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From the Dark Corner: An “Authenticated” Counterfeit Gold No Stars 1796 Quarter Eagle

By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC) ……
For the latest installment from the “Dark Corner“, I will review a certified “fake” example of the scarce 1796 Gold $2.50 No Stars quarter eagle. With a reported mintage of just 963 and the only one of its type in the series, even a low-grade or damaged example is worth big bucks! And the reason I state “fake” versus counterfeit will be revealed in a bit.

As always, I’ll start with images of the certified example:

Slab images (Certified and graded AG3 NO STARS – BENT CLEANED)

A dealer had this example come across their counter and was asking for opinions on it. My first reaction was What kind of a bird is that? Comparisons to a genuine example of a 1796 No Stars quarter eagle show more differences between the two to even count, but the date is a definite giveaway:

Obverse comparison to a genuine example on the right (image courtesy PCGS CoinFacts)
Date comparison (Subject coin on top)

More differences on the reverse including the rendition of an “eagle”.

Reverse comparison to a genuine example on the right (image courtesy PCGS CoinFacts)

Internet searches for a possible second example turned up a probable match, a Gallery Mint version. An obverse comparison shows the same profile/expression and blocky date:

Obverse comparison to a Gallery Mint example (image courtesy Heritage Auctions)

The reverse of this potential second specimen appears to be a match as well, although the subject example has been worn down to likely hide some of the Gallery Mint details (can you say COPY?).

Reverse comparison to a Gallery Mint example (image courtesy Heritage Auctions)

This would not be the first time a legitimate copy was worn and or tooled to hide the mandated copy mark in an attempt to make an “authentic” low-grade example; there was actually a GMM “1793 Large Cent” that made it into a certified holder several years back.

Be careful out there!

Best as always,

–Jack D. Young, EAC 5050

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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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  1. Great article. If they can fool the grading services what chance do amateurs and part-time dealers have. Education is the key when it comes to these things. Novices as well as professionals need to know what’s out there.


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