Counterfeit Detection: 2012 $50 American Gold Eagle

Posted on 4/21/2015

NGC graders recently identified two counterfeit 2012 $50 American Gold Eagles with poorly defined details around Liberty's face and hair.

The American Eagle bullion coin program was launched in 1986 with a one ounce silver $1, a tenth ounce gold $5, a quarter ounce gold $10, a half ounce gold $25 and a one ounce gold $50. In 1997, the US Mint added Platinum Eagles in tenth, quarter, half and one ounce sizes with denominations from $10 to $100. Originally intended for investors, American Eagles have become tremendously popular with coin collectors—in fact, the American Silver Eagle is probably the most widely collected coin in the world right now.

There is a lot to like about American Eagles: the coins have intrinsic precious metal value, are struck and dated each year and feature designs that are usually ranked among the best in the history of United States coinage. The larger size of the one ounce Eagles is particularly appealing for many.

Collectors often try to complete a set of NGC-certified American Eagles in either 69 or the ultimate grade of 70. It can be quite challenging—and expensive—to build a set that is entirely graded 70 by NGC, however, since many Silver and Gold Eagles from the 1980s and 1990s are extremely difficult to find at the top grade level.

The popularity and value of American Eagles has made them a target of counterfeiters in recent years. Many people assume that modern coins are not faked, but NGC graders see submissions of spurious American Eagles, Chinese Panda coins and other new releases on a regular basis.

This pair of counterfeit 2012 American Gold Eagle $50 coins was identified by an NGC grader a few weeks ago. Several issues immediately call these coins’ authenticity into question. The details look exceptionally flat and Liberty’s face and hair are poorly defined. There are recessed horizontal lines through the legs of Liberty, which were caused when these coins were struck without enough pressure.

Counterfeit 2012 $50 American Gold Eagle
Click images to enlarge.

The letters of the legends and digits of the date look odd at first glance and a quick comparison to a genuine example reveals that they are not the right style. For example, the 2s in the date should have small serifs but on these coins they are plain.

Counterfeit 2012 $50 American Gold Eagle
Click images to enlarge.

Overall, the color does not look right and these two pieces are clearly not composed of gold. Unfortunately, since these coins purport to be an ounce of gold, the buyer likely lost a significant amount of money.

Although most of these counterfeit detection articles highlight spurious vintage coins, it is important to remember that modern coins are not immune from the problem of counterfeiting. Examine any prospective purchase closely and make sure that you know exactly what you are getting. For greater peace of mind, NGC certification adds a layer of confidence.

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

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