Counterfeit Detection: 1879-CC Morgan Dollar

Posted on 3/1/2021

The GSA holder is as fake as the coin it houses.

By Numismatic Guaranty Corporation®

Beginning in 1972, the U.S. Department of the Treasury held a series of sales of silver dollars, most of which were issues from the famed Carson City Mint. Nearly 2 million Morgan dollars were sold over a two-year period. These higher-grade coins were placed in sealed, hard-plastic holders. Today, such items are highly collectable. When grading, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) graders leave coins in their original encapsulations and place a tamper-evident seal and label on the holder to preserve the specimen’s integrity.

Recently, a collector submitted a slabbed 1879-CC Morgan dollar to NGC. The General Services Administration (GSA) sold just 3,600 of these coins, making them among the rarest issues. Unfortunately, both the dollar and the GSA holder are counterfeit. As you can see from the photos here, there are multiple problems with the holder. Most notably, the Carson City logo is far too large and is much shinier than the genuine version. Additionally, the sections with the words “Carson City” and “Uncirculated Silver Dollar” likely were cut out from another material and pasted onto the slab’s dark insert. The coin’s opening is misshapen on the reverse and even covers part of the dollar.

A fake 1879 Morgan Dollar (left) and a genuine example (right)
Click images to enlarge.

As for the coin, it, too, is a crude rendering of the genuine article. The fields are not as flat and lustrous as they should be, and the 9 in the date is oddly tilted to the right. Neither the 7 nor the 9 fit in with the other digits. The forgers likely made the master die or hub with the first two numbers and manually added the final two digits.

Counterfeit 1879 Morgan Peace Dollar.
The misshapen opening covers a portion of the reverse.

Click images to enlarge.

Examples like this show that counterfeiters will go to great lengths to pass off their spurious creations. Because this coin was sealed, it is impossible to calculate its weight or metal content. However, it appears akin to recent fakes submitted to NGC that have the correct weight but an incorrect composition (65-percent copper, 24-percent zinc, 8-percent nickel, 2-percent manganese and just 1-percent silver).

As always, it is safer to buy coins already graded and encapsulated (or, in the case of GSAs, banded) by NGC, as they are guaranteed to be authentic.

Reproduced with permission from the November 2020 edition of The Numismatist, official publication of the American Numismatic Association.

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.