Counterfeit Pillar Dollar?
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I recently submitted this 1759 (not 1859) Mexico Pillar Dollar to NGC for cert & grading. To my surprise, it came back as "not genuine".

 

I have owned this coin for about 30 years, so it is not coming from China recently. Wondered if someone could detect the problem, or if this is a known date that is commonly seen bad.

 

Sorry the photos are not better...iphone photography.

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Edited by Jedinite

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mmmmm ..... why does it have two Mexico City mint marks on the reverse?

 

The right mint mark usually is where the assayer initials are or there is part of the king's title depending on the series (not having my catalogues with me). You also state it is a 1859 Pillar Dollar .... check the date , but either way the one pictured would be "not genuine".

 

If you have had it for 30 years, check it out with a decent magnet ... I bet it attracts, and if so it is made of steel and not worth taking to a "We-Buy-Gold" place. Someone still might be willing to give you a dollar just to take it out of circulation.

 

(Note: strikeout due to Coinman1794's comment below and a poor memory)

Edited by CyberspaceVoid

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The edge is not quite right; the milled edge is not supposed to be flat like that. It looks like a seem could have been filed away. The surfaces have a very unnatural, reflective, polished appearance. It's hard to tell beyond that, based on those images. It seems to be a relatively sophisticated fake. The dual mint mark is standard for the 8 Real. Do you know what it weighs?

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Sorry...just a century...and one type key...off the correct date.

 

I don't have it in hand. I will weigh it up tomorrow and report back...haven't had a chance to do that yet...27.07 gram original weight would be correct, I believe.

 

The coin is not as polished-looking as the photos appear...virtually identical to an 1839 that I sent in at the same time, which graded higher that I would have given it. It just looks like a normal Pillar to me, probably with an old cleaning, with some circulation wear. Good enough to fool me, apparently. We'll see.

 

Were these commonly counterfeited prior to the 1980s?

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Don't feel bad, your not the first to be had. My Dad passed away 3 years ago and he left me a very nice but eclectic collection of US and World coins. One of his prize possessions and one he would trot out to show off any time someone would talk coins was a beautiful mint state 1882 CC Liberty Head 10 dollar gold piece he bought at a coin show back in the early 1950's. I would always marvel at that coin which was kept in one of those screw together capitol holders. When he passed away I sent the coin to NGC for two reasons, 1, to get it certified and 2, it had been in that capitol holder so long the screws had become frozen and I could not get it out of the holder. So NGC did their magic and some how removed it from the holder only to find it was fake. It was gold, but it was fake. On the flip side of that story I was thankful that my Dad was not around to find out because that coin gave him a lot of pride and joy through the years. I sold it for melt last year. It was a learning experience for me and this should be one for you as well. The take away words are research and vigilance. Sorry to hear your coin is fake. Can you trace back to where it was bought?

 

Have a great day

Jim

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I think that the coin is genuine, but it has probably been polished, which involves the removal and movement of metal. That might explain the shiny surfaces and odd look to the edge.

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I think that the coin is genuine, but it has probably been polished, which involves the removal and movement of metal. That might explain the shiny surfaces and odd look to the edge.

 

That's a possibility. If enough metal was removed, it could become impossible to verify its authenticity.

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Here's an update:

 

- The coin weighs 26.9 grams. For the amount of circulation wear, that should be well within weight tolerance for this issue, originally 27.07 grams.

 

- It is not steel/not attracted by a magnet. The coin has a distinctive look and "ring" of silver. Other than being cleaned/lightly polished, it looks like every other pillar I have inspected.

 

- The edge is not flat. There is no visible seam.

 

- It is die-struck. Looping it, there are no obvious markings or tooling from the die.

 

I have supplied a different photo of the obverse. I am really baffled by this one. It doesn't make much sense to me that this coin would have been a contemporary counterfeit. Are these known to have been counterfeited back then? Also, are they known to have been counterfeited at least 25 years ago, as that is when I acquired it?

 

I wish NGC would give you a reason why they determine a coin is not genuine, especially since you pay for this rejection service. I am wondering if they may have made a mistake on this one.

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It seems to have all the right details, though the edge does seem to be files right in the center. Perhaps it should have been labeled as altered surfaces.

 

To answer another question; yes, these have been counterfeited since the day they were issued.

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Here's an update:

 

- The coin weighs 26.9 grams. For the amount of circulation wear, that should be well within weight tolerance for this issue, originally 27.07 grams.

 

- It is not steel/not attracted by a magnet. The coin has a distinctive look and "ring" of silver. Other than being cleaned/lightly polished, it looks like every other pillar I have inspected.

 

- The edge is not flat. There is no visible seam.

 

- It is die-struck. Looping it, there are no obvious markings or tooling from the die.

 

I have supplied a different photo of the obverse. I am really baffled by this one. It doesn't make much sense to me that this coin would have been a contemporary counterfeit. Are these known to have been counterfeited back then? Also, are they known to have been counterfeited at least 25 years ago, as that is when I acquired it?

 

I wish NGC would give you a reason why they determine a coin is not genuine, especially since you pay for this rejection service. I am wondering if they may have made a mistake on this one.

 

Your second image doesn't match initial image you posted; did you perhaps copy the wrong obverse for your second post?

 

 

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The second image is the same coin as the first image. The white balance is different which makes the coin look yellow. I'm guessing that it is a white coin.

 

If you you compare the marks and scratches, they are in the same spots in both photos.

