During an average day at ANACS, I will inspect between 500 and 1,000
coins. Most of them are quick and easy, certainly not a challenge from
either an authentication or attribution viewpoint. Then there are
coins like the 1875-CC Seated Liberty 20-cent piece illustrated here.
The denomination is rarely counterfeited. We will run across a
poorly-made fake of the rare 1876-CC piece every now and then, but for
the most part we see only genuine examples of this date.
The fake shown here is rather remarkable for the amount of detail
that was transferred over from a genuine coin to a set of fake dies.
The peripheral areas of this counterfeit exhibit crisp die cracks and
sharp die flow lines, normally an indicator that the coin is genuine.
Additionally, the weight, diameter, thickness, and composition are all
accurate, and the overall appearance is that of a lightly cleaned
However, the finer details of the central devices on this fake are
not as sharp as they would be on a genuine example, with a bit of
mushiness on Liberty’s upper gown details, and on the eagle’s breast
feathers. The 1875-CC 20-cent coin often comes with a slightly weak
strike in the centers, but on the fake these areas are more fuzzy than
weakly struck, similar to the appearance of a photocopy that was made
from another photocopy.
As is often the case, the counterfeiters did not pay much attention
to the edge of the fake.
Rather than the lightly beveled edge with metal flow lines that
would be seen on a genuine coin, the fake has a sharp, squared-off
edge with a reflective surface, similar to a modern Proof. (The
20-cent pieces have a plain edge, not a reeded edge like most silver
coins from this time period.)
The counterfeiters also had a problem with the field area below
STATES on the reverse. This area is rough and bumpy, with a number of
light depressions that have a different texture than typical contact
marks. By itself, this field area is not a conclusive diagnostic, but
when combined with the other defects on the coin, it forms a strong pattern.
You should be on your guard.