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Home of the

Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Collectors Club

Collectors Corner - this section includes articles and research that further share knowledge and the enjoyment of our collecting interest.


 

To find the article you wish to read from the table of contents below you can either click the underlined publication date following the article's title or scroll down though
t
he articles that are sequenced from newest to oldest publication date order until you've reached the article of your choice:  

Treasure Hunt - May, 2017 

Rarity and Collecting Update - April, 2017

Weights - March, 2017

Multi-Struck - Part 2 - December, 2016

When 1 Variety + 1 Variety = 1 Variety - March, 2016

When You Just Can't Tell - February, 2016 (with January, 2017 update)

Meet the Familes - December, 2015  (with February, 2016 update)

Look What Was Unearthed in New Hamphsire! - November, 2015 (2)

Our Hobby's Iceberg - November, 2015 (1)

A Bigger Family - Part 3 - August, 2015 (2)

Contemporary Counterfeit Bust Halves and their Composition - August, 2015 (1)  (with February, 2016 and December, 2016 updates)

Between Historic Contemporary Counterfeits and Today's Fakes - June, 2015

A Bigger Family - Part 2 - March, 2015

More on Rarity and Collecting - February, 2015

A Bigger Family - Part 1 - November, 2014

Capped Bust halves that are not Davignons - Part 3 - October, 2014 (2)

Stories Behind Discoveries - Part 2 - October, 2014 (1) (with December, 2016 ccCBHcc.com notation)

Capped Bust halves that are not Davignons - Part 2 - September, 2014

Stories Behind Discoveries - Part 1 - April, 2014 (with  September, 2016 update)

We're Writing Our Red Book Yet - February, 2014

History of Keith Davignon's Editions of Contemporary Capped Bust Half Dollars - November, 2013  (with February, 2014 update)

Multi-Struck - Part 1 - May, 2013 (with January, 2017 update)

An Attempt To Solve Another Mystery - March, 2013

Contemporary Counterfeits Verses Modern Fakes - January, 2013 (with added epilogs)

When Were Davignons Really Minted? - November, 2012 (with January, 2013, October, 2015 and January, 2017 updates)

NC - July, 2012  (with June, 2015 update)

Rarity and Collecting - December, 2011 

Variation or New Variety? Part 2 - June, 2011

True and False Follow-up - April, 2011 (2)

Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars .... A Fast Moving Numismatic Field - April, 2011 (1)

Another Mystery Solved - September, 2010

True and False  - March, 2010 (with January, 2012 update)

Capped Bust Half Dollar Era Contemporary Counterfeit Type Set Invitation - January, 2010 (2)

Displaying Your Collection - January, 2010 (1)

Variation or New Variety? - September, 2009 (4)

1838-O Fake or Unlisted variety? - September, 2009 (3) (with June, 2010 update)

Capped Bust halves that are not Davignons - Part 1 - September, 2009 (2) (with June, 2010 update)

1831 D 7/G - Error Coin - September, 2009 (01)

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Treasure Hunt by Kerry Schaller - May, 2017

 

I started hunting road construction sites with my metal detector a few years ago. It's an opportunity to get a glimpse of early history of these small towns we are hunting. It's also a
chance 
to find older coins that we just don't see very often. Most of the paved roads we travel everyday were the same roads traveled over 100 years ago by the early settlers, but in
those years the roads weren't paved. Downtown sidewalks were made of wood, and not concrete. Items lost were covered by a layer of dust in the road or fell in the gap between the
boards of the sidewalk lost to those of that time.

I get excited every time I'm out exploring one of these sites. I had already found three Large cents and three early Liberty Seated dimes at this site and this trip's success was to be
no different. Every day the construction crew moved dirt around, bringing new items to the surface within reach of the metal detector. On this day shortly after arriving, I got a good
signal at two inches deep. I dug down and out pops a large dark disc. On closer examination, I see the eagle of an early half dollar and the outline of a Capped Bust Liberty. Excited
by the find, I put it in my pocket, but was also thinking this wasn't a silver target on my machine. After several hours of hunting, I headed for home with just the one coin for the day.
 

