How to distinguish a fake coin of Tsarist Russia

How to distinguish a fake coin of Tsarist Russia Money

There are a lot of people who are interested in antiques. This provokes the mass production of fakes. Each type of rarity is studied separately. Numismatics deals with monetary history. To reliably determine the authenticity, considerable experience is needed. You need to start with common and inexpensive copies. Silver coins are more accessible to the novice collector. But even in this case, it is important to know what to pay attention to. Before you can distinguish a silver, copper and gold coin from a fake, you need to know the main tools of the numismatist. 

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"Fake Coin" And "Fake Coin"

Fake refers to a product created for sale as a collector's or antique copy. That is, we are not talking about the nominal value of the item, but about the market value.

A fake can be a copy created from scratch. The fake material may be similar to the original, or it may be radically different. To create a fake, genuine coins can also be used, in which some modification is made, imitating a rare year or a rare variety.

Read also: how to find out what kind of coin

Fakes are copies original coins withdrawn from circulation (lost the status of settlement symbol), if they do not have a special sign indicating copy (replica). The fake category sometimes includes "fantastic" coins, the originals of which never existed. Such copies are issued for trial coins.

counterfeit coins, created for circulation, are often found in treasures, along with genuine ones. There are collectors who create exhibitions from such "coins". Therefore, counterfeit coins sometimes cause more interestthan ordinary originals.

The situation is different with fakes that are sold to collectors under the guise of expensive originals. Often a whole performance is played (“Here, the old house was dismantled ...”), as a result of which the buyer acquires a piece of metal, proud that he grabbed a rarity at a price half that of the market.

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Acting is also present at Internet flea markets, where fakes are put up on behalf of novice simpletons (the most common options are “I don’t rummage in coins myself, but from my grandfather’s collection” or “I know that it’s expensive, but urgently need money”). What to do in order not to feed the ever-growing army scammersoffering copies at the entrance of almost any mall?

The most important rule: never buy items in a category that you do not understand.

Having heard about the high cost of the pictures seen from the Internet, many grab copies without even thinking that a valuable coin issued in the amount of several dozen copies simply cannot physically end up under the floorboard of some wrecked house on the outskirts of Chelyabinsk. Is it any wonder the dexterity of the gypsies, who successfully sell even tokens with bitcoin symbols under the guise of a cryptocurrency that does not have a physical carrier?

Read also: 200 rubles banknote how to spot a fake

Have you ever held an old coin in your hands?

Why counterfeit coins

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First of all, the counterfeiter wants to make a profit. Ways to get it can be:

  • launch into cash circulation;
  • making large purchases;
  • deception of collectors and numismatists. 

Fake coins of Tsarist Russia

There have been cases in history when the production of fakes acquired a state character. This was done with the aim of undermining the economy of the competing country. Here it is immediately necessary to distinguish between 2 concepts of fake and fake.

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The first is created with the aim of obtaining illegal profits after they are put into circulation. A fake is created on the basis of copies that have lost the status of money for calculation (for example, counterfeit coins of Tsarist Russia) for sale to collectors and antiquarians. It can be completely or partially redone when an old coin is altered to imitate its rarity.

Fake coins

As a result of the mass production of copies, numismatists have appeared who choose a fake from a certain manufacturer for the collection.

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Most primitive copies are clearly different from the original for several reasons. First, copy makers intentionally make differences so that they are not attracted for making fakes. Secondly, the creation of an exact copy is a very expensive operation, and in mass production, the entire chain of operations is tried to be as cheap as possible. Thirdly, a copy of a rare coin is sometimes made not from the original, but from a cut, transferring all the signs that give out a fake.

