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Counterfeit Detection: 1926-S Buffalo Nickel

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1411 Posts
 Posted 02/03/2021  1:26 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add CCFPress to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
NGC - A counterfeiter combined halves from two different coins to create this fake.

In 1926, the San Francisco Mint struck 970,000 Buffalo nickels. While this amount is lower than usual, it is comparable to the 1.2 million struck in 1931 at the same mint. However, for whatever reason, the 1926 coins were released directly into circulation, making them significantly harder to locate in higher grade than the 1931.

To illustrate that fact, one must merely check the NGC Price Guide, which shows the price of a 1931-S in MS 65 at $310, with 742 examples graded. Compare that to the price listed for the 1926-S in the same grade: $120,000, with a population of a mere 8 coins!

Obviously, this has made the 1926-S a target for counterfeiters. Recently, NGC graders came across what appears to be a lovely Mint State 1926-S Buffalo nickel.


Counterfeit 1926-S Buffalo Nickel

Take a look at the photos above. At first glance, the coin looks completely normal. The luster looks like a normal Buffalo nickel, and the weight it about right at 4.97 grams. After a cursory overall inspection, the next thing you should check for on this issue is to see if the date and mintmark are original and unaltered.


Close-ups of the date and mintmark on the 1926-S Buffalo Nickel

The photos above show nothing of concern. Both the date and mintmark look completely legitimate. (The 'F' for Buffalo nickel designer James Earle Fraser appears below the date.) While there is some slight Mechanical Doubling on the date, it is completely normal and doesn't raise any red flags.

So, we've now looked at the coin as a whole, which appears genuine and of the correct weight. Next, we've examined both the date and mintmarks closely. However, what we have neglected to do is inspect the third side of the coin - the edge!


Edge of the 1926-S Buffalo Nickel

As you can see from the edge, there is a large seam running around the entire coin. Some enterprising counterfeiter has either cut in half or planed down two Buffalo nickels and joined them together. One most likely began its life as a Philadelphia-issued 1926 (mintage of almost 45 million), and the other was likely a later date San Francisco issue, such as a 1937 (mintage of 5.6 million). Thus, by destroying two coins worth perhaps $100 total, the counterfeiter has created a new coin that would appear to be worth thousands of dollars.

As is always the case with expensive, key date coins, it is important to thoroughly inspect it before purchasing. That includes both the obverse, reverse and the often neglected third side of the coin: the edge. As always, coins graded and encapsulated by NGC are guaranteed to be genuine.

Read More: Counterfeit Detection Series.
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1306 Posts
 Posted 02/03/2021  1:34 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add That Coin Dude to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
So dissapointing...
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 Posted 02/03/2021  2:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Boy that is scary.
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15187 Posts
 Posted 02/03/2021  2:43 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add T-BOP to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Now if that coin was in a carboard 2x2 I know for sure I
wouldn't have been able to tell that it was a counterfeit.
Yes very scary .
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691 Posts
 Posted 02/03/2021  4:39 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add JJuliano to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yikes. Gives creedence to buying a TPG coin.
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 Posted 02/03/2021  4:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ExoGuy to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Albums and slabs can also be used to hide concoctions like this. Back in the late 1950's, the 1950-D Jefferson nickels were selling for $25 or so, apiece. I have an example of a 1950 MS nickel that was planed down and glued to a contemporary D-mint reverse. Unless a buyer pulled the coin from an album/holder and examined the edge, it would easily fool a buyer.
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99075 Posts
 Posted 02/03/2021  5:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
concoctions
At first glance, I saw concoctocoins.
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1973 Posts
 Posted 02/03/2021  7:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add fortcollins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Really scary!

This is something easy to see with the coin in hand, but in the era of all-online sales due to COVID, the risk increases dramatically. Add basement slabbers in the mix, and it may not be possible to inspect the edge until it is too late.

Coins with extensive die marriage studies have some level of protection. For example, any VAM mule is automatically on the no-fly list. Buffs, however, do not have that level of study, and are at risk. Making it worse, there are only two San Francisco mm varieties: a small "S" with a die chip in the top curl (1917 and earlier) and a larger "S" beginning in 1918. This type of clamshell fake could have been caught say for a 1913-S Type II with a post-1917 mm, but not from pics alone for a coin with proper mm style.

I have to admit that with 45+ years dealing with Buffs, I would not have caught this fake from obverse and reverse pics. In hand? Yes. Obscured in a slab? No.

This one makes me concerned. It's darned good.
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 Posted 02/03/2021  7:51 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add T-BOP to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
All I can say is it's a good thing I only collect raw mid to high grade circulated coins .
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 Posted 02/04/2021  05:12 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Impressive effort by that counterfeiter. Indeed very concerning as it would have fooled many of us, myself included
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 Posted 02/04/2021  08:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ty2020b to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Obvious from the edge, but slap this is a counterfeit early gen TPG holder with no visible edge, matching a cert# to grade and that's trouble.

Thanks for posting!
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 Posted 02/04/2021  12:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ExoGuy to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
At first glance, I saw concoctocoins.


@ jbuck .... When I corrected my typo, I neglected to make it COINcoctions!



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 Posted 02/04/2021  12:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Zurie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wow, this would be impossible to detect if you bought it in a slab and didn't break it out. I wonder how many of these creations are out there?
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 Posted 02/04/2021  12:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
When I corrected my typo, I neglected to make it COINcoctions!
Even better!
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 Posted 02/21/2021  2:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add element47 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hey guys! Wow, thats wild. I bet that took a lot of time and patients. I hate to commend something as nefarious as this, but he did a good job. He didnt damage the coins' obverse or reverse. Its very scary though. Knowledge is key to not being victim of a scam like this. Honestly, If I could buy that coin for cheap I would. Just to show people as a conversation piece.... Just have to make sure I keep it away from my good coins! lol.
I was wondering though, how in the world was that rim photo taken?

I'm new here to this forum. Also, pretty new to the hobby. Ive collected for years coins that were given to me or that Id find. But, its really been just more than a year now that I got to where I'm learning as much as I can, buying books, reading, and actually buying coins. So, please, bear with me. :)

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