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Published: Tuesday, 01 December 2009 16:07

Mike Fuljenz, a coin and bullion expert from Beaumont, Texas, says that gold’s universal appeal as an object of great value lulls potential coin and bullion buyers into thinking that anything “layered” in gold must be worth a substantial premium. This is especially true when the pitchmen say their coins are richly layered in 24-karat gold – meaning they are attached on the surface with a pure precious metal film.
 Many companies go overboard in ads and commercials extolling their products – laying it on too thick, so to speak. When it comes to layered gold, however, advertisers “lay it on” too thin – and their customers would be better off if these devious businesses didn’t lay it on at all.
 After all, gold is easily hammered into a sheet so thin that a single ounce of gold can cover more than 100 square feet -- a super-sized 10 feet by 10 feet sheet -- capable of covering thousands of coins with a microscopic layer of gold.
 The products they sell are base-metal coins supposedly “layered” with precious metal – usually gold but sometimes platinum. “Reserve yours now to avoid disappointment,” their TV hucksters cry. The real disappointment will come years later, when unlucky buyers discover to their dismay that the coins are worth a very small fraction of what they paid.
 At first glance, “gold-layered” state quarters seem like a bargain at $5 or $10 apiece. The problem is, that “rich” layer of pure gold bullion turns out to be microscopic plating worth just a few cents per coin – even at a time when gold itself is valued at $1,000 an ounce. As a result, the coins’ real value is little more than its face value, 25 cents apiece.
 What’s more, for most coin collectors, any kind of layer reduces – even destroys – the value of that coin as a collectible.
 Not long ago, the national TV news magazine “Inside Edition” asked two independent American labs to test samples of “gold-layered” state quarters and “platinum-layered” Jefferson nickels. The experts reported that the plating on each quarter contained less than two cents’ worth of gold bullion. Even more shockingly, the labs couldn’t find a single bit of platinum bullion on the nickels.
 Making misleading claims about “layered” coins comes under the heading of “scams,” according to Mr. Fuljenz – and making false claims constitutes fraud. He advises anyone victimized by such claims that, if they cannot work things out satisfactorily with the company that sold them the coins, they should consider contacting the Better Business Bureau or a lawyer.
 As a last resort, lawsuits might be the most effective way to remove misrepresented layered coins from the market and forcing disreputable companies from making such ridiculous claims.
 Fuljenz was recently awarded The Numismatic Literary Guild’s 2009 Award for Best Dealer Publication and Best Television Report (for his Fox 4 TV appearance).