Graders at ANACS have identified what could be
a deceptive struck counterfeit 1934 Peace dollar produced on blanks of
90 percent silver like those used for genuine coins.
Senior ANACS Numismatist Michael Fahey said
Sept. 11 that the fake has the weight (26.73 grams), diameter (38.1
millimeters) and thickness of a genuine Peace dollar, and also has the
specific gravity of 10.3 that would suggest the piece is composed of
the 90 percent silver alloy used for a genuine silver dollar. The
counterfeit also as the same edge reed count as a genuine Peace dollar.
Fahey said ANACS could find no indication that
the fake was struck on a previously struck silver dollar.
Fahey said the ANACS grading staff believes
the obverse, reverse and collar dies were fabricated via a transfer process.
“All of the fine details on the coin are
accurate, indicating that it is the product of transfer dies, where a
genuine coin is used to transfer details to a set of fake dies,”
according to Fahey.
Fahey said the transfer process captures the
fine details from the coin that will transfer to the dies and later be
used as diagnostic points on any pieces struck from the transfer dies.
However, specialists do not agree on details of the transfer process.
“Some numismatists feel that when a mold is
taken from the genuine coin, that mold eventually becomes the die,”
Fahey said. “The idea is that a type of resin or ceramic is used to
make the mold, and is then hardened to die strength.
“Others think that a second transfer process
is used, where all the details of the genuine coin are transferred
from the mold to a metal die.
“The important part of the process, from
[ANACS’s] viewpoint, is that when you use a genuine coin to make fake
dies, all of the marks and defects on the coin end up as repeating
depressions on the resulting fakes. When a counterfeiter tries to
correct these problems on a fake die, they end up leaving tool marks
that are often even easier for us to pick up.
“As long as they avoid polishing their dies
the same way the U.S. Mint does, and as long as they do not have
access to the presses and other striking technology used at the Mint,
they will always leave diagnostics on their fakes. Getting the luster
right still seems to be a major problem with counterfeiters,” Fahey said.
Details raised on a die are recessed on the
struck piece, while recessed details on a die appear raised on the
“The accuracy and precision of the transfer
die process for this coin is excellent. It would be easy for virtually
any collector or dealer to miss this fake, if they just took a cursory
look at it, assuming that the odd luster is just the result of
dipping,” Fahey said.
The piece examined by ANACS also shows
evidence of tooling by the counterfeiter to conceal his work, Fahey said.
“In addition to the tooling, there is a
multitude of die polish lines in the fields, indicating that the
counterfeiter took the time to carefully polish his dies,” Fahey said.
Fahey said a side-by-side, 360-degree rotation
examination of the fake and a genuine Peace dollar showed no
difference in the number of reeds or in the spacing between reeds on
While the mintage for the genuine 1934 Peace
dollar is 954,057 coins — the second lowest circulation strike mintage
for the series — the issue is considered by experts to be a relatively
common date for availability.
So why would anyone want to counterfeit it?
Fahey said with the deceptive fake could trade
for $100 to $150 — multiples of the intrinsic value of the silver in a
Peace dollar, which, with 0.77344 troy ounce of pure silver, is worth
between $25 and $26 at current levels — if in Uncirculated condition
and overlooked as a counterfeit.
Fahey said the counterfeit 1934 Peace dollar
was discovered by ANACS authenticator/grader Kat Oviatt while grading
a recent submission of a box of U.S. coins.
Oviatt first noticed the 1934-dated piece
exhibited an unusual “sheen” when rotated under lighting, Fahey said.
Under magnification, the piece revealed a
number of odd markings on the coin, including a raised oval inside the
O of GOD, tool marks in the field below WE, and a set of three reed
marks that did not look like normal contact marks, Fahey said.
According to Fahey, reed marks are contact
marks caused by the edge reeding from one coin hitting the surface of
another coin, leaving a mark that mirrors the reeding.
Upon closer inspection of reed marks in the
field to the left of Liberty’s forehead, ANACS graders pinpointed fine
die polish lines running uninterrupted through the reed marks.
“Since contact marks like these occur on a
coin after the strike, and all genuine die polish lines end up on dies
before the coin is struck, this combination is impossible on a genuine
coin,” Fahey said. “The closer we looked, the more oddities we located.”
Fahey said he, fellow ANACS senior numismatist
J.P. Martin, and John Roberts, ANACS director of attribution services
and a Morgan and Peace dollar specialist, concurred with the
assessment that the purported 1934 Peace dollar was indeed counterfeit.
The following is a detailed list of diagnostic
points compiled by the members of the ANACS grading staff who examined
the counterfeit to help better identify it and other possible examples:
➤ Reed mark depressions in the left obverse
field and on Liberty’s eyebrow.
➤ A depression below Liberty’s eye and another
on her nose.
➤ Oval tooling inside the O of GOD.
➤ A series of tiny depressions in a line
between the W of WE and the 1 in the date.
➤ A series of tool marks between the 9 in the
date and we
➤ Tool marks in the field between the R and
the T of LIBERTY.
➤ A small crescent depression in the hair, and
two depressions in the field below TRUST.
➤ A series of curved tool marks running
parallel below E PLURIBUS UNUM, not crossing the eagle’s neck.
➤ A small depression at the top of the R in PLURIBUS.
“We really need to see another example of this
fake to positively ID all of the repeating depressions, but from
surface texture and die polish evidence, we are as close to certain as
we can be [that it’s counterfeit],” Fahey said.