Counterfeit coins the size of a silver dollar are becoming more
sophisticated every year, especially the fakes that are being produced
The fake 1900 Lafayette dollar shown here is a rather deceptive
counterfeit that could fool many collectors.
While a number of diagnostics can be used to detect this fake,
most of them would be difficult to identify at a coin show, and all of
them would be a problem if you are considering the purchase of a
Lafayette dollar via online auction, even with above average images.
Even though the diameter and thickness of the counterfeit are
normal, the coin weighs a tiny amount more than it should – 26.95
grams, versus 26.73 grams for a genuine U.S. silver dollar.
It is unlikely that every fake from these dies will be similarly
overweight — it is more probable that the counterfeiter was not
precise with the weight of the blanks.
These fakes could theoretically fall into a range between 26.5
grams and 27 grams.
The lettering on the fake is slightly rounded, with
microscopically concave centers on some of the letters.
The luster is dull and satiny, and the coin has a lifeless gray
color. Unfortunately, this appearance is duplicated on many genuine
Lafayette dollars that have been cleaned and retoned, so it is not a
particularly useful diagnostic.
The edge reeding on the fake is sharper than on a genuine example,
probably due to the counterfeiter using a new edge collar and higher
There is some minor doubling at the tops of the letters in UNITED,
which does not occur on genuine pieces.
Most significantly, the fake does not exhibit any raised die
polish lines in the fields.
If you inspect a number of genuine Lafayette dollars in higher
grades, you will notice that all of them have numerous die polish
lines, usually curved and overlapping.
We have noticed that the 1900 Lafayette dollar has been
specifically targeted by counterfeiters over the past 10 years, so
collectors should be very wary when considering the purchase of a
Michael Fahey is a senior numismatist at ANACS in Denver, Colo.