US Coins

1909-O $5 gold coins struck at New Orleans Mint

First two photos show obverse and reverse of the altered 1909-O Indian Head gold $5 half eagle, with Mint mark likely altered from a 1909-D $5 coin. Bottom left image shows photomicrograph of the altered Mint mark. Bottom right shows O Mint mark on genuine coin.

Obverse and reverse photos by Raymond Bruels III, close-up of altered Mint mark by Brian Kent, all courtesy of ANACS; image of genuine Mint mark courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The 1909-O Indian Head gold $5 half eagle has the lowest mintage in the series, with 34,200 pieces having been reported struck at the New Orleans Mint.

Coin Values prices the 1909-O half eagle at $7,000 in Extremely Fine 40 and $11,500 in About Uncirculated 50, making this date and Mint mark extremely interesting to counterfeiters and alteration experts.

It is definitely an issue that dealers and collectors will want to look at closely when purchasing.

Likely started as 1909-D

The altered example shown here most likely began as a genuine 1909-D Indian Head half eagle from the Denver Mint.

Using precision engraving tools and quite a bit of skill, an alteration expert reworked the D Mint mark into a fake O Mint mark.

As you can see from the photomicrograph, the resulting O is fairly well done, and appears to blend into the surrounding fields better than most alterations.

Compare to genuine

When compared to the O Mint mark on a genuine coin, the alteration becomes more obvious.

The genuine Mint mark is more oval than round, and has a narrow vertical inside opening.

Additionally, the genuine Mint mark is wider on the sides and thinner at the top.

On the alteration, the O Mint mark is more round than oval, with a matching inside opening, and the thickness of the fake O is uniform all the way around.

Most collectors will not have access to a genuine 1909-O Indian Head half eagle for comparison purposes.

Nearly all of us, however, can access the Internet, where excellent images of genuine pieces are available on numerous sites.

I personally like to use the Heritage Auction Archives for this type of research, as it offers millions of high-quality images of all types of United States and world coins.

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