PCGS Specials

HomeUS CoinsCounterfeit Coin Detection - 1942/41 Mercury Dime Overdate

Counterfeit Coin Detection – 1942/41 Mercury Dime Overdate

Counterfeit Coin Detection by Paul SandlerGrader/Researcher, Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) ……

Altered dates and outright counterfeits are the two most common types of fake 1942/41 Mercury Dimes you will encounter in Counterfeit Coin Detection.


The 1942/41 Mercury Dime from the Philadelphia Mint is one of the most well-known overdates on any United States coin. Although the variety was first discovered and announced in 1943, very few Mint State pieces survive today, and any example of this variety is worth a hefty premium. There is a similar 1942/41 variety from the Denver Mint, but the under-date is not nearly as pronounced and is less desirable.

genuine Mercury dime - Counterfeit Coin Detection

Genuine Philadelphia 1942/41 Mercury Dime

This variety occurred due to a mistake in the die-making process at the Philadelphia Mint. Working dies were given two impressions from working hubs, with an annealing process performed in between in order to harden the steel. The die’s first impression came from a 1941-dated hub, while the second was from a 1942. This left traces of the 1941 date underneath the 1942. This error apparently occurred twice, and by mere chance one of those two dies was shipped to Denver. Below is an example of a genuine Philadelphia 1942/41 Mercury dime, along with a close-up of the date.


1942/41 Mercury Dime With Altered Date

As you can see, there is doubling on the “4”, especially on the bottom, and the “1” is very clearly visible and is sharply defined. With such a large price disparity between normal coins of this date and the variety, counterfeiters often attempt to fool collectors looking to buy an example. The two most common types of fakes that NGC sees of the 1942/41 Mercury Dime are altered dates and outright counterfeits.

First, we’ll discuss the altered date type of forgery.

To create a 1942/41 Mercury dime, a forger will often start with a genuine 1942 Mercury dime. They will then simply move around surface metal until they gather enough to form the shape of the “1” under the left side of the “2” in the date. Here is an example that was not very well done. You can see a dark patch to the left of what is supposed to look like a “1” under the “2”. That dark, rough area is where the forger took metal from in order to form the fraudulent under-date. This particular counterfeiter didn’t even bother trying to make the bottom of the “4” look doubled, and the shape of the “1” is completely wrong.

counterfeit coin

Counterfeit 1942/41 Mercury Dime

Lastly, we’ll take a look at a counterfeit 1942/41-P dime. This coin is not altered but rather the entire piece is not genuine. Judging by the lack of sharp details, it was likely created by creating a fake die from a genuine piece.

The date shows the underlying “1” as well as doubling on the bottom of the “4”. At first glance, the coin might look ok. However, the “1” is very weak, much more so than it would be on a genuine piece. That, along with the weak details throughout, should set off alarm bells on this counterfeit coin.

Interested in reading more articles on Counterfeit Detection? Click here

Here are some more close-up images of the dates:


Genuine Philadelphia 1942/41 Mercury Dime


1942/41 Mercury Dime With Altered Date

counterfeit coin closeup

Counterfeit 1942/41 Mercury Dime


Numismatic Guaranty Company
Numismatic Guaranty Companyhttps://www.ngccoin.com/
NGC was founded in 1987 and has become one of the largest third-party grading services. Their parent company is the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG).

Related Articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

PCGS Set Registry

AU Capital Management US gold Coins

David Lawrence Rare Coins Auctions