That was an excellent letter sent recently by “The Silver Bull” (Pre-1965 90% Silver Coins are the Best Defense Against Counterfeits). Regarding his suggestion of pre-1965 “junk” 90% silver coins, I’d like to ask a question: Are the 1 Troy ounce U.S. Mint American Eagles purchased from dealers considered suspect for counterfeiting? I know that are when purchased through eBay. There is some good counterfeit-spotting tutorials available on YouTube. I appreciate what he is saying.
By the way,, my favorite precious metals remain quality brass, lead, and copper in 5.56 and 7.62. Thanks for all you do. – RetiredPara
JWR Replies: With the recent profusion of counterfeits from mainland China, ALL Morgan and Peace silver dollars, and ALL silver bullion coins and ingots should now be considered suspect as fakes, regardless of where you buy them, unless perhaps you are buying them in a sealed Mint Monster Box or out of a verified old family cache. (If you are buying tarnished old “Christmas” ingots with dates from the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s, then you are probably safe.) My general advice is to buy coins only from trusted, well-established dealers, and get confirmation that they have checked their coins for authenticity.
In the end, however, there is no sure substitute for checking for yourself. I strongly recommend that every family that is serious about precious metals investing get themselves a full set of Fisch Instruments brand coin calipers/scales. These employ a very clever design, made in South Africa. Each “Fisch” provide four tests is one device: A coin diameter and shape caliper inset portion, a coin thickness caliper slot, and a coin weight teeter-totter. The most clever fake might be able to pass one of these tests, but no fake can pass all four! It is noteworthy that Fisch Instruments was a SurvivalBlog advertiser for several years and I can vouchsafe that the Fisch method is wonderfully reliable, and simple to use. I have two full binders their calipers–one for silver coins and one for gold–and I use them whenever I go coin shopping.
An Important Closing Note: Remember that once you walk out the door of any coin shop, if you later discover a counterfeit and then come back to confront the seller, they could claim that you are presenting them with a different coin than the one that they sold you. Therefore, it is essential that you do your tests before you leave with your newly-purchased coins!