A counterfeit 2011 American Eagle silver bullion coin recently passed as genuine at a coin shop in Toronto contains no silver, but does contain a trace amount of gold in its composition.
Andrew Greenham from Forest City Coins in London, Ontario, Canada, obtained the counterfeit from a second Toronto dealer who had acquired 10 examples from yet a third, unidentified, Toronto dealer, who was duped into purchasing the pieces from an unidentified seller, as genuine silver Eagles.
It is unknown how many counterfeit 2011 silver American Eagles were passed as genuine and whether fake silver American Eagles bearing other dates are also in the marketplace.
U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White said Jan. 26 that Mint officials were unaware of the counterfeits. White said he forwarded to the U.S. Secret Service information provided by Coin World about the counterfeits. The Secret Service confirmed being contacted by the Mint.
On Jan. 26, Greenham posted on the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Collectors Society online forum (boards.collectors-society.com) images and some details about the counterfeit. He posted the information he had obtained in order to educate others about the existence of the counterfeits in the marketplace.
Greenham subsequently had the counterfeit subjected to spectrographic analysis Jan. 29 and provided Coin World with a copy of the results.
According to the University of Chicago website at UChicago.edu, spectrographic analysis is a noninvasive process where chemical elements are determined by measuring the wavelengths or spectral line intensity of a sample of matter. “Spectroscopes break down the light emitted or absorbed by chemical elements into specific lines of color,” according to the website.