Counterfeit Detection NGC: 1908 Quarter Eagle

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The problems with this shoddy fake start with a glaring mistake

By Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (NGC) ……
The Indian Head Quarter Eagle series that began in 1908 grew out of President by Theodore Roosevelt dissatisfaction with designs on U.S. currency at the turn of the century. The subsequent revival of American coinage was carried out by skilled carvers such as Bela Lyon Pratt, who designed this series. Its design was revolutionary not only for its artistic brilliance but also because it is inclusive: the devices, including the Indianthe eagle and the various letters and numbers are sunk into the surface of the coin rather than rising above it.

NGC recently received a counterfeit of this design which would have appalled Pratt and Roosevelt for its poor quality. In fact, its creator was so negligent that the counterfeit wasn’t even stamped with an incuse design, which alone is enough to condemn this as a fake.

The Quarter Eagle dies were made from scratch and don’t even match the original. Notice the fine detail in the feathers of the original’s headdress, a feature absent from the counterfeit. Closer examination reveals horizontal twirl lines on the Indian’s face and hairstyle that were left over from the die-making process. These lines are probably the result of using a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine to carve die steel rather than the work of a carver and reducing lathe as was often used by mints around the world at the time the genuine example was minted.

This neglect continues on the reverse, where the design of the eagle varies considerably from an authentic example, particularly in the shape of the head. Also, note how different the currency text is from the genuine coin.

The counterfeit is also clearly underpowered at 3.18 grams, considerably less than the expected 4.18 grams. This is because the counterfeit is minted in a composition of 62% copper and 38% zinc, rather than what it should be: 90% gold and 10% copper.

Whether this was originally intended as a serious attempt to fool collectors can be left to speculation. However, the broader interest in vintage pieces as an asset class today renews the importance of identifying counterfeits like this.

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