Counterfeit Detection: 1854-O Arrows Seated Liberty Half Dollar

Numerous issues, such as depressions, raised lines, porosity and die damage, presented plenty of evidence to prove this coin not genuine.

The Coinage Act of 1853 reduced the weight of the silver half dime, dime, quarter and half dollar as part of an effort to promote gold as the standard for United States coinage. For the next three years, arrows were added adjacent to the date on these coins to indicate their reduced weight. Quarters and half dollars struck in 1853 under the new weight requirements also featured rays around the eagle on the reverse, but these rays were removed the following year.

The short-lived “Arrows” type (along with the even shorter-lived “Arrows and Rays” type) is quite popular among numismatists today. This popularity has unfortunately made these coins a target of counterfeiters, and NGC graders recently identified one in a submission.

Counterfeit 1854-O Arrows Seated Liberty Half Dollar
Click images to enlarge.

It is not hard to see how many collectors could be deceived by this 1854-O Arrows Seated Liberty Half Dollar. It is comprised of silver and its weight is correct. The design is also correct and while this coin lacks some detail, that is to be expected from a circulated example. A closer inspection, however, reveals the truth about this coin.

Close-up of Counterfeit 1854-O Arrows Seated Liberty Half Dollar
Click images to enlarge.

Take a look at the two areas circled in the photo above. The top one highlights an odd depression that is dissimilar from abrasions that would be seen on a genuine piece. The circled area below is rather porous, which is another diagnostic for fakes. Similar areas of porosity are present all over the coin if you look carefully. These areas simply do not look as smooth as they should be on a genuine specimen.

Close-up of Counterfeit 1854-O Arrows Seated Liberty Half Dollar
Click images to enlarge.

Very similar issues can be seen on the right side of the obverse as well. There is an unusual depression under a star as well as a much deeper depression in the middle of the field. Immediately to the left of that depression is a raised line. This was caused by damage to the counterfeit die and will appear on every coin struck by these dies.

Close-up of Counterfeit 1854-O Arrows Seated Liberty Half Dollar
Click images to enlarge.

Even more obvious raised lines can be seen to the right of Liberty’s leg. Not to be confused with die cracks or die polish lines, these raised lines or tool marks are seldom seen on genuine US Mint issues and serve as important red flags for identifying counterfeits.

Close-up of Counterfeit 1854-O Seated Liberty Half Dollar
Click images to enlarge.

The reverse has issues as well. There is some very odd die damage inside of the shield, which would not normally be seen on a genuine example. In addition, another depression can be seen to the right of the eagle.

NGC graders thoroughly examine a coin to try to find issues that would indicate that it is a counterfeit. At first glance, this coin may have appeared to be fine. When closely studied, however, numerous issues such depressions, raised lines, porosity and die damage presented plenty of evidence to call this coin "not genuine."

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