US Coins

Counterfeiters take Liberty with 1872 Seated dollar

Detecting Counterfeits column from Jan. 9, 2017, weekly issue of Coin World:

Counterfeit U.S. silver dollars emanating from Asia continue to be a problem for dealers and collectors. The fake 1872 Seated Liberty dollar here is one of the more deceptive pieces we have seen at ANACS in the past few months, partly due to an abrasive cleaning that obscures most of the coin’s surfaces.

Specifications on this counterfeit are all within normal tolerances, including the weight, diameter, thickness and metal content. It was struck from counterfeit transfer dies that used a genuine coin as a model, so all of the details are accurate when compared to a genuine example. Under magnification, some of the finer details are a bit “fuzzy.”

The two stars on either side of Liberty’s head were re-engraved, and some work was also done with the rim dentils in this area. We first thought  this was a genuine coin that had been repaired, possibly to remove a solder mount. A closer look revealed a complete lack of die polish and die erosion on the coin’s surfaces, quite unusual for a high mintage issue like the 1872 Seated Liberty dollar.

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Additionally, we found hundreds of microscopic pits in the fields and on the devices, along with a number of depressions and lint marks. Another example would be required to verify if any of these are repeating depressions (incuse marks that appear on every fake produced from a specific counterfeit die pair). Most repeating depressions began as contact marks or defects on the genuine model coin. These were transferred over to the fake dies, then reproduced on the counterfeits struck from those dies.

Finally, the overall look of this Seated Liberty dollar is wrong. If the coin had not been so harshly cleaned, we are fairly certain its luster would be very different from the luster on a genuine coin. Reproducing the luster and “look” of a genuine coin is evidently very difficult, which is why counterfeiters often artificially circulate and artificially tone their fakes, and clean them with abrasives or acids. While this type of surface abuse does not automatically condemn a given coin as a fake, it raises a red flag to look harder for other problems.

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