There are multiple ways in making fakes of medals. Best results have certainly been achieved by the electroplating/-forming process, yet the most widespread technique is still casting.


The procedure is very similar to the electroplating process and hence will stumble over the same problems. It all begins with taking a mould from the real, original object. This can be done with a broad variation of different materials, like clay, plaster or in today's world engineered plastics.


After taking the mould melted metal is pored into the mould. Due to the nature of molding there are escape channels in order to ensure a complete filling of the mould with the liquid metal. Those channels cause excess material, which has to be removed from the fake after the cooling process.


The observant reader will have already discovered the initial two problems of this method:

a) the fake will only be as good as the mould

b) the fake might have areas where excess material was removed.

Besides those two mentioned above the forger has to overcome several other problems which he can not overcome by simply working carefully in his preparation stage as well as detailing the fake after the casting process.

c) metal expands while heated up and contracts after cooling down. This caused a slightly smaller fake.

d) the density of a cast fake is always lower and will result in a lower weight as well.

So would one have to do to prevent a fake like this to sneak in ones collection?


Literature is definitely a must. Some books/magazines have published weights of proven original medals which will give a good indication. Yet, running around with a scale on a medal fair might not be of great help. Hence I carry a little jewelers magnifying glass with me. With magnification of up to 10 most cast fake can be exposed.


Let me give you an example of a cast fake. It has always easier to identify something one has seen and understood before.


The following example is a cast fake of a Prussian "Allgemeine Ehrenzeichen" General Badge of Honor in Gold:


Medal shown at about 1.5 times its original size. Original diameter is only 31 mm.


The original stamping tool was designed and manufactured by Emil Weigand. His initials E.W. are on the avers of the medal right below the laurel leaf wreath. Issued March 17, 1890, only 2380 medals were ever coined but not many survived.

Certainly a nice and desirable piece that will tempt a forger.


Looking at it with the bare eye one will not be able to find anything wrong with it. Every detail looks just fine and even the E.W. mark is were it supposed to be.


Lets look a little bit closer at an enlarged image. Yet, click on the following picture to get a super sized (1.5 MB) image of the averse medal for your own examination:



I am sure you will find various placed that will prove to you that this is not a coined piece. The whole surface looks blurry, even though the forger tried to smoothen most of those areas out. You will find many place like those below that are a result of a bad mold:




...and yes, having a good scanner is probably the even better way to determine the difference between cast fake or electroforming and coined.

© A. Schulze Ising, IX/05