By Paradime Coins ……
There is no doubt that eBay is a force in Numismatics.
Sometimes a positive one, as when a someone snipes the last-needed Overton variety to complete one of the only variety Bust half collections, and sometimes a negative one, as when an unbeknownst collector buys a fake coin.
Though at Paradimecoins.com, we only sell U.S Certified coins, mostly PCGS/CAC top pops, rare gold, and attractively toned coins, I am also personally fascinated with rare World Coins. In search of the popular New Zealand Crown in late 2017 and early 2018, I stumbled upon a particular piece that caught my attention. One does not always see an auction for a $7,000 world coin sell in an auction on eBay as compared to U.S coins where such value doesn’t always merit a second glance.
Such is not the case, however, for coins from New Zealand.
A 1935 New Zealand Waitangi Crown graded PR65 by PCGS rose to the occasion. After doing some research to figure out a bid to place, I saw that the exact crown I was looking into had sold at Heritage back in 2014 for $6,756 USD. The 1935 Crown is most certainly an important key to the issue. With a low mintage of 468, the coin depicts on the obverse a portrait of George V and on the reverse the Treaty of Waitangi, an important event between the British Crown and the Māori chief shaking hands on an equal footing.
I was fortunate to have examined several examples over the years and have seen enough to know what it should look like. “Molted surface, gun-metal toning and medium silver-gray surface” is what has been used to typically describe these original crowns. The aforementioned example on eBay did not raise any immediate flags, as the piece was lustrous and certified.
Nevertheless, the same luster on second glance was what made me look deeper. The cartwheel-like luster and surface of the piece appeared to be of a business strike, but the coin was supposed to be a Proof-only issue. The fact that NGC and PCGS have certified examples as business strikes should not serve to confuse, as it is generally accepted amongst collectors that the 468 pieces were struck in Proof format. Despite not knowing this, collectors should pay attention to how all the “business strike” and Proof-certified examples have sharply struck surfaces.
A side-by-side comparison of the original example sold at Heritage quickly revealed that the coin in question was a counterfeit.
We can see that the counterfeit example is crudely reproduced on closer inspection. More specifically, notice in the crown ornament how the vertical pearls are separated and round on genuine example (right) compared to the rectangle-like pearls on the reproduction (left).
For those who are able to tell whether a serial actually provides the correct numbers this is another great way to spot the difference. For those unfamiliar, a side-by-side comparison will indicate that the left does not have the same serial.
Notice the decoration on the robe meant to represent the crown. The left shows a pretzel-like crown.
The genuine robe (right) has five main folds compared to the four counterfeit ones.
Since seeing this January eBay counterfeit example, I spotted yet another 1935 Waitangi Crown counterfeit example trying to imitate the genuine piece Heritage sold in April 2018.
Note the different spots, yet they share the mark (between the “A” in “Zealand” and the left of the Māori chief’s stomach) indicating that they were likely manufactured by the same entity and I can only assume that there were a handful made. Based on the seller’s locations (the first in Denmark and the second in Cyprus), they seem to be emanating from Europe.
Interest in rare World Coins has certainly risen in my opinion since 2017 and 2018. Collectors and investors are now seeking to diversify portfolios from traditional investments with low yield. With new money coming steadily into numismatics, the channels and platform through which we buy require due diligence on our part. Should collectors have any doubt about buying on eBay, I would suggest looking for the PNG logo, the CDN logo, or the CDHCD logo on a seller’s listing or homepage on eBay. Though of course, many reputable sellers do not feature a logo on their pages even though they are members.