platinum to be shipped to Spain but tried to keep the desirability of the metal from being discovered so that he could get it cheaply.  However, miners and others got the idea that it might have value since the king was not only wanting it but was willing to pay for this metal that was previously being tossed into the river or otherwise discarded.  They illegally stockpiled the metal and the price increased.

Several orders of platinum were requested and sent to Spain via Cartegena during the 18th Century.  The first documented official shipment was in January of 1766.  Some was shipped earlier.

Treasure clues can be found in this literature, including shipments, storage and disposal of the metal.  Specific locations are mentioned where platinum was dumped into rivers or valleys.

Below is a paragraph that illustrates the kinds of things you can learn from the historical articles published in various issues of Platinum Metals Review.

The success Chabaneau had achieved in producing malleable platinum in some quantity immediately prompted the Spanish government to order the Viceroy of New Granada - now Antonio Caballero y Gongora - to collect all the platinum he could obtain while keeping its new value a secret. About 150 pounds of native metal were shipped to Spain, this time the miners being paid two or three reales
a pound. Further shipments necessitated the price being raised to four reales a pound, and the authorities in Madrid recommended the importation of many more negro slaves to work the deposits and approved a scheme for the importa­tion of tools for sale to the workers in the hope of increasing output. In 1788 it was decreed that platinum was to be sold only to the crown and penalties were established for anyone detected in hoarding the metal. By the end of that year more than three thousand pounds of platinum had been despatched from the Choc√≥ to Cartagena for shipment to Spain, but great quantities were still smuggled out.

And here is the link to one of a number of articles that I have found in the journal on the subject of early platinum separation and refinement in 18th Century.

It is known that by the mid-18th century a few articles had been made of platinum.  I also feel rather certain that platinum could be found in gold coming from Bogota, some of it included unintentionally and some unintentionally.

The surf on the Treasure Coast is down around two feet today.  The tide is fairly flat.  The surf will be increasing tomorrow to up around three of four feet and staying that way for a while.

The wind seems mixed.  It will be from the North now and then but only for short times.

Happy hunting,