By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC) ……
This is the second article in the counterfeit coin series reviewing an early half cent (15th in the series on struck counterfeits), and is one of the three little sisters “varieties” documented so far. The source example was discussed briefly in my first CoinWeek exclusive article (“From the Brink to the ‘Dark-Side’“, published May 8, 2017), and this variety was first presented as fake in the January 2016 edition of EAC’s Penny-Wise.
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“Discovery” Example (image courtesy Bill Eckberg)
This counterfeit coin “variety” was first known from an article written by Bill Eckberg (current President of Early American Coppers, or EAC) in the January 2016 Penny-Wise. Like the 1806 “C1” half cent reported previously in CoinWeek, this variety was also included in a group of early coppers submitted to one of the top TPGs back in 2015 – the same group that included the original counterfeit 1798 “S-158” large cent, along with nine other either suspect/counterfeit or source examples!
From his article, Bill noted the following “diagnostics” associated with the struck fakes:
“The diagnostics are: a lump at the E of LIBERTY, tooling partly erasing the die crack between 18…”
“…and a lump on the left side of the D of UNITED The lump at the top of the D is supposed to be there, but is weaker than it should be.”
As previously noted, two of the top TPGs have been actively participating to flush out these fakes along with EAC, making photos available both during research and during the submission process. Certs have been updated as a result (past slabbed examples) or stopped at the initial certification process, and images have been posted on our counterfeit-focused Facebook group, “The Dark Side”.
The group interaction from this post resulted in the following images from one of the cooperating TPG members:
Determined Struck Fake, Example # 5 (images courtesy NGC)
In addition, a member confirmed the existence of another example that was sold on eBay several months prior to Bill’s discovery. And yet another member, Ed Fuhrman, actually found the apparent genuine source from a 2012 Heritage auction (Ed found the 1806 “C-1” source as well)!
Top L: Obverse, Source Coin Example # 1 (courtesy HA.com); Top R: Bill’s discovery Example # 6.
Bottom L: Reverse, Source Coin Example # 1 (courtesy HA.com); Bottom R: Bill’s discovery Example # 6
As noted in previous research articles, a time-line proved helpful in trying to piece together the history of these struck counterfeits, especially with the number of duplicate listings with one of the examples (identical toning is found on all fives):
Timeline for the 1805 “C-4” Half Cent:
- September 2012 – Heritage auction (probable source coin)
- June 24, 2014 – Internet example
- June 22, 2015 – Internet example
- July 9, 2015 – Internet example
- October 2015 – NGC-reported example
- December 18, 2015 – Posted & Jan ’16 PW (“Discovery” example)
- June 2017 – Internet; bad connected seller, listing terminated. Same as # 5
- October 22, 2017 – Internet; listing terminated. Same as # 5
- December 16, 2017 – Internet; reported but sale went through. Same as # 5
- December 22, 2017 – Internet; seller ended auction and reported previous seller. Same as # 5
June 24, 2014 – Example # 2
June 22, 2015 – Example # 3
July 9, 2015 – Example # 4
The NGC-reported example was not slabbed (in fact, none of the documented examples were TPG holdered), and it appears that someone attempted to sell it in an online venue at least four times through the network of “connected” sellers we routinely watch. And each time, the listings were removed after we reported them as counterfeit until the last one eked through a late Saturday night listing.
June 2017 – Internet; bad connected seller, listing terminated. Same as # 5
The unfortunate “winner” of that example re-listed it for sale and was promptly notified of the issues with the counterfeit coin. The Internet venue removed the previous seller and I understand that the venue reimbursed the honest seller, who proceeded to donate this specimen to the “Dark Side” collection!
Same toning and general appearance but different photographers!
After receipt of this one, we sent it in for a complimentary review at NGC (like returning an old friend). Additional high-resolution images were taken (including edge views, which are beyond the scope of this article) and an XRF scan for metallic content. More data from known genuine examples is needed for comparison to determine if the findings on this one are significant…
Obverse. Image Courtesy NGC
Reverse. Image Courtesy NGC
Main differences to a known genuine example (images courtesy NGC)
With enough images, new “tells’ become evident–such as the top of the “L” from the scratches of the damaged source coin! One-Page attribution guide follows:
1805 “C-4” Half Cent
(Above) Struck Counterfeit submitted to NGC. Author’s Collection.
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As always, counterfeit coin research continues to be a collaborative effort with many EAC members and friends participating. The focused team of watchers and researchers on our Facebook “Dark Side” page continues to be vigilant in the documentation and communication of these latest deceptive threats to our hobby!
—Jack D. Young, EAC 5050
NGC-Certified United States Half Cent Copper Coins Currently Available on eBay
Another example showed up at EAC ’18 in Michigan and was verified by comparing it to my example in the “Dark Side Collection” exhibit. Charles was there as we discussed it; it was then donated to the growing group. This “new” example matches mine in marks, surfaces and coloration.