Almost identical to a legitimate 1934 Un Balboa. The legend along the top says
"UN BALBOA" with a diamond-shaped divider on either side of the legend and between
the two words. "UN BALBOA" means "ONE BALBOA", and "BALBOA" is the name
of Panama's currency. The bust of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the Spanish explorer
who settled in Panama and discovered the Pacific Ocean. Balboa is wearing a
marion helmet and corselet armour. To the right and left of Balboa are partial
wreaths of oak leaves on one side and laurel leaves on the other. This obverse
design was created and sculptured originally by William Clark Noble of Newport,
Almost identical to a legitimate 1934 Un Balboa. The central figure is a woman
who is an allegorical representation of liberty and youth. In her left arm is
a fasces, which is an axe enclosed in a bundle of rods. This is an ancient Roman
symbol of power and was used on the United States Mercury dimes. She is holding
an oak branch and the top of a shield in her right hand. The shield has Panama's
coat of arms. Panama's coat of arms is divided into two cantons at the top,
two cantons at the bottom and a double wide canton in the center. The upper
left canton is a crossed rifle and sword. It originally meant "Good bye forever
to civil wars, cause of our ruin". In 1914 the meaning was changed to "Attitude
of alertness in defense of our sovereignty." The upper right is a crossed hoe
and shovel refering to the labor required to build the republic. The lower left
is a cornucopia horn of plenty symbolizing richness and agriculture. The lower
right has a wheel with wings symbolizing the speed of progress. The center canton
shows land (the isthmus of Panama) between two oceans (the Atlantic and Pacific)
with a sea level canal between the oceans. The sun is setting on the mountains
in the west and the moon is rising over the waves in the east. This represents
the solemn hour of Panama's declaration of independence from Columbia in 1903.
A banner is draped over the shield with the latin motto "PRO MUNDI BENEFICIO"
meaning "FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WORLD" refering to the Panama Canal.
Along the upper edge the legend "REPUBLICA" ("REPUBLIC") appears to the left
of the woman as we view the coin and "DE PANAMA" ("OF PANAMA") appears to the
right. Between the "DE PANAMA" and the woman are the legends "LEY 0.900"
and "GR. 26.73". "LEY" means "LAW" and the legend means that the coin is .900
pure silver by law. "GR." is an abbreviation for grams, and the legend means
that the coin weighs 26.73 grams. Of course, this counterfeit is
probably lead. The date (1934) appears to the left of the woman's feet as we
view the coin. The reverse was originally designed by a well-known Panamanian
artist Roberto Lewis.
This counterfeit, while trying to imitate the genuine coin, looks a little
wrong to those familiar with the real thing. Upon examination, there are
many differences. The easiest distinction to spot is the distance between the
edge of the coins and the lettering which occurs on both the obverse and reverse.
The design on the counterfeit is a little
smaller than the original, so the spacing between the edge and the design is
wrong. The toning on the coin is not the normal colors,
and wear reveals a bluish metal instead of white.
The details on the marion helmet
on the obverse are more prominent and less delicate than the Noble design and
look more like the 1953 Mexico City Mint design. The eyes of Balboa are different
as are the dashes in the legend (see below). On the reverse, the face of the lady
representing liberty and youth looks like a caricature rather than the sculpted
features of the genuine coin (see below). The cornucopia in the bottom left of the shield
is thinner and has less fruit.
Placed on edge next to a real
coin, you will also note that this counterfeit is about 1 mm bigger in diameter.
Detail On Obverse
The Coin on the Right is Genuine
Detail On Reverse
The Coin on the Right is Genuine
Note the spacing between the letters and the rim. Also note the shape of the
dividers (thin versus thick).
Note the spacing between the lady and the rim. Also note the difference
in facial features.
Appears to be lead with a thin top layer of silver.
Size and Shape
Round, 39 mm in diameter (genuine coin is 38 mm).
26.58 grams. Genuine coin should weigh about 26.73 grams.
Scarce. I've noticed two for sale on ebay within 18 months.
Plowman Collection, purchase from a Canadian seller.
The origin of these counterfeits may be Asia, perhaps Hong Kong or China. One
of the sellers of these counterfeits was from China and claimed to be selling
coins acquired locally.
I would appreciate
e-mail from anyone who can add anything to this information.