Counterfeit Detection: 1924 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle

Posted on 9/15/2015

Semiprooflike appearance, thick lettering and raised lumps helped NGC graders identify a counterfeit 1924 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle.

The 1924 Double Eagle is by far the most common date in the Saint-Gaudens series. NGC has graded more than 300,000 examples—an astonishing number, particularly given that the coin’s total mintage was just over 4.3 million pieces.

For many years, however, the 1924 was considered to be relatively rare and collectors in the mid-20th Century found it difficult to locate high grade examples. Most of these coins were shipped overseas, primarily to banks in Europe, and few specimens remained in the United States.

When the European banks began to sell their gold deposits in the 1960s, many dates that were previously thought to be rare suddenly became quite common. The 1924 is a prime example. For those who want a nice representative of the popular Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle for a Type collection, the 1924 is a perfect choice and Mint State pieces are easy to find.

Despite its availability, the 1924 $20 is a target of counterfeiters who hope to profit by making base metal forgeries of this gold piece. Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles contain nearly one ounce of gold—0.9675 ounces of gold to be exact—and as a result they possess significant intrinsic value, not to mention numismatic value. A fake composed of brass or other base metals costs almost nothing to produce, while an ounce of gold currently trades at $1,123.80 (9/4/15).

Many of the newer counterfeit Double Eagles, however, are not well made and can be detected without much difficulty. This counterfeit 1924 Double Eagle, which was received by NGC not long ago, is typical.

Counterfeit 1924 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle
Click images to enlarge.

A comparison between this piece and a genuine example reveals numerous differences. Most notably, the fields have an unusual semiprooflike appearance. Authentic 1924 Twenties often show attractive swirling luster, but they never show mirrored fields.

Another issue with this forgery is the legends; the letters in LIBERTY are too thick and a close examination under a loupe shows tiny raised dots on nearly all of the letters, a common diagnostic for counterfeits. Several raised lumps can also be found near the rim. These problems are more than enough to declare this coin fake.

Counterfeit 1924 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle
Diagnostic: raised lumps and mirrored fields
Click image to enlarge.

The best defense against counterfeit coins is familiarity with authentic examples. Any numismatist who has handled genuine Saint-Gaudens coins will immediately identify numerous issues with this piece. The more coins you study, the easier it will be to spot one that does not look right.

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

Discuss on the NGC Chat Boards

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.