I believe it is an important duty of any dealer or auctioneer to protect his customers from counterfeit numismatic items. Dealers should not only be knowledgeable in the areas in which they deal, but should seriously investigate any suspicious item which they own, and encourage their customers to voice their doubts about any questionable item they purchase. I do not view questions about in this area as a challenge to my own knowledgeability or ethics, and I always seek to separate questions of authenticity from considerations of personal financial loss. It is in the best interests of the hobby to detect and denounce forgeries as early as possible.
Since I deal in a wide array of unusual numismatic material, much of it imported directly, I take special pains to check doubtful pieces and troublesome categories before offering them for sale. I have developed my own expert contacts for authentication in various fields.
Accordingly, I will repurchase at original sale price or replace (at my option) any numismatic item which proves at any time to be counterfeit or fraudulently altered. To protect myself, my suppliers and consignors, the following conditions, clarifications, and limitations are part of this guarantee:
Procedure Any item I sell may be returned for any or no reason within ten days of receipt. If you have doubts about authenticity, please let me know. Beyond ten days, please contact me prior to returning the item. I may already have checked another piece from the same hoard or group, or have shown your piece to experts. If I feel that reasonable doubt remains, I may offer to have the piece examined at my own expense. Alternatively, I may either ask you to return the piece along with copies of any written opinions you have obtained, or recommend that you send it to an authentication service. If you wish to pursue your own investigations, please request an extension of the return privilege beyond the ten day period.
Proof of Counterfeit With the exceptions noted below, I will accept as proof of counterfeit any definitive opinion from any recognized authentication service, unless a contrary opinion from that or another service also exists. “No ruling” and qualified opinions can not be accepted as proof, but will be considered as per below. I will pay all authentication and postage costs for any item receiving a definitive negative ruling, up to a limit of $30 per coin. I must weigh as I see fit the opinions of museum employees, and other dealers regardless of their reputations or credentials. I take most seriously opinions in this format: Written, acknowledging that the piece has been examined directly (not an image), listing factors leading to conclulsion, giving credentials or experience with the series in question, signed, with name and contact information.
Exceptions In certain esoteric areas my own contacts may be able to provide better expert opinion than the authentication services. I would not consider authentication service rulings definitive for these countries/categories and others which I may designate in my literature: cast China, cast Korea, pre-Meiji Japan, Vietnam, odd & curious monies. In these areas, and for items for which a definitive ruling from an authentication service is not available, I will seek the opinions of experts known to me and consider all such opinions in order to reach a good-faith decision on genuineness. All such opinions will be available to the purchaser of the piece, though identities of experts may be withheld at their request.
Contemporary Copies & Conservative Types Since the farming out of mints was a common practice in the Orient, it is not always possible to distinguish between authorized issues of private mintage and contemporary forgeries. When ascertainable, I will do my best to designate these in offerings, but due to the difficulties and cost of research, contemporary copies before 1350 AD sold for under $20 are excluded from this guarantee. Conservative types, which purport to a certain issuer or period of issue but are known to have been produced later or by others, officially or privately, are not considered counterfeit (e.g. Indian gold fannams.) Odd & curious / primitive / ethnographic monies present special problems of authentication, as most such objects have no official issuers. In cases where a given object was made after such items ceased to be used as money, or for purposes other than monetary, I will endeavor to note this in offerings, but such objects will not be considered counterfeit. In all other cases, primitive monies are fully covered by this guarantee.
Antiquities These are a sideline for me. I have no particular expertise in detection of faked antiquities, and rely primarily on the integrity and knowledge of my suppliers. I will avoid dealing in areas where fakery is particularly rampant (e.g. Amerind items). Claims of counterfeit for artifacts must include some reasonable grounds for suspicion, preferably opinion from a knowledgeable third party. I will be relatively liberal in accepting returns in this category.
Designated Counterfeits I regard counterfeits of all sorts, so designated, to be useful additions to an advanced collections, and legitimate objects of commerce. This guarantee does not apply to any item designated as counterfeit or questionable, or where negative opinion is made known to the purchaser at time of sale. I will stamp all modern collector-oriented forgeries and other deceptive forgeries “COPY’ with a steel die before sale.
Misattribution and Repaired Coins I try to be accurate in attribution and vigilant in regard to repaired coins, but such items should be returned under the normal ten-day unconditional return privilege. At my option I will refund or replace later, but this may depend on the actions of my own supplier.
