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Counterfeit Detection: 1876 US Gold Liberty Head Double Eagle

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 Posted 02/20/2021  12:57 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add CCFPress to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
NGC - A counterfeit $20 gold piece displays uncharacteristically prooflike surfaces and poorly defined devices.

The Philadelphia Mint struck more than 583,000 double eagles (gold $20) in 1876. This mintage, while less than the nearly 1.6 million struck in San Francisco that year, is respectable for the $20 Liberty Head series (1849-1907).

Even though 1876 is considered a common date for $20 Liberties, counterfeiters continue to target them. Recently, the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation ( NGC) grading team spotted the fake shown here among the coins in a collector's submission.

The counterfeit 1876 Double Eagle displays mushy, almost frosty devices and abnormally reflective surfaces.

As you can see, the counterfeit has an odd appearance. Its surfaces exhibit an abnormal sheen, almost as if the coin is proof like. This is especially apparent on the reverse, where the devices are almost frosty and the fields are slightly reflective.

Genuine 1876 Double Eagle.

If you compare the fake to the genuine article, you will note that the authentic coin has much more detail, even though it is slightly circulated. Its devices are sharp, and its surfaces are lustrous, as opposed to the rounded images and prooflike fields of the spurious specimen. The lettering on the reverse of the fake is poorly defined and mushy, and the denticles along the rim above AM of AMERICA are virtually obliterated.

The denticles above AM are almost obliterated.

Coin authentication often involves more than just visual inspection. The counterfeit weighs only 31.31g, 6 percent lighter than mint specifications (33.43g). However, the coin appears to be struck in gold that is almost as pure as that of an authentic specimen. This suggests it was struck to fool collectors, or that it was intended to be slipped in with a group of lower-quality double eagles to disguise that 2g of gold were missing.

When examining a coin, numismatists must use all the tools at their disposal. Although the counterfeit pictured here would scream "Fake!" to an experienced authenticator and grader, a numismatist could easily come to the same conclusion with just a bit more scrutiny.

Read More: Counterfeit Detection Series

1876 Liberty Head Double Eagle Facts

Check out certified 1876 Double Eagles on ebay.
Valued Member
United States
187 Posts
 Posted 02/20/2021  1:16 pm  Show Profile   Check Diy89Nurm7's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Diy89Nurm7 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the heads up. I guess it pays to have a working relationship with the seller or a guarantee from the intermediary (broker, auctioneer, etc.) against fakes. As someone who does selling occasionally, it's also tough to allow returns and then have someone slip in a fake to return for full refund.

I see occasional articles like your well-written one but wonder whether there is a widely-accepted online guide for fakes? (good thing I can only afford poorer coins for myself!)

Stay well,
Valued Member
United States
185 Posts
 Posted 02/20/2021  8:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PNWType to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
This one was actually a pretty easy spot for me compared to some of the other counterfeit detections you post! The details really do look mushy, dead giveaway!
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