Another example of an early U.S. silver coin being counterfeited by
our “friends” from Asia is not one of the really deceptive
counterfeits we have seen at ANACS — it has a number of reasonably obvious
diagnostics that should make it easy to detect.
First off is the weight of the fake. A genuine 1801 Draped Bust half
dollar began life at approximately 13.48 grams. Allowing for the
amount of circulation this counterfeit appears to have, it should
weigh somewhere between 13.2 and 13.3 grams if genuine. The fake
weighs 13.81 grams, which is much too heavy to be real.
Workers at the U.S. Mint in the early 1800s were extremely careful
to get the weight right on the silver and gold coins being struck, so
an example that weighs this much is virtually unknown.
Second, a quick check of the standard reference, Early Half Dollar
Die Varieties 1794-1836 by Al C. Overton, verifies that no genuine
1801 half dollar matches this piece. In particular, notice that the
stem of the olive branch stops at the top of the eagle’s claw, instead
of continuing below the claw.
The “Stem Not Through Claw” engraving error occurs only in 1806 for
the Heraldic Eagle Reverse design. The counterfeiters used an 1806
half dollar, Overton 109, as the model for their fake dies, and
altered the date on the fake die from 1806 to 1801 afterwards.
Finally, a quick inspection of the lettered edge of the fake exposes
a rather comical mistake. A genuine 1801 Draped Bust half dollar has
FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR on the edge of the coin. Someone working
quality control at the counterfeiting factory must have taken a nap
that day — the fake has HUNDRED CENTS ONE UNIT on its edge. A genuine
1801 Draped Bust dollar has HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT on the
edge, so it appears that they cut some corners to save time and money.
A close inspection of the finer details and devices on the fake
shows the typical roughness we see on this type of counterfeit, but
this can be obscured if the coin’s surfaces are corroded or abrasively
cleaned, as many are. Collectors will be better off focusing on die
diagnostics when confronted by a counterfeit like this one.
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of two known 2014 American Eagle, Narrow Reeds tenth-ounce gold
bullion coins sells for $28,650
March of Dimes Special Silver Set still 'Currently Unavailable'
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