Read also: how to test gold at home – 12 ways


Coin type Description and valuation
Golden coins
  • estimated from the value of exchange gold up to 10 times higher;
  • circulation is taken into account, since some coins are preserved in single copies, they will cost a lot, and those issued in millions are much less;
  • specialists will check the condition, the presence of external damage, the quality of minting, wear, weight.
silver coins
  • such copies are evaluated by their appearance, the presence of visible damage, the quality of the coinage;
  • silver was mass-produced in tsarist Russia and wore out more strongly, since it was a popular type of mutual settlements in large transactions of merchants;
  • impeccable appearance, perfect preservation guarantee of high value.
copper coins
  • the most popular coins in tsarist Russia;
  • were mass-produced, used by all residents of the country in carrying out ordinary transactions, buying food or clothing in the markets;
  • as a rule, they are heavily worn, worn out, have a number of external damages;
  • the cost determines the uniqueness of the instance. Often found in the ground during construction, laying communications, during archaeological research;
  • come across very rare varieties, singly produced by monasteries or large shopping centers.
Expensive coins
  • the lucky ones who have coins in their collections that remain in single copies, issued in a small circulation in immaculate condition, can look to the future with confidence, without fear of financial shocks;
  • any auction will easily sell a similar copy for a good amount;
  • rare coins are included in special catalogs, their movement is fixed;
  • if you are lucky to find a rare coin, you can earn great money.

Checking the main characteristics of the coin

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Any coin of the tsarist era has its own characteristics: diameter, thickness, weight. These parameters are the first to be checked when buying coins with the profiles of emperors or empresses.

Replacing expensive silver with copper-nickel or brass, followed by painting, will provide a noticeable discrepancy between the weight and the original.

Sometimes craftsmen who have heard about weight deftly adjust the “product” to the desired weight, but then a difference from the original in thickness or diameter will be observed. In some cases, even a simple magnet saves, to which the “silver coins” of a grimy road worker begin to stick.

Experienced collectors can easily distinguish the original by its characteristic ringing, carefully dropping a suspicious coin onto a plane. A fake can also be given out by yellow bald patches on the “silver” relief, when the fake was artificially aged.

Read also: $50 how to spot a fake

When buying a rare or infrequent coin, you should pay special attention to the following parameters:

  • weight;
  • thickness;
  • diameter;
  • magnetic properties.

The difference in the weight of metals with the same volume has been known since the time of Archimedes, who, according to legend (thanks to displaced water), determined the insufficient purity of gold in the crown of the Syracusan king Hieron II. A cunning jeweler replaced some of the gold with silver, which is lighter in weight but has a larger volume. In our time, copy makers often do not take this difference into account. Therefore, on the scales, the original ruble of Nicholas II and its copper-nickel copy will show different values.

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Comparison of a real coin of tsarist Russia and its fake and

However, the obligatory weight check has already become a habit among numismatists, so copy makers are looking for different ways to adjust the weight to the value indicated in the catalog. One of them was the change in thickness. Therefore, it is useful to know the approximate thickness of a genuine coin and, if there is a noticeable deviation from it, refrain from buying a suspicious specimen.

Weight adjustment for copies of old coins can also be carried out by changing the diameter.

A beginner is often not aware of what diameter the original should have, and deviations of several millimeters up or down do not cause him anxiety. Checking the diameter is also useful in identifying rare varieties whose edge was left without decoration (inscriptions or corrugations inherent in a standard specimen). Very often it turns out that the edge was “cleaned” by grinding and subsequent grinding.

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Cheaper production makes it necessary to abandon the more expensive non-ferrous metals, using cheap ferrous alloys, the surface of which is coated.

But a cheap copy here is given out by magnetic properties, since neither gold nor silver react to a magnet.

How to determine the authenticity of a coin

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Until the beginning of the 20th century, coins were cast and minted, followed by manual refinement of each of them. For this, specially prepared forms based on the original were used.


Years later, thanks to technological progress, the number of fakes increased significantly. Sometimes entire workshops worked on them, stamping on molds. Distinguishing a modern remake has become much more difficult. Modern craftsmen often resort to the method of high-precision casting. As a result, the clarity of the image and small elements disappear. Blurring is clearly visible under a magnifying glass, small bubbles appear.

You can reliably check the coin only by picking it up and having a collection experience. It is important to evaluate the edge, weight and size, quality of the metal and patina (a layer that appears after a while due to the oxidation of the metal). Masters very plausibly forge patina by baking, dyeing, fumigating with tobacco smoke and others.

Counterfeit antique coins

If specifications fit within the tolerance range, start a close visual inspection. Pay special attention attention to the group. A smooth edge immediately gives an alarm (the exception is cases when the circulation, indeed, has an edge without registration). Of course, there is a chance that you have an original coin that has avoided the guild ring, but it is extremely small.

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The first wave of modern fakes is now easily eliminated on this basis. Be sure to make sure that the design of the edge corresponds to this period. Catalogs are here to help you.

A convex edge or a edge with a complex pattern is still difficult to imitate, so the copy makers replace it with an indented or corrugated one.

