At the last meeting of the Pawcatuck Valley Coin Club, John Frost, a member of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club, gave a presentation on one coin, an 1872-S Seated Liberty Dollar. A presentation on one coin? It’s true. John spoke to us how it was found out that this particular 1872-S Dollar was counterfeit. He explains how it wasn’t easy to discover and a number of experts looked at it. Read more about it here. If it took experts a considerable amount of time to discover if this coin is real or not, what does that mean about you and me?
Counterfeits are out there. Here are a few examples.
Old US Coins
Some of the most popular counterfeited coins were the Seated Liberty Dollars and Trade Dollars. Many of these counterfeits are from China. One thing you can check to see if they are fake is putting a magnet over the coin. If the coin attracts to the magnet, it’s counterfeit. Silver does not attract, but other metals do. These coins are 90% silver making the magnet a good test. There are other things that can be checked. If you do consider purchasing one of these, consider contacting the Liberty Seated Collectors Club or go to their website. Also, Ebay has a great article about fake Trade Dollars which you can visit here.
Some rare coins have been counterfeited including the 1916-D Mercury Dime and the 1932-D and 1932-S Washington Quarters. Some ways they have done this include adding a mint mark to the less rare Philadelphia coins and combining the obverse of one coin with the reverse of another. So, check the mint marks as well as the edge of coins.
You would think certified coins would be safe from counterfeiting, right? Wrong! More recently counterfeiters have created slab encapsulation containers that look like the ones used by PCGS and NGC. This way they can put counterfeit coins or even coins of lower condition than what is shown on the container. Make sure you get certified coins from a reliable source. Most coins on online sites on Ebay are legit, but make sure you get them from member close to 100%.
This is only the Tip of the Iceberg
These are some examples of more common counterfeits, but there are others out there. Check out coin publications, newsletters and websites. Also, if you go to coin shows, ask the dealers and experts there. They would be happy to help you.