Counterfeit Detection: 1887-S Liberty Head Double Eagle

Posted on 5/14/2024

Two fake coins were each struck with the same dies, riddled with red flags.

With a mintage of 283,000 and nearly 1,000 examples in the NGC Census, the 1887-S Liberty Head Double Eagle isn’t a great rarity. According to the NGC Price Guide, the numismatic premium is modest for grades up to About Uncirculated, and then it accelerates quickly in Mint State. The top grade in the NGC Census is MS 63, and examples at this level can sell for over $10,000.

Genuine 1887-S Double Eagle
Click images to enlarge.

NGC recently received a submission that included two purported 1887-S Double Eagles. To begin with, the coins each have an odd luster on the surfaces and Liberty’s hair appears flat. In addition, the ‘S’ mintmark is the wrong shape on these coins, which are counterfeits.

Counterfeit 1887-S Liberty Head Double Eagles
Click images to enlarge.

Not only is each coin a fake, but both can be traced back to the same counterfeit dies. The counterfeiter apparently had quite a bit of trouble with the dies, because many die gouges, lumps and instances of die damage can be seen on both counterfeits. An example of a die lump can be seen below the ‘E’ in STATES on each reverse. Also, at the top of each reverse, there are multiple tool marks (which are evidence of a counterfeiter trying to hide flaws) as well as die gouges around the rims, letters and rays.

Close-ups of counterfeit 1887-S Liberty Head Double Eagles
Click images to enlarge.

The counterfeiter also failed to capture the nuances of a genuine date. Notice that the width of the vertical stroke in the ‘7’ varies significantly (and elegantly) in the genuine example, while the stroke is more uniform on the counterfeit. The horizontal stroke on the '7' is much too thin on the fake, as well.

Date on the genuine example (left) and a counterfeit
Click images to enlarge.

Not all fakes are this easy to spot, and with today’s gold prices, even a single, common-date Double Eagle can represent a significant financial investment. If you want to make sure your coins are genuine, remember that NGC backs its determinations of authenticity and grade with the NGC Guarantee.

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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