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1901-S 25c Conundrum

 
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 Posted 07/24/2021  12:48 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add kbbpll to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I ran across this 1901-S quarter while doing other research. I considered playing a guessing game on here but it's too obscure so I'll go straight to the point. This is a Reverse Type II, where the wingtips do not extend beyond the E's. Type II was used 1892-1900, then Rev Type III, where the wingtips extend beyond the E's, ran from mid-1900 through 1916.

There are no known transition varieties for 1901, so the fact that this one is Rev II got my attention. It is graded PCGS VG08, and sold twice, on Stacks in 2011 and then five years later on Heritage. The images from both auctions are similar, showing the difference in toning between obverse and reverse. Thus it is not simply a mistake with the images.

It is possible that this is an unknown transition variety. There were 14 SF reverse dies from 1900 "retained for future use" by Philadelphia, shown in mint records. However, I searched all of Heritage, ebay, GC, Stacks, and PCGS images, probably looked at 400-500 coins, and this is the only 1901-S Rev II example found.

It is unlikely to be an added mint mark on a 1901-P coin, as this would just mean that Rev II exists for P minted coins instead of S.

This leaves me with the theory that it is a 1901-P obverse muled to a 1892-1900 SF reverse. We can't see the edge to determine if there is a seam. This theory means that PCGS missed it.

I'm curious if anybody else has input. Is it an extremely rare transition variety, or a well-done counterfeit?

Edited by kbbpll
07/24/2021 12:50 pm
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 Posted 07/24/2021  4:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TNG to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very well constructed post! Learned something new but sorry that I can't help on TY1 and TY2 reverses but I hope somebody can help.
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 Posted 07/24/2021  6:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Zurie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting catch. My guess is it's a counterfeit with a 1901-P obverse married to a type II reverse. That might account for the difference in toning between the obverse and reverse. There were only 2 die pairs used for the 1901-S issue, and the date position doesn't match either of them. It's possible that PCGS blew the authentication. Does the cert number match the coin on the PCGS cert verification site? See below:

http://www.barbercoins.org/BQ1901S.shtml
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1947 Posts
 Posted 07/24/2021  8:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kbbpll to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@Zurie, yes, the cert# matches. https://www.PCGS.com/cert/13522177 No image there though.

I had a similar conversation with John and Jeff at BCCS. The two known die pairs and the date position were discussed. I also think the MM position is slightly lower and left of the two known reverses. However, SF was shipped 5 quarter die pairs on Jan 10 1901. So the possibility exists for a previously unknown die pair that included a Rev Type II. Like you though, I lean strongly towards it being a sandwiched fake, and PCGS blew it. You'd think it has to be expertly done for a grader to not notice a seam, but you'd also think that the "expert" graders would immediately notice that it's a Rev II and wake up their spidey senses.

I did not mention the possibility that it is a straight-up counterfeit, but I don't see evidence of that. Both sides look like legit coins to me. I do note, other than the toning difference, that the obverse has full denticles but on the reverse they are all but worn away. Such a mismatch with wear isn't unprecedented but it caught my eye.

Full disclosure - I was bored and actually looking to see if SF might have done a Rev II in 1901, since the SF dimes have "thin ribbon" anomalies through 1905 despite 1901 being the last year for that type. I ran into the subject coin fairly early and thought I had something, but it turned into a fruitless search for another example.
Edited by kbbpll
07/24/2021 8:22 pm
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 Posted 07/25/2021  3:12 pm  Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The reverse is relatively more worn than the obverse, with different toning, as noted. My experience with Barbers has been that they tend to wear evenly right up until the rims start to merge, unlike Bust and Seated coins with their accelerated reverse circulation wear patterns.

Without being able to see the edges, up-close on the rims, or obtain precise diameter measurements it's tricky to do more than speculate..I think you may be right about it being a sandwich or clamshell job. The seams can be successfully disguised using leading or plating and polishing. If so, it's reasonably well executed.

I would love to see this coin cracked out and put under a decent scope but that's impossible when dealing with coins you don't own :P

I do not have a 1901-S of my own with which to compare it, alas, those coins being quite out of my price range!

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 Posted 07/25/2021  5:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Oldfordman to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The colors make me lean towards 2 pics of different coins being confused as 1 coin.
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 Posted 07/25/2021  6:41 pm  Show Profile   Check jacrispies's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add jacrispies to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The OP said different auction companies took pictures of the same coin that showed the toning difference. So that means it couldn't have been a mistake with the pictures.
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1947 Posts
 Posted 07/25/2021  7:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kbbpll to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yes, one of my early thoughts was a mistake with the pictures, but Stacks and HA sold the same coin 5 years apart with different images showing the same coin. @paralyse, indeed it would be good to see the coin in hand, raw. Sadly we'll probably never know for sure, and the owner might never realize something is unusual about it either. In the image I posted I can imagine seeing a seam on the left side of the reverse, but in other images it appears to be the edge of the plastic holding the coin. HA lists it as "make offer to owner", but I'm not willing to spend 10 grand to find out. :)
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 Posted 07/25/2021  7:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add fortcollins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Fascinating thread, and plenty disturbing.

If the sites have complete photos of the slab, would PCGS be able to make any determination whether the slab is counterfeit? Authentication of the slab may have to be done in hand, but if it is an obvious fake, PCGS should be able to make that call from photos.

Even if the slab is genuine, the upthread suggestions of a composite counterfeit seem likely. At least PCGS honors its guarantees. Basement slabbers, not so much so.

It's troubling that this coin passed through so many respected numismatists undetected. @kbbpll, whale of a job of detective work!
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 Posted 07/25/2021  7:47 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kbbpll to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The two previous sales are here, if it helps. The HA listing has images of the slab. I don't see anything wrong with it and the barcode contains the correct info.
Stacks 2011: https://auctions.stacksbowers.com/l...er-vg-8-PCGS
Heritage 2016: https://coins.ha.com/itm/barber-qua...bnail-071515

@fortcollins, if your username reflects reality, it appears we live close by. Send me a PM as I have something else you might be interested in seeing in person, your email is turned off on here.
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 Posted 07/25/2021  8:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jimbucks to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting. My thought is that it is a mule. Mostly because it is the transition date plus the note about the reverse dies being held back for future use. Possible that PCGS let a fake slip through but a rarity like this probably was given a lot of scrutiny. The different color between obv and rev is not a surprise to me.
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 Posted 07/25/2021  8:46 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Oldfordman to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I also see a different amount of wear on the other sides of the coin.
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 Posted 07/27/2021  2:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kbbpll to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I contacted Heritage, who said they would try to get in touch with the purchaser. If anything comes of that, I'll update here.

I posted this as a guessing game on another forum, and a professional grader on there said he never checks hub types when authenticating. I thought that was odd. Both PCGS and NGC recognize Type 1 & 2 for 1892 quarters, so they're fully aware of the hub types. I don't expect them to know everything about every series, but with a key date like this you'd think the hub type would stick out like a sore thumb. I guess not.
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