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All Posts Tagged With: "Counterfeit Detection"

Bureau of Engraving and Printing Podcast Series on the $100 Bill

The first of six short videos will cover topics such as how to detect a counterfeit note, the art of banknote design and how new notes enter circulation. The episodes will feature guests from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Federal Reserve Board and the United States Secret Service.

Episode OneAn introduction to the $100 public education program.

Episode 2The New $100 Note Podcast Series : How To Detect A Counterfeit


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Counterfeit Detection: Proof 1885 Liberty Nickel

From the NGC Series on Counterfeit Detection

This newly made fake is certainly deceiving some collectors as we’re seeing it appear in recent submissions. Learn how to identify it!

Genuine 1885 – Click To Enlarge Counterfeit 1885 – Click To Enlarge

Recently this unusual fake, believed to be of new manufacture, has appeared in NGC submissions. Although not particularly deceptive, NGC has received a handful of them.

Our best guess as to why: it’s not a coin that anyone really would expect to be counterfeited. It demonstrates that fakes of just about every issue exist and it’s worthwhile to be vigilant when buying uncertified coins or from an unfamiliar source.

There are obvious clues that identify this 1885 nickel as a fake.

First, the devices (design elements) show a pebbled or rough texture that is unlike that seen on any authentic examples. Knowing the texture of a coin’s surface does require a degree of familiarity with authentic examples, but it can also be the easiest telltale of a fake.

Authentic proof Liberty Nickels have crisp design features and smooth or very, very fine grained devices. Large nooks and crannies visible throughout the design are the hallmarks of this copy. Compare an enlargement of the date area with that of a genuine example — the real coin is on top.

The second giveaway that this coin is bad is the shallowness of its design elements. Note how the Liberty’s ear dissolves into the fields. Same with the hair detail above her temple and at top of her neck.

The shape of these elements will be crisp on an authentic specimen and clearly separate from the fields with a sharp delineation. Other elements of the design are similarly not crisp. Look at the stars. On genuine proofs, the intersecting lines will be clear. Here, the first star is especially weak and the others are rounded and amorphous.

Learning to pick out clues like those mentioned above are a great starting point to spotting fakes.

Counterfeit Detection: KNOW Your Dates

From the NGC series on Counterfeit Detection

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

A basic lesson will help you always catch fakes, like this 1895-O Morgan Dollar, which could be deceptive to many.

In high school history class, a student asks his teacher, “Do I need to memorize dates for tomorrow’s test?”

The teacher replies, “No dates.”

Encouraged, the young student goes home and studies hard, following the teacher’s instruction. The next day he fails the test. Miserably.

Of course, the teacher had not told the student there would be NO dates on the test, but that he should KNOW dates. For aspiring counterfeit detectors, this instruction should be made even more clear: K-N-O-W dates!

Dates are very important areas to examine because they are unique to a particular coinage issues. The position, size and shape of the date should be the first elements examined when attempting to determine authenticity (unless better diagnostics are known for that coin). Often a misshapen or wayward digit is confirmation that something is amiss.

While this advice might seem to apply primarily to altered date coins, it is just as important for die-struck counterfeits. This 1895-O Morgan Dollar is a die-struck counterfeit recently made in China. It is of the correct weight and metal composition of an authentic coin. It is made from transfer dies and this coin would deceive many collectors.

By looking at the date under magnification, the coin immediately falls apart. Raised blobs of metal can be seen surrounding the 5, most prominently at 5:00 and 7:00. The metal flow is also suspiciously smoother in this area, dissimilar from the texture seen around the other digits. If you knew nothing else about this coin, those markers alone should scream, “not genuine.”

The counterfeiter made transfer dies for this coin by using a model coin from the 1890s, replacing the last digit with a 5. While this reveals the counterfeiter’s methods, it also tells us something else. Coins of every date and mintmark combination can be made in this same fashion. It’s therefore important to remember that this rule always applies: “Know dates!”