How to Spot a Fake Krugerrand


Identifying a fake Krugerrand is not an impossible task, in fact most people can conduct some simple tests themselves and find the majority of fakes fairly quickly. The counterfeiter is depending upon his skill and the buyer's trust, coupled without the hope that the buyer won't vet the fake. Let's go over the ways you can identify a fake Krugerrand.

Prevention- a good way to avoid a fake Krugerrand in the first place is to deal with a reputable expert- ideally a coin dealer specializing Krugerrands. If someone handles Krugerrands on a daily basis, they develop a sense for what a Krugerrand should be, and when it's not right they know it immediately. Maybe it's the color- or something about the size that's just off. I remember an elderly gold dealer who could just pick up a Krugerrand and tell you right off it was genuine or a fake. He kept a few fakes around the shop and was always happy to demonstrate his skill and let customers feel the difference. Of course that expertise comes at a premium, typically you're going to pay a bit more at a dealer than from an eBay auction or individual. You can check the gold Krugerrand price, for both dealers and on eBay right here on Gold Krugerrand Ferret. Authentication- in our article on how to buy Krugerrands on eBay we went into a little detail on authentication services available. Specifically eBay recommended Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS)

Physical Testing- Gold is a special metal, with very specific properties. One of the most obvious when you handle gold is the density, or specific gravity. Without going into a lot of technical detail, specific gravity is a measure of how dense one substance is when compared to pure water, at a specific temperature and pressure (4° Celsius and one 1 ATM to be specific). Because gold is so dense, it's very difficult to replace with a less valuable metal and still have a passable fake. If you take a look at the specific gravity measurements for some common metals, you'll see that there's very little in the same range as gold that's easily obtainable. If you received a platinum fake Krugerrand in place of a regular circulated Kruger, you probably wouldn't have too much reason to complain (as of this writing platinum was trading at about $100 above the gold price). Goldlike radioactive elements are not generally available for making fakes, and most of the other possible stand ins are expensive, hard to obtain, and difficult to work due to brittleness. Knowledge about these properties and a series of tests is what allows a buyer to identify a fake Krugerrand, even when a counterfeiter has tried very hard to make it appear genuine. You'll notice that the South African mint has published data on the weight, diameter, and width of the Krugerrands in all their sizes. This is not just trivia, but the means you can use to identify a fake Krugerrand.

Now that you're armed with a little knowledge about gold characteristics, let's get started on the tests. You're going to need a fine ruler with milimeter markings, and a good quality scale which measures accurately in grams. Weigh the Krugerrand. According the the Rand Refinery, here's what you're looking for:

Size Weight
1 oz 33.930 g
1/2 oz 16.965 g
1/4 oz 8.482 g
1/10 oz 3.393 g

Weight looking okay? Great, now measure the diameter:

Size Diameter
1 oz 32.77 mm
1/2 oz 27.07 mm
1/4 oz 22.06 mm
1/10 oz 16.55 mm

Now the last test will be the thickness:

Size Thickness
1 oz 2.84 mm
1/2 oz 2.215 mm
1/4 oz 1.888 mm
1/10 oz 1.35 mm

If you're a little overwhelmed about the precision of the testing, there's a handy little gadget called the Fisch tester that will do all the above for you.

The Fisch Instruments testers are sometimes available on eBay, I got mine for about 50% off retail. You can see if they're available by checking our Krugerrand Tester page. If there aren't any on eBay you can order wallet #2 for Krugerrands online from Fisch.

***UPDATE: Got an comment from an alert reader- Fred, about FAKE FISCH Testers for sale on eBay. The creator of the Fisch responded via email, here it is courtesy of the Kitco Forum:

Thanks for writing. I appreciate greatly that you have sent me such detailed information on this.

Yes, it is a fake. I have reported it to eBay.

A genuine Fisch gauge has either the Fisch logo or, in a few cases, the name "The Fisch" on the front panel.

Here is what I am in the process of putting on the website:

Don’t Buy Fake Fisch.

To protect yourself, only buy The Fisch from this website.

The fake Fisch does not have the Fisch logo or the name “The Fisch” on the front panel of the gauge. Not surprisingly, it does not have the same finish.

The Fisch is a precision instrument with a lot of care, time and money taken in its manufacture. It is not something that you can just “knock off”. Someone who merely copies it is not going to have the interest or inclination to get it right. Nor are they going to be prepared to invest in the quality tooling needed. There is no money in doing it right.

A guy on eBay, who uses the name “slomskicorp”, claims that he has a supply of Fisch Wallets bought from a dealer who was going out of business. It seems he was also trying to sell on Craigslist in Chicago, LA & San Diego.

As gold buyers are a sharp bunch he has been outed very quickly. So now he is trying to backtrack. He has deleted the name “Fisch” from his eBay listing, but his demo still says “Testing a gold coin with Fisch Instruments”. The Instruction Card and the Wallet are copies of the real thing. He has also deleted his listings on Craigslist. I have reported him to eBay.

But he will try to continue trade on the Fisch name where he thinks he can get away with it. For without using the Fisch name, he has nothing. The more I think about it, the more irritated I get. Here is a name and product that has 29 years of work in it: Firstly getting the Fisch right, then the years getting it accepted and used by mints, banks, dealers and investors in over 40 countries. And now, along comes this opportunist who steals the design, steals the name and misrepresents his inferior knock off as the Fisch.

Just the sort of guy you want to avoid doing business with. Definitely when it is something as important as to whether a gold coin is fake or not.

Ken Rutherford
info@fisch.co.za

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Gold Party Time

Great info! I’ll defintiely keep this in mind when I start selling off some of my collection over the next few months.

Fred

Be aware of counterfeit Fisch’s from slomski on ebay. https://www.kitcomm.com/showthread.php?t=40775

24K

Hey, thanks Fred, that whole thread is an interesting read, and then some. I updated the post and the tester page to include this information, thanks for taking to the time to comment!

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