Anyone who collects columnarios will
eventually come across a fake. Their seem to be a wide
variety of counterfeits floating around. And a careless
buyer can easily get stuck holding the bag. Here's some ways
to protect yourself from getting stung:
1. Don't buy columnarios from people you
don't know. Buy from reputable dealers. If you're buying
from someone on Ebay, check out their feedback, verify that
there is at least a 5-day return policy. And if email them
before you bid if you have any questions. Be cautious of
oversea transactions. It can be very difficult to get your
money back from someone in China.
2. Ideally it's best to examine the coin
before you buy it. The first place to look is the edge.
The edge shown above is from
a 1761 Mexico 8R columnario which sold on Ebay (in May,
2001). Of course from the obverse and reverse scans of the
coin posted on Ebay (shown below), it's very difficult to
authenticate the coin. Only under a loupe can the you see
the cast bubbles.
Always examine the edging.
The real columnario has floral edging of made up of about 40
laurel leafs and is very difficult to replicate. Note that
from 1762 on the leaves always pointed in the same
direction. Before that, the leaves switched direction
halfway around the coin.
Above is another fake edge,
from a 1738 Mexico 8R cast counterfeit.
3. If you have the coin in hand, ring it.
That is spin it on a flat surface and listen to it spin
down. Compare that sound to a real columnario. The cast
fakes do not sound the same. The real coin will produce a
brighter distinctive ring.
4. Check the date and compare it with
monarch on the reverse. This may seem obvious but I know one
collector who bought a 1732 Carolus III. This was an
authentic coin but the date had been modified from a 1762.
The real 1732, no surprise, is a very rare item. The real
1732 would have Philip V on the obverse. Also, the assay
mark would be "F" (not "MM" as found on
On the example below, a common date 1752
MF was altered and made into a rarer 1762 MF. The clues here
are: a) two royal crowns instead of one royal and one
imperial; b) the wrong monarch on the obverse -- it should
be Carolus III; and c) it has the wrong type of six -- it
should be an "early-style" 6 (although Gilboy does
list a late-style 6 variety -- see M-8-41a).
5. Weigh it. A real columnario (8R) will
weigh very close to 27.0642 grams. Be careful with sea
salvage specimens, however, as they tend to "loose
weight" due to surface corrosion. The weight of the 4R
is 13.5321 grams; 2R, 6.7660 grams; 1R 3.3830 grams; and the
1/2R, 1.6915. Note that the legal tolerance was about 4% for
Click here to see the
obverse of a 1770 Mo 8R that weighs 28.03g, obviously way
out of the spectrum of legitimate 8R columnarios.
6. Watch out for rarities at prices that
are too good to be true. This is the case with the rare
Santiago columnarios. There are a number of Santiago fakes.
Many of them have the Arabic "5" -- as shown on
the fake below. The real Santiago's have a regular
"5". Also if you examine the assay mark, the fakes
have a large "J" as shown below. The "J"
on the real coins is much smaller.
7. Look the coin up in a reference like
Gilboy or Calbeto (see the resources
page). Often you can identify questionable features when
comparing them to documented varieties.
8. If you are bidding on a coin on Ebay
and you are uncertain of the seller or the coin, ask the
seller if the coin is genuine and what his return policy is.
This 1732 fake (click here to view)
was listed on Ebay. When the British seller Adrian
Simmons (Ebay ID: geta1) was asked the two above
questions, this was his response: "hi, i dont give any
gurantee about the coin as i dont understand these
You shouldn't have to study the coin
below for very long to figure out what is wrong with it.
There are many other ways for
authenticating columnarios. The above ideas simply represent
several common methods that can be applied before
If you are uncertain about the
authenticity of a columnario you may have, contact as the
link at the bottom of this page and we will explain how you
can send us a scan or the coin for authentication or an