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Spotting fake silver bars and coins.

October 31, 2013

Many of us preppers are ‘betting on’ the economic collapse of the US dollar, whether through stupidity of politicians and the federal reserve or just plain bad luck for the world wide economy. And along that reasoning, we are buying up alternative ‘currency’ for the post apocalypse world. That currency is most commonly considered to be silver and gold, for those that can afford that stuff. I consider silver to be a more logical source of alternative currency, because it’s more affordable personally, more people trust silver, more are more familiar with it’s look and value and, lastly, it was a staple of American currency up until around 1964 in our common coinage which was about 90% silver content of the dimes, quarters, half dollars and silver dollars. Silver is also a great inflation hedge, and will always be worth ‘something’, no matter what kind of monkey business is happening on Wall street. Stocks and 401K accounts can and have evaporated to nothing overnight….it all depends on market confidence.

I have purchased a nice little stash of silver bullion bars and ’rounds’ from good old Ebay, and have not gotten burned (yet) because I shopped with only well established, top rated companies and bought only one troy ounce units. And with tight self control of bidding, I have not overpaid for each item as compared to the everyday silver market spot price, paying about what the rate directly from the dealers would be if one factors in shipping and handling charges. However, if the price is too good to be true it probably is. If the seller is selling items in bulk this should be another red flag. Also be suspicious if the seller cannot deliver instantly and the delivery date is some days/weeks away from the time of order.

5 kg Silver bar

5 kg Silver bar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Counterfeiters used to seem to prefer the large size items like this bullion bar, filling the center with lead to approximate the weigh of the real bar. It made the trouble of creating the fake more profitable and worth their efforts. However, it seems the ‘small scale’ one ounce items are becoming more common. Once again, a reputable dealer will guarantee the weight right down to the tenth of a gram.

That being said, we should become familiar with REAL silver and it’s characteristics in it’s one troy ounce formats, because that will be, in my opinion, the most common denominator of the post apocalypse economy, next to barter and trade goods.

The first suggestion is to get hold of a confirmed real sample of both the common ‘bar’ and ’round’ one troy ounce units. Study the characteristics of both, as to the look, ‘feel’, thickness, overall size, all the details you can observe, right down to the distinctive sound true silver makes when dropped on a hard surface…. a nice little ring to it. Having good familiarity with these will have you spotting fake stuff pretty quickly.

English: Picture of a genuine American Silver ...

English: Picture of a genuine American Silver Eagle and a counterfeit Morgan Dollar manufactured from Nickel Silver. The counterfeit coin was sourced in Thailand, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Onward we go to the most common fakes on the market, those famous Chinese ‘Panda’ coins. These among the most widespread counterfeit coins around. Some of them are easily spotted because they are missing the denomination (e.g. ’10 Yuan’), most are easily identified because they weigh less than they should (~25g versus the 31.1g a real one should weigh), but some come in what looks at first glance to be sheets of mint plastic with genuine COAs (Certificate of authenticity) and they kind of go “clunk” with the drop ‘ring’ test.

A listing of other common fakes include:

The following are a list of fake silver bars and coins which have been reported (to name a few).

1 oz Pan American Silver Bar

1 oz Scottsdale Silver Bar

1 oz Sunshine Mint Silver Bar

1 oz American Prospector Silver Bar

1 oz Silver Chinese Panda’s

1 oz Perth Mint Lunar Dragons

1 oz Canadian Maple Leaf Coins

There are counterfeits of American silver coinage , the ‘silver eagle’ dollar coin of the past, but they are generally pretty crude and have some obvious errors, if you’re familiar with the coins, such as having a date of ‘1906’ which is BEFORE the coins were ever minted for real.

The quickest and easiest way to identify common fake silver is to weigh it. For example, most of the fake Chinese Silver Pandas are made of copper, which weigh less than silver. If it weighs noticeably less or more than it should (the 31.1 grams weight), it is fake. This applies to silver bullion sized round coins, which is the main topic here. Real silver bars OR round coins, if real, will weigh 31.1 grams. The exception being 90% American currency silver coins, which when worn, can weigh up to around 5% less than they originally did, but since they’re in several different sizes, this doesn’t really apply.

The next point is physical size. Real silver bars and round coins are very consistent in their size when compared to other real units. A fake silver coin made of copper plated with silver that is the correct weight, will either be wider than normal, or more likely, noticeably thicker than normal.

Another check is to use a strong magnet known as the ‘rare earth’ type. If the coin sticks to it AT ALL, it’s for sure a fake as silver is NOT magnetically attracted.

There are many reputable dealers and silver mining / minting companies around, who also have good information on spotting fakes of THEIR goods on the markets.

Northwest territorial mint.

Gold –

Bottom line then is to search out real, reputable dealers and buy directly from them to be assured you’re not buying a fake.

Video on fake silver.


  1. D LONG permalink

    Silver has no magnetic field but will repel a large field. The strong neodynium (rare earth) magnetic will cause the repulsion and can be felt.

    A Berkeley degree in Chemistry is good for something!

    • Useful indeed! I’ll have to try that at work, we have some super strong rare earth magnets handy! Thanks for the input!

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