US Coins

Second ‘Bad Metal’ book will be ready for fall release

The second work in a planned four-book series on circulating contemporary counterfeit U.S. coinage covers silver denominations from 3-cent coins to quarter dollars. Bad Metal, Silver 3cS to 25c will be available for purchase in the fall.

By researcher and contemporary counterfeit expert Winston Zack of Albuquerque, New Mexico, the series’ first volume, Bad Metal, Copper& Nickel, was published in 2019 and earned a 2020 Numismatic Literary Guild award.

The new book contains more than 250 page featuring many professional full-color illustrations. The work documents “more than 240 die-struck counterfeits” and “dozens” of cast counterfeits of silver 3-cent coins, half dimes, dimes, 20-cent coins, and quarter dollars “from the Bust, Seated, Barber, Renaissance, and Presidential series,” from 1794 to the early 20th century, according to a press release announcing the book’s upcoming publication.

The range of topics addressed includes the surprisingly widespread counterfeiting of silver 3-cent coins to 21st century efforts to counterfeit Washington quarter dollars. The book covers die-struck and cast counterfeits and provides a quick attribution guide. Information on families of related counterfeit varieties is also included, “with close-up pick-up-point images.”

The series is the culmination of more than eight years of research.

Zack explained his interest in a phone interview: “I was attracted to the idea of completing mostly original research in a competitive arena of U.S. numismatic scholarship. The challenge of solving and attempting to solve this large, complex, and often mysterious subject added to its overall romance.”

He described the research process: “It included gathering as much written historical documentation relevant to the subject, and this largely included newspaper reports, as well as professionally photographing all documented die-struck varieties from those denominations and series. ... The research also entailed making a reasonable and fairly exhaustive effort to contact as many people, organizations and institutions as possible to study and document counterfeit coins for this book, and I feel I succeeded beyond initial expectations.”

He acknowledges that new varieties will almost certainly be discovered after publication, as was true with the first volume of Bad Metal.

Zack was interviewed about his first book on Episode 42 of the Coin World Podcast.

The Bad Metal series’ first volume was named the 2020 Best Specialized Book on United States or Early American Coins by NLG.

An article published in the E-Sylum, the online publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, on Aug. 4, 2019, described that book’s significance (and more broadly, the series’): “Until recently, intensive research on this important subject has been largely overlooked by scholars. This book eclipses and unifies that prior research, while adding extensive original analysis, information, and documentation on these forgotten yet intriguing pieces of history.”

Zack shared that, owing to “restrictions in regards to the publication of photographs from certain collections and institutions,” only 500 copies of Bad Metal Silver will be printed, half as many as Bad Metal Copper & Nickel.

Interested readers can learn more and order Bad Metal Silver, 3cS to 25c at the author’s website,

Bad Metal Silver, 3cS to 25c can be pre-ordered for $70; those who place pre-orders will receive a signed and individually numbered copy. Pricing for regular orders is set at $100.

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