Victoria counterfeit half-crowns
Towards the end of the nineteenth century the price of silver fell and, amongst other effects, this stimulated a certain amount of counterfeiting. One of the dates targeted was 1861, specifically half-crowns of 1861, and with a view to making them appear as if they had been in circulation for several years the counterfeiters made the pieces appear worn, as with this cut specimen from the Mint collection.
Similar pieces were made dated 1866, 1868 and 1871 and they were regarded as genuine even for a brief time by the Mint itself. But official records are unequivocal about the matter – there was no production of half-crowns in any of these years – and it is as well to remember that Mint records are a valuable source of information that can be as useful in identifying a counterfeit as a good eye and a sound knowledge of the coinage.