When shopping around on eBay... you get to know some sellers who you start to trust... as they are constantly selling and using the eBay front as a sort of digital store. I've gotten to know a few of them, who are also based in Netherlands... so the reduced shipping costs means that I have a bit extra headroom to put towards the bids... not much, but sometimes that little bit extra makes the difference between winning or losing the auction! It also means that I can put in some bids for things that are unusual... but might be a touch on the unusual or dodgy or worthless side of things... just on the off chance that they are worth something... or just because I'm curious!
This particular coin was one of those times.... this coin dealer doesn't normally put much of a description on his auctions... so I often have to go and look up the actual coins on Numista.... normally, I'm most interested in things that actually have some silver content to them. It's been a nice sort of learning curve... This coin, I couldn't find any information anywhere about it... just that it was an Italian (Milan) Micropress with this Saint-like figure on the front... so I put in a long shot lowish bid... and ended up winning!
When it arrived... it was bigger than I had expected... actually, it was almost the same size as the Netherlands 2 1/2 Gulden coin that it arrived together with. To be honest, I was expecting something quite small. However, I had no idea what the hell it was made of! Searching online, I couldn't find any information about it... at least it looked nice!
The simple ring test seemed to suggest that it could be silver... it sounded right... and very similar in sound to the Dutch coin. So, it could have been some alloy... it wasn't as clear and clean sounding as a pure silver coin though. It's a hard thing to describe, but a pure silver ring is just like ringing a high pitched bell! This was still bell like, but lower in pitch... but similar to the 2 and 1/2 Gulden (which is 0.72)... so there was the possibility of an alloy.
However, looking at the reverse side revealed some possible brownish spots... which could suggest that there was a core of something else. It wasn't magnetic so that was a good start... however, sliding the magnet down the face of the coin met no resistance... Silver is diamagnetic, and so it isn't magnetic (the magnet won't slide)... but sliding should induce resistance in the metal, which should slow the magnet down. Definitely did in the Dutch coin... but in the Saint coin... nope, no resistance... bad sign!
So, onwards to a more sensitive Specific Gravity test. This is the ratio between the dry and wet (supported) weights of the coin... and it is very sensitive and great way to sort the wheat from the chaff... or the silver from the not! Pure silver is 10.49... and the other high concentrations of alloys are very close to that.
It involves weighing the weight of the coin... and then submerging the coin in water and measuring the weight of that. It've taken to tying a child's rubber hairband around the coin to hold the coin on a thread... as tying a knot on a round coin is a task that is destined for failure and frustration!
So, testing the dry weight gave 21.67 grams... and the wet submerged weight was 2.55. Giving a ratio of... 8.49. NOPE, not even close... I'm not even bothering to do a retest... that was WAAAAY off!....
In the end, ring test and magnetic test seemed fine... but the slide and specific gravity tests were completely off.... I would have to come to the conclusion that this is not silver... the first two tests aren't so scientific, so they are good as rough guesses, but I hold much more faith in the more physical tests of the slide and specific gravity... after all, those things are much harder to fake.
That said, I'm not sure that this was ever meant to be a fake... it was just an unknown coin, and quite possibly was sold as a NOT silver coin. Just for me, I had no idea what it was... and that it potentially was a silver coin... however, no luck this time! Still... it is a nice looking coin, even if it is essentially worthless!
Just an afterthought... it still quite possibly could be a low content alloy... but I wouldn't hold my breath about it, best to write it off as a lost gamble! However, if there is anyone out that knows for sure what this coin is????
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