After getting home I cleaned the coin up. Yes, I clean these coins as the roadbed is often very rough on these pieces and their value to a collector is limited, but every so often a
gem pops out that was tucked away in some unknown spot that preserved and protected it from the harsh conditions.

After sending pictures to several friends, I got a reply mentioning counterfeits. I had never found one, but the signal my machine gave me in the field, came rushing back to me. I
pulled out my metal detector and air tested the Capped Bust half. Air testing is done with a metal detector by passing an item across the coil in the air. Certain coins will come in
consistently with a certain signature (i.e. silver dime, bronze penny, zinc penny, etc). Soils can be mineralized, which can alter the response that an item would register on the
machine in the field. Air testing eliminates those variables to see how a certain actual target will respond on the machine.
 

The results from my air testing?  Wow, it comes in where an Indian Head small cent would signal. I noted the weight from my Redbook of a genuine Capped Bust half dollar and
then weighed my construction site buried treasure find and it which came out to nine grams. A chunk missing from it being holed certainly did not make up four grams needed to
make the weight of a real Capped Bust half dollar. I found the ccCBHcc website and scrolling through the New Discovery section and found the 1838 21/V Davignon variety. Upon 
reading the description and comparing the pictures, it was a spot on match. The composition of German silver (i.e. copper/nickel/zinc) also made sense for the metal detector
signal I got in that nickel and zinc come in much lower and react much different from silver.

The initial let down of this Capped Bust half dollar being counterfeit, has actually been replaced by the excitement of finding my first counterfeit coin! The effort and craftsmanship
to make this counterfeit coin is exceptional.


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Rarity and Collecting Update by Larry Schmidt -  April, 2017

Back in December, 2011 the Collectors Corner section of this website posed the question "Where does rarity fit in our world of collecting contemporary
counterfeit Capped Bust halves?".  The question was presented to fellow collectors to begin to think of rarity designations as constantly changing, the
results of ongoing cumulative finds of vetted new discovery specimens and additional specimens for previously known varieties reported by fellow
collectors.  Well what do we know now a few months past five years later?

Comparing the current March 26, 2017 census (i.e. see the Census Section of this website) to past ccCBHcc.com censuses the following can be said about the
reported growing number of
vetted Davignon varieties with either; no known specimens *, only a single known specimen, or having two or more known
specimens:

  

**  2011 had 347 vetted varieties; 6 with no known specimen or 2%, 178 with 1 known specimen or 52%, 163 with 2 or more known specimens (46%)

**  2012 had 356 vetted varieties; 6 with no known specimen or 2%, 174 with 1 known specimen or 49%, 176 with 2 or more known specimens (49%)

**  2014 had 368 vetted varieties; 6 with no known specimen or 2%, 183 with 1 known specimen or 51%, 179 with 2 or more known specimens (47%) 

**  2016 had 374 vetted varieties; 6 with no known specimen or 2%, 141 with 1 known specimen or 38%, 227 with 2 or more known specimens (60%) 

**  2017 so far has 391 vetted varieties; 6 with no known specimen or 2%, 155 with 1 known specimen or 40%, 230 with 2 or more known specimens (58%)

   

The 2017 year to date census statistics for reported vetted varieties with two or more known specimens when broken down are comprised of; 47 second
specimen finds for previous "only a single known specimen" varieties, plus 74 varieties with 
single rarity level updates and another 13 varieties with multiple
rarity 
level updates all since the September, 2010 publication of Keith Davignon's Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars - 2nd Edition.  This
shows that for these 230 vetted varieties 
with two or more known specimens conservatively over 37.8% have had their rarity level ** upgraded!  These statistics quantify
the dynamics of our hobby and tell of 
the continuing opportunities in our collecting for elusive specimens to be found!!! 

