Counterfeit and Altered Coins

ANACS was created in 1972 by the American Numismatic Association (ANA), a non-profit educational association established in 1891 and chartered by the U.S. Congress. ANACS original mission was to rid the hobby of counterfeit and altered coins. At that time, it was estimated that as many as one of every ten gold or key date coins sold on the typical bourse floor was either counterfeit or altered. (Many of those coins were being sold and purchased by people who had no idea the coins were counterfeit or altered.) At the time, there was little published information on counterfeit detection. ANACS was located in Washington D.C. in order to have access to the Smithsonian’s numismatic collection and to be near the U.S. Secret Service.

ANACS graders began writing articles on detecting counterfeit and altered coins in the ANA’s monthly journal, The Numismatist, and, later, in other numismatic publications. Eventually, the articles were collected and published by the ANA in book form and sold to collectors and dealers. Also, ANACS created a photographic library of all the counterfeit and altered coins it found. The library included close-up shots so that people could see the diagnostics and learn where to look on the coin for them. Today, that photographic library resides inside the ANACS Grading Room, available to our graders at a moment’s notice.

In 1982, J.P. Martin, ANACS’ Senior Numismatist, began teaching a class on detecting counterfeit and altered coins at the ANA Summer Conference. J.P. has been teaching that same class every year since then. Students in his class have included coin dealers, collectors and even a number of U.S. Secret Service agents.

In the 1990s, J.P. wrote a correspondence course for the ANA, Detecting Counterfeit and Altered Coins. The Project Director for the course was James Taylor, ANACS’ CEO and President. Later, the two of them collaborated on a nearly three-hour long video / DVD based upon this correspondence course. Both the correspondence course and the video have received industry awards and are available for purchase from the ANA.

Given this rich history, it is clear ANACS has been at the forefront of detecting and disseminating information about counterfeit and altered coins. New and important discoveries are made weekly by ANACS graders. These discoveries are immediately forwarded to the other grading services and some appear in print in ANACS’ Senior Grader Michael Fahey’s Coin World column, “Detecting Counterfeits.”

At ANACS, any coin that we believe may be counterfeit or altered may be returned to the customer with a note calling the piece “Questionable Authenticity.” This would mean we are not absolutely certain the coin is a counterfeit, but we believe it is.

If we are absolutely certain that a the coin is a counterfeit or an alteration, pursuant to federal law and in accordance with our legal obligations we reserve the right to turn the piece over to the U.S Secret Service. The Secret Service’s standard procedure is to contact the current owner and the previous owner and have the previous owner return the purchase price to the buyer. The Secret Service’s ultimate goal is to trace the coin back to the original perpetrator.

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Coin Show Schedule

ANACS will be accepting submissions at the following shows. Click here to see the full list and to see which shows ANACS' graders will attend.
Devens Coin Show ~ Devens Common Center, Devens, MA
February 26 - 26        
National Money Show ~ Orlando Convention Center, Orlando, FL
March 09 - 11        
Lincoln Coin Club Show ~ Cornhusker Social Hall, Lincoln, NE
March 11 - 11        


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