US Coins

Check diagnostics first

In the race to keep ahead of the Chinese counterfeiters, we sometimes need to stumble a bit.

In the authentication world, when we are surprised by something we see on a suspect coin, that is usually considered a small stumble, and the fake 1928 Peace dollar shown here surprised us.

Genuine 1928 Peace dollars were struck from four obverse dies, each of which has one or more die diagnostics that we use to verify them.

Most fake 1928 Peace dollars are alterations, made by removing the S Mint mark of the San Francisco Mint from a 1928-S Peace dollar, or by altering the last digit in the date of a common-date Peace dollar, most often a 1923.

The counterfeit shown here was struck from transfer dies that were produced using a genuine 1928 Peace dollar as the model coin for the transfer process.

The luster on this fake is not the same as on a genuine coin, and the rims have an odd look to them, but the counterfeiter was able to accurately copy the raised die polish line in Liberty’s hair, something that we have not seen on any other counterfeit silver dollar.

One area that counterfeiters continue to have trouble with is the edge reeding.

On this fake, the reeding is shallow, with most reeds appearing to be slightly concave in the center.

Additionally, the reeds extend all the way to each rim, without the beveling effect that reeds on genuine coins exhibit.

The edge is habitually the “Achilles heel” for counterfeiters, including too sharp an edge on fake 1955 Lincoln, Doubled Die Obverse cents; completely missing edge designs on fake 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain and Flowing Hair, Wreath cents; edge reeding on fake Draped Bust dollars instead of the edge inscription; and repeating defects on the edge designs for fake gold $10 eagles and $20 double eagles.

If you are familiar with the edge reeding on a genuine 1928 Peace dollar, you should be able to spot this fake simply by taking a close look at the edge.

Knowing the luster, surface texture and overall appearance of genuine coins remains the best defense against counterfeits.

No matter how good the counterfeiters get at producing fake dies, they always seem to miss something, either through sloppiness or imperfect technology.

Michael Fahey is a senior numismatist at ANACS in Denver, Colo.

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