Northeast's Blog

Counterfeit Series - Copying the King New!

The following was written by Brian.

In my last post, I discussed the 1914 $2.5 Indian and we learned that the most common way to fake this coin is via die transfer. For those that did not read the last post, you are of course encouraged to do so, but in essence, the die transfer method is done by taking an original issue coin and transferring the details onto the counterfeit die, which is then tooled to hide the sins and eventually used to strike the fakes.

The 1914 $2.5 Indian had a mintage of 240,000 however, which makes the availability of a quality original to work with possible. But when the size (diameter-wise) of the coin goes up and the mintage goes down, sometimes the die transfer just isn’t the best (or easiest) way for these lowlife counterfeiters to make the fakes.

This brings us to #3 in our series; the 1893-S Morgan Dollar. Easily one of the most recognizable key dates in numismatics, the 93-S Morgan had a mintage of a scant 100,000. Many consider the 93-S Morgan dollar the true “King of the Morgans” due to the simple fact that the 1895 proof is A) a proof issue and not a business strike, and B) basically unobtainable by all but the very wealthy. Mix these factors together along with the potential for massive profits and you have a recipe for counterfeits. Indeed, much like the King of Rock and Roll - Elvis Presley, this king also has its throngs of copycats.

The counterfeit 93-S Morgan $ is a bit different than the aforementioned 1914 $2.5 in that it employs an added mintmark. 1893 Philadelphia Morgan Dollars, while a lower mintage in their own right, are most often called into service for making of a 93-S.

As usual, I’ll show you a very nice authentic 1893-S Morgan Dollar.

Now let’s take a bit of a closer look at the mint mark of a genuine, since that is one of the tells.

Since there were two reverse dies, you’ll see these two very slightly different mintmark orientations.

Here’s an altered mintmark

While the mintmark above itself doesn’t look horrible, you can see discoloration around the ‘S’ and that is a dead giveaway. Any time we’re moving metal, there will be some slight discoloration.

The date alone (thankfully) is not the only marker of a genuine 1893- Morgan Dollar. The “rabbit ears” in left foot of “R” in LIBERTY and the die scratch in top of the “T” in LIBERTY are seen on all but the lowest grade authentic pieces.

Lastly, the date is another giveaway with counterfeits. A genuine 93-S will have the ‘1’ directly over the denticle and the date is slightly tilted to the right. Here’s a good one.

Ok, so now you’re loaded for bear! But as always, my advice is to buy only NGC or PCGS graded pieces when it comes to purchasing rare and expensive dates. Don’t get burned!

FUN Show Report New!

The following was written by Chris.

Last week I attended a coin show for the first time in nearly a year and a half. The 15th Annual Summer FUN show was held in Orlando. While there are probably more preferred places to be in the middle of the summer (H-O-T), I was excited to finally go to a show. It was probably the largest summer FUN I’ve attended, full of other dealers desperate to attend a large, non-regional event.

Both Brian and I were planning on attending, with Brian’s main efforts to have been focused on getting as much of our limited inventory as possible in front of other dealers. Unfortunately, Brian was sidelined with major knee surgery, so I flew down by myself with the goal of buying as much as possible. The show did not disappoint.

Except for some hotel room coin buying before the show, nearly all my business occurred within a twenty-foot radius of my table. I was fortunate enough to have first/early shots at some wholesalers’ inventories, so my first two days were non-stop buying. Only near the end of the second day was I able to venture to the first aisle of the bourse, where I picked up a handful of newps. That was as far as I made it. My third and final day was abbreviated (I was flying out that afternoon), so that was spent back at the table doing some more buying and taking care of paperwork.

I was not the only one there for the sole purpose of buying new inventory. A few other dealers who normally bring significant inventory to coin shows only showed up with their checkbooks. Despite the competition, I was able to pick up three double row boxes of newps. (These will start hitting our site next week, so stay tuned.)

This “new” coin market we are in remains quite strong, with coins bringing levels we have not seen in over ten years, and it’s not just Morgan Dollars. If you showed up with nothing more than a Greysheet, you likely went home with almost nothing to show for your efforts.

I know many dealers, ourselves included in the past, like to incorporate their dining experiences into their show reports. I would do so here, but that would have meant I actually ate. Aside from some lemon drops I brought and some beef jerky that a coin dealer friend of mine hooked me up with, I went sans food during the show hours. The evenings consisted of hotel food in my room, so I’m sorry to disappoint in this aspect of the report.

We have the ANA World’s Fair of Money coming up in Chicago in August, and Tom, Brian (on a scooter), Frank, and I are looking forward to attending!

p.s. I flew from Orlando to NOLA to visit my family, and I more than made up for the disappointing dining experience I had at the show. Anyone who has been to New Orleans knows how amazing the cuisine can be.

