Top 50 Most Commonly Counterfeited U.S. Coins

According to Submissions to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC)

1. 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent

The 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent is one of the most popular United States coins. This popularity had led it to become the most commonly altered and counterfeited collectible coin in the world, according to submissions to NGC. For a counterfeiter, the addition of a simple, small design element (an “S” mintmark or “V.D.B.” initials) can make a very cheap coin appear to be worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. The frequency with which these forgeries are seen makes it essential to thoroughly inspect any 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent. Read more >

2. 1916-D Mercury Dime

The 1916-D is the famous key date in the extremely popular Mercury Dime series. This popularity has resulted in significant values. The Philadelphia 1916 is quite common and affordable in comparison and this gives a counterfeiter the opportunity to add a tiny “D” mintmark to make it appear to be the rare 1916-D. In addition to added mintmark fakes, complete counterfeits are also frequently seen. Read more >

3. 1914 Indian $2.50

The 1914 Gold Quarter Eagle has the second lowest mintage in the Indian Head series after the elusive 1911-D issue. Only 240,000 pieces were struck, and today they are highly sought by collectors, especially in uncirculated grades. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of counterfeits of this date. Many of these fakes have been in the marketplace since the 1960s and continue to deceive collectors and dealers today. Read more >

4. 1914-D Lincoln Cent

While not quite as desirable as the 1909-S VDB, the 1914-D Lincoln Cent actually has a smaller surviving population. This makes the 1914-D a prime target for counterfeiters. The most commonly seen fakes are outright counterfeits, but added mintmarks and date alterations (usually from 1944-D cents) are relatively common as well. Read more >

5. 1882 Indian $3

The most commonly seen 1882 $3 Gold counterfeit is one produced by the so-called “Omega Man.” The calling card for his fakes is a tiny Omega symbol. On this particular counterfeit, the symbol is found inside the loop of the “R” in LIBERTY. These were likely created in the 1970s in order to deceive collectors. Read more >

6. 1911 Indian $2.50

The 1911 $2.50 gold Indian is actually one of the most common dates of the entire series with a mintage of 704,000 pieces. However, the numismatic value still far outweighs the intrinsic value of the gold. Counterfeiters have seized upon this difference to make fakes that are actually the correct weight in gold, but are fake nonetheless. It is believed that many of these fakes likely originated in the Middle East in the 1960s. Read more >

7. 1922 No D Lincoln Cent

The Philadelphia Mint did not strike any Lincoln Cents in 1922. However, an overzealous Denver Mint worker over-polished some dies, leading to 1922-D Lincoln cents which have had the mintmarks removed. While the 1922-D Lincoln is relatively common, the 1922 No D is much more scarce and valuable. Due to this value difference, an unscrupulous person can efface the D from a coin and make the coin appear much more valuable. Read more >

8. 1915 Indian $5

The 1915 $5 gold Indian had a mintage of just under 600,000 pieces. With this large of a mintage, it is a relatively common Indian half eagle. However, higher-grade examples of this date are still worth much more than the value of the gold in the coin. Due to this difference in value, counterfeiters have created many fakes in order to deceive collectors. Read more >

9. 1925-D Indian $2.50

The 1925-D gold quarter eagle is another example of a common coin that has still been extensively counterfeited. This date had one of the higher mintages of the entire series at 578,000 coins. As was the case with a few of the gold coins higher on this list, these fakes were often made in order to deceive collectors. Read more >

10. 1893-S Morgan Dollar

The famous key date Morgan dollar rounds out the top 10 counterfeits most commonly seen by NGC. With a mintage of a mere 100,000 coins, this coin is worth well into the five figures at every grade of AU 50 or higher. With such huge profit potential for counterfeiters, 1893(-P) coins are often sacrificed in order to create an 1893-S. Nearly all of the fakes seen by NGC graders have had “S” mintmarks added to Philadelphia coins. Outright counterfeits are sometimes seen at NGC as well, but are usually not as deceptive as the added mintmark examples can be. Read more >

11. 1912 Indian $2.50

With a mintage of 616,000 pieces, the 1912 $2.50 Indian is another common date in the series. It is also a date which was extensively counterfeited in the 1970s. Many of these old fakes, which are usually of the correct weight and gold content, are still submitted to NGC for authentication and grading today. Read more >

