Counterfeit Coin Detection – The Top 10 Most Common Counterfeit US Coins

The World’s Most Counterfeited American Coins: The 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent.

Detection of counterfeit parts by Max SpiegelNumismatic Guarantee Company ….

A list of counterfeit US coins most commonly seen by NGC.

NGC has graded more than 33 million parts since its inception in 1987. Although most of the parts it receives are genuine, NGC has identified hundreds of thousands of parts that are not genuine: counterfeits, altered dates, marks of ‘workshop added and other types of false.

Not surprisingly, some coins are more often counterfeited than others. This list reveals the 10 most counterfeited US coins according to submissions received by NGC.

#ten – 1925-D Quarter Eagle

Indian Head Quarter and Half Eagles were counterfeited in large numbers decades ago and many of these counterfeits continue to appear on the market. All combinations of dates and mintmarks are seen regularly, including relatively common dates like the 1925-D Quarter Eagle.

#9 – 1912 Quarter Eagle

Another Indian Head Quarter Eagle, the 1912 had a larger mintage than its 1925-D counterpart, but is actually rarer in high grades. In MS 63 for example, collectors can expect to pay $1,750 depending on the NGC American Coin Price Guide.

#8 – 1911 Quarter Eagle

Interestingly, although the 1911-D Quarter Eagle is the key date in the series, its Philadelphia counterpart without a mintmark is more often faked, at least based on submissions to NGC. This could be the case because the Philadelphia 1911 has the largest mintage of the series and therefore fake coins melt more easily, or it could be because collectors and dealers are much more cautious when looking at an example of the 1911-D extremely rare.

#seven – 1922 Non D Lincoln Cent

The 1922 No D Lincoln Cent is one of many well-known key dates in the Lincoln Cent series. Most counterfeits seen by NGC are altered mintmarks – 1922-D being quite common, counterfeiters often use a tool to erase the mintmark. These are usually easy to detect.

#6 – 1909-S Indian Head Cent

Minted in the final year of the Indian Head Cent series—and the first year of the Lincoln Head Cent series—the 1909-S minted just 309,000 coins, the lowest of any Indian Head Cent. Even lower quality examples sell for hundreds of dollars.

The Philadelphia 1909, however, was minted at over 14 million coins and the values ​​are significantly lower in comparison. As a result, some nefarious people added “S” mintmarks to these coins in an attempt to pass them off as genuine 1909-S Indian Head Cents. Minted counterfeits are seen only occasionally.

#5 – 1882 Three dollars

The 1882 Three Dollar is a rare date with a mintage of only 1,500 coins, but it is not particularly rarer than any other late date Three Dollar. Why then is this counterfeit seen so frequently by NGC?

A particular counterfeiter, known as the “Omega Counterfeiter” for the Ω symbol hidden on counterfeits as a signature, has targeted this coin. Significant quantities have been produced and these counterfeits often surface when older collections are sold. Although these counterfeits are of high quality, they are easily detected if you know what to look for.

#4 – 1914-D Lincoln Cent

Although not as rare or as famous as the 1909-S Lincoln Cent VDB, the 1914-D Lincoln Cent is still very rare and desirable. Its mintage of just under 1.2 million is low for a one-cent coin.

The 1914-D was overlooked when it was released, and as a result, high-quality copies are hard to locate. In fact, Mint State 1914-D cents are rarer and more valuable than VDB 1909-S cents.

Most of the counterfeit 1914-D Lincoln Cents that NGC sees are complete counterfeits, although we do come across a few examples of additional mintmarks and an occasional altered date.

#3 – 1914 Quarter Eagle

With the second-lowest mintage of the series (240,000 coins), the 1914 outsold all other Indian Head Quarter Eagles except the key date 1911-D. Mint condition examples are particularly rare with gemstones (MS 65) selling for over $20,000.

The incuse design of Indian Head Quarter and Half Eagles makes them more difficult to authenticate and many coin dealers rely on NGC to definitively determine if an example is genuine or not. The 1914 Quarter Eagle is perhaps the most commonly faked date, but forgeries of all dates in these series are regularly seen by NGC.

#2 – 1916-D Mercury Dime

The 1916-D Mercury Dime is a legendary key date with a tiny mintage of just 264,000 coins. Struck in the first year of this popular series, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, the 1916-D has long been in high demand among collectors.

According to NGC American Coin Price Guide, collectors should expect to pay close to $1,000 for even the lowest-ranked specimens. Prices rise rapidly in better grades and can exceed $10,000 in AU 55.

These values ​​make this coin a tempting target for counterfeiters. Many examples of added mint marks are seen since the Philadelphia 1916 has such a high mintage in comparison. Outright forgeries also exist and NGC has even seen deceptive coins created by cutting a genuine Philadelphia 1916 across the edge and joining the top half with one side taken from a D mint mark issue.


#1 – 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent

No surprise here. The most famous US key date is also the most commonly counterfeited US coin. Even people outside the hobby have heard of the VDB 1909-S and anyone who has ever collected Lincoln Cents has had this coin on their wish list.

Only 484,000 copies were minted before it was decided to scrap by Victor David Brenner initials on the back. Although many have been saved by people interested in the new Lincoln Cent design, collector demand exceeds supply. Mid-range broadcast examples can easily fetch $1,000 or more.

NGC regularly sees VDB cents added to the 1909-S mintmark as well as outright counterfeits and even the occasional example of VDB added.

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