Kew Gardens is an expensive coin. We all know that. However, not all of us would be able to spot a fake one from a hundred yards, or even from right up close. And that is precisely why this article has been put together. Because when you go coin shopping in three digit territory you need to be pretty damn sure that what you are going to receive is the real deal.
The first thing to be aware of is that there really are a lot of fake Kews out there. The second thing you need to be aware of is that eBay is a brilliant place to find them. Saying that, it can also be an excellent outlet to pick up a genuine one. Just be aware, that’s all….
Here are the basic rules to follow when you are on the lookout for the king of fifty pences.
This is of paramount importance. A standard 50p of any design (from 1997 until now) should weigh 8g. If the ‘Kew’ you are interested in weighs any different then you don’t need to waste your time doing any other checks; simple as that. If you need to invest in some pocket sized scales to take with you on your travels then so be it. Besides, these are a jolly useful item for any serious numismatist anyhow.
The Queen’s Neck –
A real Kew Gardens 50p will have a Queen’s head with a neck that ends up pointing at the ‘P’ in ‘Pence’. So if it doesn’t – walk away, pronto.
[Neck to 'P', IRB and 'COPY' - image by Mik]
In the neck area of the heads side again, a genuine coin will feature the initials of Ian Rank-Broadley (these are IRB strangely enough). On fake Kews these may have the word ‘COPY’ right beside them or the initials could simply be missing altogether.
[Queen's Hair and Eye Detail. Fake is on the Left - image by Mik]
The Queen’s Eye and Hair –
Once you have started looking into the differences between real and fake Kews you will quickly realise that 99% of fakes are glaringly obvious. And this next point is a perfect example.
On a duff coin the Queen’s hair will look more like wire wool than anything else and her eye will lack anywhere near enough detail.
[Pagoda Top. Fake on Left Again - image by Mik]
The Pagoda –
If you look at a fake Kew Gardens fifty pence you will often notice that the pagoda doesn’t look at all right. Sometimes it will be too skinny or the top will be far too pointy. Again, you will soon get to know….
[Clarity of 'Kew'. Fake on Left - image by Mik]
On genuine coins, the ‘Kew’ writing at the base of the design will vary in its overall clarity; quite similar in a way to the star on the centre of the flag on an NI Commonwealth £2 coin. However, saying all that, it should be visible to a certain degree. But on a lot of dummy Kews it will look far too clear. This can often be another warning sign.
[The Good, the Bad & the Downright Bloody Awful. Fake on Right - image by Mik]
The truth is that most fakes out there are atrociously bad and you really can pick them out straight away – but only when you remember these points and you have examined several coins from both camps. Just like anything else it all comes down to experience. Try to remember the advice in this article you could save yourself a whole lot of money…. and a great deal of embarrassment too.
© Article and images (except where stated) copyright Mik Smith 2019