HomeCounterfeitsNGC Counterfeit Detection: 1908 Quarter Eagle

NGC Counterfeit Detection: 1908 Quarter Eagle

The problems with this low-quality fake start with a glaring error


By Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) ……

The Indian Head Quarter Eagle series that began in 1908 was born from President Theodore Roosevelt’s displeasure with the designs on US coinage at the turn of the century. The ensuing rebirth of America’s coinage was carried out by skilled sculptors such as Bela Lyon Pratt, who designed this series. His design was revolutionary not only for its artistic brilliance but also because it is incuse: the devices, including the Indian, the eagle, and the various letters and numbers, are sunken into the coin’s surface rather than rising above it.

NGC Counterfeit Detection: 1908 Quarter Eagle

NGC recently received a counterfeit of this design that would’ve appalled both Pratt and Roosevelt for its poor quality. In fact, its creator was so careless that the counterfeit wasn’t even struck with an incuse design, which alone is enough to condemn this as a fake.

NGC Counterfeit Detection: 1908 Quarter Eagle

The quarter eagle dies were made from scratch, and don’t even come close to matching the original. Notice the fine detail within the feathers in the headdress on the original, a feature that is absent on the counterfeit. A closer look reveals horizontal lathe lines on the face and headdress of the Indian that were left over from the die-making process. These lines are likely the result of the use of a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine to carve the die steel rather than the work of a sculptor and a reduction lathe, as was often used by mints around the world at the time the genuine example was struck.


NGC Counterfeit Detection: 1908 Quarter Eagle

This sloppiness continues on the reverse, where the eagle design varies considerably when contrasted with a genuine example, especially in the shape of the head. Additionally, note how different the motto text appears from the genuine coin.

The counterfeit is also grossly underweight at 3.18 grams, considerably less than the expected 4.18 grams. That’s because the counterfeit is struck in a composition of 62% Copper and 38% Zinc, rather than what it should be: 90% Gold and 10% Copper.

Whether this was initially intended as a serious attempt to fool collectors can be left to speculation. However, the wider interest in vintage coins as an asset class today renews the importance of identifying counterfeits like this.

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Numismatic Guaranty Company
Numismatic Guaranty Company
NGC was founded in 1987, and for coin grading, its opening heralded the introduction of a new standard of integrity. From the beginning NGC focused on only one objective, a standard of consistent and accurate grading. As NGC has grown to become the leader in third-party grading services, we have maintained a steadfast and uncompromising commitment to this standard. The knowledge, integrity and dedication of NGC's team of grading experts ensures you a level of grading consistency unparalleled among grading services. This record of consistency, built over the years, has helped to foster greater stability throughout the rare coin marketplace.

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  1. I am just starting to get into coin collection because my grand daughter is interested in coins. Is there anyone or anyplace that offers a start up kit like information books, scales, magnifying glass with lighting and coin holders or whatever they are called?
    I would be interested in purchasing a basic set up to help her out.


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