Counterfeit Detection: Egypt 50 Piastres
Posted on 5/18/2021
The ancient Egyptians mastered the art of putting ink on papyrus, from which the word “paper” is derived. The history of Egyptian banknotes begins much later with six denominations that were issued starting in 1899, including the 50 Piastres, which was the smallest.
The 50 Piastres is attributed as either Pick# 1a, 1b or 1s, and the PMG Population Report has a mere 19 notes total for these three catalog numbers. Genuine examples are generally worth thousands of dollars.
When a purported Pick# 1s example was submitted to PMG, the grading team was intrigued. Most of these very rare notes are found in lower grades, so the condition of this note raises eyebrows. Still, its overprint indicates it is a Specimen, a type of note used by bank personnel as a reference that often ends up in long-term storage.
However, the deception of the counterfeit is quickly revealed: It was created with an inkjet printer. With inkjet printing, multicolored dots are dropped onto the substrate. When viewed from a distance, these dots appear to the human eye to blend together into various colors and shapes. For instance, the red and blue dots in the word SPECIMEN blend together to appear purple.
None of the print on the counterfeit is sharp. This is especially noticeable in the overprint word CANCELLED, which was also done in inkjet. That word is supposed to be letterpress. Notice the gaps in the parallel lines of red ink on the counterfeit, compared to the thick coat of red ink on the genuine example.
Inkjet counterfeits can typically be identified with good lighting, a loupe and an understanding of what the note is supposed to look like. If you are ever unsure about whether a note is real, remember that PMG backs its determination of authenticity and grade with the PMG Guarantee.
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