Counterfeit Detection: 1861 Type 2 Quarter Eagle

Posted by Max Spiegel, NGC on 10/15/2013

Raised lumps of metal and lack of detail are red flags on this 1861 Type 2 Quarter Eagle.

NGC graders recently evaluated a submission of US gold pieces that included a counterfeit 1861 Type 2 Quarter Eagle with several diagnostics frequently seen on a variety of dates. Although it is a low quality fake, it is typical of many of the counterfeit gold coins seen by NGC on a regular basis.

The 1861 Quarter Eagle is a relatively common issue with a mintage of nearly 1.3 million pieces, divided between Type 1 (Old Reverse) and Type 2 (New Reverse). The Type 2 variety is the more plentiful of the two and is distinguished by a modified reverse design, which features smaller letters and arrowheads. As of October 2013 NGC has certified 1,232 examples of the 1861 Type 2, compared to just 110 pieces for the 1861 Type 1.

Counterfeits exist for every date and type of US gold coin so it is no surprise to see fakes of a fairly low value issue like the 1861 Type 2 Quarter Eagle. The most obvious issue with this forgery is the raised lumps of metal above the eagle on the reverse. Although these lumps are not always so prominent, they are repeatedly seen on fakes.

Counterfeit 1861 Type 2 Quarter Eagle
Click images to enlarge.

Another problem with this coin is the lack of detail on the obverse. A genuine example would usually have significantly sharper design elements, but counterfeiters often have trouble imitating this precision. There is also an unusual wire-like rim that protrudes from the perimeter of both sides.

It is important to look for these types of red flags on a coin. Many counterfeits share the same or similar flaws, so knowledge of the most common diagnostics can allow you to quickly identify the majority of low or average quality fakes.

Counterfeit Detection is a regular article column in the monthly NGC eNewsletter. To read more Counterfeit Detection articles, click here.