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Counterfeit 1920 “PCGS” and Raw 1921 Pilgrim Half Dollars

By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC) ……
I continue to update my list of bad “PCGS” slabbed coins from the main Chinese counterfeit seller of such: https://boxbullion.com/

One of the listed coins is a 1920 Pilgrim Tercentenary Commemorative Half Dollar; of course, they show a genuine example in their listing but note it as a “dollar”:


Order that, but get this…

Counterfeit 1920 Pilgrim Half Dollar in fake PCGS slab.
Counterfeit 1920 Pilgrim Half Dollar in fake PCGS slab.

Obviously bad (i.e., counterfeit)! When I review a “subject” coin, I highlight marks to look for on other coins – as well as compare it to known genuine examples. In this case, there is a “blob” where the designer’s initial D should be clear, the hat doesn’t close out to the Pilgrim’s head, there is a pit in the “C” of TERCENTENARY, and there is another pit top upper left sail, as all marked in orange below.

Author’s “1920 PCGS” Pilgrim; fake coin in a fake slab
Author’s “1920 PCGS” Pilgrim; fake coin in a fake slab

And of course, the cert is active with no online images…

Interestingly, as this counterfeit specimen hit my collection, I was reviewing “suspect” 1921 Pilgrims on the internet and came across several that also didn’t look right. The coin below had some unique “marks” to it, but several were shared in common with the 1920:

Counterfeit Pilgrim Half Dollar listed for sale on eBay.

And there were others… this one looking better (better images?) and being offered by a large, established coin dealer who removed it after a note:

It appears that the counterfeiters used their fake 1921 to create the fake “PCGS” 1920.

But the best example I found I actually purchased; this one certainly looked better than any of the others I had found, and it, too, was being offered by a large and established dealer:

Several folks who saw this one (unmarked) thought it could be genuine, perhaps even the genuine source example used for the counterfeits.

But when compared to a known genuine piece:

Author’s subject “1921” on the left, genuine example on the right
Author’s subject “1921” on the left, genuine example on the right

Specs for this commemorative are shown as follows (courtesy PCGS):

Pilgrim Half Dollar Coin Specifications.

My measurements showed it slightly off specs, and my local coin shop scanned it as 77% silver!

Case closed. Conclusion: counterfeit Pilgrim. The dealer is awesome and immediately made a refund for my purchase.

I created this collage of the marks to look for using my small microscope:

These fakes will continue to show up for sale and (hopefully) not fool any potential buyers. Moral of the story: know your series and buy from reputable sellers.

As always, the research on this one and all of the others has been a team effort, with friends and fellow members of Early American Coppers (EAC) and the Dark Side Group on Facebook being instrumental in the effort as well as others, especially my wife (who continues to put up with me and this)!

And again, should you see one “out there” report it!

Best as always,


MORE Articles on Counterfeit Coins by Jack D. Young


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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