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Counterfeit Detection: 1899 Liberty Head Gold Eagle

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1420 Posts
 Posted 11/23/2021  3:40 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add CCFPress to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
NGC - Surface anomalies reveal the true nature of this imposter.

With a mintage of over 1.2 million, 1899 eagles (gold $10) struck in Philadelphia carry little numismatic premium outside the highest grades today. A counterfeiter is more likely to target the 1899-O (with a mintage of 37,047) or perhaps the 1899-S (841,000 struck), but even a common gold coin like the 1899 eagle is sometimes forged.

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation ( NGC) grading team encountered this spurious eagle in a submission from a respected dealer. The coin has the correct weight and is struck in gold, which deepens the mystery of why a counterfeiter would target it. It's possible the coin was struck to disguise gold bullion as a U.S. Mint issue, thereby circumventing the U.S. ban on hoarding gold from 1933 to 1974. If this was the forger's intention, then they would not have cared about profiting from the numismatic value by replicating a particular date/mintmark rarity.

A genuine 1899 Liberty Head Eagle (top) and a counterfeit (bottom)

A closer look reveals that the details on the fake are a tad softer and more round than those of the genuine example. Still, overall, the counterfeit's quality is quite good. The reason is because this is a highly deceptive transfer die counterfeit, which uses a real coin as the basis for dies employed to strike fakes.

The transfer-die process can leave defects on the dies. For instance, a large depression on the counterfeit's reverse is visible between the C and A in AMERICA. This flaw was present on the reverse die and will be repeated on every coin struck from it.

Often, a counterfeiter will try to address noticeable problems on the dies before using them to strike the spurious coins. To disguise a die defect, forgers often leave behind toolmarks, which appear raised on the fake. The eagle denomination is slightly bigger than a quarter, so this is delicate work. On this counterfeit, toolmarks appear to the left of Liberty's mouth on the obverse and above the dot after AMERICA on the reverse.

Toolmarks are visible to the left of Liberty's mouth on the obverse and above the dot after AMERICA on the reverse

Read More: Counterfeit Detection Series
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19262 Posts
 Posted 11/23/2021  4:52 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nice luster is not a good indicator of proving genuine, if transfer coin dies have been produced to make this counterfeit.

Was the possibility investigated of a thick covering of .900 fine recycled coin gold over a tungsten core? Density of tungsten almost exactly the same as gold.
Ultrasonic and comparative ping tone testing can help to identify a tungsten core.

Counterfeit would not have been identified without a trained eye knowing what to look for,
and some prior knowledge that it may have been a fake that would have prompted a much closer investigation.
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 Posted 11/23/2021  6:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Pretty scary stuff.
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