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Are your shekels real, or have you been hoodwinked?



Apparently, there’s some holy counterfeiting going on here in the Holy Land. 

I quite literally had no idea until I handed the bakery lady a ten-shekel coin today, and she quickly shook her head and said “מזויף” / mezuyaf… “it’s fake.”

“How do you know?” I asked her. 

She shrugged and pulled out a real ₪10 coin.  “Just look at it.”

I did… and couldn’t tell the difference, at all.

Apparently, I’m rather late to the game (what else is new?) and this has been going on for years.  I found some tips on detecting fakes on this Hebrew site, as well as a bunch of English sites.  Here are a few guidelines.

  1. Smudgy dates.  Literally, dates.  Like the fruit.  On the back of the coin, the left cluster of dates is unclear, not prominently centred and raised above the vertical lines. 
  2. Text not well-defined.  Like the dates, the text – especially in the silver border section – should be clear, and appear to be carved out cleanly from the background.
  3. Edging.  Look at the golden edging over the number 10.  Apparently (I don’t have a real  ₪10 for comparison) it should continue the grooved vertical lines from the external silver ring, I think because it’s stamped after the two metals are joined.
  4. Join quality.  Look at the quality of the join between the two metals.  They should be smoothly joined, with no gaps or uneven areas around the join.  Some fakes are worse than others.
  5. Properties of the metal.  Compare weight and texture.  See if it’s too shiny for an old coin, or too dull for a new coin.  Drop it onto a table to hear if it clatters like other ₪10 coins.
  6. Typos / errors.  Some reports indicate that there are either typos (like missing the word “chadashim” next to “shekalim”) or a certain year.  Ours appears to be printed correctly.

I think the quality of the coin I have is fairly good, so perhaps the counterfeiters are becoming more sophisticated.  Still, this has been an instructive ₪10 lesson in that perpetual Israeli value – not being a “freier” (sucker). 

Now we know what to look out for in future… and hopefully, so do you.

Here are other sites which have posted about fake money, that I probably should have read and learned from before it happened to me:

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה

1 comment:

  1. OMG, I'm reading this from work and it autoposted and I just realized that the title is completely incomprehensible. I'll fix it when I get home!


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