US Coins

1883-CC Morgan dollar fake from China surfaces

Detecting Counterfeits column from Feb. 13, 2017, issue of Coin World:

We have a counterfeit 1883-CC Morgan dollar that comes to us from our friends in China.

It is very typical of the fakes that ANACS has been seeing for the past few years — while it is deceptive at first glance, with a closer look it is obvious that something is wrong. All of the main devices are accurate on this counterfeit, including the date digits, the Mint mark and the main designs, indicating that a genuine model coin was used to produce the fake dies that struck this piece. However, most of the finer details are a bit weak, due to a poor transfer process. 

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Also, the stars on the left side of the obverse are poorly defined, and the letters in UNITED on the reverse are weak. Since these two weak areas are opposite each other on the coin, it is possible that the fake dies were not aligned properly in the press, with the dies being further apart in this area than elsewhere. It is also possible that the blank used to produce this fake was tapered on one side, accounting for the two weakly struck areas.

This fake also exhibits a type of edge reeding that we are seeing on more Chinese counterfeits lately. On a genuine Morgan silver dollar, the edge reeds are rounded, with a uniform space between each reed (take a close look at the edge of a genuine Morgan dollar under good lighting with a quality magnifier, and you will see).

Morgan dollar history

Morgan dollar: For decades the Morgan dollar has ranked at the top U.S. coin collectors' favorite coins. Why is the Morgan dollar so popular? There are many reasons, including: large size, attractive designs, numerous varieties, historical significance. How much are Morgan dollars worth?

The fakes have a very different type of edge reeding. Instead of nicely rounded individual reeds, the fakes have edge reeds that are hollow in their centers, giving the initial appearance of double the number of edge reeds per inch. They are also not uniformly spaced, with some reeds minutely larger than others, and with slight differences in the size of the spaces between the reeds. These differences are much easier to detect when you have a genuine coin side by side with a fake.

Finally, the counterfeiters went cheap with their blanks. This counterfeit weighs 24.51 grams, as opposed to a genuine coin, which weighs 26.73 grams. The weight difference indicates that the fake contains much less silver than a genuine coin, increasing the profit margin for the counterfeiters.

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