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ANACS warns of counterfeit Trade dollars - posted 10/17/02

By Paul Gilkes


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THE OBVERSE of this fake 1875-CC Trade dollar was also used for the obverse of a counterfeit 1875-S Trade dollar. The reverse is the same used on an 1874-CC fake.

Authenticators at ANACS have examined and deemed counterfeit a number of U.S. Trade dollars that may or may not be connected to the large quantity of bogus Trade dollars that surfaced during the Hong Kong International Coin Convention in late August.

A story on the fake Trade dollars that appeared during the Hong Kong show was published on page 3 of the Oct. 21 issue of Coin World.

ANACS Senior Numismatist Michael Fahey forwarded examples of a number of Trade dollars with different dates and Mint marks with the permission of the person who submitted the items to ANACS for authentication and grading. Fahey did not disclose whether the submitter is a collector or dealer. The majority of the "coins" bear the S Mint mark, indicating their purported manufacture at the San Francisco Mint.

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THREE DEPRESSIONS in the field in front of Liberty's shin appear on the obverse of this counterfeit 1873-S Trade dollar, bottom photo. There is also a diagonal depression extending from the denticles to below the olive branch held in Liberty's right hand. On the reverse, there is a scratch from the N in UNITED to the field near the arrowhead and a long depression above the first S in STATES.

Fahey said other supposed Trade dollars bear the CC Mint mark of the Carson City Mint in Nevada. Some of these bogus CC Trade dollars share obverses with coins bearing S Mint mark reverses.

In the case of the S Mint mark fakes, more than one obverse die was used in some cases.

Genuine Trade dollar production was executed at the Philadelphia, Carson City and San Francisco Mints between 1873 and 1878 for use in commerce in the Orient.

Fahey said of 151 Trade dollars submitted, only one coin was determined outright to be genuine. Of the remaining 150, about a dozen coins were returned with a "No Decision" because their authenticity is questionable. In these cases, there might have only been one example of a date and Mint mark bearing specific characteristics, Fahey said.

Because the remaining Trade dollars have multiple specimens of the same date and Mint mark bearing identical diagnostic markers, i.e., scratches and depressions in the same locations, their identification as counterfeits is made easier, Fahey said. The source of the counterfeits is not known, he said.

The counterfeit Trade dollars vary in quality, with the cruder examples being more obvious as fakes, with a number of pieces being very deceptive, Fahey said.

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DEPRESSIONS APPEAR behind the wheat grains on this 1874-S counterfeit Trade dollar. A depression also extends diagonally to the left below the branch in Liberty's hand; a diagonal line is to the right of the first star behind Liberty's head; and a raised line is below Liberty's bench, just to the left of LIBERTY inscribed on the ribbon. On the reverse, note the depressions below ICA in AMERICA and to the right of F in OF.

Approximately 90 percent of the coins bear CC or S Mint marks and are dated 1873, 1874 and 1875, although there are examples of 1875 and 1876 Philadelphia Mint products, which carry no Mint mark. Fahey said there are also specimens dated 1877-S and 1877-CC, as well as a single 1878-CC, the rarest of all circulation strikes among genuine Trade dollars.

On one of the 1873-S specimens, the easiest diagnostics for identifying the fake are, on the obverse, a depressed scratch to the right of the date, three depressions in the field above Liberty's foot and a diagonal depressed line below the olive branch, starting near the dentils. On the reverse, there is a scratch from the N in UNITED to the field near the arrowhead and a long depression above the first S in STATES.

On the obverse of one 1874-S example, the easiest diagnostics include a series of repeating depressions to the right of the wheat grains behind Liberty, a depressed line sloping to the left below the olive branch, and on the reverse, depressions below IC in AMERICA and to the right of F in OF. On another 1874-S fake, the obverse has a depressed line at the date, while the reverse has a defect on the R in DOLLAR and a mark below the I in AMERICA.

On an 1875-S, the obverse has depressed lines in the field behind Liberty's shoulder and an irregular depression in front of Liberty's shin. There are also a series of horizontal, parallel lines within the folds of Liberty's drapery behind her left knee. On the reverse, there is a diagonal cut between the E in TRADE and D of DOLLAR, and multiple scratches around 900 FINE.

One of the fake 1875-CC specimens shares the obverse of one of the fake 1875-S reverses and the reverse of an 1874-CC counterfeit.

The 1875-CC fake's reverse has noticeable tooling around the branch below the eagle's left wing (the viewer's right), and diagonal depressions above the second S in STATES, between the T in TRADE and R in GRAINS, above the E in UNITED and between the D in UNITED and S in STATES.

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