Counterfeit Detection: 1921 Peace Dollar

Posted on 3/9/2020

Among other problems, this fake is too thick to be a genuine example of this key date.

In 1921, the United States was still reeling from the effects of World War I. Over 116,000 American serviceman lost their lives in what was then called The Great War. Due to this, there was a great appreciation for the peace that had come upon the world following Germany’s signing of the Armistice agreement on November 11, 1918.

In honor of this newly found peace, the US Mint began striking Peace Dollars on December 28, 1921. Due to the late start, only just over a million pieces were struck bearing the 1921 date. Recently, NGC graders received this peculiar example.

Counterfeit 1921 Peace Dollar.
Click images to enlarge.

The 1921 Peace Dollar is one of the keys of the series and is worth hundreds of dollars in Mint State. This piece has the typical strike weakness in the hair due to improper striking pressure. However, the coin also has odd, proof-like fields that are unlike those found on genuine examples. The coin pictured above is, in fact, a die-struck counterfeit.

A close-up view shows multiple issues, which are explained below.
Click image to enlarge.

Besides the unnatural surfaces, the coin also has raised lumps on the devices. Additionally, the areas around the devices such as the letters and portrait show pitting. Lastly, there are numerous odd die lines throughout the coin, many of which are hidden in the hair. While these types of “scribbling” die scratches are sometimes seen on 1921 Morgan Dollars, they are not normal on a Peace Dollar.

Genuine 1921 Peace Dollar.
Click images to enlarge.

Lastly, the counterfeit coin has almost no silver. While a normal Peace Dollar like the one pictured above will be struck in an alloy of 90% silver and 10% copper, this piece tested as 66% copper, 29% zinc, 3% nickel and only 0.3% silver. This counterfeit is actually a whole gram overweight at 27.7 grams. However, because the coin is not made of silver, it has to be much thicker than a genuine example due to the higher density of silver. This extra thickness is very noticeable and should immediately set off alarm bells.

Edge of Counterfeit Peace Dollar (bottom) and genuine (top)
Click image to enlarge.

Whenever you are purchasing a key date coin, it is extremely important to thoroughly examine it using all tools at your disposal. While a scale and perhaps a pair of calipers are helpful, the most important tool of all is knowledge. This is not simply the knowledge of how much a coin should weigh or its proper thickness, but also what a genuine example should look like.

The NGC grading team has decades of experience and can easily spot a counterfeit like this one. Before purchasing an uncertified key date coin, it is important to look at many known genuine examples. If you are in the market for a key date coin and have any doubts about your authentication abilities, the best thing you can do is to purchase an example in an NGC holder, as it is backed by the NGC Guarantee of grade and authenticity.

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

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.