Detecting Counterfeits column from Dec. 14, 2015, issue of
The 1894-O Morgan silver dollar is a better date, but it is
certainly not a rarity like the 1889-CC or 1893-S Morgan dollars. Coin
World’s Coin Values lists the 1894-O Morgan dollar at $100 in
Extremely Fine 40 and $200 in About Uncirculated 50, so a modest
financial incentive exists for the counterfeiter.
The fake shown here is an average quality counterfeit from Asia,
with enough diagnostics that most collectors could make an accurate
determination. First of all, the weight is off — a genuine Morgan
silver dollar weighs approximately 26.73 grams, while this fake weighs
26.93 grams. In my experience, the U.S. Mint production facilities
were extremely good at maintaining accurate weights, so a piece that
is 0.2 gram overweight should immediately send out alarms.
The edge reeding on this fake is also a good diagnostic. The reeding
is much finer than on a genuine coin, with approximately 20 percent to
25 percent more reeds, and is also much sharper to the touch than on a
genuine example. This diagnostic will not help if the coin is inside a
holder, but if you have the opportunity to hold one of these fakes,
you should be able to feel the difference.
Like many Morgan dollars from the New Orleans Mint, the typical
1894-O dollar comes with a weak strike. The transfer process, where
all the details of a genuine model coin are transferred over to a set
of fake dies, tends to magnify this weakness, with the result that the
central areas of the obverse and reverse are both weak and fuzzy.
Some of the peripheral letters also lost definition during the
transfer process. You can see in the enlargement that the D and O of
DOLLAR are not sharp or crisp, appearing to slide towards the rim.
Most collectors can see this type of distortion much easier when
they have a genuine coin side-by-side with the suspect piece.
Finally, a number of raised concentric lines are on the raised rim
of the fake. ANACS graders have seen a number of fake Morgan dollars
with these lines on the rims — likely the result of the counterfeit
die-making process. If you spot them, take a much closer look at the
rest of the coin.