Jim T. asks: What’s the value of a 1915 Austria 100 Corona gold coin? How do I tell if the coin I have is real or fake?
The 1915 100 Corona is a “restrike” of a coin that never existed (there is no original 1915 Austria 100 Corona). The Austrian government created this coin to be used as a bullion coin, that is, a convenient way to own gold and it prevents collectors from being conned into buying it as a collector coin. It also circumvented the ban against owning gold in the U.S. that was in effect from 1933-1974 since coins minted prior to 1933 were legal to own.
The bullion 100 Corona contain .9803 of a troy ounce of pure gold and weighs 33.88 grams (90% of which is gold). Value is determined by multiplying .9803 x the current spot price of gold. Bullion dealers work on a very small spread (from 1-3%) since the coins have no numismatic value.
Fakes of bullion coins were commonly made in the Middle East, primarily at the Beirut Mint which had a state-of-the-art facility. The coins are very well made but are often underweight. The Beirut Mint was famous for fakes of British Sovereigns, French and Swiss 20 Francs, the entire Corona series and United States gold coins as well as a great deal of other coins. The missing gold gave the sellers a huge windfall.
Bullion dealers and numismatists know how to tell the difference often by checking the die work. The work is good enough to fool most novices.