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1920 London Mint Counterfeit Gold Sovereign
Fakes and forgeries of most coins exist, gold sovereigns are no exception. We discuss an interesting 1920 fake London Mint sovereign supplied to us by a leading European bank.

Forgeries of Gold Sovereigns
You may wish to refer to our main fakes and forgeries page, which we have provided as an information source.
If you are in doubt when buying gold sovereigns or any other gold coins, our advice is to buy from an established reputable dealer.

Can You Tell The Difference?
This one should be easy to tell. The London Mint stopped issuing bullion sovereigns after 1917, except for those dated 1925, and did not restart until 1957, so it follows that any London Mint sovereigns dated from 1918 to 1924, and 1926 to 1956 must be fakes, with the exception of proofs issued in 1937, and the extremely rare 1953s.

Non-Existent Date?
You may well ask would a forger go to all the time and trouble of making a pair of dies, and use a non-existent date. The obvious conclusion is that it would need to be pretty stupid counterfeiter. Sure, some crooks are stupid, but not all. It may be that by deliberately choosing a non-existent date-mintmark combination, that the criminal was creating a pre-emptive legal defence, that it cannot be a forgery if a genuine equivalent does not exist. This argument was used on at least one occasion by an Italian forger.

Respectable Source
We received this particular example from a very reputable German bank, with whom we have done many transactions. We regard them as respectable, and normally reliable in their expertise. We are quite sure that if we tell them about this coin, they will be embarrassed, and offer to replace it. It may cause mild alarm to the casual observer to find that a major bank can make a mistake and sell a forgery. We would guess that one of its cashiers may have been in a hurry, and not checked quite as carefully as usual, the bank is staffed by human beings, and we are all fallible. We have probably bought over 100,000 sovereigns from this particular source over a long period of time, and this is the first fake we can remember getting from them, and that is not such a bad record. Incidentally, we would hope that, of the millions of sovereigns we have sold, not one has been fake.

How Can We Tell? - Years of Experience!
Even at the tender age of 16, I, Lawrence Chard, used to answer "year of experience" when people asked how I could spot a fake. Although it was intended as a humorous comment, it did contain more than a grain of truth. Even at that age, I had acquired considerable experience at spotting fakes. Of course this is not much help to the numismatic student trying to learn how to distinguish fakes from the real thing, leaving the original question how does one tell a fake?
The best way would be to get the opportunity to examine a substantial number of genuine sovereigns, and quantity of fakes, and spend some time looking at each fake, learning to spot the tell-tale signs.

The Obvious
As we have already stated, the London branch of the Royal Mint issued no sovereigns dated 1920. The commonest mintmark for 1920 is P for Perth Mint in Western Australia, with a mintage of 2,421,196 pieces. The other two active mints, Melbourne and Sydney, issued 530,266 and 360,000 sovereigns that year if the mintage figures can be relied on. Both these mintmarks are much rarer than their mintage figures would suggest. I cannot remember our company owning either.
In this case, it is very easy to tell this coin must be a fake, beyond any doubt, but the keen student must be asking what other features of this coin can help him to learn what to look for next time.

The Finer Points
We have already got some general advice about how to spot fakes on our original "Fakes" page, so we will not repeat it here.
It has just struck us as amusing that we should refer to our original "Fakes" page, as if there were such a thing as an original fake, the word original usually being used to denote the genuine article!


We Buy Gold Sovereigns

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Reverse of 1920 London Mint Fake Sovereign
Reverse of 1920 London Mint Fake Sovereign

Obverse of 1920 London Mint Fake Sovereign
Obverse of 1920 London Mint Fake Sovereign

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