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Both images show an identical obverse scratch between E and V, and the 1 is recut at top, so they are the same coin. The second image is no more helpful than the first, however.

 

It seems small in diameter for the issue, but this all might be camera angle and perspective.

 

I think what we really need are clear photographs.

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The weight is about right. Can you do a specific gravity test?

 

The hardest part of the coin to duplicate is the edge -- it's why there is a design on them in the first place. If you want informed opinions on the look of your coin you should take high resolution photos of both sides and several showing the complete edge. Also, there are a number of experts at the world forum on coincommunity dot com that can help.

 

I've had four pillar 8 reales rejected by NGC that were subsequently graded by PCGS. I've also bought a few that have been rejected by both services.

Edited by jgenn

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Yes, it is the same coin. Both poor photos were taken with my iphone, in different lighting, but I'm not sure better photos would provide any further explanation. This one is quite baffling to me. As I stated earlier, on coins found to be "not genuine", presumably meaning counterfeit, I do wish the services would provide some type of explanation.

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Yes, it is the same coin. Both poor photos were taken with my iphone, in different lighting, but I'm not sure better photos would provide any further explanation. This one is quite baffling to me. As I stated earlier, on coins found to be "not genuine", presumably meaning counterfeit, I do wish the services would provide some type of explanation.

 

The diameter of the coin appears OK to my naked eye. I will compare it to the one that was slabbed to confirm.

 

And...I will see if I can somehow come up with better photos.

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The weight is about right. Can you do a specific gravity test?

 

The hardest part of the coin to duplicate is the edge -- it's why there is a design on them in the first place. If you want informed opinions on the look of your coin you should take high resolution photos of both sides and several showing the complete edge. Also, there are a number of experts at the world forum on coincommunity dot com that can help.

I've had four pillar 8 reales rejected by NGC that were subsequently graded by PCGS. I've also bought a few that have been rejected by both services.

 

Perhaps I just used the wrong service on this one. (shrug)

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Also have a similar 1759 Mo 8R which I bought at the 1989 Dallas ANA show. It looks similar to yours. Mine also has very reflective surfaces. At a recent coin show I also saw a piece from the late 50's which had fully cameo P/L surfaces. Your piece appears authentic to me although I am not an expert. You could send it to some one who specializes in pillars for a 2nd opinion.

...........

Unfortunately I only have 2 pillar 8's. I've bid on numerous others but always lose them. Both are common date 50's Mo's of Fred the 6th

 

 

Mex_8R_1759_both.jpg

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I believe they were correct with the attribution. One of the flags for me is the different length of denticles on the obverse. While the edge is distorted by the edging process being done after the coin was already struck, the inner circle of dentils should be a perfect circle. If I'm seeing correctly, on your coin there are bulges in dentils, especially on the obverse near the left mintmark and between the "E" and "V"

 

Also, I don't remember seeing a 1759 with the obverse matching yours where the tip of the crown touches the "S" in "HISPAN".

 

Here's an example I owned a while back:

 

15765768_large.jpg

 

 

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There alot of good tips in this thread about your pillar dollar. I have yet to get into my book because I am traveling for the Holidays but Robert Gurney produced a book, "The un-real reales" available on amazon which goes into gravity testing and other scientific approaches to help sort out the fake ones from the real ones. Perhaps it might be worth purchasing and exploring. Best of luck!

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Just to follow up on this, I showed the coin to 3 foreign coin dealers at the Dallas ANA show. All 3 examined it carefully & indicated they saw no problem with the coin...and said they would purchase it with no qualms, although I had no interest in selling it. Two of them expressed frustration with similar grading experiences.

 

So, back it goes into my raw coin collection. Once again, it seems to me if a grading service renders an opinion that a coin is not genuine, and charge a fee for the same, they should provide information that documents that opinion.

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I'm still leaning toward the idea that altered surfaces eliminated enough evidence that NGC did not want to put their guarantee behind it.

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I showed the coin to 3 foreign coin dealers

 

Unless one of the three was an expert in authenticating 8 reales of this type, you only got an opinion that it looks no worse than others on the market. Unfortunately, there are lots of counterfeits on the market, some that are obvious and some that aren't.

 

Assuming the edge design looks correct, an expert would reserve his opinion until a specific gravity test determined that the coin was 90% silver. An expert might also insist on detailed XRF analysis to see if the alloy content matched what was used in the time and area where the coin was produced.

 

Why is so much testing needed? Because the technique to create transfer dies have been around since the late 1800's. This type of forgery can easily fool someone that only looks at the obverse and reverse appearance. A coin's third side, the edge, is often the key to detecting a counterfeit by looks alone. Understanding how the edge design was applied is crucial in looking for diagnostics that should be visible on genuine coins.

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I understand the validity of what you are saying, but somehow I doubt that these scientific tests were undertaken, given the 15 seconds (or whatever amount of time) that was probably spent in evaluating the coin. Again, if they would simply explain (validate) their opinion, which has been paid for by the submitter, it would legitimize the process.

 

Moreover, all three of the dealers indicated they had resent pillars back to NGC that were initially rejected and then slabbed. Also, that pillars rejected by NGC were later slabbed by PCGS.

 

All of this, in my opinion, just points to, in so many cases, the subjectivity of the process, which is not limited to just differences in grading levels. I suspect the "altered surfaces" explanation is as good as any on this coin, which doesn't make it counterfeit, just more difficult to authenticate.

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