A Long Overdue Update!
June 2021 Blog
It has been a little longer than I planned to write another blog, but I guess I was waiting for enough new and worthwhile information to share before writing this one! Overall, it has been a busy and exciting last couple of months in the world of circulating contemporary counterfeit U.S. coins. The following are highlights of those recent events.
Between the end of March and the start of April StacksBowers had a large numismatic auction stretching out over a whole week. Within the thousands of lots consigned to them were a handful of contemporary counterfeit U.S. coins, most dated to the 19th century. Included among these lots was an 1878 Flowing Hair half dollar counterfeit variety which had not been previously photographically published but which is known by at least one other example. Competition among bidders was fairly intense and the final price realized was $4,320, potentially a record price for any counterfeit U.S. silver denomination (link below).
There were also individual lots of counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars (CBHs) of both hand-made die struck and casts, and even a heavily counterstamped example not listed in Brunk. At least three of the hand-made die varieties had not been previously published (outside of the Bad Metal website); I actually had a chance to study these pieces briefly about 4 years ago, and this time I was able to acquire two of these varieties for my personal collection. The heavily counterstamped variety sold for just under $300 and is a Too Legit to Quit variety; congrats on whomever won this cool piece (link below).
Another noteworthy lot was number 11845, an 1871 Seated quarter counterfeit from crude, hand-made dies and currently the only example documented. Bidding was fierce, and stronger than expected from the winner, with the final sales price realized $660 (link below).
The final noteworthy lot was 11859, an 1851 quarter eagle contemporary counterfeit struck from hand-made dies. Although holed, I had not previously documented this variety; I have documented two other 1851 quarter eagle varieties from this same family. This piece sold for a relatively modest $144, probably because of the hole (link below).
NEW COUNTERFEIT CBH VARIETY DISCOVERIES
Since Covid started more than 12 months ago, I, like others, have not been able to get to a coin show because they have all been canceled with the exception of a few shows which are just starting to open back up. I usually go to larger shows to bring contemporary counterfeits to be professionally photographed for future publication. But since shows have not been happening for much of the last 12 months, I’ve just been gradually accumulating pieces to my photo box and forgetting what I had put in there. Well, recently I opened that box to both recall what was in there and to photograph some of those pieces myself (because I am growing impatient). My box has a number of previously unpublished contemporary counterfeit varieties, including 1 or 2 newly documented Indian Cent varieties, along with CBHs and other denominations and types.
One of the new counterfeit CBH varieties is an 1831 Clinton Head variety using a new obverse die and the same reverse as 1834 21/U. This is the 29th Clinton Head variety documented, and I predict that this family will reach at least 30 varieties within the near future; and I partially hope we don’t find more than 30 varieties because the tray in my coin cabinet only has 30 spaces! This is also the 293rd hand-made, die struck contemporary counterfeit CBH variety documented! Photos of this piece are shown in the Research section under Capped Bust half dollars of this website.
A while back I bought a previously undocumented 1825 CBH variety off eBay. It was advertised as being a hand-made die piece. However, I have had my reservations about this attribution. The piece itself is light weight at 10.99 grams, it does not ring when tapped, and has a plain edge – information which is more indicative of a cast counterfeit that a struck one. In-hand, it matches O-104, despite a couple experts expressing that it does not based on my mediocre photos of this piece. Photos of this variety are shown in the Research section under Capped Bust half dollars dated 1825 on this website.
Recently I acquired an 1832 counterfeit CBH which appeared to be a previously undocumented variety. My lack of due diligence and an exhaustive check of all documented varieties resulted in this piece being an exact obverse-reverse-edge lettering match to No Date Recorded ‘NDR 4’. As a result, this new 1832 variety has been relocated from the NDR section to the 1832 varieties. Further, despite this variety having fairly high-quality die workmanship and resembling other 1832 counterfeit CBH varieties, neither the obverse or reverse dies confidently match other 1832 varieties or reverse dies used to make other dated counterfeit CBH varieties. A photo of this variety has been added to the website and labeled as [TBD].
