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Base Coins

coin, silver, cut, counterfeit, gold and person

BASE COINS. A banker is justified in breaking or destroying any base coins which come into his hands. Section 26 of 24 & 25 Viet. c. 99 enacts : " Where any coin shall be tendered as the Queen's current gold or silver coin to any person who shall suspect the same to he diminished otherwise than by reasonable wearing, or to be counterfeit, it shall be lawful for such person to cut, break bend, or deface such coin, and if any coin so cut, broken, bent or defaced shall appear to be diminished otherwise than by reasonable wearing, or to be counterfeit. the person tendering the same shall bear the loss thereof, but if the same shall be of due weight and shall appear to be lawful coin, the person cutting, breaking, bending, or defac ing the same is hereby required to receive the same at the rate it was coined for ; and if any dispute shall arise whether the coin so cut, broken, bent or defaced be diminished in manner aforesaid, or counterfeit, it shall be heard and finally determined in a sum mary manner by any justice of the peace, who is hereby empowered to examine upon oath as well the parties as any other person, in order to the decision of such dispute ; and the Tellers at the Receipt of Her Majesty's Exchequer, and their deputies and clerks. and the Receivers-General of every branch of Her Majesty's Revenue, are hereby re quired to cut, break, or deface, or cause to be cut, broken, or defaced every piece of counterfeit or unlawfully diminished gold or silver coin which shall be tendered to them in payment of any part of HerMajestv's Revenue." Base silver coins are very frequently met with, and in some cases they are rather diffi cult at first sight to distinguish from genuine ones. Various tests are applied to a sus pected " silver " coin. If it is a base one it will be easily cut, or bent, or broken, and its general appearance to the eye of an expert will call attention to its real nature. On close examination it will usually be found that the raised letters or figures are not so sharply defined as on a real coin. An ex amination of the milling will reveal a rough ness and irregularity, which is often particu larly noticeable at a spot on the edge repre senting the place where the metal was poured into the mould. Its weight and size may be

tested with a good coin, and also its sound when thrown upon the counter. The sound by itself, however, is not sufficient, as a good coin which is cracked will not give the true ring. If caustic marks the coin black it reveals its baseness, but that test may be defeated if the surface is a thin coat of silver. A pocket lens is useful in the examination of a doubtful coin as it makes the roughness of a counterfeit coin more noticeable. Those officers who are much in contact with silver profess to be able to tell a false from a gen uine coin by the touch, the false one having a " greasy " kind of feeling. " A coin or other object made of silver may be known by the following marks : (1) A fine pure white lustre, where newly rubbed or scraped ; (2) a blackish tint where the surface has long been exposed to the air ; (3) a moderate specific gravity ; (4) a good metallic ring when thrown down ; (5) considerable hard ness ; (6) strong nitric acid dissolves silver, and the solution turns black if exposed to light " ( Jevons).

" We can usually ascertain whether a coin consists of gold or not, by looking for three characteristic marks : (1) the brilliant yellow colour ; (2) the high specific gravity ; (3) the metallic ring of the coin when thrown down, which will prove the absence of lead or platinum in the interior of the coin. Gold is insoluble in all the simple acids and does not corrode or become tarnished in any way. Strong nitric acid will rapidly attack any coloured counterfeit metal, hut will not touch standard gold, or will, at the most, feebly dissolve the copper and silver alloyed with it " ( Jevons).

Where a customer receives money in pay ment of a cheque and takes it away without making any comment upon it, he cannot, legally, return to the banker and say that it contained a base coin. (See COINAGE.)