Counterfeit Detection: 1870-CC Quarter

Posted by Max Spiegel, Numismatic Researcher on 10/11/2011

The 1870-CC is the key to the Seated Liberty quarter series. Read about the counterfeit that was submitted and how our experts recognized it.

Counterfeit 1870-CC Quarter
Click images to enlarge.

One of the most interesting fakes that NGC has received in the past year was an 1870-CC quarter. The 1870-CC is the key to the Seated Liberty quarter series with a mintage of just 8,340 pieces and a very low survival rate. Fewer than 100 examples are believed to exist. The coin submitted to NGC had the overall impression of a Mint State coin and would easily have sold for a six figure sum had it been genuine.

This counterfeit was expertly produced and could have easily fooled even the most experienced coin dealers. NGC employs some of the world’s foremost authorities on counterfeit detection and our graders noticed that the mintmark style of this piece did not match other 1870-CC quarters. All 1870-CC quarters were struck from the same pair of dies, and on the reverse the CC mintmark is small and the letters are widely spaced. The top serif of the first C points to the lower left end of the last arrow fletching.

On this spurious 1870-CC, the mintmark is tall, the letters are close together, and it is well centered below the eagle. Not only is the mintmark wrong, but there are also prominent clash marks on the reverse unlike anything seen on other 1870-CC quarters. Clearly this is not the right reverse. The counterfeiter must not have had access to images of a genuine 1870-CC quarter and thus modeled the reverse after a different year with a different mintmark style.

Clash Marks
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Few people have seen enough 1870-CC quarters to recognize that the mintmark was wrong on this specimen. NGC has graded a genuine 1870-CC quarter on 41 occasions, and NGC graders have probably seen more examples than virtually anyone in numismatics. This experience led NGC to determine that this rare and valuable coin was actually an expertly manufactured fake.

Die Cracks
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Be sure to check out NGC’s Counterfeit Detection column published monthly in the American Numismatic Association’s The Numismatist.