*  Illustrated in the 1845 publication A Monograph of the Silver Dollar: Good and Bad by J. L. Riddell, an employee of the New Orleans US Mint for which no specimen has yet been found.
** 
37.8% = [(13 varieties with multiple upgrades + 74 varieties with single rarity upgrades) / (230 varieties with two of more known specimens)].  The 37.8% calculation does not include the
47 second specimen finds for previous "only a single known specimen" varieties as their rarity designations do not change given that the D
avignon rarity occurrence levels are  1-2 = Rare, 
3-5 = Very Scarce, 6-9 = Scarce, 10-19 = Common, 20-49 = Very Common, 50+ = Extremely Common.

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Weights by Larry Schmidt and Winston Zack - March, 2017
   
   
Sometimes when you hear or read something it triggers renewed thinking for an area.  Such was the case in a recent request sent to a few fellow collectors to identify a specimen for which a comment was
made related to getting a copy of a genuine coin with the correct weight.  With a more significant larger number of available Davignon varieties to collectively compare weights what could an analysis tell
about minting of these historic copies tell? 
   

First, when thinking of the variables of Capped Bust half dollar (CBHD) contemporary counterfeit 'correct' weights was indeed no easy task.  Different alloys with different weights struck underweight copies,
'close' to legal weight copies, and heavier copies.  Alarmingly for numismatic study even within the same Davignon variety significant ranges are known (e.g. one specimen of an 1826 3/C weighs 11.5 grams
and another weighs 15.8 grams)!  With this in mind the analysis began.
   
For the analysis only struck specimens with visibly complete planchets were compared; all holed, chipped, plugged, etc. specimens were not analyzed.  With the remaining sample size of 396 identified
Davignon specimens weights were collectively compared.  The result found was that 53.3% of contemporary counterfeit CBHDs were within the weight tolerance of authentic CBHDs of 12.0 g to 13.34 g  
accounting for different degrees that circulation wear may affect weight (i.e. complete results of the collective weight analysis are found at the end of this article).  This statistic shows that the greater the
circulation wear of genuine CBHDs the higher the number of Davignons were included within a matching tolerance weight range.  This is important to keep in mind remembering the theory that clever
contemporary counterfeiters minted coins that appeared to already have had significant circulation wear and were lighter in weight as part of their deception!
   
   

  

  

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Multi-Struck - Part 2 by Larry Schmidt - December, 2016

In the Collectors Corner May, 2013 Multi-Struck - Part 1 article analyses of multi-struck contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars were presented.  Within the findings there was a distinct difference found between multi-strikes which would have perhaps been initially noticed but after inspection would have likely been passed on in general circulation without its owner giving it much added thought, but there were also other multi-strikes which were quite dramatic. This article provides for the enjoyment of fellow collectors a gallery of enlarged color images for a typical representative example of a multi-strike that would have been likely accepted in general circulation and other dramatic multi-strikes which would have not been.  Subjectively, specimens have been selected that display their striking errors the best.  Other dramatic multi-strike specimens are known to exist, but due to their worn condition and/or dark toning they are VERY, VERY difficult to see [e.g. other known examples for instance include; a) an 1831 9/I identified in the September, 2010 Collectors Corner article Another Mystery Solved, and b) an 1829 7/G with a recognizable second 9 to the right of the four digit date, two overlapping lettered Liberty headbands, a 14th star, and a crosshatched shield on the eagle that resulted from one shield being struck over by another shield at an angle].    

 


1831 7/G

representative

multi-strike

likely accepted

in general

circulation

(i.e. besides Liberty's

slight doubled profile

note typical multi-strike

distortions of stars,

date and legend)


1821 3/D

dramatic

multi-strike


1826 5/E

dramatic

multi-strike

 


1828 17/R

dramatic

multi-strike


1834

? variety

dramatic

multi-strike


1838 3/C

dramatic

multi-strike


   

   

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When 1 variety + 1 variety = 1 variety by Winston Zack - March, 2016

