“Microscopic examination of the box, Mint certificate, and case looked OK. The alloy eagle on the velvet box has a slightly different micro finish, but is probably OK. I see no point in faking the entire set as the counterfeiter can purchase a genuine set from the Mint and replace the genuine Proof with the fake.”
Fazzari surmises genuine Mint packaging could have been acquired on eBay or at a coin show where packaging is sold separated from its contents, by dealers or collectors.
The empty boxes, still often containing the certificate of authenticity, remain after the coins are removed, often for submission to a third-party grading service, according to Fazzari.
Adam Stump, deputy director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Corporate Communication, said March 7 that while the Mint does offer through its website individual storage and display boxes without coins, “There is not a box for silver Proof American Eagles that can be ordered direct from the website by itself.”
What to look for
Fazzari said he detailed the specifications for the counterfeit against the standards for a genuine Proof American Eagle silver dollar.
Among the diagnostics, the counterfeit is out of tolerance, Fazzari said. Fazzari said the counterfeit weighs 30.54 grams compared to the genuine standard of 31.101 grams. The diameter of the fake coin is 39.77 millimeters versus 40.6 millimeters for the genuine silver Proof.
The counterfeit did not test positive for silver or copper using an electronic metals analyzer, Fazzari said. The fake has a specific gravity of 8.4, but currently its metallic composition is unknown.
Although crudely manufactured, Fazzari said the counterfeit is close enough in general appearance to a genuine coin “to fool the average collector or first-time buyer.”
Fazzari took close-up photographs detailing the differences of the counterfeit at specific locations compared with a genuine Proof 2015-W American Eagle silver dollar.
Fazzari recommends buyers pay particular attention to the date on the 2015 coin, which has a number of useful diagnostics.
On the obverse of the fake coin, the digits in the date are closer together than on the genuine coin, except for the 5, which is spaced farther from the 1. On the genuine coin, the digits in the date are uniformly thicker and evenly spaced from one another. The 1 on the fake coin has a pronounced serif on the tip, while the 1 on the genuine coin does not.