Gerald Tebben

Five Facts

Gerald Tebben

Gerald Tebben, a Coin World columnist for more than 30 years, also contributes to Coin World’s Coin Values and edits the Central States Numismatic Society’s journal, The Centinel. He collects coins that tell stories.

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Counterfeits from China bedevil us, but contemporary counterfeits, especially those from the early days of the Republic delight us.

For the next five weeks, I’m going to look at copper “cents” and “half cents” that mimic regular-issue United States coins. Some were produced possibly to fool merchants, others to provide collectors with otherwise unobtainable rarities. One was a pattern for an attempt to replace the government mint with a private one.

For the most part these items – Can you call them coins? – are collected, by tradition, as part of the regular-issue series. In auction catalogs, many appear with the word counterfeit in quotes, denoting their special status as somewhere between Mint products and out-and-out fakes.

Because of their indistinct status, all occupy a special spot in the hearts of collectors.

Next: The saw-maker’s patterns

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