Silver Dollar Blog - Interview with Ken Rutherford of The Fisch

Apr 26, 2012

A few months ago I came across a great video showing an excellent tool to help identify forgeries. As silver prices go up, we've started noticing a rise of fake Morgan Dollars. This is very unsettling, and the fakes appear to get better and better all the time.

The tool is The Fisch, which provides you various tests on determining fakes. It will weight the coin, allow you to check the diameter and thickness of the coin. Simple in concept but difficult to create. The Fisch pulls it off and is a great tool if you're dealing with various forms of loose coinage.  If you're a dealer, this is the perfect tool for you!

Here is the video by TheFischWorks:

I recently had a chance to interview  Ken Rutherford of The Fisch to talk about his products

- What inspired you to design the Fisch?

When I started buying gold in the late 1970’s, I came to realize that I had no idea that what I was buying was actually gold. Apart from what the seller told me, of course! I started researching fake gold coins. I discovered that fakes were a subject dealers and mints didn’t want to talk about. At least, not with a customer.

The more I researched the subject, the more worried I became. Investors like me, not knowing the history of fake gold coins, were blind to the dangers. Who was it that said, "Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it"?  Inventors fill needs. Judging by the number of fake coin detectors patented when gold coins were in everyday circulation, there was a strong need. Nothing had changed. A modern, accurate, easy to use version of the old fake detectors was needed.

I looked at the simplicity of the principle behind the early designs.  Based on that principle, my brother and a friend designed a detector utilizing modern material, die making tools and injection molders. We called it the Fisch. How we came up with the name is another story.  The design of the Fisch is protected by US patent law.

- When did it official become a product?

In 1980.

- Where are you located?

In 1981, I moved to the US from South Africa and started selling the Fisch. In 1996, I moved back to South Africa. The business is still based in the US.

- Do you make these for other coins?

We make the Fisch for the most popular gold coins, medallions & small bars as well as the US Silver Dollar and the Platinum Noble. We will soon have the Fisch for 3 1oz silver coins - the American Eagle, Maple Leaf and Austrian Vienna Philharmonic.

- Would you say that forgeries are on the increase?

From the reports from customers of fakes discovered by the Fisch and what I read, I would say, yes.

- Where are the big forgeries coming from for Morgan Dollars?

Once again from what I read, China seems to be the main source.

- What is the Fisch made from?

It is a specially selected dense, non hygroscopic (does not absorb moisture) plastic that is extremely hard and durable. So much so that the Fisch has a lifetime warranty against wear and breakage.

- What points does the Fisch gauge test for authenticity?

For gold and platinum, the maximum thickness and diameter, minimum weight and shape of the coin.

For silver, the maximum and minimum thickness and diameter, the maximum and minimum weight and the shape of the coin.  

- How much is the silver Fisch?

$75 if bought on its own, $60 if bought with any other Fisch. Plus shipping. In the US, that is $15 for Priority Mail.  The Fisch is supplied in a holder with detailed instructions and a travel pouch.  Also included is the Fisch Precious Metal Buyers Guide.

We will offer the 3 new Silver Fisch at a reduced price to those customers who have bought before, as we do on all follow up orders placed through the Fisch Family pages.

We offer support through the Fisch Family pages. These pages, which can be only accessed by Fisch users, have tips on using the Fisch as well as useful information on the coins checked by the Fisch. We also answer user's emails with a personal reply. It's old fashioned customer support! Our website is    

- Do you offer a money-back guarantee?

Yes.  We stand behind the Fisch. Each Fisch is hand checked for accuracy.  The Fisch works. That's the reason it is still used over 30 years since it was first introduced. We are proud that it is protecting investors against fakes in over 60 countries around the world.  Plus it is used by major dealers. And we have even supplied the United States Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint.  

- I have slabbed coins, will a tool like this help?


- Do you plan on making a Fisch for other coins like half dollars, etc?


- You offer a Silver Fisch (US Silver Dollar (1840-1935)), will you be offering one for silver rounds?

We have picked the 3 most popular silver coins worldwide - American Eagle, Maple Leaf and Austrian Philharmonic.  

The Silver Fisch are the most challenging to make. The Fisch must balance as both the minimum and maximum weight is checked at the same time.

We have now been working on the 3 new Silver Fisch since June 2011. With each mold you need to make incremental adjustments. You run some samples, check them, make some adjustments to the mold, run some more samples until you finally get to a working mold. It took 5 runs to get to a working model of the American Eagle.

As this coin is the same weight as the Maple Leaf and Philharmonic, we based the molds for these 2 coins on the American Eagle mold.  We are now waiting on the 3rd run of these samples.

With molds, you can only make them bigger, not smaller. So you need to very careful with the adjustments. And pivot position, which checks the weight, is critical.    

We hope to have the 3 new Silver Fisch ready to ship early in the second half of 2012.  To be put on the advance notification list, email 

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