Counterfeit Detection: 1893-CC Morgan Dollar

Posted on 7/1/2019

A counterfeiter relied on artificial toning and new production techniques to create a colorful fake.

By Numismatic Guaranty Corporation

Virtually any 1893-dated Morgan silver dollar has undeniable allure. The low-mintage San Francisco issue of that year often is called the “King of Morgan Dollars.” The main reason for its limited production there and at other U.S. Mint facilities was the repeal of the silver-purchasing clause contained in the Act of July 14, 1890. Without the ability to buy silver, the mint ceased production of dollars in San Francisco and New Orleans in January 1893; in Philadelphia in April; and in Carson City in May. These dates relate closely to the coins’ mintages at those facilities: 100,000 (San Francisco), 300,000 (New Orleans), 378,000 (Philadelphia) and 677,000 (Carson City).

The artificially toned fake lacks the detail and natural appearance of the genuine specimen.
Click images to enlarge.

Even though the Carson City issue is the most common 1893 Morgan dollar, Mint State examples still are worth thousands. Recently, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) graders noticed an 1893-CC Morgan with very interesting toning. The deep purple, orange and blue hues are not consistent with a naturally oxidized coin. As it turns out, the coin was artificially toned, likely in an attempt to mask its more obvious problems. A comparison with an authentic 1893-CC dollar (above) makes the ruse even more apparent. The genuine example has a much more natural look, with light toning emanating from the edges.

Aside from its colorful presentation, the fake lacks much of the detail of a real coin. Pay particular attention to the highest and lowest parts of the design: the hair above Liberty’s face is particularly flat, while the shallow areas around the nostril and the hair above the date have been polished away.

Under magnification, the counterfeit is easily identified as such. The numerals of the date are uneven and blobby, with numerous large striations above and below. Additionally, toolmarks appear as spikes emerging from the bottom of Liberty’s neck, directly above the “1.”

The numerals in the date on the counterfeit dollar are uneven and blobby, with unusual striations above and below. Also note the spikes emerging from the truncation of Liberty’s neck.
Click images to enlarge.

The reverse displays very odd doubling on the word DOLLAR, which resulted from the laser apparently used to create the counterfeit die. The process created tiny overlapping circles on the letters’ surfaces and imparted odd striations that are rotated about 45 degrees. Clearly, counterfeiters are employing new technologies to dupe unsuspecting collectors.

The doubling on the reverse of the counterfeit was caused by the laser used to produce the dies. Striations appear on the surfaces of the letters.
Click image to enlarge.

NGC’s experienced grading team was not deceived by this fake Morgan dollar, though some collectors might be fooled by the artificial toning and not take a closer look. As counterfeiting technology becomes more and more advanced, it is important that numismatists remain alert and pay close attention to the details. Collectors should study genuine pieces to familiarize themselves with the attributes of authentic U.S. Mint products. The numerous diagnostics of this fake normally would not be found on genuine specimens.

As always, coins graded by NGC are guaranteed to be authentic. In addition, you can enter any coin’s NGC certification number at to confirm its description and grade in the NGC database and, if available, view images of the coin.

Reproduced with permission from the February 2019 edition of The Numismatist, official publication of the American Numismatic Association

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