The latest counterfeit silver dollar seen at ANACS is the 1840
Seated Liberty dollar shown here. It is a fairly decent imitation of a
genuine coin — the weight, diameter and thickness are all accurate,
and the overall appearance is good.
However, once you begin to take a close look at the surfaces and
the details, detection of this counterfeit is not exceptionally difficult.
Although this fake has the look of a coin in Extremely Fine to
About Uncirculated condition, the interior details are a bit blurry
and indistinct. The stars lack sharpness, and give the appearance of
being “stretched” toward the rim.
This stretching can occur on a genuine coin where the die is
distorting due to overuse, but the total mintage for the 1840 Seated
Liberty dollar is only 61,000 pieces, so this particular die should
not exhibit this type of die wear.
On the reverse, the rim dentils are weak, with some of them
appearing to “float” in the field instead of being attached to the
rim. An unusual raised bulge appearing on the reverse rim at the 7
o’clock position is easy to spot, even without the use of a magnifier.
Lastly, the edge reeding is incorrect when compared to a genuine
coin — the size and spacing of the reeding is different.
This is not unusual for recent fakes — even though the
counterfeiter spends a lot of time and effort getting the obverse and
reverse details right, virtually nothing is done to ensure accuracy
with the edge reeding.
The hard part is getting a good look at the edge of the coin —
most online auctions do not include an image of the edge, and most
holders do not permit edge inspection.
Michael Fahey is a senior numismatist at ANACS in Denver, Colo.