Counterfeit Detection: 1927 Vermont Half Dollar

Posted on 12/20/2022

The letters on this classic commemorative spell it out: this coin is a fake.

The 1927 Vermont Sesquicentennial half dollar commemorates the Battle of Bennington, a key victory against the British in the Revolutionary War. The obverse of the coin celebrations “Founder of Vermont” Ira Allen, a leader of the Green Mountain Boys militia. The reverse shows a cougar (also known as a catamount), which is symbolic of the Catamount Tavern in Bennington, where the militia met.

Though 40,000 of these commemoratives were struck, this coin was not popular with the public. Almost a third of them failed to sell, and they were returned to the U.S. Mint for destruction. Today, mint-state examples can sell for several hundred dollars.

Numismatic Guaranty Company™ (NGC®) recently received a purported example of a Vermont Sesquicentennial half dollar in a submission. The coin immediately aroused suspicion because of the legend. The letters are fatter than they should be, and they also melt into the edge of the coin. This is particularly obvious when comparing the word BATTLE on this fake against a genuine example.

The genuine 1927 Vermont Sesquicentennial Half Dollar (top) and its spurious counterpart (bottom).
Click images to enlarge.

Other problems with the design include a lack of detail in Allen’s hair and on the catamount’s face. In addition, the coin’s luster and the yellow tinge on its high points are inconsistent with a genuine example.

The letters on the counterfeit (right) are fatter and melt into the edge of the coin.
Click images to enlarge.

At 12.1g, the half dollar falls short of the expected weight of 12.5g. This is likely because it was struck with less dense metals—mostly copper and zinc—instead of the 90-percent silver that genuine examples contain.

A classic silver commemorative worth only a few hundred dollars might not seem like an obvious choice for counterfeiters, but keep in mind that they will target any coin that can potentially turn a profit. If you have any doubts about whether a coin is genuine, remember that NGC’s services are backed by the NGC Guarantee of authenticity and grade.

Reproduced with permission from the September 2022 edition of The Numismatist, an official publication of the American Numismatic Association.

Did you know? NGC has created a comprehensive Counterfeit Detection resource to help collectors and dealers identify counterfeit and altered coins. Visit

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