It is no surprise that United States gold coins have long been the target of counterfeiters. A wave of deceptive forgeries appeared in the marketplace in the 1960s and ’70s, and many of these continue to be encountered by dealers, collectors and NGC. These spurious pieces were often well struck and made from the correct gold alloy, which can make them particularly deceptive.
This 1912 Indian Head Eagle is a prime example of one of these 35- to 50-year-old Counterfeit Coin Detection forgeries. It has the correct composition and the correct weight. It is well struck with sharp details and mostly smooth fields. There are, however, raised lumps between stars 12 and 13, which are usually telltale signs of a fake. Raised spikes, another diagnostic, are seen at the rim in several places and, most prominently, to the left of the L in LIBERTY. Finally, there are tiny patches of tool marks, such as above the IB in PLURIBUS, where the counterfeiter tried to touch up the dies.
In Counterfeit Coin Detection, Gold coin forgeries like this one are seen regularly when older collections come to market and can be quite challenging. Thankfully they still have some intrinsic gold value, which usually tempers the loss, but there is no numismatic premium. Of course, any coin worth as much as a gold eagle should be carefully evaluated and only purchased if its authenticity is an absolute certainty.
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