Counterfeit pre-Confederation tokens not a ‘big deal’

By Jesse Robitaille

While it appears modern Chinese counterfeiters have set their sights on producing fake Canadian pre-Confederation tokens, it doesn’t seem like “a big deal” to some prominent collectors.

Two recent eBay listings, both of which have since “been removed, or this item is not available,” according to the online marketplace, involved a so-called 1852 Quebec Bank one-penny token as well as an 1843 Nova Scotia half penny.

“Quite frankly, since eBay has pulled the listing down, that cuts down the biggest forum to be able to buy them,” said Canadian Association of Numismatic Dealers (CAND) President Michael Findlay, who’s also the editor of CCN Trends.

“Granted, some enterprising people might try to buy 100 or 1,000 of them in China and bring them over, but once they get passed selling 10 or 20 pieces, they will have a hard time selling more.”

He added he doesn’t believe the situation will “be a big deal, as is the situation with virtually any Chinese counterfeit for any Canadian or world coin.”

“Everybody is familiar with them to the point where if they don’t know, they’re asking someone else who will know more, so it kind of shuts down any transaction anywhere.”


According to collector Ian Speers, the 1852 Quebec Bank token “just looks wrong – too strong details, and appears to have beads (legitimate ones have denticles).” He described the listing as “dangerous, as it can fool those not familiar with the series, and there look to be deliberate efforts to make it look old.”

Speers also added most of the seller’s other listings “appear to be fakes.”


Findlay said it was the first time he had seen a modern Chinese counterfeit of a Canadian pre-Confederation token.

“In the realm of contemporary counterfeit Canadian tokens – other than the 1832 Nova Scotia half pennies and pennies – the rest of them are really scarce; you hardly ever see any. These are the first ones that have popped up.”

He added he hasn’t seen any counterfeit examples “on the open market at all” but added the eBay listings “might have been pulled down too quickly” for any unknowing individual to make a purchase.

“Quite frankly, at $9.99 a coin, it was pretty much the price of a regular one in that condition, so it wasn’t that good of a bargain,” said Findlay, who’s also the founder and publisher of the Canadian Coin Dealer Newsletter.

While these examples were among the first Chinese counterfeits of a Canadian pre-Confederation tokens, Findlay said there were “some contemporary counterfeits” struck in the 19th century.

“These contemporary counterfeits were made at the time to deceive from a currency standpoint or a transaction standpoint as opposed to a collector standpoint. All of these Chinese counterfeits have been produced to deceive collectors.”


Findlay reiterated that most token collectors wouldn’t fall into the trap of buying an obvious fake such as the aforementioned 1852 Quebec Bank token.

“For the novice, it might turn some people off, but the novice isn’t necessarily a collector but just someone who wants an example of a 150- or 160-year-old piece of Canadian money,” he said, adding he “hardly sees any Chinese counterfeits at coin shows anymore.”

Regardless, he said there are two “golden rules” for protecting yourself from purchasing counterfeit material, whether it’s a pre-Confederation token, a bullion bar or paper money.

“If the deal seems to good to be true, then it probably is, and buy from someone that you know and trust,” he said.

“And that’s why we have a Canadian Association of Numismatic Dealers; we’re a group of dealers who have been in the business for years and we go by a strict set of ethics and that’s who a collector should do business with.”

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