Counterfeit Detection: 1924-S Standing Liberty Quarter

Posted on 7/15/2010

This counterfeit quarter dollar likely wasn’t made to fool collectors, but to circulate as money. Let’s take a look at the signs that show us it’s not genuine.

As we’ve said in previous Counterfeit Detection columns, no US coinage issue is immune from counterfeiting. Classic rarities and key dates, like the 1804 dollar and the 1916-D dime, are frequent targets of counterfeiting, but so too are more common coins. In fact, virtually every classic US coin has been counterfeited. NGC has even encountered complete date and mintmark sets of Morgan Dollars, Seated Liberty Half Dollars and Trade Dollars — all fake!

Counterfeit 1924-S Standing Liberty Quarter
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While the origins of this 1924-S Standing Liberty Quarter are not precisely known, it’s believed to be a Depression-era counterfeit, made to circulate at its face value. In other words, it’s an old fake. Many such contemporary fakes are seen in average circulated grades and have fairly obvious flaws that don’t fool collectors, but wouldn’t have caused any hiccup in daily commerce. While 1921 and 1923-S quarters, among other dates, can be worth several hundred dollars in fine condition, the 1924-S is worth only about $40. Usually, it’s just not worth a counterfeiter’s time to focus too much effort on replicating a circulated 1924-S quarter — although uncirculated copies and coins altered to appear full head do exist for this date.

click image to enlarge

All the details of this coin are "mushy" and indistinct, even for a circulated example. That alone should cause any authenticator to pick up a magnifier and take a closer look. Authentication examinations usually start by looking at the date and mintmark. Without question, the first thing worthy of close examination on this coin is its mintmark. On genuine examples the mintmark will be tall, upright and have serifs. This coin shows a misshapen mintmark that is comparatively squat, leaning and without serifs. It is rather crudely rendered and rough in appearance, rather unlike the mark seen on genuine coins.

click image to enlarge

Although this coin is low-grade, it’s worth looking for tooling marks or other die flaws that help to identify it. A series of raised lines are visible under the "Y" in "LIBERTY." While heavy die polish does appear on some genuine Standing Liberty Quarters of this era, these marks are deeper than they should be, as though they were created with a file or on an improperly prepared die. An unusual die feature like this isn’t always condemning, but taken in combination with the bad mintmark, there’s enough evidence to make this an open-and-shut case.

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