In recent efforts to identify an 1833 dated contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half (CCCBH) that had seen a great deal of circulation wear two previous vetted Davignon varieties have now been determined to be in fact the same variety! It is now understood that the 1833 33/X and the 1833 41/X Davignon 12-Star varieties are the same variety through the match identification of identical distinctive obverse dentils patterns by Stars 7 and 9 (i.e. the multi-struck 1833 33/X variety is reidentified as the single struck 1833 41/X variety). There are only a few other known identified CCCBH obverse dies with 12 stars; the 1830 20/V, 1840 1/A, and 1840 1/B. Almost all the rest of the Davignon varieties have the expected 13-star obverses with the exception of the 1838 12/M with 10 stars, the 1833 32/GG with 14 stars, the 1835 5/E with 14 stars, plus a few multi-struck specimens that only appear to have more than 13 stars due to their multi-struck stars. 

 

ccCBHcc.com Notation - This discovery has been made by a fellow collector described as having "a very sharp pair of eyes" by the collector / owner of the multiple struck 1833 33/X specimen plate coin.  It is just this kind of serious numismatic study that through the synergy of fellow collectors working together depth and richness of knowledge is gained and shared, benefiting all fellow collectors! 

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When You Just Can't Tell  by Larry Schmidt - February, 2016

Well another one has been discovered!  Below are images of yet another contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half that is unfortunately not fully identifiable but has enough distinct attributes to distinguish it as a previously unknown variety (e.g. an obverse with too close spacing between Stars 1 - 2, plus too close spacing between Stars 4 - 5, and a reverse with UNITEDSTATES and perhaps more of the legend as one word). While these attributes can distinguish this specimen as a new unique variety the specimen has only a partially readable 18?? date and thus can't be vetted as a new discovery variety!  It is additionally interesting to note that this specimen has a significant minting error, that is, extra metal on the surface of the coin that can be seen on the left sides of the obverse and reverse images.  The specimen was struck at a later state after the dies had broken allowing extra metal to fill the surface of the coin where the obverse and reverse die surfaces were missing. The extra metal on the obverse and reverse, or "cud", should not be considered a distinctive attribute as other specimens for this identified variety could be found that were struck earlier from the dies before they broke and would not have any extra metal other than their counterfeiter's intended design.

   

Other unique specimens that each have with enough distinct attributes to distinguish themselves as a previously unknown variety yet can't be fully identified as a new vetted variety are known to exist! These cast and struck contemporary counterfeits are known to not match any vetted Davignon variety, yet these specimens are either too worn / damaged / or for other reasons not able to be identified / vetted as new discovery varieties.  A grouping of these type of unvetted specimens can be found at the very end of the New Discovery section on this website.   

Specimens like these continue to fuel our hobby's excitement in that we absolutely know for sure that there are additional new discovery varieties out there yet!!!  

   

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Meet the Families by Winston Zack, Louis Scuderi, Larry Schmidt - December, 2015  (with February, 2016 update)

 

Overview:

 

In 1996 Keith Davignon, in his book Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars - First Edition, brought to the fellow collectors' attention the idea of stylistic similarities in contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars now known as ‘families’:

 

“One cannot help wondering as one looks upon a group of bogus coins who made them, and whether the same person may have been responsible for several different 'coins'. When examining a large quantity of dates and varieties, spread out side by side on a table, stylistic similarities tend to 'jump' out at you. (Davignon, 1996).”

 

This excerpt from the First Edition formally introduced the concept of ‘Families’ to contemporary counterfeit CBH collectors. Counterfeit families are varieties that appear to share stylistic similarities, such as punches (e.g letters, numbers, and design elements including stars, Liberty bust, eagle with olive branch and arrows, banner), used to create die elements in working dies, or which share an entire common obverse or reverse die. This article builds upon Keith Davignon’s First and Second Edition's initial identification of six nicknamed families (1) Top Gun, (2) Mexican Head, (3) Ski-Nose, (4) Too Legit to Quit, (5) Buck-Tooth Eagle, and (6) Clinton Head (Davignon 1996 Chapter 6; Davignon 2010 Chapter 7), other non-nicknamed families, previous articles in the Collectors Corner section of the website ccCBHcc.com (i.e. An Attempt to Solve Another Mystery (Schmidt 2013), A Bigger Family - Part 1 (Scuderi and Schmidt 2014), Bigger Family - Part 2 (Scuderi and Schmidt – Part 2). Ongoing research currently suggests at least 22 known families that are identified in tables at the end of this article.

