Counterfeit Detection: 1880-CC Morgan Dollar

Posted on 2/3/2022

This fake is mostly copper, but even if you didn’t know that, there are other red flags.

The 1880-CC Morgan Dollar had a mintage of slightly under half a million. The NGC Price Guide indicates even heavily circulated examples are worth at least $100, with expected prices easily surpassing $500 in Mint State.

Genuine 1880-CC Morgan Dollar
Click images to enlarge.

Recently, NGC received a submission of a purported 1880-CC Morgan Dollar. Its weight is 26.63 grams, less than the expected 26.73 grams and just outside the mint tolerance. However, a slight amount of metal loss due to circulation could explain the difference, so further analysis is needed.

Counterfeit 1880-CC Morgan Dollar
Click images to enlarge.

A metallurgical analysis finds this coin to be 60% copper, 30% zinc, 7% nickel, 2% manganese and 1% silver. This is obviously enough to determine that the coin is not a genuine vintage Morgan Dollar, which would be 90% silver.

But if you didn’t have the high-tech equipment to analyze the metal, there are still plenty of red flags. The coin has an odd, unnatural luster, with soft details in the high points. The "8"s in the date are misshapen.

Close-ups of the counterfeit 1880-CC Morgan Dollar
Click images to enlarge.

Tooling, which indicates a counterfeiter was trying to conceal a more noticeable problem, can be seen on the obverse below the first "U" in PLURIBUS as well as on the reverse in the "OL" in DOLLAR.

This fake is another reminder that counterfeiters don’t just target the greatest rarities; they will target any coin that could make them a profit. Remember, NGC backs its determinations of authenticity and grade with the industry-leading NGC Guarantee.

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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