Counterfeit Series – 1914 $2.5 Gold Indian New!
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The following was written by Brian.

Next up in our continuing series of counterfeit detection is the 1914 $2.5 Gold Indian. There is no debate that this issue is a key date as it has the second lowest mintage (second only to the key date 1911-D) in the entire series. The 1914 $2.5 is only slightly less rare than the lower mintage and much higher priced 1911-D.

It probably goes without saying at this point, but I will stress once more that a collectors’ best protection against purchasing a fake is buying only certified coins graded by the top tier third party grading companies. I will repeat this advice in every blog post regarding this topic until I’m told to stop.

The 1914 $2.5 falls into the “Outright Counterfeit” group, as it is produced from a counterfeit die (as opposed to say, an added mintmark or altered date counterfeit). Only 240,000 pieces were struck, and that makes the 1914 Gold Quarter Eagle quite the desirable piece. Unfortunately, with that kind of rarity comes the scourge of counterfeit coins.

Here is an authentic 1914 $2.5.

Perhaps it is the incuse design that gives collectors and even some dealers problems with identifying fakes. Most counterfeit quarter and half eagles were made using the die transfer process. This is a process in which the details of an original coin are transferred to the counterfeit die. This is not a perfect process; the “original” counterfeit die will always have some issues – those issues being literally any contact mark or defect that transferred from the genuine model coin. This is why tooling becomes the next step in the process. Tooling is done to the die itself with the objective of “correcting” the issues (again, contact marks or defects) on the original model. This sharp tool, however, will cause raised (not incuse) lines and depressions on the surface of the resulting counterfeit coin. And that’s a major diagnostic of detection.

Here is a counterfeit example.

This close-up shows the tooling lines at the base of the neck.

Here, the counterfeiter tries to cover up a known depression in 1914 $2.5 fakes.


Here are a few typical diagnostics:

1) Look for tool marks in the recesses at the back of the Indian's neck.

2) Heavy toolmarks which can look like raised spikes are often detected around the perimeter as well.

3) Weak details.

4) Depressions - one common depression can be found above the 4 in the date. Note: you may see tooling marks where the depression was if the counterfeiter tried to ‘fix’ this.

Hopefully this will leave you armed with enough info needed to keep yourself from being duped. But as always, if there are ever any doubts (and even some of the most skilled and seasoned numismatists have them), the third-party grading company route is always the best, safest way to go. 

Created by: Panda on 06/23/2021

stack two coins, compare their edge reeding: if they don't perfectly match (e.g. the edge teeth counts), then one is fake!

The Blue Ridge Hoard New!

Tom discusses our recent acquistion of a large collection of Double Eagles.

The Omega Man New!

The following was written by Brian.

Without doubt, one of, if not the biggest scourges in numismatics is counterfeiting. Many of us in the hobby have come across it first hand or heard a story about someone selling or being sold a counterfeit coin. From the tooled/forged 1916-D Mercury dime to the 1914-D Lincoln cent to the 1914 $2.5 Indian, its existence can not be denied.  

Luckily we now have 3rd party grading companies that are fully trained to detect such forgeries, and I personally have every faith in them. Say, remember that old PGA commercial ‘These Guys Are Good’? Like those pros, the graders at the top tier 3rd party grading companies are literally the best in the world and it’s nice to have them on our side as collectors (and dealers). The grading companies protect us from these phonies and it’s a very good thing for the hobby.

Enter Omega Man – responsible for some of the greatest numismatic counterfeits the world has ever seen. Not even the finest experts in the industry could detect his handiwork until it had become known and looked for. This guy was good too. So good, in fact, that had it not been for a signature that he put on his coins – the Omega symbol, it is possible that more of his coins would be indistinguishable from their legitimate counterparts. You have to wonder if the talent at today’s third party graders would have been able to catch his counterfeits. Omega Man had his favorites; the 1907 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle and the 1882 $3 Gold coin. But again, without his very faint, tiny trademark symbol, most of these coins would go undetected. Here are a couple examples of the famous signature.

What’s still a mystery is why. Most counterfeiters try to go undetected so as to make the most money possible without getting caught. Perhaps this was just a case of an artist’s vanity. Omega Man was never caught, although pleas for his correspondence had been made in a big way. Check out the article below in which Omega Man is called to at least send a letter or something, anything! Again, we may never know who this person was or why this person did it, but we can be assured (as can be seen from the very bottom of the article below) that everyone thinks they have a genuine 1943 copper cent.