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Home of the

Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Collectors Club

 

Before Davignons (with June, 2014, September, 2014, February, 2015, May, 2015 and July, 2016 updates)

 


As collectors of contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars we know there are hundreds of unique varieties. These variety identifications are documented in Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars, First Edition, Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars, 2nd Edition (both books by Keith Davignon), plus the New Discoveries section of this website.  Have you thought though of the possibility of Flowing Hair Type half dollar (1794-1795) and/or Draped Bust Type half dollar (Small Eagle Reverse 1796-1797, Heraldic Reverse 1801-1807) contemporary counterfeits as well?  

Directly addressing this question is the following excerpt from Circulating Counterfeits of America by John M. Kleeberg:

"The Flowing Hair counterfeits have many characteristics that are more suited to counterfeits than fakes made to fool collectors: they are in base metals; they show severe wear; they are often scratched up, in an attempt to pierce the silvering."

 

Controversy continues to exist though when these 'Before Davignon' contemporary counterfeit half dollars were first minted. John L. Riddell,  M.D. ( Melter and Refiner in the United States Branch Mint, New Orleans and Professor of Chemistry in the Medical College of Louisiana) in his A Monograph of the Silver Dollar: Good and Bad of 1845 published a list with illustrated facsimiles of the then known general circulating half dollar counterfeits which included a 1795 dated Flowing Hair Type half dollar and an 1806 dated Draped Bust Type half dollar.  Additional knowledge comes from Don Taxey's comments found in his 1963 landmark Counterfeit Mis-Struck and Unofficial U.S. Coins which noted a third potential contemporary counterfeit half dollar, this one dated 1787: 

“The Schilke ‘discovery coin’ was owned by an elderly man who claimed that it had been with his family for many years.  The coin was wrapped in a piece of stained and yellowed paper which was beginning to crumble at the crease marks.  An  almost illegible inscription on the paper read: 

‘Limpsten (?) Wednesday, May 19, 1813 - This day rec’d of John Cram of Unity, one half dollar dated 1787 – and inclosed (sic)  The same within this paper – Francis Chase & Chs (Charles)  Way present at the time – Attes – Abneil Chase.’

The above note, if genuine, would indicate that the manufacturer of these coins took place some time between 1787 and 1813.  And yet the omission of any 1787 dies from Dr. Riddell’s extremely inclusive list of counterfeit half dollars would seem to preclude this possibility.  The alternative is that they were made around the third quarter of the third quarter of the last century, along with the 1650 Pine Tree shillings, the Washington half cent, and other such fancy productions."

A counterargument can be suggested that 1787 counterfeit halves were not commonly encountered enough to be referenced by Dr. Riddell in 1845, but regardless of their actual earliest date of being minted these 'Before Davignon' contemporary counterfeit half dollars continue to offer an interesting opportunity for study! Significant to their continued study is the important contribution made by John M. Kleeberg's reference to the catalog of the American Numismatic Society's collection of Flowing Hair and Draped Bust contemporary counterfeit half dollars in his 1998 book Circulating Counterfeits of America. As stated in Mr. Kleeberg's book:
  
"The Flowing Hair half dollars are clearly all by the same maker - the style is unmistakable, and if enough examples turn up, they will probably die chain with each other.  So far, three obverse dies and two reverse dies have been identified:
  
Obverse die 1.  Date 1787.  8 stars on the left, 6 stars on the right.
Obverse die 2.  Date 1787(?).  8 stars on the left, 7 stars on the right.  The point of the eighth star touches a denticle.
Obverse die 3.  Date 1878.  7 stars on the left, 8 stars on the right.
Reverse die A.  The dexter wing of the eagle protrudes only a little beyond the wreath.  The left foot of the M in AMERICA is very close to a leaf.
Reverse die B.  The dexter wing of the eagle protrudes much more beyond the wreath.  The D in UNITED is distant from the E."
     
[Note - All the 1787 and 1878 Flowing Hair half dollar counterfeit varieties have been found from numismatic study to share the same edge collar and were minted from nearly identical billon type alloys.  This further corroborates Kleeberg's (1998) article on such pieces being made before 1813 (when a contemporary letter was written about one of these pieces).]
     
Continuing in the spirit of identifying varieties as pioneered by Al C. Overton in his book United States Early Half Dollars Die Varieties 1794-1836 and the numismatic studies made by Dr. Riddell, Don Taxey, John Kleeberg plus others below are listed specimens of nine known contemporary counterfeit Flowing Hair Type and Draped Bust Type half dollar varieties.  [Note - Additional cast counterfeits of Flowing Hair Type and Draped Bust Type half dollars are known to exist (e.g. there is a cast 1795 dated Flowing Hair Type known with remaining traces of silver wash and an edge comprised of indented dots that are roughly equally spaced instead of edge lettering). However this cast specimen and other similar known cast specimens are either too worn and / or too distorted with porosity from poor casting for an accurate identification to a genuine Overton variety origin to be made.  It is hoped that higher grade discoveries of surviving specimens of cast contemporary counterfeits will provide sufficient detail to identify their genuine coin Overton origins to become vetted contemporary counterfeit varieties.]

