By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC), and the Dark Side Group ……
As a quick intro, I have had over 60 research articles on the subject of current counterfeit coins published in half a dozen different coin forums – with the majority exclusive here on CoinWeek!
In previous articles, I have reviewed three levels of fakes.
The least deceptive ones I nicknamed “cartoon” counterfeits. These are fakes that merely resemble an original genuine coin and do not take much experience to properly evaluate, often failing a simple “Red Book” test.
The next group are “mid-level deceptive” counterfeits. These utilize a genuine coin to manufacture counterfeit dies, often using the same obverse/reverse and simply punching in different dates. I have documented several of these as a series of “family counterfeits”. These rarely fool a third-party grading (TPG) service but take a much higher level of expertise with the series to accurately evaluate, often requiring variety attribution for the date to be certain.
The third group is what I call “highly deceptive”. Objects in this group are also created using dies based on a genuine source coin, but only for that date. These are the most deceptive and require a much higher degree of expertise and tools to adequately evaluate – including enough time for proper attribution and research, something most TPGs do not have. I also refer to these examples in genuine TPG holders slabbed as genuine as “Dark Corner” examples…
But back to my point. This article presents a specific “mid-level deceptive” fake and its previous roots to a known “family”.
It has been three years since I wrote my first article on a family of half cent counterfeits based on an 1835 type obverse and 1826 C-1 reverse. This “1811” is from my original article research (images from eBay listings) – the green circle is a die indicator of a genuine 1826 C-1 reverse; the white ones indicate common markers of the fakes.
In the article I reference above, I show two major “tells” seen on every different dated example I documented: the “gash” on the obverse and the “zipper” on the reverse.
The apparent double-edged sword we often discuss concerns the line between notifying the Hobby and other collectors while advising the counterfeiters–one of the main reasons I do not discuss the physical properties of the “coins” in my articles and exercise caution in the several public coin forums I participate in.
Since then, it appears the counterfeiters have improved at least the 1811…
The obverse is new and no longer matches the original “family” members. The telltale common gash is missing, while there are visible improvements to the profile:
Fortunately, it still doesn’t exactly match either known 1811 half cent obverse. But it is certainly closer.
And the reverse is still the 1826 C-1, but without the “zipper”:
Shortly after this listing ended, another seller listed a second half cent counterfeit example:
This one lined up to the subject example in both obverse and reverse.
In both cases, the sellers ended their auctions; just another counterfeit variety to keep an eye out for!
Again, I consider these to be mid-level deceptive fakes, but they are closing the gap. In my humble opinion, ATTRIBUTION continues to be the key to flushing these out, or they will continue to fool dealers and collectors alike!