HomeUS CoinsFrom the Dark Corner: An Authenticated “Contemporary Counterfeit” Buffalo Nickel

From the Dark Corner: An Authenticated “Contemporary Counterfeit” Buffalo Nickel

From the Dark Corner: An Authenticated “Contemporary Counterfeit” Buffalo Nickel - Jack D. Young

By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC), and the Dark Side Group ……
 

As I have in all my previous CoinWeek “Dark Corner” articles, I will start with the certified example: a 1935 Buffalo Nickel:

ANACS VF20 1935 Buffalo Nickel.
ANACS VF20 1935 Buffalo Nickel.

A recent eBay listing.

I was tagged to a coin forum I’m a member of about this listing. The “OP” asked if this example was actually a counterfeit. The nomenclature describing it on the label was Greek to me and I posted it in one of my Facebook groups. My friend, contemporary counterfeit expert and author of Bad Metal Winston Zack, responded quickly that it is a well-known counterfeit! Had I looked in my copy of his book, I would have found his image (used here with permission)!

Winston Zack’s image- from the “Two Feathers Mint” consisting of “German silver”
Winston Zack’s image- from the “Two Feathers Mint” consisting of “German silver”

My friend Paula Schommer-Bluhm from “Coin Q & A” fame explained the designation on the label–I love learning during research!

ANACS 1935 Nickel Retained Cud label.

“TM” is for Thurman/Margolis; “BNC” stands for “Buffalo Nickel Cud”; and “35-3R” is the date (1935), the file number (“3”), and “R” for reverse die. That is the cross-reference numbering system.

These were also documented in Ron Pope’s Buffalo Nickels: The Abraded Die Varieties (2006).

Ron Pope's Buffalo Nickels Abraided Die Varieties. Image: NNP.
Ron Pope’s Buffalo Nickels Abraided Die Varieties. Image: NNP.

So, an apparent known counterfeit Buffalo Nickel, the conversation quickly shifted to whether the slab was genuine. One of the participating members responded:

JP Martin internet forum comment concerning 1935 Buffalo Nickel.

To me, the slab looks correct, and the cert number pulled up.

ANACS Cert. Look Up.

So maybe an “authenticated” counterfeit? The nomenclature used on the label is right out of Ron Pope’s book. Another thought: maybe these were originally thought to be United States Mint products?

Continued digging resulted in finding a reference to another example in a third-party grading service holder sold by a major auction house, but I have found no other evidence of this.

Image: Newman Numismatic Portal

Not as easy as it seemed, but I did finally find the 2006 auction example. Listing image and comparison images to the subject coin as follows:

Image: Heritage Auctions.
Image: Heritage Auctions.
Subject example, known genuine example courtesy PCGS CoinFacts
Subject example, known genuine example courtesy PCGS CoinFacts

1935 Buffalo Nickel "Variety" Reverse comparison

Not the same “coin”, but clearly a match of the “variety”. Circled obverse circulation marks should not be in the die!

Taking a step back, I compared this one with a genuine example of similar grade.

Subject example, known genuine example courtesy PCGS CoinFacts
Subject example, known genuine example courtesy PCGS CoinFacts

And back to Winston’s book description, the counterfeit Buffalo Nickels should consist of “German silver”. From the internet:

Guide to German Silver

After receiving this example, I took it to my local coin shop for an XRF scan; a genuine U.S. Mint nickel should not contain measurable amounts of zinc.

And the results? 58% copper, 27% nickel… and 14% zinc!

Not a Mint product as several people thought but a new add to the “Dark Corner” family of not-quite genuine “coins” in genuine TPG holders.

Per usual, the research on this one and all of the others has been a team effort, and I thank everyone for their help and support, including those named in this article.

Best, as Always,

Jack


MORE Articles on Counterfeit Coins by Jack D. Young

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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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