With the new 1831 Clinton Head and 1832 varieties, there are now at least 294 hand-made, die struck contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollar varieties documented, with a new variety still being documented on average every 3-4 months. At this rate, we should hit 300 varieties by or before the end of the year 2022!
COUNTERFEIT CBH PHOTOS
I’ve also replaced photos of the previous example of the 1835 Davignon 2-B (Buck-Toothed Eagle) family with a slightly nicer example which I also acquired over these last 12 months. If you have high-quality photos of a nicer example of a counterfeit CBH variety, or any other contemporary counterfeit U.S. coin variety feel free to send me those images for publication on this website and/or in the upcoming edition of Bad Metal – Silver.
COUNTERFEIT CBH RESEARCH UPDATES
In my comparison of this newly confirmed 1832 variety, discussed above, against all the other documented hand-made, die struck counterfeit CBH varieties something caught my eye. In my review of these counterfeit CBHs, I focused most of my attention to reverse dies of similar high-quality to this 1832. This only required me to closely study about 30-60 different varieties, and not all 294 (and counting)! As a result of this more focused subset of varieties I noticed an 1834 singleton variety, Davignon 7-G, which seemed to have die markers similar or the same some 1833 varieties I just finished reviewing. Low and behold, my instinct was correct. 1834 7-G actually shares a reverse with both 1833 24-X and 33-X (which is that same as 41-X), and these two 1833 counterfeits are part of the counterfeit family nicknamed ‘1833 Counterfeiter’; 1833 35-II is also associated with this 1833 Counterfeiter family. Furthermore, the edge dies on 1834 7-G and 1833 24-X are a perfect match; my 1833 33-X is too low-grade to show any edge lettering but additional research on a high-grade example may result in a match. Finally, the nickname ‘1833 Counterfeiter’ no longer suits this family given that a different dated variety has been added to it. This family has since been renamed the ‘Lumpy’ family because there are several raised lumps on the shared reverse die.
Two varieties were added to the ‘Stone’ family. Previously the Stone family included three varieties, 1816 1-A, 1821 4-F, and 1826 2-B. However, upon further study, it was determined that 1826 3-C and 1829 18-S were also made by the same die sinker. For example, the ‘2’ punch in the date is distinctively the same between all five (5) varieties. Further, the design of Liberty’s face, specifically from the nose to the cap is unique to this family for the hair and cap extend relatively far forward and together form a broad, rounded appearance. Finally, analysis of the edge lettering shows that all five varieties used the same set of edge dies.
Finally, I’m in the process of determining whether a previously unrecognized family exists consisting of varieties 1834 5-E, 1834 18-R and 1836 12-L. This is currently being evaluated and studied by a handful of counterfeit CBH collectors.
I’m always searching to add new contemporary counterfeit U.S. coins, especially hand-made, die struck CBH varieties to my personal collection and for research purposes. If you come across pieces for sale or trade, please consider offering them to me – and if I don’t need the variety, I probably know someone who is interested. I also have an extensive collection of duplicates I may be willing to trade for pieces.
I will be writing another blog post here in the near future asking for volunteers to assist me in a research project studying specific 1832 counterfeit CBH varieties. More to come with that project…
Finally, I would appreciate if you would continue to pass along the word to other numismatists who may or may not be interested in contemporary counterfeit U.S. coins to purchase a copy of my book, Bad Metal – Copper and Nickel. I still have a couple hundred copies left that I would like to place in great homes. And once these books are sold I can begin to post photos of the different varieties listed in that book on the BadMetalCoin website. One short-term goal is to sell just 10 books which will cover my costs to continue paying for this website for a few more years and improving the content.
Also, if you are looking for any particular contemporary counterfeit U.S. coin variety for your collection feel free to send me a message of what you are looking for. Myself or others I know may have what you are looking for and we may be willing to sell or trade that piece.