I'm often asked, "What are the differences between numismatic counterfeits and legal coin reproductions?" Forgeries of genuine ancient and modern coins fabricated to trick and defraud collectors and investors are illegal. Section 2101 of the Hobby Protection Act of 1973 describes requirements for coin reproduction of numismatic items:
"The manufacture in the United States, or the import into the United States, for introduction into or distribution in commerce any imitation numismatic item which is not clearly and permanently marked" copy ", is unlawful and is an impartial or deceptive act or practice in commerce under the Federal Trade Commission Act [15 USC41 et al.] "
Are there legitimate uses for legal coin replicas? Yes, I have found four uses. First, serious numismatic collectors use coin reproductions as substitutes for missing rare and expensive pieces. Often private collectors have valuable ancient coin collections. Due to security and insurance restrictions, they buy legal coin reproductions to keep and enjoy at home. Often smaller collectors of ancient coins can not afford rare original pieces. Many early and modern coin collectors are unable to 'fill holes' in collections due to price and scarcity. Legal casts or die stuck coin reproductions of ancient and modern coins fill collectors needs.
Second, the academic community, schools, and teachers use specific historical coins to make the physical connection to the history their students study. For example, the Roman 'eid mar' denarius of Brutus celebrates Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC The story of the "Widows Mite" is more real to the biblical student when he holds the a replica of the small ancient Jewish bronze lepton that Mark called a 'widows mite.' Historical replica coin collections of covering historical themes or periods are popular with amateur historians.
Third, theatrical productions use legal replica coins as props in the production of movies; television programs such as the History Channel and Myth Busters; religious Passion plays; and historical reenactments Legal historical coin reproductions have been used as gifts for cast members of Broadway plays.
Fourth, legal coin replicas have commercial uses for businesses, associations, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies. Casts of legal replicas are used in direct marketing, customer gifts and fund raising. Some commercial projects require the production of large quantities of legal reproductions. It is more economic for a private mint to manufacture these pieces in volume. Legal replicas are add-ons to other products. A good example is the inclusion of legal die stress English six pence replicas packaged with Christmas English plum puddings. Die stub coin replicas are used as advertising tokens with a coin obverse (front) showing the legal copy of a historical coin and the reverse (back) presenting a business message. Legal coin replicas are often integrated into the designs of commemorative tokens and coins for businesses and governmental agencies. For example, legal replica Viking tokens were manufactured for use at the settlement Lief Ericsson established in Newfoundland.