In 2007, the Chinese Mint produced a beautiful set of 3 Yuan silver coins to commemorate the 25th production year of Panda coins. The set contains 25 coins, one for each year of the Panda series, from 1982 up until 2007. Each coin has an obverse design identical to the Panda coin issued in that year. The mintage was 30,000 sets.

The mint spared no expense on the production of these coins and their presentation boxes. Each coin is placed in a plastic capsule. The capsules are then mounted in lucite holders, five coins per holder. The five holders are then stored in a custom wooden felt-lined box.  The set is absolutely beautiful. I acquired a genuine set of these from an official distributor for the China Mint for $750.

Recently, Chinese sellers of these sets have begun to spring up on Ebay.  I first thought that the Mint was disposing of excess supply through secondary dealers. I saw a set offered from a Chinese dealer for $99 including shipping, so I figured, “why not?”  After all, the dealer had a good Ebay rating.

The following is a comparison of the two sets....

The boxes look identical from the front.

The wooden boxes are stenciled on top. No difference here!

The bottom of the boxes are felt covered.  No difference here!

The felt bottom is stenciled with the issuer’s and distributor’s names.  No difference here!

Inside is a certificate of authenticity in an envelope.  There is a minor difference in design of the lining of the inside lid and the hinges are different colors, but this is nothing to cause too much concern.

Inside are the lucite holders containing the coins. No difference here!

Do you notice a difference in these certificates?

I couldn’t.  No difference at all -- until you hold them up to the light....

The certificate on the left is watermarked. The one on the right is not.  The watermarks are circular and consist of the image of a panda holding a branch.

As you may have already guessed, the set on the right, the one I received from my Chinese dealer for $99, is the counterfeit set.

Let’s look at the coins...

The obverse (back) of the coins are fairly similar. The chinese characters are incuse, meaning that the letters are sunken in and not raised.  The Chinese characters on the fake coin to the right are slightly frosted in appearance, while  the genuine coin on the left has characters that are distinct and easier to read.

All of the coins in the fake set had one or more obvious flaws. Next, I will show you the flaws which were common to many of the coins in the set.

In the two photos above, compare the panda’s eyes. Notice how the genuine panda has striking, highly detailed eyeballs, while the fake panda’s eyes look glossy. Note also the numbering on the right side of the coins. The genuine coin has numbers that are well defined and sharp, while the fake coin’s numbers look broken and badly shaped. Note also that there is no dot before the “999” on the fake coin. ALL genuine Pandas have a dot before the ‘999’.  This was one of the most common errors in the counterfeit set.

Some of the fake coins had a ‘matte-like’ appearance, not a mirror-like appearance like the genuine coin on the left. Note also the doubling of the characters on the upper right edge of the fake coin. Doubling of letters was apparent on many of the fake coins. Here are some close-ups........

Can you spot the fake from following photo?

The fake on the right is clearly evident by broken pattern lines in the background, and no dot before the ‘999’. In addition, the “1” and the “9” touch the rim. You will never see numerals or letters touching the rim on any genuine coin.

Here’s another...

This fake has a lot of errors:  It has a badly formed ‘999’ and ‘4’; the number ‘3’ on bottom is badly shaped; there is a broken area in the cross-shaped design at the 8 o’clock position.

All of the genuine coins weighed exactly 0.25 troy oz. There was no variance at all. The fake coins, although slightly thicker, varied in weight from 0.20 to 0.22 troy oz. The fake coins are probably composed of a base metal, such as copper or brass, which has been silver plated.

Read through the information above and soon you will be able to spot fake Pandas at a glance.

Your best investment is one of the small digital scales like the one in the photo above. They are inexpensive, extremely accurate and easy to use. A genuine Panda Anniversary coin will weigh exactly 0.25 troy oz.  Counterfeiters are cunning, but they are not consistent

Because there are 25 coins in the set, if you detect just one single fake coin in the set, then you can assume that the entire set is counterfeit.

I hope that you found this information useful.

Doubling on the ‘z’, ‘A’, and ‘g’.

Doubling on the ‘o’, and ‘z’.


PURPOSE OF THIS SITE: This site exists to catalog and to provide accurate information and to list buying prices paid for modern coinage of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

COINS INCLUDED ON THIS SITE: This site does not include all modern Chinese coins. Only those designs and series that are currently in demand are included. Most issues after the year 2000 are not included here because of insufficient collector demand.

MINTAGE: Actual mintage figures, when known, are designated by an “a” after the mintage figure. In cases where the actual figures are not known, the planned mintage figures are given. The Chinese mints did not keep accurate data during the early years, and there are constant debates amongst the numismatic community as to the correct figures. Any mintage figures given are the best available, but no guarantee can be made as to their accuracy.

COIN GRADES: Grades listed above refer to Uncirculated (equivalent to MS-65) and Proof (equivalent to PF-68). For a description of these grades, please refer to one of the two recognized grading and authentication services: Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).

CATALOG NUMBERS: Any KM numbers listed refer to the standard Krause catalog numbers for World Coins. The Y numbers are those assigned by R.S. Yeoman (Y#) in his Modern World Coins and Current Coins of the World.

Please email me if you notice any errors or have other information to contribute to this site.

Copyright 2009, 2010, Modern China Coins. All rights reserved.