NGC grader identifies first contemporary counterfeit 1894-O Morgan dollar

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Contemporary counterfeit 1894-O Morgan dollar, believed to have been made and circulated in the early years of the 20th century, exhibits a reverse that was not put into production use until 1901, according to experts.

Photomicrograph image courtesy of Leroy Van Allen: genuine 1894-O reverse image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

A “contemporary counterfeit” 1894-O Morgan dollar struck with a reverse hub type not employed at the New Orleans Mint until 1900 has been identified by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.


NGC grader and attributer Ben Wengel identified the discovery from a dealer’s bulk submission of coins. Wengel forwarded the piece to Leroy Van Allen, co-author with A. George Mallis of the Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia of U.S. Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars, who confirmed Wengel’s find after a thorough examination.


The fake 1894-O dollar has been assigned the attribution VAM-13. Morgan and Peace dollar varieties are often attributed by VAM numbers, an acronym formed from the Van Allen and Mallis surnames.


Contemporary counterfeits are pieces produced and circulated around the time of the genuine issues and are not to be confused with modern fakes currently entering the market from sources in Asia.


It is believed the counterfeit VAM-13 1894-O Morgan dollar was likely produced circa 1902 to 1904.


The counterfeit 1894-O dollar shares the same reverse die as a counterfeit VAM-6 1893-O Morgan dollar, confirmed by raised lumps to the right of the D in UNITED. The same reverse type was also used to strike the known counterfeit VAM-25 1896-O and VAM-62 1900-O Morgan dollars.


Wengel believes it is possible that other examples of contemporary counterfeit Morgan dollars from the 1890s and early 1900s bearing the New Orleans Mint’s O Mint mark await discovery.


Contemporary counterfeits have already been identified for 1893-O, 1894-O, 1896-O, 1900-O, 1901-O and 1902-O Morgan dollars.


Wengel detailed additional diagnostics on the discovery 1894-O Morgan dollar counterfeit: 1894-o-vam-13-die-chips-fifth-left-star.jpg

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