HomeCounterfeitsCounterfeit Coin Detection – Altered 1893-S Morgan Dollar

Counterfeit Coin Detection – Altered 1893-S Morgan Dollar

Counterfeit Coin Detection - Genuine 1893-S
Counterfeit Coin Detection – A Genuine 1893-S Morgan Dollar


Counterfeit Coin Detection by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……

What’s the first place to look for Counterfeit Coin Detection when authenticating key date US coins? This month’s counterfeit detection feature answers that question by examining an altered 1893-S Morgan dollar.

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When verifying the authenticity of a rare date coin, there’s a very good place to start your examination: the date. Most valuable US coins are rare issues of a coin type that was produced for many years. Unfortunately, when it comes to key date coins, it’s not unusual to encounter a common date example that has been fraudulently altered to make it appear to be a rare coin. That’s exactly what happened to this altered date 1893-S dollar.

Counterfeit Coin Detection

Detail of the date of an authentic 1893-S Morgan Dollar (left) and the altered example (right).

By looking at the last digit of the date it’s clear that something is off.

The last digit is roughly shaped. The upper right portion of the 3 is straight where it should be curved. The middle tine is large and intrusive. The bulbous endings of the three are heavy and outsized – compare them with the graceful and diminutive terminus at the foot of the 9. It’s all just wrong and tells us that this digit has been altered. It’s not a real 1893-S.

But all of this asks an important question: should Counterfeit Coin Detection be obvious just by looking? After all, crude or misshapen date styles don’t mean that a coin is necessarily bad. There are numerous nineteenth century coins that have blundered or misshapen digits, and even a variety of 1823 half dollar referred to as an ‘Ugly 3’. The bottom line is that experienced attributors often know the shape and position of dates on authentic coins from memory. Having a genuine specimen for comparison is very helpful. Since today’s collectors have archives of images available at their disposal, especially those from auction houses, pictures of genuine examples usually aren’t hard to locate.

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Interested in reading more articles on Counterfeit Coin Detection? Click here.



Numismatic Guaranty Company
Numismatic Guaranty Company
NGC was founded in 1987, and for coin grading, its opening heralded the introduction of a new standard of integrity. From the beginning NGC focused on only one objective, a standard of consistent and accurate grading. As NGC has grown to become the leader in third-party grading services, we have maintained a steadfast and uncompromising commitment to this standard. The knowledge, integrity and dedication of NGC's team of grading experts ensures you a level of grading consistency unparalleled among grading services. This record of consistency, built over the years, has helped to foster greater stability throughout the rare coin marketplace.


  1. I’ve got 2 of the Morgan Silver Dollars, 1893-s and 1895-s. What exactly am I looking for besides the date being altered. The 1895 looks like it could be fake and the 1893 looks real. Thanks.


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