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From the Dark Corner: Counterfeit Early Coppers in Genuine TPG Holders

From the Dark Corner: Counterfeit Early Coppers in Genuine TPG Holders

By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC) ……
So, here we are at 50 CoinWeek articles and a new installment of the “Dark Corner”! In this article, I’ve gone back to the start of this madness for me and my EAC (Early American Coppers) roots: I will focus on the early copper counterfeits that made it into genuine TPG holders AND my Dark Side Collection.

I will start with the first variety we documented, the (in)famous 1798 “S-158” large cent. For each variety, I will show the genuine source coin for the fake dies (if known), the slabbed-as-genuine examples, and the attribution points for the clones.

Note: This will be a first for these articles, as I will illustrate the Dark Corner/ Dark Side Collection examples in the actual TPG holders in a redacted format.

So, the 1798 “S-158” large cent – starting with the source coin:

1798 "S-158" Source Coin.
1798 “S-158” Source Coin.

This example was apparently repaired and tooled and then used to make the counterfeit dies. The later-die-state die breaks to the left of the profile are stronger than seen on the known counterfeits, but the reverse die breaks have been tooled away and the “Y” of LIBERTY lengthened.

The Dark Corner examples:

1798 Half Cent Counterfeits
1798 Half Cent Counterfeits.

The last two images are the same example – two swings and misses. The attribution points for the fakes:

For the 1796 “S-85” large cent, the genuine example was heavily repaired prior to making the counterfeit dies:

Repaired 1798 S-158 cent.

The repaired example on the right was submitted to a TPG but not slabbed. Its location is still unknown at this time.

The attribution points for these are as follows:

Diagnostics on repair done to 1798 S-158 cent.

The Dark Corner examples:

Repaired 1796 S-85 cents.

The example on the left was purchased from a coin shop in California; the seller had several other varieties of these now-known deceptive counterfeit coppers. The one on the right was the discovery example and has a star in front of the face! It helped prove the theory that counterfeiters used cull large cents as planchets for some of the first copper examples struck. It is struck over a later date large cent and documented in other of my CoinWeek Dark Corner articles.

Damaged 1797 S-136 Cent reverse.

For the 1797 “S-136” large cent, there are three known examples; only one is slabbed genuine. The source coin has not been determined, but the Dark Corner example is as follows:

1797 Counterfeit Cents from the Dark Corner Collection.

The key attribution points for these:

1797 Counterfeit pick up points

And the last large cent variety for this installment is the 1797 “S-139”. Only one counterfeit example has been identified along with the probable genuine source example.

1797 Cent Source Coin

The source example was sold through a major auction house; the Dark Corner struck clone has been through three TPGs as follows:

1797 Fakes in Slabs.

And the key attribution points:

1797 Cent counterfeit coin pickup points.

On to a couple of half cents starting with the 1805 “C-4” and the source example:

And the Dark Corner example – same counterfeit copper, similar TPG opinion!

1805 half cent counterfeits.

And the attribution keys:

1805 half cent pickup points.

And last but not least, the prolific 1806 “C-1” half cent! The source coin is almost like a “Where’s Waldo” of reverse marks:

And common attribution points:

1806 half cent counterfeit pickup points

And the Dark Corner examples:

1806 half cent fakes from the dark corner collection.

And from a very respected long-time EAC member, these attribution cards:

Fake cent attribution tags

Hope you all enjoyed the ride!

As always, the research on this one and all of the others has been a team effort, with friends and fellow members of Early American Coppers (EAC) and the Dark Side Group on Facebook instrumental in the effort as well as others, especially my Wife (who puts up with me and this)!

And again, should you see one “out there” report it! There are several unaccounted for…

Best as always,


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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