Recent Reproduction Coins...

Recent Reproduction Coins & Replicas Reproduction Coins IndexChard 24 Carat Home Page

Henry VI Groat Obverse
Replica Coins


Henry VI Groat Reverse
A Rash of Modern Reproduction Coins
Although we approve in general of replica and reproduction coins, we firmly believe that they must be designed and marketed with great care to avoid suspicions of dishonesty. Many of the replica coins which have recently been flooding onto the market in recent years are not clearly demarcated as such, and are frequently seen offered for sale in misleading manner. Beware!

Good Reproductions
It is fairly easy to create excellent quality replica coins. The cost of dies can range from under £1,000 per pair to over £1,000 each, depending on quality, size and other factors. Laser scanning of originals, and CAD/CAM technology make it quicker and easier to create convincing re-creations of originals. although skilled hand engraving is still used. Reduction machines are not new, but modern techniques make it faster and easier to create dies from large scale plaster or resin master models.
The word "good" can be assumed to mean realistic and convincing, or it could mean well engraved, executed and struck, but it could also include replicas which are ethically made in such a way that they can be distinguished from the original in some way, and that the distinguishing features cannot be easily removed, missed or mistaken. The small range of replica coins which we stock are included in our "good" category for both reasons, in our opinion. Not only are they well-engraved, but they are also mainly produced in authentic methods, so that they have the look, feel, and sound of the originals, but also they incorporate design features such as wording and mintmarks which make them all but impossible to mistake for a genuine original. We are referring to the "coins" made by The Bigbury Mint, based at the village of Bigbury in North Devon. The replica Henry VI groat in our photographs, for example, contain the wording "VILLA BIGBURI" in place of "VILLA CALESIE" OR "CIVITAS LONDON". When we asked Bigbury why most of their replicas are of common coins rather than rarities. They told us that they had originally started making them for historical enactment groups.

Some purists may well argue that reproduction and replica coins should never exist. We believe this is wrong. It is our firm belief that there is are legitimate reasons why replicas should exist. Not everybody could afford to own, for example, a 1933 US double eagle, and yet there are many collectors who would want to own one. What harm can it do for someone to market a "look-alike", providing that it could be clearly and easily distinguished from the real thing? An even better example in our opinion, would be a British Una and the Lion £5 gold piece, or Gothic Crown, either of which is rare as a type coin, whereas the 1933 US $20 is merely a rare date.
Denying collectors the option of owning a lookalike is removing a degree of consumer choice and personal freedom.

Bad Reproductions
It follows from the above that "bad" reproductions could be taken to mean ones which are badly engraved or produced, or it could mean excellently produced ones which are misleadingly or confusingly similar to the genuine article. Depending on which view or definition is used, any given replica could therefore be classified as both good and bad at the same time!
Any reproduction coin which is hard to distinguish from the genuine article can be called a counterfeit or forgery, and in most countries producing, selling and even simply owning or possessing such coins is a criminal offence. It is tempting to add "and rightly so" at this point, but we believe there can be genuine and reasonable cases for exemption in the case of ownership. We are major dealers in gold sovereigns, and quite often we encounter fakes while sorting through coins offered or sold to us. We could quite easily be guilty of a criminal act simply by being in receipt of a parcel of gold coins by being in possession of them for appraisal. In addition, we often buy the fakes along with the genuine articles, so we could be guilty of ownership. We try to photograph most fakes we see, and maintain a small "black museum" collection of fakes for educational purposes. There are other genuine collectors of counterfeits.

Clear Differentiation
In the USA, we believe that it is illegal to sell replica coins which are not clearly marked as such. Some time ago, we read the requirements for clear marking, and the word "COPY" or similar is supposed to appear on at least one side of the coin in letters one third the diameter of the coin. This would constitute clear and idiot-proof (well, nearly) differentiation. Unfortunately, we believe that such marking would reduce the attraction of the copy to such an extent as to make it ugly and undesirable.
One way around this, for museums or collections on display, would be to show two coins, each with the lower, non-visible, side defaced.
For many collectors, this would add to the expense at the same time as diminishing the attraction.
We believe a sensible solution would be for copies to be clearly marked in such a way as to make them distinguishable with reasonable care, and also for the marks to be difficult to remove. What should be, and generally is, illegal is for copies of any kind to be marketed in a misleading manner. Sadly and frustratingly, this practice seems to have proliferated in recent years. Coin News Magazine in the UK has very ethically refused to accept advertising for replica coins, slightly harsh perhaps, but done because it feared that many of the modern replicas are too close to the originals, and will ultimately be resold as genuine to unsuspecting buyers.

