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A Tale Of Two Fatmen Dollars

 
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Author Previous TopicReplies: 8 / Views: 378Next Topic  
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 Posted 04/17/2021  6:12 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Message

Quote:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...


I thought that I would share a couple Fat Man Dollars with you. One is obviously fake, while I'm quite sure that the other is real. Somehow this quote from Dickens helps tie it all together. I'm interested in folks' thoughts on both pieces and my conclusions.

Recall that the so-called Fat Man silver dollars are 1 Yuan silver coins minted sporadically in the first half of the 20th Century. Here is a link to the numista page on them: https://en.numista.com/catalogue/pieces3849.html They have been extensively faked for decades and we routinely see these on CCF, often with a backstory of a box being handed down to a nephew of a soldier who fought in the Vietnam War or else an impulse buy at a flea market.
I have several fakes of this coin in my black cabinet, including a "double fat man", with the portrait on both sides.

Now the data:

Coin A:
Mass: 24.9 g
Diameter: 39 mm
Thickness: 3.0 mm
Specific Gravity: 8.0
Attracted to a magnet? no
Edge: reeded and chamfered
Alignment: medal
Purported year of issue: 1921 AD
Silver content, as estimated by a Sigma Metalytics Precious Metal Verifier: less than 80% if any at all
Other: unusually detailed hair

Coin B:
Mass: 26.8 g
Diameter: 39 mm
Thickness: 2.7 mm
Specific Gravity: 9.9
Attracted to a magnet? no
Edge: reeded
Alignment: medal
Purported year of issue: 1914 AD
Silver content, as estimated by a Sigma Metalytics Precious Metal Verifier: a little under for the 92.5% silver scale, but definitely in there for the 90% silver, pre-1945 scale
Other: chop marked

Her are pics of the coins, starting with Coin A:






and Coin B:




Here is a comparison of the edges, clearly showing the chamfering on the top coin (coin A):


I should note that my scale is not really accurate enough to do a bullet-proof specific gravity test, but the results seem to be quite close for a coin that should be 89% silver and one that is some sort of copper/nickel/zinc alloy.

Any thoughts as to the relevance of the chamfer on the obvious fake? Of the 15 or so fakes in my black cabinet, this is diagnostic for them. It slightly reduces the mass of the coin, which makes it easier to tell that it is underweight, but perhaps it is used to mask some aspect of the manufacturing?

"If you climb a good tree, you get a push."
-----Ghanaian proverb

"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
-----King Adz

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 Posted 04/17/2021  11:05 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add macmercury to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm not sure if coin B has a chop mark, appears more to be damage.

Coin A is under weight, and if the reeding matches to the top one from the last photo, I believe that's the fake one as well.

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 Posted 04/18/2021  03:50 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Albert to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For reader interest I'd like to add that there are 7 characters on coins from 1919 to 1921 but 6 characters on coins from 1914. The reported measures don't seem to support either piece to be genuine. However, there are a great many variations and no shortage of fakes. Some clever and some not so much.
Edited by Albert
04/18/2021 04:32 am
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 Posted 04/18/2021  07:25 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you both for your comments.

@mac, yes I agree that the chamfered edge is on a fake. The reason why I think that there is a chop mark behind the bust is that this mark looks like an Arabic "31" to me. I suppose it could be graffiti or even Pareidolia though.



@albert, it would greatly help me to understand which measure on coin B are not supportive of this coin being real. Can you please share? If there is a reason why you don't want to have this information public, please dm me with your thoughts. Thx!
"If you climb a good tree, you get a push."
-----Ghanaian proverb

"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
-----King Adz

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1164 Posts
 Posted 04/18/2021  12:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Albert to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Can you say if your coin B is of the Kansu, Hunan, Shantung or Sinkiang variety?
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 Posted 04/18/2021  1:39 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Albert to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Regarding the edge of coin A, and don't get this wrong, I make no claim coin A is genuine.
I only state that the edge, by itself alone, is not a good diagnostic.
The reason is because in some locations about 5% of the silver was shaved off and the milled edge was re-made with a file.
So I am not saying coin A is genuine.
I'm saying that if you only look at the edge, and if it doesn't look right, it doesn't have to mean the coin is false.
I'm sure there are other aspects that point to being non-genuine.
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 Posted 04/18/2021  6:34 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add wizened to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting side by side.

I could not find Fatman thickness specs. But the Morgan dollar, similar coin in size and weight (.3g more) and purity (1% more silver) is reported as:

width 38.10 mm
Thickness 2.40 mm

So Fatman is 39 mm wide, 1 mm wider, but one of yours is 3.0 mm thick, while the other is 2.7mm thick. That is good indication that the thicker one is a fake. That and your specific gravity test. It may feel too thick in hand as well.

The denticles on the Fat Man dollar are unusual. A thick one alternated with a thin one. While the pictures are not well focussed on the denticles, it seems that coin B has these denticles, and Coin does not, as least to my old eyes.

Nonetheless, overall coin A does have a decent look to it. It is not one you look at for 5 seconds and immediately suspect it is a knock-off, although an experienced coin dealer might spot it that quickly.
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 Posted 04/18/2021  7:30 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Albert to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I agree that the pictures don't say much, and that the reported thickness for both coins appear to be too much.
But I do agree that what is called a "chop mark" can also be described as a tooling mark as seen on many others after they are plucked out of the hot mold. I have photos and documented many of these marks often found in the same location.
However, I really never had it spelled out for me to know how "thick" a coin is.
Is it measured with a micrometer field to field"
Measured with a micrometer device to device (such as perhaps on center)?
Or is it the thickness of the rim?
The OP presents an interesting case, but I regret we are too far apart and rely here alone on reported measures and photos.
Such is the case when I wish I could have the coin in hand for my own exam and then report back to the OP on just what the piece is or is not.
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 Posted 04/18/2021  8:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Can you say if your coin B is of the Kansu, Hunan, Shantung or Sinkiang variety?


Not sure how to tell @albert. In googling this subject, it appears as though there was an old NGC page with this information, but the link is broken now. On numista, it says that Kansu was made from inferior quality silver and has this province on the obv. This is not the case for coin B. I would be very happy if you could assist me with further attribution.

Also, that is good to know about the silver shaving and then re-reeding in order to harvest a little value from coins. I guess for the purposes of this exercise, that is a red herring.

@wize, yes you are very observant about the denticles. However, from what I can tell both coins have that similar pattern of alternating thicknesses. A while back, there was an interesting CCF thread talking about the number of denticles. I haven't counted them for either of these pieces though.
"If you climb a good tree, you get a push."
-----Ghanaian proverb

"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
-----King Adz

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