Half Cent - Fake - Counterfeit Coin - NGC
Counterfeit 1857 Half Cent. Image: NGC.

Problems abound on the obverse and reverse of this crude fake

By Max SpiegelNumismatic Guaranty Corporation ……

The Half Cent denomination that had existed since the US started minting its own currency in the late 1700s was legislated out of existence in 1857. Though this year is scarce among the Braided Hair issues, low Mint State examples can still be found for under $1,000.

NGC recently received an example of a Counterfeit 1857 Half Cent. Because only one set of dies was used to create these coins, variances are not to be expected. Therefore, an initial glance at the obverses of the genuine and counterfeit should make a collector uncomfortable.

First, the details of the date on the counterfeit clearly do not match the genuine example. The numbers differ markedly – the elegant variations in width of the strokes within individual numbers are clearly missing on the counterfeit.

Likewise, the letters of LIBERTY in the tiara also vary considerably from the genuine version.

The stars surrounding the obverse are mere blobs – like the other features of the counterfeit, they are not clearly defined.

Real vs. Fake 1857 Half Cent Counterfeit CoinLooking at the reverse reveals similar problems. For instance, the berries within the laurel wreath appear much too large on the counterfeit.

The letters on the reverse do not match the genuine version. Just look at the M in AMERICA; on the genuine version, the left and right side of the M are parallel to each other, while on the counterfeit, the left and right side slant toward each other.

Also note that the E in the word CENT on the counterfeit is broken at the top, which is not something that would be seen on a genuine piece.

This case offers some insight into identifying a particularly crude fake. However, there are plenty of much more sophisticated counterfeits in existence.

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Did you know? NGC has created a comprehensive Counterfeit Detection resource to help collectors and dealers identify counterfeit and altered coins. Visit NGCcoin.com/counterfeit.


  1. Scary. If that coin was less rare/scarce, it would fool a lot of collectors! Hope these fakes don’t increase in volume anytime soon.


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