If the originals have an indented edge, it should be compared with the edge of a suspicious coin: usually there will always be discrepancies in the shape of letters or even grammatical errors.

Experts identify fake patina by several signs: it appears on the metal in the form of rounded spots and only on the surface, without affecting scratches and abrasions.

Indicators by which a fake differs from the original:

  1. The obviousness of another metal under scuffs is a sign of a low-quality Chinese fake. 
  2. Excessive sheen indicates recent manufacture. A matte finish is typical for gold fakes that do not include real gold in their composition. A greasy sheen indicates a high zinc content in the alloy. 
  3. When viewed through a magnifying glass on fakes, surface heterogeneity is noticeable.
  4. The weight betrays the true nature of the metal. Experts by eye can determine the correspondence of the diameter and thickness to the mass. 

Counterfeit and original coins

The last point is very important for the correct assessment of the condition of the coin. Knowing this fact, the craftsmen, when making a fake, drive it back to the original weight. At the same time, the replacement of metal affects the dimensions that must be considered when buying. You need to check the sizes according to the reference books. 

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Before you determine the authenticity of a coin of Tsarist Russia or another era at home, you need to familiarize yourself with the hydrostatic weighing method.

The density of a metal is equal to its mass divided by its volume. This is a constant value, knowing which you can check the correspondence between volume and weight. The density of copper is 8.94 g/cm3, gold is 19.32 g/cm3, silver is 10.5 g/cm3. Brass is much lighter than noble metals and slightly lighter than copper - 8.73 g/cm3.

How to distinguish a fake from the original coin

Primitive copies of Russian coins are given out by banal ignorance of the Russian language. For example, the manufacturer of the counterfeit stamp did not see the difference between the Russian letter "I" and the Latin letter "N". If you look closely, you can see that he easily replaced the letter "C" with the Roman numeral "II".

Another letter in the inscription on the coin of Tsarist Russia

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Carefully inspect the candidate for the purchase. Very often, a fake is easily given out by scuffs, on which the color differs sharply from the original metal. On many copies of silver coins, yellow “bald patches” are noticeable in places of wear. This is manifested by brass, from which the coating imitating silver has worn off.

Another type of metal on the coin


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A real coin thrown on a hard, flat surface sounds loud and clear. At the same time, the fake falls with a dull sound, which is not typical for coin alloys.

How to detect counterfeit coins?


The design of the edge is the first thing that an experienced collector pays attention to. It's hard to fake it properly. and the forum of numismatists, when determining the authenticity of a particular expensive coin, is required to present a herd almost without fail. The knurling of the edge is a rather complicated operation. Therefore, copy makers often leave the edge undecorated, or use the simplest solution to manufacture.

Characteristic grooves, horizontal seams, excessive smoothness testify to the dubious nature. On copies imitating royal silver, a corrugated or depressed edge is rarely found, which is typical for coins of the end of the Russian Empire. 

How to spot a fake coin

This is the original ruble of Elizaveta Petrovna of 1744, minted in Moscow. The edge of the original is convex and tells about the place of minting: "MOSCOW MINUTE". A convex inscription is typical for many coins minted in the 18th century.

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Edge on a real coin of Tsarist Russia

Below is a copy, which is immediately issued by an indented inscription. This type of edge rolling began to be used after the modernization of the St. Petersburg Mint in the 18th century, when new generation mechanisms were brought in. He talks about the sample of the metal or its ligature weight. Even by chance, he could not appear on the coins of the previous century.

Edge on a fake coin of Tsarist Russia

Reliably recreating the band is extremely rare. Below is a comparison of the original herd of rubles 1921-1922. (upper coin in the photo) with a herd of their copies.

Edge of coins

On rare originals, the edge corresponds to the corrugations of an all-imperial coin of a similar denomination. The notches of a fake edge simply do not match the corrugations of a genuine coin if they are stacked on top of each other.

The table describes the features of the edge of some coins. 

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Coin edge
Anna Ioannovna Smoothness is typical only for gold coins. 
Silver rubles Leafy pattern. 
half a dozen Rhombuses in the form of a grid. 
Hryvnias and half-and-half Cord-shaped view with an inclination to the right 

The inconsistency in the design of the edge indicates a fake. However, there are exceptions for some species, which can only be in remakes. Such copies are not cheap and it is difficult to buy them. 