12. 1915 Indian $2.50

The twelfth coin on our list is very similar to coin 11. The Philadelphia Mint struck 606,000 quarter eagles in 1915, making this another common date in the series. However, NGC has received a large number of fakes for this date as well over the years. Many of these counterfeits have been seen in the marketplace since the 1970s. Read more >

13. 1853 Gold Dollar

The 1853 Gold Dollar is the first coin from the series on our list for most-seen counterfeits at NGC. This year saw the highest mintage for the entire series with some 4,076,051 pieces struck. The high mintage means that this coin is often not inspected closely, making it easier for counterfeiters to pass their fakes. Read more >

14. 1909 Indian $2.50

For the fourteenth coin on our list, we return to the most-counterfeited series: the Indian Head gold $2.50. Once again, the 1909 is by no means a rare date, but it is a slight conditional rarity in higher grades. This led to extensive counterfeiting of this date, especially in the Middle East in the 1970s. These older fakes are still submitted to NGC quite regularly. Read more >

15. 1855 Indian $3

The 1855 is the second-most commonly counterfeited Indian Head $3, according to submissions to NGC. These, too, have been seen in the marketplace for decades and most likely originate in the 1970s or 1980s. They are usually the correct weight and gold content. Intended to deceive collectors of the day, they continue to trick collectors and dealers today. Read more >

16. 1913 Indian $5

The 1913 $5 Indian has the second highest mintage of the entire series at just under 916,000 coins. Even though it is among the most common dates, genuine examples have long carried a premium over their melt value. Due to that value difference, many fakes were produced in the 1970s. These are still seen quite often today. Read more >

17. 1887 Gold Dollar

The 1887 gold dollar had a mintage of a mere 7,500 pieces. However, by this point in the series, many were saved by speculators and did not circulate, so this date is not as rare as one might think. Nonetheless, high grade examples are worth many multiples of their intrinsic value, which is enticing to counterfeiters. This is evidenced by the hundreds of fakes of this issue that NGC has seen in the past three decades. Read more >

18. 1862 Gold Dollar

Counterfeits of the 1862 gold dollar are seen just as often as those of the 1887. However, the 1862 had a much larger mintage with more than 1.3 million pieces struck. Even with this large mintage, Mint State gold dollars still bring a very large premium over the intrinsic value, which explains why many fakes are actually of the correct weight. A counterfeiter can melt a single cull double eagle to create 20 gold dollar counterfeits, all with the correct weight and composition. Read more >

19. 1910 Indian $2.50

Once again, another issue from the Indian Head $2.50 series makes the list of the most common counterfeits. The 1910 is the seventh Indian Head $2.50 on our list. With a mintage of just under 500,000 coins, the 1910 Quarter Eagle is certainly not an overall rarity, but Mint State examples are actually quite elusive. It can therefore be lucrative for a counterfeiter to target these pieces. Read more >

20. 1927 Indian $2.50

Number 20 on our list is yet another Indian Head $2.50, the eighth example from a series that consists of only 15 different date and mintmark combinations. While the 1927 had a lower mintage than some of the earlier coins in the series, it is actually more common in higher grades. Counterfeits of this date are also quite common in the marketplace, even though many of them were first seen in the 1970s. Read more >

21. 1909-D Indian $5

In 1909 the Denver Mint produced more half eagles than any other issue of the entire Indian Head Half Eagle series with more than 3.4 million pieces struck. However, enterprising counterfeiters have still made fakes—many with the correct weight and composition—to fool collectors and pocket the difference between the numismatic value of a genuine example and the intrinsic value of a fake coin struck in gold. Read more >

22. 1927 Saint-Gaudens $20

The 1927 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is the most commonly counterfeited double eagle, according to submissions to NGC. Some may have been produced to fool collectors, but many were likely struck to side-step the ban on owning gold in the U.S. before 1974. Coins with numismatic value were legal to own, so if you wanted to own gold bullion at the time, you might have had to settle for a counterfeit U.S. gold coin. Read more >

23. 1914-D Indian $2.50

The 1914 Indian Head $2.50 had the second-lowest mintage of the entire series. This makes it a tempting target for counterfeiters as examples often sell for many multiples of their bullion value. Most fakes of this date were made specifically to fool collectors and are generally relatively high in quality. Read more >

24. 1924 Saint-Gaudens $20

The 1924 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle had a mintage of well over 4 million coins. However, it is the second-most commonly seen counterfeit double eagle at NGC. Once again, this is likely due to the fact that many of these were made in order to avoid the gold ban in the United States prior to 1974. Read more >

