By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC) ……
This is the last of my intended short Dark Corner articles – a fitting last example, as it is the one that got me started on this research journey a few years ago!
My intention for this series was as follows:
–Write short informational articles on the most dangerous counterfeits–the ones that get past experts and TPGs alike and are TPG-certified as genuine.
–Always show comparisons highlighting the differences between the subject Dark Corner example and a genuine specimen; if the differences can’t be seen then it is NOT one for this series.
–And build on each episode, broadening the definition of “counterfeit” while discussing specific topics associated with individual examples.
–And as always, get the message out on these threats to the Hobby in as many venues as I can.
So, this last installment starts with my Dark Corner favorite, the 1798 “S-158” large cent.
As always I will start with a certified “Dark Corner” example(s); all three of these from the Dark Side Collection.
The first example above was listed in two major auction venues as well as a popular internet-selling one. “Smoothing” is a version of “tooling”, sometimes used to reduce the effects of corrosion.
The second example was purchased raw from an internet selling venue and subsequently certified “Genuine First Hair Style”; it was returned to the TPG and deemed a counterfeit after a second review.
And my third, obviously damaged/”weathered” to try to hide the truth:
The original “discovered” TPG-certified example created quite a stir, as it didn’t appear to match any known genuine 1798 large cent and stood as a possible new variety until we found MANY others in the research to try to authenticate it. And they all had the same circulation marks, which just can’t be!
The obverse seemed to match the S-158 variety except the “Y” of LIBERTY, which was too long for any known 1798; the reverse seemed to match as well except the die cracks of the later die states were partially missing. Was it possible the reverse of the S-158 was interrupted in its use and paired with a new obverse die to strike these?
Well, the answer became NO as we found several others, with each displaying the same circulation “sister marks” – including the large “crater” on the bust! We then knew we were dealing with well-executed counterfeits.
The genuine source coin was tooled prior to the dies being made; the “Y” was strengthened and made longer, as it may well have been mostly missing due to wear. And the die cracks on the reverse were partially tooled away as well, for reasons known only by the counterfeiters…
The probable genuine source coin was found in an internet selling venue:
Additional detailed information on these and the research involved can be found in my previous CoinWeek article.
In summary, I have documented 32 different denominations/varieties of “Dark Corner” examples; 74 total of these actually TPG-authenticated and slabbed.
So, that’s it for now. But should we find another TPG-authenticated variety not discussed previously, I will add a new Dark Corner article!
Best as always,
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