 

 

Introduction:

 

In our fledgling country a mix of coins circulated and the populace, outside of the large eastern cities, was generally unaware of what current US Mint products looked like. With transportation focused on rivers, and law enforcement outside of cities essentially nonexistent, counterfeiters could pass their counterfeit, fake, bogus, imitated, spurious, non-regal coins (and paper money) with relative ease and with little fear of being caught.

 

“To Counterfeit Is Death” was a term added to 18th century American colonial paper money by the likes of Benjamin Franklin and others. The term was likely used because counterfeiters were a threat to the State, and reliability, confidence and trust in the currency was critical for a stable economy. The primary motive for counterfeiters should first and foremost be seen as a method of greed and building wealth. But it also likely had a secondary, almost beneficial effect of adding coins into circulation during times of relative absence such as during economically unstable periods (e.g. panics and depressions).

 

Counterfeiting operations as documented by historical sources, and noted by Davignon (2010) ranged from simple individual operations to more complex networks involving highly organized gangs made up of several people sometimes spread out over hundreds of miles. The work was often done in secret. In some instances equipment, punches, and edge lettering devices were sold, traded or exchanged over long distances.

 

The New World (North/Central America) counterfeiting culture began shortly after the arrival of settlers, but truly boomed in the mid/late-18th century (Gurney 2014). The coins typically counterfeited during this period were denominations commonly seen in circulation. Specifically this included English and Irish guineas, halfpence, halfpennies, and farthings, Mexican and Peruvian eight and two reales, French ecú and five franc pieces, Spanish pistareens, and Brazillian joes and half joes (Kleeberg 2000). Shortly after the United States began minting Federal coins those Mint types/denominations were counterfeited as well. Of particular focus here is the extent of counterfeiting U.S. Capped Bust-type half dollars (CBH), arguably the most counterfeited U.S. coin in the 19th century. One reason CBHs were targeted is that they were the bullion coin of the era used for banking/larger commercial transactions as compared to other US Mint denominations, and thus saw more widespread circulation.

 

 

The 22 Families / Current Analyses:

 

Research currently suggests at least 22 known families, comprising 125 Davignon varieties, of contemporary counterfeit CBHs exist (see Table 1 for a summary of the 22 families and Tables 2 through 23 for details of each individual family). It is possible that other known Davignon varieties, not currently connected to one of these listed families, may also be linked to the families listed here.

 

The sizes of each of the families currently range from two to 23 Davignon varieties. Significantly, family memberships makes up approximately 42% of the approximately 293 (292 + 1 unvetted (‘never too late’ family)) reported die struck varieties. Identified family sizes will continue to increase in size as higher grade specimens become available for research plus more families will likely be added to this list as new discovery varieties are reported and vetted.

 

As this enlarged family tree continues to grow, and, as we attempt to understand the contemporary counterfeiting process, even more questions have arisen, including:

 

Do these families point to an industrious individual contemporary counterfeiter per family? Or did contemporary counterfeiters of Capped Bust halves likely sell equipment/punches/edge lettering devices to each other similar to the sharing of punches of design devices as seen in some colonial contemporary counterfeits?

 

These questions are difficult, if not impossible to answer now that nearly 200 years have passed since these illicit pieces were produced. Although hundreds of pieces still exist relatively few likely survive from what can only be presumed were much larger productions. In addition, historical documentation, which can aid in piecing together the background to this counterfeiting story, is relatively scarce or non-specific, as such provides little direct provenance information.