25. 1909 Indian $5

The 1909 $5 Gold Indian is a common date for the series, with over 627,000 examples struck. It is also a very commonly seen counterfeit. The fakes most often seen are those that have been known to the numismatic community since the 1960s and ‘70s. Read more >

26. 1926 Saint-Gaudens $20

The 1926 $20 is the third Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle on our list. These fakes likely originated in the 1960s and early 1970s as a way to circumvent the gold ban in the United States. While these fakes still deceive numerous collectors, they are well known to specialists. Read more >

27. 1857 Indian $3

The 1857 is the third-most commonly seen counterfeit $3 piece at NGC. As was the case with the two earlier examples, these counterfeits are often early ones that are actually of the correct weight and gold content. The counterfeiters produced these in order to fool collectors, and judging by the number of these received by NGC over the years, they have often succeeded. Read more >

28. 1913 Indian $2.50

As if there haven’t been enough $2.50 Indians on our list already, the 28th most commonly seen fake at NGC is yet another Indian quarter eagle. This is another common date, but one that still carries a numismatic premium. Therefore, many fakes seen by NGC are actually of the correct weight and gold content, but have been known to the numismatic community for decades. Read more >

29. 1928 Indian $2.50

Yet another Indian quarter eagle made our list for most commonly seen counterfeits at NGC at #29. The 1928 $2.50 is another common date in the series which was extensively counterfeited in the 1970s to deceive coin collectors. Most fakes seen today are from that era. Read more >

30. 1912 Indian $5

The 1912 $5 gold Indian is the fifth-most commonly seen fake $5 Indian at NGC. It is among the most common dates of the entire series. Most of these fakes are well-known to the numismatic community and have been extensively covered in counterfeit detection books. Read more >

31. 1878 Indian $3

The 1878 Indian $3 gold piece is the fourth most commonly seen counterfeit in the series at NGC. Although this date had the highest mintage of the entire series, counterfeiters could still make money by creating forgeries on planchets of the correct weight and gold content. An enterprising counterfeiter could melt one $20 gold piece to create 6 fake $3 gold pieces with some gold left over. Read more >

32. 1914 Indian $5

The 1914 $5 gold Indian had a mintage of only 247,000 pieces, but is still a relatively common date for the series in mint state. However, counterfeiters have extensively copied this date as well, and fakes are pretty regularly seen at NGC. Read more >

33. 1911 Indian $5

The Philadelphia Mint struck some 915,000 $5 gold Indians in 1911. This makes it one of the more common dates in mint state. However, these coins still sell for many times their gold value in higher grades, which has made them a tempting target for counterfeiters. Read more >

34. 1908 Indian $5

Hopefully you’re sensing a pattern here with Indian quarter and half eagles. #34 on our list is the 1908 $5 Indian, which is also a common coin with a mintage of over 577,000 pieces. However, fakes are still routinely submitted to NGC for authentication and grading. Read more >

35. 1909-S Indian Cent

The 1909-S Indian head cent is one of only two Indian cents with mintmarks. It also had the lowest mintage of the entire series, at just over a third the mintage of the elusive 1877. Even in poor condition, examples are usually worth hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, 1909 Philadelphia Indian head cents are extremely common. Due to this disparity, counterfeiters will often add an “S” mintmark to a genuine Philadelphia coin. Read more >

36. 1932 Indian $10

This is the first gold eagle on our list of most seen counterfeits at NGC. Some 4,463,000 $10 Indians were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1932, by far the highest mintage for the entire series. This also happens to be the most commonly seen fake at NGC. Many of these fakes were likely produced in order to bypass the former ban on gold ownership in the United States. Read more >

37. 1911-D Indian $2.50

The 1911-D quarter eagle is the rarest issue of the entire series with a mintage of only 55,680 pieces. Counterfeiters know that this issue will elicit more scrutiny than others, which explains why it’s only the twelfth most-common Indian quarter eagle counterfeit. This is also the only quarter eagle that has added mintmark fakes in addition to outright counterfeits. Read more >

38. 1874 Gold Dollar

This is only the fourth gold dollar on our listing of counterfeits most often seen by NGC. As has been the case with many of the other gold counterfeits on the list, this date is not particularly rare. In fact, it is one of the more common gold dollars. However, with less than a twentieth of an ounce of gold in each piece, the numismatic value of gold dollars far outweighs the bullion value. This allows an enterprising counterfeiter to buy one gold double eagle for near melt and transform it into twenty gold dollar fakes which bring many multiples of their gold value. Read more >

