Barber Fakery



The photos of the following three Barber pieces were sent to me by a fellow collector who asked to remain anonymous. He bought these pieces at a large national coin show from a dealer who was selling them as counterfeits.

The collector said he then showed the pieces to an authenticator from the coin grading service ICG, who was also at the show. The authenticator said the half and the quarter were definitely fakes, cast counterfeits with bubbly surfaces, flat devices and legends, and reeding on the coins' edges that was irregular rather than straight. He said they were probably made of pewter. But he said that the dime, though heavily corroded, looked authentic. From the photo, it appears as if it could have been a metal detectorist's find.

The collector took these pieces home and weighed them, and the half and quarter were appreciably underweight, confirming that they were made of a base metal such as pewter rather than silver. But the dime was the correct weight, exactly. The collector said he had paid $10 for the dime, not a lot of money but five to ten times more than what it's worth as an authentic coin in this condition. (Note that one metal detectorist looking at the online image of this dime feels it also is counterfeit, with the denticles inside the rim edge largely absent, which he said are present on even his most worn Barber dime finds.)

Was the dealer knowingly selling an authentic coin as a fake? Stranger things have happened. As Ken Bressett pointed out in his American Numismatic Association video "Famous Fakes and Fakers," some forgeries do sell for more than the authentic coins they copy. As always, Caveat emptor. Even when selling fakes as fakes, dealers have been known to fake themselves, as these pages on ancient Greek dekadrachms also illustrate. The collector who sent these to me said he planned to donate the three pieces illustrated below to the ANA.















Cast counterfeit of 1909 Barber half, 11.3 grams vs. 12.5 grams for authentic coin, probably pewter















Cast counterfeit of 1909 Barber quarter, 4.6 grams vs. 6.25 grams for authentic coin, probably pewter















Worn, corroded 1898 Barber dime, correct weight at 2.5 grams, sold as a counterfeit




Other glomworthy coins:

Oldest Coins

 Athenian Owls

Alexander the Great Coins

Medusa Coins

Thracian Tetradrachms

House of Constantine

Draped Bust Coins

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles

Coin sites:
Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide
Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship
Bogos: Counterfeit Coins

© 2014 Reid Goldsborough

Note: Any of the items illustrated on these pages that are in my possession are stored off site.