Counterfeit Detection: 1876-CC 20 Cent Piece

Posted on 3/13/2018

This counterfeit of an unusual denomination shows plenty of clues that it isn't worth a fortune.

The 20 cent piece was an American coin produced only from 1875 to 1878. Like the Seated Liberty quarter, it was struck in .900 fine silver, featured the Seated Liberty obverse and was nearly the same diameter. These similarities confused the public and resulted in a quick end for the 20-piece.

In fact, the only 20 cent pieces intended for circulation were produced with dates of 1875 (when they were produced at Carson City, Philadelphia and San Francisco) and 1876 (when they were produced at Carson City and Philadelphia). Mint State specimens can be acquired for several hundred to several thousand dollars for all five of these date and mintmark combinations except for the 1876-CC.

NGC recently identified a counterfeit of the extremely rare 1876-CC 20 Cent Piece.

Counterfeit 1876-CC 20-Cent Piece
Click images to enlarge.

When the order was given in 1876 to halt production and destroy existing 20 cent pieces, the Carson City Mint still had nearly its entire mintage of 10,000 on hand. Today, only about two dozen of these coins are known to exist. Consequently, genuine 1876-CC specimens generally sell for six figures when offered at auction.

This is the first indication a collector should tread carefully.

The 1876-CC specimens are also generally found in excellent condition, likely because they were saved by people who understood their enormous numismatic value. The condition of this counterfeit does not match what would be expected.

A genuine 1876-CC 20 Cent Piece. Note the doubling of the word LIBERTY in the shield.
Click images to enlarge.

Furthermore, all 1876-CC pieces were struck with a single pair of dies that produced a doubling on the observe that is clearly evident in the word LIBERTY in the shield. The counterfeit shows no sign of this doubling.

Finally, the poor quality of the details on the counterfeit are a dead giveaway. Such graininess would not be seen on a genuine piece.

Because the 1876 and the 1875-CC are both relatively inexpensive, a counterfeit 1876-CC could be attempted by altering the mintmark or date. Or, a cast could be attempted using the obverse of the 1876 with the reverse of the 1875-CC.

Fortunately, skilled numismatists can identify such counterfeits. Remember, any coin certified by NGC is guaranteed to be authentic.

Did you know? NGC has created a comprehensive Counterfeit Detection resource to help collectors and dealers identify counterfeit and altered coins. Visit

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