Counterfeit Detection: 1914-D Buffalo Nickel

Posted by Max Spiegel, Numismatic Researcher on 12/20/2010

The 1914-D Buffalo nickel is not a coin we would expect to be counterfeited.

Unscrupulous people have made counterfeit and altered coins to fool collectors since time immemorial. These fakes were almost always key or semi-key dates, and collectors knew to exercise additional caution with coins such as the 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent or the 1916-D Mercury Dime. Common date gold coins were also copied, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, because of their intrinsic value. Coins with little collector value were generally ignored by counterfeiters because there was not a lot to gain. This has changed in recent years, however, and even common coins are being faked in great numbers.

Last month we received a fake 1914-D Buffalo nickel in a submission with many common-to-semikey dates. Although not as available as some of the later issues, the 1914-D nickel is easily located in almost all grades. It is simply not a coin that one would expect to be counterfeited. This die-struck fake almost certainly originated from China in the last few years and there are undoubtedly others out there.

Counterfeit 1914-D Buffalo Nickel
click image to enlarge

Upon inspection this fake actually appears quite crude. The rim is too wide and appears split in several areas. The design is weakly struck and incomplete in the periphery, especially at LIBERTY. The mintmark bleeds into the field around it. Overall, the surfaces have an unusual appearance that makes this coin stand out from genuine examples.

This counterfeit is dangerous because it is a coin that could be easily missed, even by an experienced numismatist. While a closer look reveals a number of problems, a cursory glance might not send up any red flags. This 1914-D nickel is a reminder that in today’s environment all coins, not just the rare ones, must be checked for authenticity.

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