Every now and then the ANACS grading staff encounters a fake coin
that causes us to speculate on the motivation of the counterfeiter.
The piece illustrated here is exactly such a piece – a fake 1979-D
Since these coins are still available in roll quantities for a
small premium over their face value, there does not appear to be any
numismatic reason to produce fakes.
This counterfeit is not particularly deceptive, either.
The metal composition is solid, not the three layer copper-nickel
clad composition of a genuine coin.
It appears to be die-struck from transfer dies, where a genuine
coin was used as a model to produce fake dies. After the transfer
process, our counterfeiter was not pleased with the result, as the
dies were then extensively tooled and recut in areas. Notice how
Anthony’s eye and other facial details differ from a genuine coin. The
eagle also appears to have been given a makeover.
The weight of this fake is 7.77 grams, far enough off from the
genuine weight of 8.1 grams that it would probably not work in a
The answer to the origin of the counterfeit would likely appear to
be South America.
Several of our southern neighbors have used our small dollar coins
in commerce, both Anthony dollars and Sacagawea dollars.
I believe that Ecuador, for example, imported millions of U.S.
dollar coins years ago, as it was more economical for the government
to use our coins than to strike its own.
Since the Anthony dollar was mostly an unwanted coin in the United
States, using it elsewhere was an elegant solution.
Evidently our counterfeiter decided that consumers in South
America would not be able to tell the difference between a genuine
Anthony dollar and his version, and went into production.
Whether the counterfeiter was able to distribute these fakes for
less than $1 each is uncertain.
If total costs were too high, the entire scheme would have folded quickly.
Michael Fahey is a senior numismatist at ANACS in Denver, Colo.