For collectors, defective copies of the “stamp rotation” are of interest. Knowing this, the masters often fake it. 

In addition, if the seller refuses the request to get a coin from the capsule, then you should think about its authenticity.

Read also: counterfeit banknotes or “Are you sure you know what does the dollar look like?”

The nature of the metal

When checking for authenticity, you need to examine the patina, which appears differently on each metal. If it is unevenly distributed (chips, scratches remain uncovered), then we are dealing with a fake. 

Fake and genuine coins

The appearance of the patina is described in the table. 

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Metal Description of the patina
Copper Appears earlier than on other metals. On a real coin, it appears in blue-green tones of malachite. At the same time, a loose film with sagging indicates a fake. 
Silver At first, a yellow patina appears, which is replaced by crimson, and later - blue-green. 
Gold The patina does not form. The presence of dark dots and streaks indicates the presence of copper in the composition. 

At the same time, the coin may have an artificial patina, the authenticity of which can only be determined by experts.

Reverse and obverse

Require attention and images on the obverse and reverse. On fakes, blurring of small details and the presence of small bubbles that are visible only under a magnifying glass are often found. 

Counterfeit ruble 1868

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Color and shine

With excessive polishing of counterfeit coins, an excessively bright shine appears, which is not typical for old money. This is usually done to hide defects that occur when coins are cast. This is an imperfect way, unlike coinage. 

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Copy of trial coin of 1740

Collar condition

When a coin is cast instead of minted, the shoulder is not sharply expressed, it seems worn out or very streamlined.

Fake gold coin

Visible damage

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The composition of the metal can be determined by chips, damage and abrasions. It can be noticeable that a cheap alloy is just coated with a noble metal. 

In history, there were cases in the mint when metal could be mixed up during minting. For example, brass was mistakenly used for a copper coin. Such cases are related to monetary marriage and are rare. If you find a dubious coin, it is better to turn to reference books. They list all possible marriages.

A copy of the coin 1.5 rubles

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Refinement of details

Manufacturers of counterfeit coins modify the reverse and obverse elements mechanically. They are used for engraving, cutting signs, soldering letters. More often it is used on coins with many varieties. 

Rough copy of Konstantinovsky ruble coin

Gallery of most widely distributed copies

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Making a stamp of an old coin that looks like the original is not a cheap pleasure. Therefore, only mass production pays off. Let's look at the most common copies, while comparing them with the originals:

Comparison of a real coin of tsarist Russia and its fake

This is an original and a copy of a rare 1 ruble coin of 1912 "This glorious year". In the original, the detailing of small elements is maintained. The font of the inscription on the reverse is clear. The font of the edge inscription corresponds to the given minting period.

In the copy of this coin, the detailing of small elements is broken (which can be seen when examining the copy under high magnification). The font of the inscription on the reverse is blurred (the clarity of the letters, typical for coinage, is absent). The font of the edge inscription has deviations, which are especially noticeable in the execution of the number "4".

Comparison of a real coin of tsarist Russia and its fake

The original of the last commemorative ruble of the Russian Empire "Gangut" (left) and its primitive copy (right). It is enough to look at the caricature figure of George the Victorious on the coat of arms of Moscow. The manufacturer of the copy was also too lazy in depicting the four sea charts, limiting himself to light strokes that vaguely resemble the lines on the original.

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Beginners, under the guise of the original, are often offered a copy of the silver 2 rubles of 1722. This is an incredibly rare coin that has the status of a trial, but has come down to us only in the form of replicas. Its average market price is one and a half million rubles. But it is enough to put the original side by side (in the illustration it is a coin on the right) and a copy (in the photo it is on the left side), as the eye immediately catches a lot of differences. The copy lacks a lot of small elements of the design (this can be seen at least from the crown on the reverse).

Comparison of a real coin of tsarist Russia and its fake

The rubles of Nicholas II are also massively counterfeited. In the photo below, the front side of the 1903 silver ruble (left) and two copper-nickel copies. The fake in the center is annoying with a blurry pattern. On the copy on the right, the font of the legend is quite elegant, but the imperial bas-relief was clearly not made by the master of sculpture.

Comparison of a real coin of tsarist Russia and its fake

Let's look at the reverses. The copy in the center again has a clear image blur. In addition, the engraver was too lazy to put a dot after the "G". On the copy on the right, the execution of the State Emblem is done in a different manner than on the original. Just look at the tail.