 

Click images to enlarge in a new window

 

 


 

Flowing Hair Type 1794 - 1795

 


1787 

Obv. 1    1787 date with eight stars on left and six stars on right.

Rev. A    The dexter wing of the eagle protrudes only a little beyond the wreath.  Large O in OF.

Obv. Impossible date of 1787, with blunt 1 that has both left and right upper serifs making it look like the capital letter I. Missing lower right E serif in LIBERTY.   Sharp six segmented stars with eight stars on left and six stars on right.

Rev. The dexter wing of the eagle protrudes only a little beyond the wreath. Large O in OF.  Missing lower right E serif in AMERICA.

Notes: The identical 1 in the date that looks like a capital letter I, the sharp six segmented stars and the missing lower right E serifs are also found in the Flowing Hair Type 1787 2/A, 1878 3/B and 1787 4/A varieties pointing to the same die punches being used likely by the same counterfeiter.

Three specimens known of this variety including two in the ANA collection noted as 1947.125.6,1787, 13.315 g. Dies 1-A Gift of Milferd H Bolender, 1947) and (1942.3.14, 14.347 g. Dies 1-a. Gift of Wayte Raymond, January 1942.)  Very Scarce

ccCBHcc vetted 08/2011 (updated 06/2014 and 05/2015)

 


1787 

Obv. 2    1787 date with eight stars on left and seven stars on right.

Rev. B    The dexter wing of the eagle protrudes much more beyond the wreath.   D in UNITED is distant from the E.

Obv. Impossible date of 1787, with blunt 1 that has both left and right upper serifs making it look like the capital letter I. Missing lower right E serif in LIBERTY. Sharp six segmented stars with eight stars on left and seven stars on right.

Rev. The dexter wing of the eagle protrudes much more beyond the wreath. The D in UNITED is distant from the E.  Missing lower right E serif in AMERICA.

Notes: The identical 1 in the date that looks like a capital letter I, the sharp six segmented stars and the missing lower right E serifs are also found in the Flowing Hair Type 1787 1/A, 1878 3/B and 1787 4/A varieties pointing to the same die punches being used likely by the same counterfeiter.

Four specimens known. Very Scarce

ccCBHcc vetted 08/2011 (updated 06/2014, 05/2015 and 12/2016) 


1787

Obv. 4    1787 date with eight stars on left / six stars on right and unevenly spaced LIBERTY lettering.

Rev. A    The dexter wing of the eagle protrudes only a little beyond the wreath.  Large O in OF.

Obv. Impossible date of 1787, with blunt 1 that has both left and right upper serifs making it look like the capital letter I. Unevenly spaced lettering and missing lower right E serif in LIBERTY. In this specimen the E additionally looks like it was made from a letter F punch with a lower slightly curved horizontal piece added. Additionally the R looks like it was made from a letter P punch with a short tail added at the lower right. Sharp six segmented stars with eight stars on left and six stars on right.

Rev. Large O in OF. Missing upper left serif of E in AMERICA, and top of E is broken. This E is different from the obverse's E in LIBERTY. A in STATES looks like an upside down V.  The dexter wing of the eagle protrudes only a little beyond the wreath. 

Notes: The identical 1 in the date that looks like a capital letter I, the sharp six segmented stars in the Flowing Hair Type 1787 1/A, 1787 2/A and 1878 3/B varieties pointing to the same die punches being used likely by the same counterfeiter.

Edge is lettered as a legitimate coin, with one specimen known to have HALF A DOLLAR O FIFTY CENT(S) with S in CENTS backwards. 12.2 to 13.49 grams weight range. Appears to be German silver. Three specimens known. Very Scarce.

ccCBHcc vetted 06/2014 (updated 05/2015, 06/2015 and 12/2016)


1878

Obv. 3    1878 date.

Rev. B    Dexter wing of eagle protrudes much more beyond wreath. Large O in OF.

Obv. Impossible date of 1878 (transposed 8 and 7 middle two numerals?), with blunt 1 that has both left and right upper serifs making it look like the capital letter I, and faint last digit in the date that may be an 8. Large, crude Liberty bust. Very low TY in LIBERTY compared to other letters. Uneven segments with some being pointed. Sharp six segmented stars.

Rev. Dexter wing of eagle protrudes much more beyond wreath.  Large O in OF which is too widely spaced. Missing lower right E serif in AMERICA. Uneven segments with some being pointed.

Notes: The identical 1 in the date that looks like a capital letter I, the sharp six segmented stars and the missing lower right E serifs are also found in the Flowing Hair Type 1787 1/A, 1787 2/A and 1787 4/A varieties pointing to the same die punches being used likely by the same counterfeiter.

