The 1884-CC was once considered one of the greatest rarities of the Morgan Dollar series. However, the GSA sales half a century ago included nearly one million coins, over 80% of the original mintage. Nevertheless, examples in Mint State can still sell today for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the grade.
NGC recently received a purported 1884-CC Morgan Dollar. Even without looking at it, a simple weight test reveals that it is 22.1 grams – over 20% less than the expected 26.73 grams. This is far outside the slight variations in weight that can be expected in what is known as “mint tolerance”. The counterfeit Morgan’s weight problem is a result of its composition: It is struck mostly in copper and zinc, which are less dense than silver.
There are many other red flags as well. Overall, the coin has rough, porous surfaces and odd yellow tinges on the high points. There is also a lack of “contact marks”, which are sometimes called “bag marks” because they often occur when the coin is tightly packed for storage in a mint bag with other coins.
The date on the fake is rounded and porous, which is especially noticeable when compared to a genuine version. Elsewhere, the letters seem to fade into the fields and there is a lack of detail on the high points. This includes the hair above Liberty’s eye on the obverse.
Finally, there are some particularly odd die scratches that can be seen in the stars to the left of the date. These would not be expected on a genuine example.
A scale is a good way for collectors to screen out certain low-quality fakes. Knowledge of what a genuine example should look like is also helpful in identifying others.
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