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1857 Flying Eagle Cent “Varieties” – Jack Young’s Fun With Fakes

By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC), and the Dark Side Group ……
 

A new installment of my CoinWeek exclusive series documents three different counterfeit  1857 Flying Eagle cents, all with their own unique telling markers. I’ll start with this example that a friend posted to the Dark Side Group. He asked members which one they liked better:

Above: Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent. Below: Genuine 1857 Flying Eagle cent.
Above: Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent. Below: Genuine 1857 Flying Eagle cent.

After review, the best answer in my opinion was “the not counterfeit one”!

One of the best “tells” for this variety of fake is the reverse “chip” as circled in red:

Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent.
Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent.

This particular type has been around for a while, as evidenced by this 2017 “Bay” sale and an article by NGC that documented it.

Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cents.

To read that article on counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cents, click here

NGC Screenshot of an 1857 Flying Eagle cent counterfeit diagnostics article.
Image: NGC.

But the research doesn’t stop, as there are others also in the marketplace currently. The following examples have an apparently shared reverse; I nicknamed them the “Notched T” counterfeits.

I sent a note to Flying Eagle and Indian Head cent expert Richard Snow and received the following information about the “T”: “it’s a defect in the transfer process” (for making the false dies).

Defect found on the reverse of a family of counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cents.
Defect found on the reverse of a family of counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cents.

And an example submitted and returned body-bagged by NGC:

NGC body bagged this counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent.
NGC body bagged this counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent.

Continuing down the proverbial rabbit hole leads to the latest fake of the family, one I nicknamed the “Bad T” (of UNITED).

Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent listed on eBay.
Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent listed on eBay.

A fairly decent looking example until you examine it more closely; there are lots of depressions and surface irregularities, as well as the odd “T”:

Left: counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent. Right: genuine 1857 Flying Eagle cent.
Left: counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent. Right: genuine 1857 Flying Eagle cent.

Didn’t take much looking to find others after this one was reported!

Here’s an example from Ecrater.com:

Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent listing on ecrater.
Image: ecrater.

This counterfeit matches the eBay listed one exactly.

Pick up points from this family of Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cents.
Pick up points from this family of Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cents.

And another “Bay” example, this one showing some of the attribution marks even better:

Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent listed on eBay.
Counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cent listed on eBay. Image: eBay
A counterfeit and a marked copy 1857 Flying Eagle cent share obvious markers.
A counterfeit and a marked copy 1857 Flying Eagle cent share obvious markers.

And let’s not leave Etsy out! More fun there with an 1856 and an 1858 thrown in for good measure!

Three counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cents listed on Etsy.com.
Three counterfeit 1857 Flying Eagle cents listed on Etsy.com.

And one major “twist”: this “PCGS” certed 1856 example:

Counterfeit 1856 Flying Eagle cent in fake PCGS slab.
Counterfeit 1856 Flying Eagle cent in fake PCGS slab.

Poor images of this one won’t allow positive attribution by type, but the “6” is a pretty clear sign that it’s really bad…

Again, hopefully the information in this article information will help reduce the opportunity for fraudsters to sting collectors with these fakes, as it continues to be a real jungle out there!

Best as always,

Jack


 

MORE Articles on Counterfeit Coins by Jack D. Young

 

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Jack D. Young
Jack D. Young
An engineer by training, Jack D. Young is a researcher and author on the subject of the recent wave of deceptive struck counterfeits. He is the founder of the "Dark Side" Counterfeits and Fakes Facebook watch group, a participating member of Early American Coppers (EAC) since 2002, the Liberty Seated Collectors Club (LSCC), C4, the NLG, the ANA, and the ANS. Jack has consulted on the subject of counterfeits and their effect on the Hobby with staffers of the United States Senate Finance Committee, a senior member of the U.S. Secret Service (both with the ACTF as an Expert Network volunteer), and agents of both CBP and the Department of the Treasury. His work has appeared in various club journals, including The Numismatist, and he was acknowledged for his research by Q. David Bowers in the latter's The Copper Coins of Vermont (2018). The ACTF awarded Jack Young the Alan Kreuzer Award in 2019 and the PNG presented him with the Sol Kaplan Award in 2022. He started collecting as a youth, filling a Lincoln penny board with his grandmother, and continues to collect low-grade early large cents by date and some varieties.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Wow. Well I bought six flying eagles from coin company AMPEX. they were $10.00 each and a beautiful coin. On top of that, they were culls.

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