So I finally wrapped up evaluating that collection I mentioned in the last post, and wow – what a doozy!
The collection itself was fine (approx. 10 hours spent which is normal for this amount of coins), but it was the last pile of “weird coins” I saved to research at the end that threw me for a loop…
It all started with this 1895 Morgan Dollar pictured above. I put it to the side because the date looked awfully strange to me, and indeed when I took the time to compare it to others I noticed just how TINY it actually was! Look at that thing – it’s wildly off!
That was red flag #1 that it was a fake. But perhaps it was also a different variation or even a pattern coin I discovered and will soon be famous for! (A guy can dream, right?) So I wasn’t about to label it just yet.
Instead, I whipped out my trusty Red Book to help decipher it and to my surprise there WAS NO 1895 MADE! Or I should say, made *for circulation*. There was an 1895-O and an 1895-S, both also pretty rare, but as far as a no-mint-mark 1895 it only came in PROOF for the year.
And look how much it’s worth!! (No wonder you’d fake it!)
As much as I wanted this to be a proof, though, it most certainly was not, leading us to Red Flag #2 of it’s genuineness. I then moved to *weighing it* since 90% of the time that makes it a dead giveaway on the spot, however to my shock it weighed just as much as the Morgan next to it! So to make DOUBLY sure, I weighed it alongside a handful of other Morgans from the same pile and low and behold they all weighed nearly the same too! Damn.
But I kept thinking about how bad that date was, so I moved to putting it under a magnifying glass and wow were there some other clues!
First off, I noticed all these raised lines on the obverse protruding from the top left of the head (similar to the Peace Dollars), as well as the chin, neck, and lower stars.
I then flipped it over and noticed a little pitting that looked off, as well as some extra metal above the surface which hadn’t been shaved all the way – classic signs of forgeries!
But the nail in the coffin was this little divet hidden between the A and the T of “States” on the reverse. Which alone wouldn’t have caused me any concern, however, after noticing a similar mark on another of the Morgans I decided to flip them ALL over and check and wouldn’t you know it – 40% of these suckers all had the EXACT SAME marking on them!!
THEY WERE ALL FAKE!!! OMG!!!!
All 28 of these Morgans were counterfeits and it took me almost 3 hours to finally piece it all together, ugh…
And to think it could have been solved in minutes if only I didn’t make the biggest mistake at the start! If you recall, when I first weighed the 1895 it weighed just the same as the others, but that was because they were ALL counterfeits and I was comparing fakers! Had I taken the 30 seconds to look up what the weight should be I would have caught the discrepancy from the start and saved a lot of frustration. (The correct weight btw is 26.73. Not 23.something which is what these were clocking in around…)
So that was lesson #1 learned here. The other things I should have picked up on earlier was the fact that they were almost ALL graded around VF/XF, none of them had any mint marks whatsoever (not a giveaway, but looking back it now makes sense since they were all used with the same or similar die) and then to top it off their tones were roughly the same as well!! Look at this!
I chalked up to coming from the same storage of them, but nope. They were all manufactured by the same rotten individual meant to deceive, and boy did they… The sad part is if that date wasn’t so dang tiny I very well could have missed it entirely, as overall they looked, and felt, fantastic with the naked eye!
But the 2nd mystery here is whether the previous owner *knew* they were fake or not?
They were all inside the same tube separating them out from the other Morgans in his collection, so for that reason mainly I’m lead to believe he knew. Perhaps he just didn’t think to label them realizing one day others will be pouring over his collection when he’s long gone, and if he DID know they were counterfeits, the second question becomes – did he get ripped off when he acquired them, or did he know from the start they weren’t authentic?
Again I’m leaning towards him knowing from the start as I learned he worked at a coin shop for a number years as an assistant, so I have to believe he got pretty good at grading and seeing all kinds of counterfeits over the years. And perhaps one day some unlucky owner of them brought them in to be appraised, only to discover they were fakes so our friend here took them off his hands as a souvenir!
The other possible option is that he grabbed them for his binders since they were all in a row (from 1878 to 1904 and then a 1921), with the idea of one day replacing them with real ones… But in this case wouldn’t he had taken them out of the tube and plopped then into them vs keep ’em hidden for so long?!
Unfortunately we’ll never know the true answer to our mystery here as our friend has since deceased (thus why I’m reviewing them now as the daughter wants to liquidate them) but at least we can put to bed the question of whether they’re authentic or not.
Now I just have to break it to her that the collection is worth a lot less than we first guestimated :( It’ll be the last time I say – “there’s at least $500 in silver here!” from just glancing at them, that’s for sure, ughhh… It never crosses my mind that people can be holding fakes, but I need to be better about that or else I could be the next unsuspecting victim while buying up collections!
But a mystery solved, and I’ll soon be posting a review of the whole collection here for you.. Just gotta make sure I update the spreadsheet now with this new information – d’oh!
*Link to Red Book above is an Amazon affiliate link