Fake Spanish 8 Reales – one you can spot on sight

Fake Spanish 8 Reales can be a concern, like authentic coins they may present differently each time. This ended up being a reasonably long post, so here are links to the main sections:

Page links:IntroRealityTest yourselfRed FlagsFake/Real picsEconomics c.1800

“Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!”

This coin is very different in appearance to a previously discussed fake of related type – it’s something likely more in line with what you might expect to come across, perhaps buried at the bottom of a drawer or in an old tin amongst a whole heap of bits and pieces…

Could be a bargain…

Initially it looks quite promising – obviously worn with a strongly developed, quite dark, and, well, nasty looking patina – but that could be reasonable for a 200+ year old silver coin.

If the year and mintmark are rare then the value might be a pleasant surprise.


So, no surprises here – this item is not genuine.

It’s a contemporary fake, still I’m not crying into my beer because it was presented to me as such, in fact as a product of Newgate prison – that part I am taking with a healthy dose of salt! Nice story, though…

Anyway, despite being a deception, this is a useful thing to have for someone interested in Spanish dollars since it is relatively easy to pick it as a counterfeit just from its appearance…

Test your visual expertise

Before reading about the points that give the game away, why not have another look at the photos above as there is enough information in them to see the truth…maybe you can pick what’s coming next…

Details & Red Flags

Where fake Spanish 8 reales are concerned we need to have a close look.

Ok, the designs both sides – lettering, date, mintmark, assayer’s initials, etc – they all check out as what they ought to be so the clues are not there.

Right then, how do you tell…well, the red flags are:

  • the overall quality of the detail which is not consistent with the coin having been struck with a press.
    • For example the area including and around the date is not sharp enough, even allowing for the grade, which is low but reasonable.
    • In fact the edges of all the lettering and the denticles (the pattern – toothlike – around the rim ) is too rounded and indicates that this is a cast product.
  • the thickness – this example is too thin (ok, that’s tough to tell just from a pic without having anything to compare it to..!)
  • thin lines and other unanticipated marks on the edge – these also indicate that this is a cast product, not a genuine milled silver coin (the fact that it doesn’t appear to have been clipped may just mean it was lucky)

Here are side-by-side photos with an authentic example of the same coin type, which maybe will help to clarify things…

Significantly, the amount of wear in each case is pretty much equal so we do have comparable items.

If you were holding these coins in hand and were experienced enough, the non-geunine one would feel light – there are people who can do this, however for me it has to go on the scales…

fake spanish 8 Reales weight
Fake 8 Reales shown by its weight

…and 21-22g is, with all the other worries, quite definitive. There’s more than 20% of the expected mass missing and with the coin being in reasonable grade there would have to be more present for it to be really made of silver (see this post for more on what to expect in terms of wear).

Just for completeness, here’s that proper 1797 Mexico 8 Reales on the scales…

genuine 8 Reales Mexico 1797 weight
Weight of a genuine 1797 Mexico 8 Reales

…which is light, to be sure – the official mark is just over 27g (thankyou numista!) – however this specimen has been clipped and even bearing that in mind, at less than 10%, the overall weight reduction is not outside what we might expect for the grade (but that’s in that other post, referred and linked just above).

Economics circa 1800

The dodgy coin only adds up for the counterfeiter of the time, a cheaper (and a lot lighter) material with a cheaper production method together allow the piece to pass cursory inspection, probably as part of a transaction involving a lot of similar coins where random testing would most likely encounter an authentic coin.

Off the top of my head my wild guess is that the rogue who made this particular fake Spanish 8 reales ended up being ahead by a few shillings, maybe 3 or so and perhaps worth the effort if you were in jail with a lot of time on your hands.

But, you know, it was hard work and there was a much better option available to the privileged few running the show – discounting of this foreign silver, in all likelihood, the only coins readily available in the colonies of the era.

A shilling or so reduction was typical of the rate given when you paid government dues in that currency, which doesn’t put the authorities in a very good light since they ended up with more precious metal than they extended credit for – a sort of reverse, legalised theft!

But, hey, everyone was doing it (discounting foreign coinage) and at least you’d receive silver in exchange whereas this piece is just a dud – if it was yours you’d want to move it on at the next opportunity and as soon as possible… the process which today’s big brains running the economy refer to as ‘musical chairs’…

Happy Collecting!

Many thanks for reading!

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Page links:IntroRealityTest yourselfRed FlagsFake/Real picsEconomics c.1800

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