With the tidal wave of counterfeit Morgan dollars washing ashore
over the past few years, two things continue to surprise me.
The first surprise is how much better the Chinese counterfeiters
are getting with their fakes, and the second is how often they make
amateurish mistakes that make authentication easy.
This fake 1878-CC Morgan dollar is a good example. The weight,
diameter and thickness of the fake are exactly the same as a genuine
coin, and the sharpness of the finer details is very good. Someone
added artificial toning to the coin, possibly in an attempt to divert
attention away from the authenticity issues.
At first glance, there is nothing unusual about the overall
appearance of this fake that would alert a casual observer. When you
take a closer look, some problems begin to surface.
The details are just a bit weak and fuzzy under higher
magnification, and the rim of the coin is a little too flat when
compared to a genuine example.
All of the date digits exhibit tiny lumps where the edge of the
digit joins the field, and both 8s are a bit misshapen.
The easiest diagnostic for this fake is something that a variety
specialist will pick up quicker than the average collector. All
genuine 1878-CC Morgan dollars will have a small, round CC (for
descriptions and images, visit the Web site www.vamworld.com).
This fake has the tall CC Mint mark that was used from 1879
through 1893, proving that it is not genuine. It is very likely that
this reverse was used to produce fake 1879-CC, 1885-CC and 1889-CC
Morgan dollars as well.
Collectors wanting to protect themselves from counterfeit 1878-CC
Morgan dollars may wish to pick up a copy of A Guide to the
Varieties of the 1878 Carson City Morgan Dollar by John
Roberts. This reference lists die diagnostics for every genuine
1878-CC Morgan dollar and will definitely help you avoid the Chinese counterfeits.
For the rest of the Carson City Mint Morgan dollars, my best
advice is to utilize the expertise of the major grading services —
ANACS, Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and Professional Coin Grading Service.
Michael Fahey is a senior numismatist at ANACS in Denver, Colo.