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Fake 1928 Dollar Needs Close Look
By F. Michael Fazzari, Numismatic News
September 24, 2012

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Some time ago, I read a column about a newly discovered and deceptive counterfeit 1928 Peace dollar that was probably of Chinese manufacture. I tend to take warnings about dangerous “new” counterfeits lightly until I am able to examine an actual specimen and decide for myself.

Consequently, I have been especially vigilant while examining any 1928 Peace dollars we receive at ICG. Recently, I may have come across the fake that I’ve been waiting to see. This particular counterfeit is much better executed than I should have expected. Unfortunately, I cannot lay my hands on the original column to check if there were specific diagnostics given to identify the fake die and confirm that the coin I’m writing about here is the same.

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Until recently, every counterfeit Peace dollar submitted for authentication has been off-color and out-of-tolerance; often by as much as two grams. More obvious is the lack of style found on most of these fakes. Their artistry and die work can only be described as very crude; not deceptive in the least to any numismatist.

Two years ago, during a counterfeit seminar hosted by Beth Deisher and Dr. Dubay, I was able to examine counterfeit dies and a few artistic, better made counterfeit Peace dollars, but I don’t have an example of one to illustrate here. It’s a good bet that the counterfeits continued to improve since then. Sure enough, we began to see a new batch of better fakes. Although still light weight, at least these fakes were more artistic and looked as they should.

The coin I am writing about today is truly deceptive. I can say that because it passed through the hands of at least three coin dealers (one a professed silver dollar expert using a hand lens) without being detected. The about uncirculated dollar is “Naked-Eye-Deceptive.” If it were a common date coin making up an investment bag of silver dollars, I doubt if anyone would give it a second glance. That’s because its color is correct and its design looks just as it should for a slightly circulated specimen. There are no misshaped letters or date numerals and Miss Liberty is as artistic as ever. The weight of the coin is on the low side of the acceptable range, but nothing to raise suspicion. I’m going to guess that this fake was struck using a counterfeit die made by a sophisticated transfer process. Incidentally, this fake is not magnetic – a test I have read about that I don’t personally use to detect Chinese counterfeits.

The main clues that this dollar did not come from the United States Mint are found on its surface. Using 12X magnification, there are some signs of artificial circulation similar to the pin-prick marks commonly seen on repaired coins (Fig.1). Although this fake (Fig.2) is die struck, the metal flow is weak and its surface is microscopically wavy compared to a genuine coin (Fig.3). You can also find contact marks from a genuine host coin that were transferred to the counterfeit die and then to this coin. These marks are not “fresh.” They appear as bag mark shaped depressions into the newly struck surface of the fake. One of these marks resembles a small “dash” directly above the “8” on the fake dollar.

In these times of very deceptive counterfeit coins entering the market, it’s best to purchase “key” date coins that have been authenticated. That’s why I finally got to see one of these fakes. A dealer realized it would be much easier to sell this coin once it was slabbed. Fortunately, now it should be off the market for good.

There is one other tidbit of information I’d like to share here that I found while researching the counterfeit in this column. Although I have examine countless 1928 Peace dollars in the past, the discovery of a doubled die obverse on one 1928 die has taken me completely by surprise.

I don’t claim that this is anything new. It’s was just totally new to me. The obverse die that is identified by a die scratch between the two hair curls at the back of Liberty’s neck is also a doubled die. The pick-up point (Fig.4) is the “R” of “Trust.” I guess I’ll need to start looking at coins even more closely than I do now. So should you.

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