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General & Collecting News
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Fake & Fantacy Colliery Checks

I am very disappointed that ebay continues to let the producer/seller of the obviously fraudulent pit checks continue to operate off their site and that Shropshire/Telford Trading Standards Authority has made no impact since they were first contacted about this seller over a year ago. Even the would be involvement of the Police has brought no end to the current situation which continues to get worse. The NMMA, as in 2000 (when the first series of cast fake colliery checks started to appear out of South Yorkshire) has also failed to make an impression on the situation. However, like on previous occasions some of its members have been prepared to stick there heads above the parapet and alert the collecting market of the situation as best they can, taking all the return fire directly on themselves. Maybe if the NMMA were better organised with an elected committee of officers and stood by their original foundation aims (as stated on this web site) they could be more effective in such cases? This is a matter for the greater NMMA membership to decide and not a single individual. Is the NMMA membership happy to continue to be an informal group of like-minded collectors? Or do they feel their association should be taking more of a stand and professional role in the mining memorabilia and history fraternity by joining NAHMO etc. and raising their profile?

I am not overly surprised that ebay aren’t really bothered about the situation as all they care about is making a fat profit much in the way the seller of the fraudulent checks is although he also appears to be greatly enjoying taunting others that have spoken out against him. I think the best think we can do with an individual like this is ignore him and not rise to the his bate as he obviously is getting a great kick out of things.

Strictly speaking what are being produced out of Shropshire currently are not so much fakes but fantasy pieces as none of the checks imitate or try to imitate a known actual check in existence. Either way they are obviously fraudulent and hot of the die stamps. Fantasy pieces have always been a problem to both coin and token collectors alike and some of the best known examples are the white metal tokens that appear 20 years ago that reported to be either;

· Nazi issued red cross food parcel tokens for use on Jersey during its WWII occupation
· Auschwitz Concentration Camp Tokens

These took the militaria collectors for an initial ride before they were exposed.

The first time I noted the current series of fantasy mining checks appear was about 2 years ago at the height of the ebay price wars. The first piece that I now believe belongs to this school of checks was a brass stamped example with raised numbers that reporting to be an explosives issuing check from Alderley Edge Copper Mine. The piece appeared semi plausible at the time and went for a good price on ebay. Looking back on it now, stylistically it must have come from the same school of fraudulent checks as those coming out of Shropshire. The reference to the Alderley Edge Mine also now appears to be a give away to this. At the same time, or a little after this check was sold, a further series of stamped checks from various obscure Lancashire pits started to appear on ebay. These looked old (artificially aged) but all had very implausible fancy patterned borders that differed from check to check. These also went initially for good prices but then I think people got a bit suspicious of them and stated to back off. At the same time a very interesting series of embossed fantasy checks started to appear reporting to be from unheard of pits and mining companies, again more fantasy pieces. This embossed style of checks was the first to re-appear on the market since the truly fake (i.e. reporting to be of a known style and type) first series embossed examples hit the market in 2005 (see the News section of this web site for details). Interestingly the style of the latter series of embossed fantasy checks (often with clumsily embossed letters and border edge pellets) looks very similar to a recently reported series of fantasy hop-pickers token from Kent. I would bet they are from the same school.

As has been reported in this forum the current series of fraudulent checks being sold out of Shropshire comprises would be colliery and now railway issues. We know that in the past military themed fantasy tokens have been produced and now it appears hop tokens also. I suspect that Pub and Communion tokens are next – watch this space or should I say ebay - Collectors beware!

Re: Fake & Fantacy Colliery Checks

A very well put together and logically assembled resume of the recent problems with fakery. I hope many collectors, both new and old get to read it, because it will be another nail in the Fakers coffin. You have/are obviously been well connected with collecting circles in this type of item for a long time. Well Done.