Some businesses produce copies or replicas of
genuine U.S. coins. During the past several
years, the United States Mint has received
numerous calls from consumers expressing
confusion regarding advertisements featuring
such products. In many instances, the replicas
are virtually identical to genuine U.S. coins.
Thus, it can be extremely difficult for
consumers to detect the difference prior to
purchase. On some occasions, consumers have
contacted the United States Mint with questions
or to return the ordered replica, inadvertently
believing the replica product to be a genuine
United States Mint coin. Below is an example of
a coin replica. In addition, the image of a
genuine United States Mint coin is shown to help
consumers distinguish between the two.
Genuine United States Mint American Buffalo
Source: The United States Mint
Replica of United States Mint American
Buffalo Commemorative Coin
Source: National Collector’s Mint, Inc.
How can I
distinguish between a genuine U.S. coin and a
It is often difficult to distinguish between
genuine U.S. coins and replicas. Genuine U.S.
coins feature the denomination (e.g., One
Dollar), while replicas generally omit the
denomination and feature a description of the
product in its place, such as "giant proof" or
"silver proof" or ".999 fine silver." Because
the features vary from product to product, it is
very difficult to offer general guidelines in
this area. In an effort to assist consumers to
discern the differences, the United States Mint
is providing a side-by-side comparison of
genuine U.S. coins and their replica
counterparts in Tips
on Identifying Genuine U.S. Coins. The
United States Mint provides this information on
a case-by-case basis as questions or confusion
arise in Hot
How can I
distinguish between advertisements for genuine
U.S. coins and those for coin replicas?
Businesses that market replicas of genuine U.S.
coins typically use terminology such as "copy,"
"replica," "reproduction," "adaptation,"
"miniature," "magnification," or "giant proof"
in their advertisements to describe replica
products. To avoid counterfeiting violations,
businesses often produce replicas of U.S. coins
in larger diameter (e.g., 3˝ inches),
quarter-pound, half-pound and one-pound
versions. Thus, if you see this terminology
used, or this size or weight advertised, it is
likely that the advertised product is a replica
and is not a genuine U.S. coin.
U.S. legal tender?
No, replicas are not legal tender. Under the
U.S. Constitution, only the federal government
can mint legal tender coins. Replicas of U.S.
coins cannot be exchanged as legal tender or
used as money.
business need permission from the U.S.
Government to produce replicas of U.S. coins?
Businesses do not need the U.S. Government's
permission to produce replicas of U.S. coins,
unless the U.S. Government owns copyright in the
coin design in question. Thus, consumers should
not assume that the U.S. Government has approved
or sponsored the advertised replicas. Of course,
businesses are expected to ensure that their
replicas do not violate U.S. counterfeiting laws
and third party rights.
replicas considered to be a good numismatic
The United States Mint does not comment on coin
grading issues or on a replica's current or
future value as a collectible item. If you like
a replica because of the way it looks (e.g.,
magnified image), then you may want to add it to
your collection. However, if you're primarily
concerned about the long-term investment value
of a coin replica, you should contact a
reputable coin dealer or coin grading service
before you purchase the replica.
Where can I
seek refund or redress if I purchased a replica
believing it to be a genuine U.S. coin?
If you bought a replica believing that you were
purchasing a genuine United States Mint product,
you may be entitled to a refund or redress from
the business that sold the replica to you. Many
businesses allow the return of merchandise
within 30 days, no matter what the
circumstances. If you believe that the business
treated you unfairly, there are several federal,
state and local government offices available to
assist you. For your convenience, we have listed
some of those offices for you at Consumer