New counterfeit 1894-O Morgan dollar

Numismatic Guaranty Corp. has identified a new “contemporary counterfeit” 1894-O Morgan dollar and dollar experts have assigned a VAM number to it, just like a new genuine die variety. Coin World’s William T. Gibbs explains why in his look at contemporary counterfeits.

Full video transcript:

Good morning, this is William T. Gibbs with Coin World’s Monday Morning Brief.

Now, why would a VAM variety number be assigned to a counterfeit 1894 O-Morgan dollar? That’s because it’s what we call a contemporary counterfeit. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, which recently identified the fake, believes that this piece was struck about 1902 to 1904, and it was made for circulation. That is why we call them contemporary counterfeits; they were struck about the same time as the genuine coins were in circulation.

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Now this coin in made of silver and it appears to be related to a number of other Morgan dollar fakes, supposedly that were struck at the New Orleans mint. Now the silver is of a higher percentage than what was found in a genuine Morgan dollar. A genuine Morgan dollar is generally 90 percent silver. This particular coin, when tested, was found to be 91.8% silver. Silver was very cheap at the end of the nineteenth century- beginning of the twentieth century; so it was economical for counterfeiters to use the real thing when they were making fakes for circulation.

But this gets back to out original question: “Why would you assign a VAM variety number to the coin?” as though it were of new genuine die variation. That’s because collectors think contemporary counterfeits are neat. They are not related to the modern counterfeits that are flooding out of China. These pieces, these contemporary counterfeits, are hundreds of years old in many cases, are neat—they have history—they look good. Collectors collect the related Morgan dollars that supposedly were struck at the New Orleans mint, but really were made by some private individuals. Certainly there are thousands of counterfeit-capped bust half-dollars. That coin was the workhouse of the mid-nineteenth century and was heavily counterfeited. Yet collectors collect the fakes almost avidly as they collect the real thing.

Now, collecting a counterfeit coin is not for everyone, but for those who do, they like the history. They love the story behind them; they like how they are connected and related to the genuine coins in their collection.  Maybe its something you ought to think about. This is Coin World’s William T. Gibbs, Thank you. 

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