Counterfeit Detection: 1922-S and 1923-S Peace Dollars
Posted on 12/18/2012
Counterfeiters often use stock dies as a cost-saving method to mass produce fakes. These stock dies—typically the coin’s reverse—are employed for multiple dates so that only one die needs to be manufactured. While this saves the counterfeiter time and money, it makes authentication a little easier since the same flaws can be seen across multiple counterfeit dates.
These efficiencies enable a counterfeiter to make complete sets of series, including the common years. Until the recent proliferation of Chinese-made counterfeits, it was relatively rare to see common or low value coins faked. Now virtually every coin is a potential target, which means that the authenticity should always be confirmed.
The 1922-S and 1923-S Peace Dollars that were recently received by NGC would probably stand out to collectors familiar with this series as counterfeits without much thought. Both examples lack significant detail on the obverse and reverse. On the 1923-S, for example, the N in IN on the obverse is missing completely. Many of the other letters are crudely shaped.
The same reverse die was used to strike these two counterfeits. There are several diagnostic raised lumps on both fakes, most prominently at the LU in PLURIBUS, at the eagle’s left wing and immediately to the right of the eagle. All of the design elements look “fuzzy,” and the bottom of the rim appears damaged.
These two coins were purposely colored to appear as if they were circulated but legitimate. Nonetheless, they possess many of the telltale signs of counterfeits and can be quickly dismissed. Other years produced by this counterfeiter likely share the same diagnostic features, so it may be useful to become familiar with these two counterfeits.