Readers Ask column from Aug. 31, 2015, issue of Coin World:
World periodically receives inquiries from readers about older
counterfeit coins. Many collectors are familiar with contemporary
counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars that circulated alongside genuine
coins during the 19th century. Numismatist Keith Davignon published a
reference to collecting the counterfeit half dollars by die variety.
many collectors may not realize is that contemporary counterfeit
Capped Bust dimes exist, too, but in paltry numbers when compared to
the number of half dollars produced.
and researcher Winston Zack has been extensively researching the fake
dimes. His findings are published by the John Reich Collectors Society in the July 2015
issue of John Reich Journal.
dimes struck by the U.S. Mint have three design types — Draped Bust,
Small Eagle in 1796 and 1797; Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle from 1798 to
1807; and Capped Bust, Perched Eagle from 1809 to 1837. Dimes were not
struck every year during this period.
were more likely to choose a date with high genuine mintages, allowing
the fakes to blend more easily with the government’s output. Zack said
that’s one reason why, as his research indicates, the earliest
recorded date on a presumed counterfeit Bust dime is 1825. The
majority are dated from the 1830s, when genuine production was
considerably higher. Based on his research, fewer than two dozen
examples of all dates combined are reported.
the examples known, the most common composition is German silver — an
alloy of copper, nickel and zinc.
pieces are cast and some are die struck. The die-struck pieces are
made from hand-cut dies. Cast pieces are considered to have been made
with transfer dies using a genuine coin as a host; hence, the die
variety of the genuine coin can be ascertained.
One known counterfeit Bust dime family is composed of four die
marriages, with three obverse and three reverse dies covering the
years 1831, 1833, and 1834. Three to five die-struck pieces are known
dated 1838 — the year after Bust dime production ended.