US Coins

Market Analysis: Contemporary circulating counterfeits

A unique ”Banana Nose” 1772 contemporary counterfeit English halfpenny realized $9,000 while a 1776 contemporary counterfeit halfpenny of the “Potato Head Family” sold for $4,800 on April 11.

Images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries.

Contemporary circulating counterfeit coins that were likely produced in early America and circulated alongside English coins are becoming increasingly popular with numismatists.

A highlight of the Sydney F. Martin holdings in Stack’s Bowers Galleries April 11 online sale was a 1772 contemporary counterfeit George III English halfpenny of the celebrated “Banana Nose” type graded Extremely Fine by the auctioneer. Discovered in 1978 and known by a single example, it sold for $18,400 in 2008, where that cataloger wrote, “It is unique. It is famous. It is crude. It pleases everyone who sees it.” On April 11 it sold for $9,000.

Selling for $4,800 was a 1776 contemporary counterfeit halfpenny of the George III Irish type given to the “Potato Head Family” graded choice Extremely Fine. While more refined than the “Banana Nose” type, still the cataloger reports, “Representatives of the Potato Head Family are charming for their utter crudity of engraving and production.”

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