US Coins

Inside Coin World: Counterfeit 1915-S half eagle’s weak spot

This counterfeit 1915-S Indian Head half eagle is made of the correct gold content and was struck from copy dies that were made from a real coin. However, the counterfeiter got one feature wrong.

Original images courtesy of ANACS.

Every weekly and monthly issue of Coin World has content exclusive to the print and digital editions, including columns and features that appear nowhere else.

Here is a preview of three of those exclusive articles in the Jan. 13, 2020, monthly issue.

Detecting Counterfeits: Indian Head half eagle

In the 1960s and 1970s, many counterfeit versions of gold coins were accurate in terms of gold fineness and weight. As Michael Fahey writes in his “Detecting Counterfeits” column in the Jan. 13 issue, the use of the proper amount of gold in fakes was designed to get around restrictive U.S. laws involving gold imports. That meant that the weight and gold content of a coin were not necessarily good diagnostic factors in determining authenticity. Counterfeiters also used genuine coins as models in making dies, also ensuring that the designs of the fake matched those of the real thing.

Other factors involved in a counterfeit coin’s production could result in easily identifiable diagnostic points. Michael illustrates this with a fake 1915-S Indian Head half eagle probably struck during that 1960s–1970s era. While of the correct gold weight and content and struck from copy dies, the coin is flagged by a major counterfeiter error. The S Mint mark was hand-carved and looks unlike any S Mint mark used at that time. That bad S makes the fake easy to identify. 

To learn more about the counterfeit 1915-S Indian Head half eagle, see Michael’s column, found exclusively in the digital and print editions of Coin World.

Found in Rolls: Eisenhower dollar discoveries

Bill O’Rourke loves searching through rolls of coins in the hopes of finding interesting and collectible pieces, and rolls of Eisenhower dollars are among his favorites. His recent finds include several pieces not intended for circulation.

“Upon opening the rolls, I discovered that a majority of the coins were copper-nickel clad versions of Eisenhower dollars dated between 1971 and 1978 from both the Philadelphia and Denver Mint,” he writes. “Two coins, however, stood out from the rest,” he added.

To learn why the two coins were so “bad,” be sure to read his column, found exclusively in the Jan. 13 issue.

The Joys of Collecting: Market changes over time

Q. David Bowers, writing in his “The Joys of Collecting” column in the Jan. 13 issue, notes, “By my studies, the height of the market for general copper, copper-nickel, silver, and gold coins by type was in August 2013, or over six years ago. Today, many key pieces can be purchased at discounts of 20 percent or more from that time.”

He adds, “A complete set of gem Proof 65 coins [today] can be bought for about $100,000 or even a bit less. I remember that in early 1980, a single Proof 65 Barber half dollar was valued at close to $15,000!”

To learn about how the coin market has changed, read David’s column in the current issue of Coin World.

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