Counterfeit Detection: 1872 Seated Liberty Dollar

Posted on 4/15/2014

Rough texture and minuscule raised dots within the recesses are clues that this 1872 Seated Liberty Dollar is a counterfeit.

The 1872 Seated Liberty Dollar had the highest mintage of any coin in the series with just over 1.1 million pieces struck. Most appear to have reached circulation and while low grade examples are fairly common, higher grade specimens are quite elusive.

According to the NGC US Coin Price Guide, an NGC AU 50 example trades for nearly $1,000. Low Mint State examples can easily sell for several thousand dollars and Gem pieces are virtually impossible to find.

Counterfeit 1872 dollars are not seen regularly, but NGC graders did identify one such fake several months ago. This piece is about average quality and almost certainly imported from China in the last decade.

Overall, the design details appear softer than normal, particularly on the reverse. More specifically, the eagle and legends have a rough texture with minuscule raised dots within the recesses. There are also a few thin raised lines on the reverse. For example, raised lines can be found between the "I" and "N" of IN and above the "O" in GOD.

Counterfeit 1872 Seated Liberty Dollar
Click images to enlarge.

Raised dots, lumps and lines are virtually never seen on genuine pieces but are frequently encountered on forgeries. As a result, counterfeiters will often attempt to disguise these diagnostics and this specimen has been purposely abraded. In addition to obscuring raised dots and lines, the abrasions have the added effect of making the coin appear circulated. Many numismatists automatically assume that a circulated coin cannot be fake.

Despite the counterfeiter’s efforts, this coin appears rather dissimilar to any legitimate examples. NGC graders look at hundreds of authentic coins every day, which makes it significantly easier to spot a coin that does not look right. Undoubtedly the best way to learn how to spot counterfeiters is to look at as many genuine coins as possible.

Interested in reading more articles on Counterfeit Detection? Click here.

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