Author Topic: 1985 brass Shenyang Mint 40th anniversary "fake" could be semi-official?  (Read 1197 times)

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Offline badon

1985 (gold plated?) brass Shenyang Mint 40th anniversary (probably fake) NGC 69 sold in a cheap auction $799: 1985 China Brass Non-Fiat Coin Shenyang Mint 40th Anniversary NGC PF 69 UC. From titusjonescoins (new, ending, sold).

Verify NGC certification number 2673462-001

Search Google for NGC 2673462-001

Search ebay for NGC 2673462-001 (new, ended, sold)

This was probably one of the most interesting sales during the last 2 days. I have been told the authentic coin was a VIP-only issue, given as gifts to Shenyang mint employees in 1985. NGC mistakenly certified a few of these, and I have one of the NGC certified fakes in my collection. This coin that sold on ebay is probably one of the fakes. I found a QQ group discussion in China about them that included side-by-side photos of the fake and the genuine coin. Basically, the fakes look perfectly pristine, like they were made yesterday, while the genuine coins have some toning, and a different shade of yellow brass color.

The duplication method used for the fakes of these coins resulted in "fat" lines in the Chinese language text, and the dates too. In fact, there are minor marks on the ebay coin that exactly match the example coin shown in China! I strongly suspect the example coin in China and the one shown on ebay are the exact same specimen, with NGC certification number 2673462-001. The buyer of this coin should probably contact the seller and cancel the transaction, but before you do, keep reading, you might want to keep it and negotiate a lower price.

The fakes are very attractive, and I decided to keep mine in my collection, but they are not worth $799. I'm not sure if other people are collecting the fakes or not, but I have heard that NGC described them as "privately minted", not "fake". I don't know why NGC described it that way, because technically ALL fakes are privately minted - maybe the fakes actually have some connection to the originals?

As a VIP-only issue with almost no metal value, these coins may not have been worth enough to bother trying to advertise them for sale, so they probably just stayed with their original mint-employee owners, which is the way the mint intended it to be. That meant they were difficult for collectors to obtain, and many of those collectors had friends who worked for the mint. I have a hunch maybe the fakes were made with some involvement by mint employees.

The fakes are a near perfect duplicate of the originals, which means they probably would have needed to use several coins in a destructive process to make fake dies. The technique they used is the reason why the thin lines on the coin are fatter than they are supposed to be, so that's why I think it was likely they required several coins in the die reproduction process. Where would forgers obtain several original coins? Obviously they had come from the mint employees themselves, but we don't know for sure how many hands they passed through before ending up in a die-maker's shop.

I have seen evidence of the China mints using forgery techniques to make new dies for routine production. This was confirmed by the artists who designed some of the coins that were produced using forgery techniques. This is highly unusual, and would not normally happen in a world-class government mint, but in the 1980's and 1990's, China wasn't too proud to use disreputable methods to mint some nice restrikes of some of their coins so more collectors could have them in their collections, if the original dies were lost or damaged.

In nearly every case I'm aware of, the restrikes were deliberately made slightly differently to make it easy to identify them as restrikes. In the case of these Shenyang mint employee coins, I suspect they might be gold plated, and that's why they have the yellow color of brass, but not the toning of brass. With a gold plating, they would look like they were made yesterday even if they were made a thousand years ago. I'm not certain they are gold plated, though, so more research is necessary to confirm or refute my speculation about that.

For now, these coins look uncharacteristically perfect for being fakes of obscure coins that few people would be interested in owning. My hypothesis is it's possible the mint or the mint employees made these coins just for fun, so their non-employee friends could own one of them. That  would explain many of the quirky facts that don't make sense by themselves. Why does NGC call these "privately minted" instead of fake? It could be because they're embarrassed about accidentally certifying a fake, but they normally don't provide any explanations at all in that case,

I'm hoping my hypothesis is somewhere near the truth, because then my boring fake coin would suddenly become very interesting. For now, it's only speculation. I paid around $150 to $300 for my specimen. Instead of returning it when I discovered it was fake, I liked it so much I accepted a partial refund so could keep it in my collection. At the time I wasn't really sure why I wanted to keep it, but apparently some part of me must have thought they are special somehow. Maybe they're nothing more than very good fakes - they just seem a little TOO GOOD to be nothing more than fakes.

It is very uncommon for a privately minted coin to become important and valuable to collectors of officially minted coins. If this coin is connected to the mint employees, who destroyed their own genuine coins to make high quality copies for their friends, that might be enough to make these valuable to mainstream collectors, despite being technicaly privately minted fakes. If that story turns out to be true, then we will have to stop calling them privately minted fakes, and start calling them semi-official restrikes.

A great example of a semi-official coin like these that has achieved huge valuations are the USA's 1913 liberty head V nickels. 5 are known, and all of them are worth millions of dollars. It was probably a rogue mint employee that secretly made dies with the 1913 date, so he could strike a few for his own entertainment. The speculative story above about the 1985 Shenyang Mint 40th anniversary is very close to the true story of the 1913 liberty head V nickels. So you see, sometimes being a "fake" is not enough to stop an unusual coin from becoming very valuable. It doesn't happen very often like this, but it DOES happen.

Full screenshot of the listing available here:

1985 brass Shenyang Mint 40th anniversary photos
« Last Edit: 2016 Dec 20, 02:29:29 PM by badon »

Offline pandamonium

I was tracking it on ebay and forgot to list it on my Sold list.    Was surprised at how high it sold for.......

Offline badon

I was surprised too, especially knowing it's probably one of the "fakes". The whole reason I wrote this article is because it's possible someone knows a secret about this coin, and that's why they're bidding high for it despite knowing it's "fake". This article is my speculation on why at least 2 people would  place such a high value on a "fake" coin. In fact, there are good reasons why that might happen, so I chose that as my subject for this article.

Most fakes are not such high quality as this coin is, and most fakes are much more abundant on the market than this coin is. As fakes go, it is unusual, and that could maybe possibly be a clue that it's special somehow. Of course, that's all speculation for now, but it does fit the facts well. If someone out in the world knows more information about this coin, especially if they were the winner in the auction, I hope the existence of this article will prompt them to share what they know, and either confirm, correct, or refute the information in the article.

No matter what happens, I'm hoping this article will encourage people to study the MCC market more closely. The market is still very immature and there are a lot of potentially profitable surprises waiting to be found. It's an exciting treasure hunt!