Sheridan Downey's 113-lot mail-bid sale of Flowing Hair and Capped Bust half dollars includes 19 lots of "contemporary" counterfeits and six Houck's Panacea counterstamped Capped Bust half dollars.
Downey's sale closes at 6 p.m. Eastern Time Jan. 7. The sale includes a 10 percent buyer's fee added to the final closing hammer price of each lot won.
The contemporary counterfeits, intended to circulate with the genuine coins of the period, are attributed by Davignon number as cataloged by Keith Davignon in Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Halves. The genuine half dollars are attributed according to Overton number in United States Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794-1836 by Donald L. Parsley, expanded and revised from the original work by Al C. Overton.
Among the contemporary counterfeits is a Flowing Hair half dollar bearing the date 1878 and attributed as Davignon 3b. Genuine Flowing Hair half dollars are dated 1794 and 1795. The contemporary counterfeit offered is graded uncertified as Fine to Very Fine.
Sheridan Downey indicates the "1878" bogus Flowing Hair half dollar probably did circulate during the period 1795 to 1813. "This was the conclusion of John Kleeberg in his paper Circulating Counterfeits in the Americas, published in the 1998 edition of the [American Numismatic Society] Coinage of the Americas Conference."
Examples of contemporary counterfeits have been found that were either struck or cast. In some instances, examples of some contemporary counterfeits are rarer than their genuine counterparts.
U.S. coins of various denominations were often counterstamped by merchants as a means of advertising their business or products. Houck's Panacea was among those counterstamps.
Baltimore's Jacob Houck advertised his "cure-all-remedy" at $1.50 per bottle during the early half of the 19th century by counterstamping Bust half dollars with "Houck's Panacea." The elixir was nothing more than a concoction made from negetable matter.