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Comparison of a real coin of tsarist Russia and its fake

And in conclusion, one of the most expensive coins of the Russian Empire is a trial portrait ruble of 1796. If the original (in the photo - the coin on the left) shows us the pinnacle of medal art, emphasizing the grace of the imperial face, then the copy appears as a lopsided freak who has only an extremely remote resemblance to Paul I.

Comparison of a real coin of tsarist Russia and its fake

Working with directories

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Experts sometimes recognize a fake without even looking at the edge. Under the paws of the eagle on the copy, we see the letters "I" and "M" - the initials of the minzmeister Ivan Markov. Looking into the catalog, we find out that such a combination was minted only at the mint of St. Petersburg. That is, under the portrait of the empress, “SPB” should appear, but there are clearly distinguishable letters “MMD”. The stamp for the copy was made from the obverse and reverse of two different coins.

Comparison of a real coin of tsarist Russia and its fake and

Studying the catalog allows you to weed out non-existent coins. The creators of copies sometimes make fantastic products that did not exist in nature, despite the fact that these "coins" look quite truthful.

In the illustration below, a coin that cannot have an original. After all, the first gold ten-ruble notes of this type appeared only in 1898 (gold ten-ruble imperials with a portrait of Nicholas II were also minted in 1895, but these coins look different).

Counterfeit coin of Tsarist Russia

Good service can be played by knowledge of the circulation of a particular numismatic position. If only a few dozen of these coins were minted, the likelihood that the treasured original is in the hands of a man battered by life who wants to hand it to you tends to zero.

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If earlier the production of fakes was such a laborious process that not everyone dared to take on it, now it is not so difficult to make the necessary stamp and start your own minting. Therefore, when buying a rarity, you should carefully compare the details of its image with obviously authentic instance.

Masters of fakes try to get rid of discrepancies in the drawing by the method of high-precision casting. But in this case, the clarity of the elements, communicated by the blow of the stamp, is lost.

Under high magnification, the elements of the picture look blurry. The transition of letters to the coin field instead of a right angle forms a sloping hill. The remnants of miniature bubbles, resulting from the casting of a copy, appear to the eye. Thin elements are somewhat thickened. To hide traces, such specimens artificially age and even erase the relief.


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A novice collector should buy coins from reliable sellers. To verify authenticity, you must purchase a reference catalog, which describes in detail the appearance, size and weight of the coins of certain eras (USSR and Tsarist Russia). In addition, you will need an electronic scale and a magnifying glass. The spectrometer is needed to buy expensive coins. It is used to evaluate the composition and presence of impurities.

In conclusion, we can recommend a video - Fake royal coins. How to quickly distinguish a fake from the original. Numismatics.

What will you do if you find an old coin?
I will keep it and pass it on to my children
I will know its value and hide it
If the coin is rare and expensive, I will immediately sell it
I'll keep it as a keepsake, no matter the price. This is history!
I will give the coin to the museum
Voted: 50

What to do if you sold a fake?

Where to go if you sold a fake?


Andrey Kozhevnikov

Blog author. 7 years of experience as a Merchandiser. Specialist in the definition of quality products. Distinguished more than 5,000 fake goods. My motto: there is no limit to perfection!

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Add a comment

  1. Denis

    By the way, thanks for giving examples of where you can buy, I'm just a beginner in this matter

  2. George

    As for me, a fake can be seen right away, you don’t even need to look closely

  3. Vadim Romanovich

    You can add this to the authentication methods. When falling from the same height, the original and the fake bounce to different heights from the surface. This is easily visible to the naked eye. But this only works if the material of the original was not used in the manufacture of the fake. Now often, when counterfeiting silver coins, swindlers use silver of the required sample and it pays off. Therefore, you need to carefully check the coin according to the list of features indicated in this article. At the slightest suspicion of authenticity - refuse to purchase.

  4. Valentine

    It seems to me that this is no longer a secret for everyone, many, especially the so-called “outbidders”, can easily make a coin worth a fortune from a fake ... you need to look at trusted sources, this is a more correct option, I think so

  5. Andrey Kozhevnikov

    I can’t give 5 stars, a very necessary article, I recently took up numismatics, mainly foreign coins, but there are several coins of Russia I would like to evaluate them