Counterfeit Detection: Arabic-Punched 1907-S $10
Posted by Max Spiegel, Numismatic Researcher on 3/15/2011
Most collectors associate chopmarks with the short-lived Trade Dollar series, which circulated extensively throughout Southeast Asia. Many merchants chopmarked the coins to show that the weight and fineness had been tested and met their standard. Similar to chopmarks were the Arabic punches used in Middle Eastern countries in the mid-20th century, probably to denote the fineness of a gold coin. NGC recently received a submission with a counterfeit 1907-S Eagle that had one of these Arabic punches.
During the 1960s and ‘70s a flood of counterfeit gold coins emanated from the Middle East and it is likely that this unusual counterfeit had its origins there. The 1907-S is common in circulated grades, but even low Mint State examples carry a significant premium – the NGC Coin Price Guide reports values of $4,840 in MS 63 and $7,900 in MS 64. It is not a shock to see that a counterfeiter would target this issue, but the presence of an Arabic countermark is surprising.
The overall softness of the design, particularly the weakly defined letters and numerals, instantly set off a red flag. The 0 in 1907 is malformed and there are several short, raised die lines and gouges (often seen on counterfeits) on the obverse. This fake was made from dies, but the countermark was punched after the coin was struck (there is a corresponding area of weakness on the reverse). Since this coin appears to have the proper composition of gold, it is possible that the counterstamp was legitimately applied by an Arab merchant or banker.
When the submitter originally purchased this coin, the punch might have seemed like an indication that the coin was tested by a merchant and must therefore be genuine. The punch could have made the coin look old and authentic. Nonetheless, the host coin is still a counterfeit. A merchant would care only about the composition and weight, not the numismatic value. While fake chopmarked Trade Dollars receive significant attention, virtually nothing has been said about the similar counterfeit Arabic-punched gold.