Unethical Marketing
You will see from the above that we believe that the worst abuse comes from unethical marketing and resale. Unfortunately most of the recent wave of replica coins appear to be being advertised misleadingly. Most of this deceptive marketing takes place via the internet including auction sites particularly eBay. EBay have almost total market dominance, therefore it is hardly surprising that most of the modern copies are sold on eBay. EBay do, apparently, have policies which appear to be aimed at this type of practice, but appear to us to take a very lazy and amoral stance in permitting many examples of dodgy dealers using poor and misleading, or borderline, descriptions. We believe that about half the coins, and perhaps other goods, for sale on eBay are fake, stolen, using pirated images, misleadingly described, or deficient in some other way. It's also our view that eBay do not care about this one iota. Most of their compliance procedures seem aimed at protecting and enhancing their own revenue stream,. while paying lip service to honesty, but in reality passing responsibility for legal compliance to its "community".
On any day, you can find copies advertised on eBay which are not listed under their "Novelty / Replica" category, and which do not carry the word replica, reproduction or copy in their titles. This is not only misleading, but also frustrating and time wasting for potential buyers of only genuine original coins. (We noticed one listing of a rare sovereign where the vendor found it necessary to add "the real thing - not a fake or replica" to his heading, a sad endictment of eBay). Most of the vendors would defend themselves by pointing out that the description indicates the true nature of the offer, but in may cases even this does not apply. We were recently offered three 1797 British Proof Cartwheel Twopences which their owner had bought on eBay believing, rather naively, they were genuine originals. While this person was undoubtedly a victim of his own greed and stupidity, we believe that he was mislead by the description, or lack of it, in the eBay offer. He should have complained to the vendor, eBay, and his local Trading Standards Offices. We suggested this, but doubt that he has bothered.

eBay Guilty
Of course, we could take it upon ourselves to report these various vendors, but we do not see it as our job to police eBay, we are busy enough trying to run our own business, and keep our customers happy. We simply do not have the time or resources to spare, apart from the fact that eBay are extremely unresponsive to communication and complaints, and open to abuse. We can give interesting examples here. We frequently find our images being pirated on eBay, who in our opinion take too little effort to prevent this. Whenever we see our images being used on eBay, we e-mail a report to them, and to their credit they usually manage to remove the offending listings, but not always as quickly as possible. They proudly claim to act within two or three day, but considering they host 1-day auctions, this is self-evidently not good enough. When they remove the listings, they fail to make it clear to the vendors that they are in the wrong, and we frequently get complaints from angry vendors whose auctions have been quite correctly withdrawn. We have also been the object of malicious and false counter-accusations. In at least one case eBay cancelled about £30,000 worth of our lisings because of a malicious and anonymous complaint. the contact details passed to us by eBay included a fictitious and non-existent e-mail address which eBay had obviously not even bothered to check. Our complaint to eBay was a waste of time, perhaps the only effective measure would be to sue them for negligence.

A Precedent
In the 1970's a significant number of superb quality fakes came onto the world numismatic market. We understand that these were produce in the Lebanon, an marketed by an American called Harry Stock. Most of these fakes were of rare coins such as the 1839 Una £5, but also included moderately common coins such as the 1887 British Golden Jubilee £5 piece. One day we were offered one of these, in superb mint condition, by some northern dealers, at a too-good-to-be-true price. While we were examining the coin, to spot the "catch", they produced a whole tubeful of identical coins, saying they had more, and falling about laughing. We were pleased that they had not attempted to deceive us. Some time later they and others were prosecuted and convicted of possessing and selling forgeries. Part of their defence was that they had never deceived, or attempted to deceive, anybody, and we quite believe this, however it remained likely that intermediate dealers may have not been as scrupulous, and the judgement indicated that the lack of deception did not constitute an effective defence. I can remember that we were shocked at the time by the conviction, but accept that it was probably just.
Over the years, we have noticed that most major dealers are very honest and ethical in such matters, but that there will always be a number of small part-time dealers who have few ethical standards to maintain. in addition, it is our experience that members of the public seem substantially unethical and dishonest when it comes to describing goods accurately. Only experience has taught us not to be shocked by this sad revelation.

We believe that replicas, reproductions or copies can and should be perfectly acceptable, but there should be some clear and easy way to distinguish them from original genuine coins. There should also be a strict requirement on owners and vendors of such coins to ensure that any marketing of such coins is done in a very clear and unambiguous way.

Coin World
We were motivated to write this page as a result of an enquiry by "Coin World" asking for our thoughts and other comments. Thank you Coin World for stimulating us to create it, (we had been thinking about the subject for quite a while). We hope your article is successful, we would appreciate a copy!
May we add a suggestion that you encourage all your readers to write to eBay, their Senators, Congressmen, and any consumer protection agencies to protest about the phoney and misleading sellers, including eBay who aid and abet this crooked behaviour. We fully understand if you paraphrase our wording to avoid legal action by eBay, who would probably be quicker to protect their own interest than that of their buyers. the Lowest Possible Price

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