It's a Jungle out There! Later Date Large Cent Counterfeits

By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC) ……

As I continue to document the “family” of counterfeits currently available on the market, both as copies and as authentic examples, I realize how difficult this is as the counterfeits continue to evolve. I have family articles on CoinWeek about two different Bust dollars, fake Turban Head and middle date large cents and early and middle date half cents – six total to date.

I call these intermediate deceptive fakes: good enough to fool many collectors not fully engaged in a specific series, struck from dies created from genuine examples, and then struck with different dates to create the “family”. They are “die linked” to the original and each other in all features except the date, which results in non-existent die varieties for the various dates except the original.

So, I continue to say when examining raw coins offered for sale on the internet (which never lies, of course) – always start with attribution!

The latest group of “families” I have summarized are the later date large cents seen for sale in practically all internet selling venues.

I am going to start this “rant” with three different examples and review what is wrong with them before moving forward. These three were all submitted to TPGs for certification; in all cases, the TPG called them counterfeits.

1857 small date counterfeit- image courtesy NGC
1840 dated counterfeit- image courtesy NGC
1857 large date counterfeit- image courtesy PCGS

So, what are the pick-up points for these, and are they of the same family? Just for fun, I will throw my counterfeit 1857 Large Date into the mix!

My 1857 large date counterfeit
Correct Attribution!

So, starting with attribution we can say neither of the Large Date ’57s is genuine. The imaged example in the center is genuine (image courtesy PCGS CoinFacts):

Date position relative to the bust and hair curls rules both end “coins” out. And there do not appear to be any repeating marks between them (hold that thought).

Now, what about the Small Date 1857?

Well, not so good for it, either (coin in the center genuine, courtesy PCGS CoinFacts as well). I also threw in the 1840 example for comparison:

Again, the date position is off for the wannabe 1857. But there are some interesting similarities between the bad ’57 Small Date, the 1840, and one of the bad ’57 Large Dates. Comparing the three highlights common features that shouldn’t be shared for three “varieties” so different from each other.

Comparison Obverses: A “crescent chip” smoothed over on the 1840 example.

Comparison reverses: Common marks include the rim defect left lower border, a “divot” in the “E” of CENT (which diminishes in later strikings of the fakes), and a dent in the leaf under the “T” of CENT.

Progression of the “divot E”

And we find various dates of this “family” of counterfeits in many various internet selling venues. Some folks I know have put together an interesting date set of these.

A couple of others of the “crescent chip” obverse/”divot E” reverse:

“Dark Side Collection” Example

OK, now what about the PCGS Large Date ’57? Well, unfortunately from another “family”…

The common attribution points for these are the “smashed denticles” obverse (named by a friend and fellow researcher) with an “under dotted O” reverse!

Image of a Friend’s example

And a few family photos of this second group:

And the reverses:

As the research continues we are working to identify the actual genuine source coin varieties for both “families”.

Best as always,


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