Counterfeit Detection: Early American Coppers

Posted by Max Spiegel, Numismatic Researcher on 5/14/2013

These recently produced fakes do not resemble any legitimate 19th century coin.

Two Early American copper coins, an 1857 half cent and an 1807 cent, were sent to Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS), a professional coin conservation company affiliated with NGC. Both of these coins were severely damaged and appeared to have been exposed to extreme heat, possibly in a fire. The submitter hoped that after NCS conservation the coins would be certified by NGC.

Counterfeit 1857 Half Cent
Click images to enlarge.

After an NGC grader looked at the coins, however, it became clear that they were fakes that had been purposely damaged to fool an unsuspecting buyer. This is a fairly common tactic among counterfeiters, especially for many of the newer forgeries from China. These recently produced fakes do not resemble any legitimate 19th century coin: the details are incorrect, the patina is artificial and the quality is very poor.

Counterfeit 1807 Cent
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Many collectors would quickly see that something is wrong with these counterfeits. Therefore, the counterfeiter damages the coins in order to distract from the more important problem—that the coin is not genuine. When a coin is extensively circulated or damaged, many people assume that it could not be a fake. As counterfeiters try to take advantage of those assumptions with greater frequency, it becomes more and more important to thoroughly examine every coin for authenticity.

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

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