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Struck Counterfeit Coin of the Week: “1785” Bar Copper + 1-Page Attribution Guide

Counterfeit of the Week 1785 Bar Copper

By Jack D. Young, Early American Coppers (EAC) ……
This is only my second article regarding counterfeit Colonial “coins”, following one published here on CoinWeek concerning struck fake Massachusetts half cents, and the same process of other recent (within the last several years) deceptive struck early coppers believed to be Chinese in manufacture. This new counterfeit appears to be from an earlier time, prior to the current level of technology and most likely domestic in origin! This article is intended as another installment in a series disclosing deceptive counterfeits and establishing one-page attribution guides for each; the research continues to be a collaborative effort with many participating numismatic club, Facebook “Dark Side” members, and friends participating.

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USA Bar Copper Numismatist

This story actually starts with excerpts from a 1979 article written by Eric P. Newman for The Numismatist. In that article, Newman documents and discloses several of what he considered to be deceptive cast counterfeit Colonial “coins”. This current article focuses on one of the eight varieties discussed there, the “1785” Bar copper (research in the works for future articles from Newman’s work!).

From there, fast forward to Long Beach in 2016, where a small group of “Colonials” in TPG slabs were being offered for sale. A noted expert on Colonial coinage viewed the group and immediately called them out, referencing the imaged examples in the past Newman works. I was told these “go way back … these fakes were first attempted to sell in the 1978 ANA sale. We had them pulled at the time. Eric Newman wrote an alert story (illustrated) in the April 1979 Numismatist. They apparently got sent to the TPG recently…”

From there the “coins” disappeared – only to reappear listed in a popular internet buy/sell venue; members of our Facebook counterfeit watch site the Dark Side posted them for review like the recent struck early copper fakes we have been chasing, and the discussion was on!

Matching the marks on the slabbed example to the Newman article specimen was easy, and a discussion ensued with the seller of this “new” one. Eventually the group, including the Bar copper, was returned to the TPG under their guarantee, and this example remains there for reference (verified just recently).

Image comparisons of the two examples as follows:

Certified example #2 (L); Newman example #1 (R)

Again, things went quietly with this one, but our group is pretty vigilant and a second example surfaced on the same internet venue from the same seller. The same process began, and although there are noticeable differences the main matching sister marks were observable with this new example. The seller was notified, discussion continued over several emails and ultimately site administration terminated/removed the listing.

September 2017 Internet example #3 (L); Certified example #2 (R)

September 2017 Internet example #3 (L); Certified example #2 (R)

As in previous investigations, a time-line proved helpful in organizing the subject examples:

Time line for “1785” Bar copper:

  1. April 1979 – Newman article example (reportedly listed for sale in the 1978 ANA Branigan Estate sale)
  2. May 3, 2016 – Long Beach example in a TPG holder as AU Details and listed for sale on the internet
  3. September 2017 – Raw example listed for sale on the internet
  4. October 2017 – Raw example submitted to a TPG for certification
  5. October 2017 – Second raw example submitted to a TPG for certification (different submitter)

bar copper PCGS image


Example #4 (image courtesy PCGS)

In this image the planchet defect common to all is very evident on the edge view.

One of the initial steps I take in investigating an interesting “coin” is to compare it to images of a known genuine example. There are many outstanding coin-related web sites to use as resources to this end (auction houses, TPG sites, etc.). In this case I found a similar example of the same variety on a fellow Early American Coppers (EAC) member’s web site and created the comparison images as follows:

Example #4 (image courtesy PCGS, L); Known genuine example (courtesy CVM, R)

Example #4 reverse (image courtesy PCGS, L); Known genuine example (courtesy CVM, R)

Reviewing these images and an overlay of both shows no noticeable differences in the main elements of these, attesting to how deceptive the counterfeits are relative to a known genuine example. But when compared to each other, the truth becomes apparent!

And then the second example in a week turns up in another TPG submission package:

Example #5 (image courtesy PCGS)

Note the number of matching marks, including the edge “dent”!

I can again report this investigation has been a collaborative effort with several EAC, Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4) members and “Dark Side” participants (our focused Facebook group of counterfeit researchers) instrumental in the sharing of pics and info in the effort to “get the word out”, and I would like to thank you! Again I’ve drawn no conclusions about which is real or which is “Memorex”, but am convinced more than one of these is counterfeit. I would ask that the readers be on the lookout for other duplicate examples and REPORT them – remember, the truth is out there!


–Jack D. Young, EAC 5050


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. Good article. Thank you.
    I have approximately 40 of these style of coins. Of which, are the bar copper copies, Cincinnati mining and tracing (tracing, not trading) company dated 1849 ($20 copy), and the 1824 down with the bank, parish credit, parish commerce coin. Plus others.
    Each of these copies were part of a promotional mailings back in the 1950’s. The letters detailed a good history of the original coin, along with the sample. After 50 or 60 years, I think some of these have found their way into the counterfeit realm.
    They clearly are copies, mostly made of what appears to be a cheap pot-metal.
    Thanks for the further information.


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