Detecting Counterfeits column from Feb. 13, 2017, issue of Coin World:
We have a counterfeit 1883-CC Morgan dollar that comes to us from
our friends in China.
It is very typical of the fakes that ANACS has been seeing for the
past few years — while it is deceptive at first glance, with a closer
look it is obvious that something is wrong. All of the main devices
are accurate on this counterfeit, including the date digits, the Mint
mark and the main designs, indicating that a genuine model coin was
used to produce the fake dies that struck this piece. However, most of
the finer details are a bit weak, due to a poor transfer process.
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Also, the stars on the left side of the obverse are poorly defined,
and the letters in UNITED on the reverse are weak. Since these two
weak areas are opposite each other on the coin, it is possible that
the fake dies were not aligned properly in the press, with the dies
being further apart in this area than elsewhere. It is also possible
that the blank used to produce this fake was tapered on one side,
accounting for the two weakly struck areas.
This fake also exhibits a type of edge reeding that we are seeing on
more Chinese counterfeits lately. On a genuine Morgan silver dollar,
the edge reeds are rounded, with a uniform space between each reed
(take a close look at the edge of a genuine Morgan dollar under good
lighting with a quality magnifier, and you will see).
For decades the Morgan dollar has ranked at the top U.S. coin
collectors' favorite coins. Why is the Morgan dollar so popular?
There are many reasons, including: large size, attractive designs,
numerous varieties, historical significance. How much are
Morgan dollars worth?
The fakes have a very different type of edge reeding. Instead of
nicely rounded individual reeds, the fakes have edge reeds that are
hollow in their centers, giving the initial appearance of double the
number of edge reeds per inch. They are also not uniformly spaced,
with some reeds minutely larger than others, and with slight
differences in the size of the spaces between the reeds. These
differences are much easier to detect when you have a genuine coin
side by side with a fake.
Finally, the counterfeiters went cheap with their blanks. This
counterfeit weighs 24.51 grams, as opposed to a genuine coin, which
weighs 26.73 grams. The weight difference indicates that the fake
contains much less silver than a genuine coin, increasing the profit
margin for the counterfeiters.