Numismatics in a 3D future

2005-Krugerrand-NGCA recent article appearing in Coin World alerted readers to the appearance of a counterfeit 2005 Proof gold ¼ Krugerrand (KM# 160). A genuine 2005 Proof gold ¼ Kruggerand has a retail value of about $475,1 so the potential to spend that amount on a flashy piece of plastic is certainly something for coin collectors to keep an eye out for:

Fullerton, Calif., dealer Dwight Manley recently discovered a fake South African gold Krugerrand coin in a fake NGC holder.

Numismatic Guaranty Corp. has confirmed that the holder and coin are both counterfeit.

There is one distinct difference between the fake and genuine holders, Manley said.

Collectors should look at the left side of the front insert label.

“On the fake coin, the circle in the NGC logo (an encircled balance scale) goes almost entirely around the P in the grade PF 70. On the genuine coin’s label, the P is outside the logo circle,” Manley said.2

But beyond the concern over accidentally buying a fake, what does this mean? Will coin collectors now have to become experts on analyzing holograms on coin holder labels? Probably not:

You can get very basic 3D printers for just a few hundred dollars — about the price of a good inkjet printer or today’s laser printers. …

[The only remaining] barrier is the skills barrier, and that one still has some challenge. … [But by] combining the Internet (and 3D design marketplaces like Thingiverse), someone in one part of the world can design a physical object, and someone on the opposite side of the planet can make it appear.3

To put this into perspective, the price of a 3D printer is now about the price of a genuine Proof gold ¼ Krugerrand. We are at the point at which one skilled counterfeiter can create a 3D design for a fake coin holder (and even a fake coin!), and any unethical person with Internet access will be able to print as many as they like.

Given this, what seems likely is not that we will all have to start analyzing holograms on plastic coin holders, but that the burgeoning plastic coin certification holder industry will become obsolete.

Soon, numismatists may actually have to redirect their attention to the coins themselves, rather than the plastic holders the certification industry has pushed to the forefront, and that will probably be a good thing.

  1. World Coin Price Guide, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation,
  2. Jeff Stark, “California coin dealer discovers fake Krugerrand in fake holder,” Coin World, 13 November 2015,
  3. David Gerwitz, “3D printing will be huge, in the most boring and fascinating ways imaginable,” ZDNet, 11 November 2015,
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2 Responses to Numismatics in a 3D future

  1. Jim Bovard says:

    Excellent post. If only it was as easy to keep a close eye on the racketeering behind the scenes on the value of the dollar…

  2. John M says:

    Thanks, Jim! You’re spot on about the manipulation of the value of the dollar and, by extension, the manipulation of the price of gold. It seems to be a cross between “The Big Lie” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes” — it is so obvious that even a child can see it, but since we’re not “market analysts” or Nobel Prize-winning economists, we’re not supposed to believe what is plain for all to see.

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