39. 1915 Indian $10

The Philadelphia Mint struck 351,000 Gold Eagles in 1915, which makes this a relatively common date in the series. Nonetheless, this issue has still been heavily counterfeited. As is the case with other $10 and $20 gold pieces on this list, this coin was likely heavily counterfeited in the 1960s and early 1970s in order to bring then-illegal gold bullion into the United States, where gold ownership was limited to coins of numismatic significance. Read more >

40. 1868 Gold Dollar

Number 40 on our list is another gold dollar. Only 10,500 mint state examples were struck by Philadelphia that year, but this is not a low mintage for the unpopular gold dollar series. However, examples are coveted today in high grade. Due to the high value of this coin in mint state grades relative to the value of gold in a genuine piece, correct-weight fakes are quite commonly seen at NGC. Read more >

41. 1908 Indian $2.50

The inaugural issue for the Indian quarter eagle series had a mintage of over 560,000 pieces. Plenty of those original issues have survived in high grade, but are still worth a large premium to bullion value. Due to this price difference between bullion and numismatic value, forgers have targeted numerous dates of Indian quarter eagles for counterfeiting. Read more >

42. 1908-D Indian $5

The Denver Mint struck nearly 150,000 Indian half eagles in 1908. While this is by no means a rare date, it has still been targeted by counterfeiters looking to capitalize on the difference in value between the gold in the coin and the numismatic value placed upon it by the market. Read more >

43. 1889-CC Morgan Dollar

The 1889-CC Morgan dollar is the second silver dollar to make this list. Only 350,000 examples were struck at the Carson City Mint, and many ended up in melting pots later. Due to its value, this coin is an attractive target for counterfeiters. The most common type of fake is simply an added mintmark. The 1889 Philadelphia issue is quite common, which makes it a prime target to add on the mintmark. Outright counterfeits are often seen at NGC as well, but are usually not as deceptive as the added mintmark examples can be. Read more >

44. 1904 Liberty $20

The 1904 Liberty Head Double Eagle had the highest mintage of the entire series. As is the case with the other double eagles earlier in this list, these fakes were struck before the end of the gold ban in the United States. By claiming them as genuine U.S. Mint coins, they could be imported into and sold within the United States. Read more >

45. 1928 Saint-Gaudens $20

The 1928 Saint-Gaudens had the highest mintage of the entire series at some 8.8 million coins. Due to its astronomical mintage, even mint state examples are readily available today. However, many old counterfeits from the 1960s and ’70s are also floating around in the numismatic community. These were likely made to be imported into the U.S. during the gold ban, but still fool collectors today. Read more >

46. 1883 Gold Dollar

Some 10,800 gold dollars were struck in 1883, which was a healthy mintage at the time. However, counterfeiters have still targeted this date for their forgeries as many times people will only closely inspect key date coins. The fact that a gold dollar has less than 1/20th of an ounce of gold means that fakes are usually of the right metallic composition. Read more >

47. 1926 Indian $2.50

The 1926 Indian quarter eagle is the 14th $2.50 Indian on our list. This issue had a relatively healthy mintage of 446,000 coins, and therefore is common in all grades. However, it is still worth more than bullion value and consequently has been faked. Read more >

48. 1912 Indian $10

The 1912 $10 Indian is another common date for the series with a mintage of 405,000 coins. Yet it is still the third most commonly seen fake at NGC. As was the case with earlier eagles and double eagles, these coins were likely struck to circumvent laws restricting the ownership of gold in the U.S. Read more >

49. 1910 Indian $5

The 1910 is the last Indian half eagle on our list. Some 604,000 were struck that year, making this a common date. However they are still worth much more than melt in higher grades. Due to this disparity in prices, counterfeiters have produced these in order to deceive collectors. The fakes are often of the correct gold content. Read more >

50. 1929 Indian $2.50

The 1929 is the fifteenth and final $2.50 Indian. Not only was it the last coin struck in the series, but it’s also the last of the fifteen date and mintmark issues. If there’s a problem with counterfeits in a series, the Indian quarter eagle series is it. Once again this is a common issue that was counterfeited in order to fool collectors. Read more >