I found this coin while looking through a friend’s small coin
collection. He asked me to investigate its value.
Jay H. Yoder
John Kraljevich Jr., who writes Coin World’s “Colonial
America” column, examined photos of Mr. Yoder’s coin and stated:
“It’s absolutely, 100 percent, a modern counterfeit. It may or may
not have been made before the Hobby Protection Act [of 1973], but this
particular copy has been offered by historical gift shops and plaguing
coin dealers for decades. It was produced by a crude casting method.”
In a July 5, 2010, Coin World article, Paul Gilkes discussed three
unique Massachusetts Colonial coppers — the Pine Tree copper, the
Indian copper and the “Janus” or half penny copper — all dated 1776.
Regarding the “Janus” copper, upon which Mr. Yoder’s counterfeit piece
is based, he wrote:
“The Three Heads on Obverse design, is sometimes referred
(incorrectly) to as the ‘Janus copper’ or halfpenny. It bears a
three-headed obverse device (instead of two as on a true Janus head
design), with one head facing left, a second head facing front and a
third head facing right. Inscribed around is STATE OF MASSA., and 1/2 D.
“The reverse depicts Liberty seated facing right on a globe, her
left hand extended and a staff in her right splitting the S’s in the
border inscription, GODDESS LIBERTY.
“Bowers and Ruddy sold an example of the Three Heads on Obverse
copper for $40,000 as part of Part I of the auction of the Garrett
Collection, conducted Nov. 28 and 29, 1979. The Garrett catalog
suggests that the 1776 pieces were likely patterns.
“The Janus Head piece is still privately held by the advanced
Colonial collector from New York who purchased it at the Bower and
Ruddy auction in 1979.
“Sylvester S. Crosby, in The Early Coins of America, states: ‘This
piece, which has been known as the ‘Janus copper,’ we think may more
properly be called the Massachusetts Halfpenny. It has three heads
combined instead of two as in a Janus head. This device resembles the
Brahma of Hindoo mythology, which represents the past, the present and
“The Janus copper sold in the 1979 Garrett auction was once in the
collection of prominent 19th century Salem, Mass., numismatist Matthew
Stickney. Crosby writes that Stickney suggested the possibility that
the piece was the work of Boston silversmith Paul Revere, since the
Janus piece was discovered on an unknown date along with some proof
impressions from plates for Continental paper money engraved by Revere.”
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