One of the better counterfeit Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagles
is the “Stock Edge” fake. These counterfeits were commonly encountered
in the 1980s. At the time, they managed to deceive hundreds of dealers
Even though these fakes are technically excellent, with sharp
details, accurate weight and gold content, and proper color and
luster, they possess a diagnostic that makes authentication quick and easy.
Counterfeiters all seem to share one trait — they try to save
money on production costs whenever they can. With the Stock Edge
fakes, the counterfeiter used the same edge collar to produce all of
his pieces, including counterfeit 1924, 1926 and 1927 Saint-Gaudens
double eagles. Other dates have been reported with this fake edge
collar, but these three are the most often seen.
To look for the diagnostic for this edge, find the E in E PLURIBUS
UNUM on the lettered edge of the coin. You will need good lighting and
a high quality magnifier, and you will most likely have to angle the
coin under your light source to see this diagnostic.
The center horizontal bar of the E exhibits a raised line that
The source of this raised line was most likely the slip of the
counterfeiter’s hand while using a sharp engraving tool to strengthen
or repair the E on the fake edge collar. If a Saint-Gaudens double
eagle shows this raised line in this location, you can be confident
that the coin is fake.
This specific counterfeit also exhibits a number of raised tool
marks angling down from the left corner of the B in LIBERTY.
Most of the Stock Edge fakes have tool marks like these, somewhere
on the coin.
Areas to check are the letters in LIBERTY, the rays above the date
or below the eagle, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and around Liberty’s
outstretched arm. However, always check the E first.
If there can be a bright side to a counterfeit, it is the current
market for Saint-Gaudens double eagles.
Every Stock Edge fake ANACS has tested over the years contained
the same amount of gold as a genuine coin.
Since the premium between the collector value of a common-date
Saint-Gaudens double eagle and its gold content is very small, someone
who ends up with a fake will not experience a major loss.
Michael Fahey is a senior numismatist at ANACS in Denver, Colo.