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Numismatics

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German police have raided homes and made arrests in Berlin over an audacious night-time heist which saw the Big Maple Leaf solid-gold coin stolen from the Bode Museum.

The raids took place and a car was seized in the district of Neukolln, German news agency DPA reports.

The suspected robbers are believed to have used a ladder to get into the museum and a wheelbarrow to carry the 21in-coin away in March.

Last week, police released CCTV footage of suspects at a local train station.

The Canadian “Big Maple Leaf” is made of 220lb of pure 24-carat gold – which means it is worth about $4.2 million, despite a lower nominal face value.

The giant coin has not been found and investigators say they believe it may have been melted down and sold.

They are said to be at a loss as to how the thieves broke bullet-proof glass inside the building and evaded burglar alarms.


As well as making the arrests on July 12, police seized a car where a balaclava and knife were found.

Sources inside the investigation say the suspects come from a “large Arab family” with alleged links to organized crime.

The Big Maple Leaf coin was minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007, and certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest gold coin. Five coins were made at the time.

The giant coin is 3cm (1.18in) thick, 53cm in diameter, and with likeness of Queen Elizabeth II on one side, as Canada’s head of state. The other side shows the Canadian national symbol, the maple leaf.

Canadian Mint says: “Why did the Royal Canadian Mint make the world’s purest and largest gold bullion coin? Because we can.”

The giant coin was held in a coin cabinet at the Bode Museum as one of more than 540,000 objects, but German media report only the “Big Maple Leaf” was stolen.

A new hi-tech $100 banknote comprising several new security features has been issued by the Federal Reserve.

The new banknote includes a blue 3D security ribbon and a bell and inkwell logo that authorities say are particularly difficult to replicate.

These combine with traditional security features, such as a portrait watermark and an embedded security thread that glows pink under ultraviolet light.

The 2010 design was delayed because of “unexpected production challenges”.

The 3D security ribbon – which is woven into the note, not printed on it – features images of 100s that change into bells and move upwards or sideways depending on how you tilt the paper.

Tilting also reveals a green bell within a copper-coloured inkwell to the right of the blue ribbon.

The new banknote includes a blue 3D security ribbon and a bell and inkwell logo that authorities say are particularly difficult to replicate

The new banknote includes a blue 3D security ribbon and a bell and inkwell logo that authorities say are particularly difficult to replicate

In addition, the “100” number in the bottom right-hand corner shifts from copper to green.

The redesigned banknote, which features a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, also includes raised “intaglio” printing that gives the notes a distinctive feel, and microprinted words that are difficult to read without magnification.

Over a decade of research and development has gone into the new note, the Fed said, in a joint project with the Secret Service and the Department of the Treasury.

Advances in design software and high-resolution copying and printing have made it easier for counterfeiters to print fake money and harder for retailers to spot the forgeries.

US authorities say that $100 bill is the most counterfeited of all US banknotes, but accurate figures for the total value of counterfeit cash in circulation are hard to come by.

The Secret Service estimates that counterfeit bills account for less than 0.01% of the $1.1 trillion of US money in circulation.

It says about $80.7 million of counterfeit currency changed hands domestically in 2012, and about $14.5 million abroad.

The authorities seized $9.7 million in counterfeit cash before it could make it in to the US money supply, and seized $56.8 million abroad in 2012.

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