Replacement When a piece proves counterfeit I may, at my option, replace it with a genuine example in equal or better grade of an item which fits the description of the item originally sold. This will be done within six months of the return of the counterfeit item or of its decertification by an authentication service, whichever is later. I may elect instead to make a cash refund of the original purchase price.
Other Conditions There is no time limit on this guarantee. It is transferable to any subsequent owner of any item purchased from me, though I may require proof of purchase. I am not liable for any amount beyond the original purchase price regardless of market value at time of refund, or time elapsed. Items which have been cleaned or altered since purchase will be subject to this guarantee only at my option.
Published Notice & Suppression of Counterfeits Should I discover that an item I have sold is counterfeit and be unable to identify and contact buyer(s) individually, I will make an announcement in my next pricelist at the point where the item would normally be offered. I will also publish information on particular fakes or problem areas, and cooperate fully with those who publish such information responsibly.
Every numsmatic field is plagued by counterfeits. The advent of the worldwide web and online auctions, with their characteristics of anonymity and direct, immediate participation, have weakened the role of traditional gatekeepers such as dealers, legitimate auction firms, and acknowledged experts, in identifying and suppressing the sale of counterfeits. The web's own antidote has been several sites or portions of sites whose laudable object is the exposure of counterfeits though the posting of images and descriptive comments. However, these very aspects of the web, combined with its lack of physicality, create unique problems for this topic which have so far not been successfully addressed. Efforts to date tend to be poorly organized and without standardization, passively or lightly moderated, allow anonymous posting, fail to distinguish amateur from expert opinion, and encourage reliance on images rather than physical examination. Existing sites are thus untrustworthy as to their basic purpose, and dangerous to the reputation of certain numismatic series and sellers which suffer false positives from inexpert or malicious participants.
The following set of standards is offered for discussion.
Site Purpose: (1) To educate users on basic methods of counterfeit detection, (2) To display verified counterfeits in such a manner as to permit the broadest range of users to distinguish from genuine specimens. It is also a legitimate purpose to publish the names of sellers of counterfeit items.
Sponsorship: Ideally, the site should be run by a respected numismatic organization. It should not accept advertising. Those moderating or involved with the site should be at least "knowledgeable" if not "expert" in the series covered, and in forgery detection, and of good reputation in numismatic community.
Content: (1) The site should include basic information on the different types of coin manufacture technology, categories, and basic techniques of forgery, and salient points for determining authenticity for each relevant series. (2) The site should be organized so that entries are logically indexed and, within series, organized in historical order or according to standard references for the series. The default display mode should include all posted examples of a given type rather than a single item. (3) Assuming a gallery format for postings, the input form should enforce or encourage uniformity in the parameters and descriptive terms used. The moderator should review all posts for conformity. (4) All postings related to a given poster, expert, or provenance should be easily assembled via search.
Poster integrity: Every posting should be reviewed by a moderator before appearing on the site. All postings should be signed with a true name, and verified by the moderator. Acknowledged experts who wish to remain anonymous may be assigned pseudonyms linked to a brief outline of the expert's credentials or other information allowing users to judge their status as expert.
Data integrity: The site should emphasize and actively solicit input from known experts, or limit postings to series for which expert opinion is available to the moderator. Inexpert posters should be discouraged, and posters with a history of false or malicious postings blocked. Criteria to weigh or jury the relative merit of experts, or particular opinions, must be developed to deal with conflicting or disputed opinions.
Images: Any opinion posted which is not based on an actual physical examination of the coin must so note, and be given lower emphasis than those resulting from physical examination. The format should make clear that subsequent comments (if any) from site users are based solely on the image(s) provided at the site. Images not created by the poster must note source.
Provenance: Posters must include all provenance known to them, and must certify that they have made an attempt to contact all known previous and current owners and sellers of the item to ascertain whether expert opinion exists. Full provenance and any existing opinions must be included with the basic posting. If inquiry to a seller results in withdrawal from sale, date of withdrawal should be noted.
Accountability: Persons listed as sellers of items identified as suspect or counterfeit must be given opportunity of rebuttal at the site regardless of expert status. Subject to legal opinion, criteria should be developed to distinguish between or rate sellers who take affirmative steps to avoid the offering of counterfeits and offer mitigation, and those who do not.