- Just because it's not a great rarity doesn't mean it won't be a target for counterfeiters.
The Barber dime
series (1892-1916) holds one of the greatest rarities in US numismatics, the 1894-S. Fewer than a dozen of these Proof coins are currently known to the collecting world, and on the rare occasion that they are offered at auction, they command prices over $1 million. Their value has attracted the attention of counterfeiters, who have created outright fakes or added an 'S' mintmark to an 1894-dated dime from Philadelphia. Third-party authentication is essential for any coin purporting to be an 1894-S Dime.1894-S Barber Dime
In contrast, such scrutiny is often absent for the business strike 1903 Barber dime
. It's not a key date, and generally isn't worth over $100 except in Mint State condition, according to price guides. In fact, the 1903 business strikes with the 'O' and 'S' mintmarks are each more valuable. Because this is a coin that some collectors might skip certification for, it creates a different kind of opportunity for counterfeiters.Genuine 1903 Barber Dime
NGC recently received a purported 1903 Barber dime
. Its weight is 2.57 grams, pretty close to the expected 2.5 grams. However, instead of being 90% silver, it is instead mostly copper (56%), zinc (30%) and nickel (11%).Counterfeit 1903 Barber Dime
Even without the equipment to run a metallurgical analysis, there are plenty of other problems that identify it as a fake. For instance, the scrawny digits in the date look quite different from those in a genuine example. And at the base of Liberty's neck, the initial 'B' (for the coin's designer, Charles Barber
) is missing. There are also unexpected striations in the fields, which are particularly noticeable around the date.Close-up of Genuine (top) and Counterfeit 1903 Barber Dime
Additional red flags include: Spikes can be seen emerging from the obverse rim to the right of 'OF'; the leaves in the crown have sharper borders than expected but lack detail within; and there is an odd blob in between the two leaves at the bottom of the crown.
Counterfeiters will take advantage of any opportunity to make money, whether it's a great rarity like the 1894-S Dime or a more commonplace coin like the 1903 Dime.Read More: Counterfeit Detection Series Check out 1903 Barber Dimes on ebay