Counterfeit Detection: 1842-O Seated Liberty Dime

Posted on 8/19/2014

The design details on this counterfeit Seated Liberty Dime are soft, especially at Liberty’s head, the Phrygian cap and the shield on the obverse.

The Seated Liberty Dime has grown in popularity with collectors over the last couple of decades with considerable new research done by numismatists. Kamal M. Ahwash’s 1977 Encyclopedia of United States Seated Liberty Dimes was the first major effort to focus attention on the nuances of this series, and it has been followed by Brian Greer’s The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Dimes published in 1992 as well as Gerry Fortin’s comprehensive (and constantly updated) website,

Although many consider the Seated Liberty Dime to be a more affordable option for collectors than its quarter, half dollar and dollar counterparts, there are a number of low mintage key dates and condition rarities in the series. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the unique 1873-CC dime, but there are many challenging Seated Liberty Dime issues.

The 1842-O is a good example of a conditionally rare Seated Liberty Dime. Its mintage of just over 2 million pieces is fairly high by Seated Liberty Dime standards, but examples become elusive in XF 40 and higher grades. According to the NGC US Coin Price Guide, values more than double from VF to XF ($140 to $350), and an AU 50 representative is valued at $1,250.

While counterfeits of this issue are not particularly common, NGC graders did identify one such fake. This piece features several diagnostics frequently seen on counterfeits. First, the design details are soft, especially at Liberty’s head, the Phrygian cap and the shield on the obverse.

Counterfeit 1842-O Seated Liberty Dime
Click images to enlarge.

A closer look reveals that these weakly defined design details also have a pimpled appearance, which is most prominent at the digits of the date. Unless the coin is corroded, this pimpled texture is virtually never seen on genuine US Mint issues.

Counterfeit 1842-O Seated Liberty Dime Close Up
Click images to enlarge.

Finally, there are also raised lumps and lines in the field, which are often features of spurious pieces but are never seen on authentic specimens. These raised lines can be seen near the edge and are most apparent near the denticles on the reverse below the ribbon.

Counterfeit 1842-O Seated Liberty Dime Close Up
Click images to enlarge.

Forgeries such as this coin are deceptive because many people do not expect to see counterfeits of this date. In addition, this piece has been artificially toned in an attempt to make it look old and not like a newly produced fake. Collectors should always be vigilant and inspect every coin closely.

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

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