Two specimens can be found in the ANS collection - (1947.125.5, 1878, 13.385 g, Dies 3-B. Gift of Milferd H. Bolender, October 1947) and (1989.99.265, 1878, 11.213 g. Dies 3-B. Gift of R. Byron White, July 1989.) Very Scarce

ccCBHcc vetted 08/2011 (updated 06/2014 and 05/2105)


1795

Obv. 1    Cast copy from O.102

Rev. A    Cast copy from O.102

Obv. & Rev.   The precision of the contemporary counterfeit variety suggests a casting.  One specimen is known with what appears to be a massive die break on the obverse through the Y in Liberty extending down through the forehead hairline but is a fracture in the mold from which the coin had been cast.  

Notes: Three pieces known, one with traces of silver wash.   Very Scarce

Likely identified in  A Monograph Of The Silver Dollar:  Good and Bad by John Leonard Riddell, M.D. published in 1845 as #426.  

ccCBHcc vetted 08/2011 (updated 09/07/2014 and 2/05/2015)


 

Draped Bust Type, Small Eagle Reverse 1796-1797

No known varieties of Draped Bust Type, Small Eagle Reverse contemporary counterfeits have been discovered/reported yet as of August, 2011.

 


Draped Bust Type, Heraldic Eagle Reverse 1801-1807

 


1801

Obv. 1     High Y in LIBERTY.

Rev. A     Low AT in STATES.

Obv.  Date and LIBERTY banner crude with Y in LIBERTY very high in relationship to other letters.  Liberty's profile has enlarged nose.  Date widely spaced with the 0 tilted to the upper right and the second 1 has a top serif to the right instead of the left.  Wirey stars.

Rev. Legend letters are not fully formed with AT in STATES very low in relation to other letters.  Field of  stars unevenly spaced with an added star in the left of the field (i.e. although only eleven stars are visible this may be likely due to a filled die).  Elongated beak on eagle.  Olive branch missing though eagle's claw that normally holds the branch on a genuine coin is clearly visible.

Notes:  Only one specimen known.  Rare

ccCBHcc vetted 08/2011 


1805

Obv. 1   Cast copy of Overton 112 die variety (obverse die 7).

Rev. A    Cast copy of Overton 112 die variety (reverse die H).

Obv. Stars 1 and 13 nearly touch curl and bust limits the casting to an Overton identified with obverse die 7 varieties.

Rev.  End of arrowheads in relation to the N, the third A to berry alignment, and the I to leaf alignment matches reverse die H identifies the casting specifically to the Overton 112 die variety.  Worn porosity visible in upper left quadrant.  

Notes: Only one specimen known.  Rare

ccCBHcc vetted 08/2011


1806

Obv. 1   Cast copy of Overton 120 die variety (obverse die 10-s3).

Rev. A    Cast copy of Overton 120 die variety (reverse die P).

Obv. 1 Date's 1 and 6 nearly touch curl and bust respectively.

Rev.  5 berries, all with stems, the four upper ones quite long and the lowest one short.  Leaf points under the right base of I/  AM joined at base.  Left base of A is close to third feather but does not touch it or the fourth feather.    

Notes: In A Monograph Of The Silver Dollar:  Good and Bad by John Leonard Riddell published in 1845 an 1806 dated counterfeit half dollar is noted and identified as # 427.  The only known 1806 dated Draped Bust contemporary counterfeit is a badly worn cast counterfeit in copper in the ANS collection identified as an Overton 120 with a smooth edge that is pictured and used to identify this contemporary counterfeit variety.

Only one specimen known.  Rare

ccCBHcc vetted 05/2015


1806

Obv. 2   Cast copy of Overton 114a die variety (obverse die 9).

Rev. B    Cast copy of Overton 114a die variety (reverse die J-s2).

Obv. 2 Double cut TY in LIBERTY.  

Rev.  B Die Break spans reverse (opposite second feather of left wing crosses entire reverse and through E in AMERICA to edge).    

Notes: In A Monograph Of The Silver Dollar:  Good and Bad by John Leonard Riddell published in 1845 an 1806 dated counterfeit half dollar is noted and identified as # 427.  The only known 1806 dated Draped Bust contemporary counterfeit is a badly worn cast counterfeit in copper in the ANS collection which was identified as an Overton 120 with a smooth edge.  This is a second known 1806 contemporary variety.

Only one specimen known.  Rare

ccCBHcc vetted 07/2016


1809

Obv. 1   Impossible 1809 date.

Rev. A    Crude legend lettering.

Obv. Impossible 1809 date (9 may be a 6 punched upside down).  Crude unevenly space lettering in LIBERTY.

Rev.  Crude legend lettering that is unevenly spaced and aligned.  

Notes: As stated by John Kleeberg in his book Circulating Counterfeits of the America "9 and 6 are easy to punch in upside down.  Many of the impossible dates created by counterfeiters involve 9 and 6 punches."  The only known 1809 specimen is in the ANS collection (1896.30.1, 1809, 12.764 g. Gift of Edouard Frossard, June 11, 1986) and is pictured.  The crudeness of the obverse and reverse lettering denotes a struck and not a cast specimen. 

Only one specimen known in ANS collection.  Rare

ccCBHcc vetted 05/2015