 

It is important to keep in mind that counterfeit dies would have been expensive to buy and time consuming to make. It takes at least three dies to make a family of two members, which generally consists of one common side (or common hub type), and two different opposing sides. For example the Clinton Head family with 23 members, used at least 40 dies! This is a truly staggering quantity of dies for any family. This begs the questions whether these dies all belong to a single counterfeiting operation, whether worn-out dies were re-hubbed, repunched, or reused, and/or whether these dies and hubs were sold/traded across multiple locations. Davignon (1996, 2010) notes that there were multiple localities where gangs of counterfeiters worked, and he speculates that hundreds of CBH counterfeiting operations were in business. If each of these 22 families, including 125 die struck varieties, represent a single counterfeiting operation, do the remaining 168 die struck varieties not linked to a family each represent a single and unique counterfeiting operation? Is the size of each counterfeiting family commensurate to the scale, and potentially success, of the counterfeiting taking place? Can we estimate when certain counterfeits were made based upon the date of the piece, or the dates for the entire family? At the moment these questions remain unanswered, but attempts will be made to answer them with the information available.

 

It is difficult to ascertain whether any one operation had possession of and was using all these dies, or if multiple locations were being supplied with dies from a single source. It is almost certain that one prolific counterfeiter was re-using master hubs to make their dies, and that most likely not all dies from each family were in use concurrently, but were made to order, especially after dies wore out. To better figure this out an emission order needs to be established. The major issue stopping us answering this is survival bias of the certain contemporary counterfeit varieties plus lack of knowledge about die life.

 

Since we do not know how many counterfeits were produced for each variety, it is impossible to know precise survival rates, however estimating survival rates is still possible. The economics of counterfeiting would suggest that counterfeiters produced larger number of pieces to make up for the cost of metal, dies, machinery involved, time and labor, and rarely, if ever, produced just a handful of counterfeits by choice; factors such as premature die breakage and counterfeiters being arrested limited the production of certain varieties. Further, fifty cents was a lot of money for many people in the first half of the 19th century, and the counterfeit would keep being passed along until forcibly removed from circulation. Therefore, in theory, these counterfeits likely had a relatively long survival rate alongside authentic coins. By comparison, it was estimated that just 0.004% of the Philadelphia mintage for CBHs survives today for all dates (Evans, 1993). Although different factors exist for the survival rate of counterfeits, especially CBHs, and if we assume a similar survival rate for counterfeit CBHs, then an estimated 625,000 (give or take) were originally produced (from a surviving population of approximately 2,500 pieces).

 

Multiple factors were involved in the identification and destruction versus the survival of counterfeit CBHs after they were introduced into commerce. Identification as a counterfeit depended primarily on the quality of characteristics that the specimen possessed and were assessed through 1) the details of the engraving, 2) planchet metal/alloy, 3) method of production (cast or die struck), and 4) dimensions of the piece (i.e. width and thickness). In theory, the better the qualities the piece possessed the longer it should remain undetected. It is interesting to note that many counterfeit CBHs are still misidentified today as authentic coins, potentially suggesting higher quality, more deceptive workmanship. Other factors of survivability, such as the discovery of counterfeit coin hoards (i.e. 1831 1/A as noted in Davignon 2010), can bias this assessment although in general this has not been a major factor.

 

Overall, more than half (52%) of the reported counterfeit die struck CBH varieties (152 out of 293 varieties) are known by just one example in the current ccCBHcc.com Census (as of June 1, 2015). The vast majority of varieties are known by ten or fewer pieces, with currently only about ten varieties are estimated to have about 50 or more examples existing (Davignon 2010). Over time the number of unique varieties will likely continue to fall, although at the same time additional, previously unreported new discovery varieties will likely surface. But in general, the rarity of these pieces cannot easily be explained.

 

It is likely that the majority of pieces from each variety were casually destroyed over time (possibly in the big melts of the 1850s). It is also possible that most varieties were fairly low quality to begin with, and were subsequently removed from circulation early on. It could also be the case that counterfeit varieties that are relatively common today may have been just as common as other varieties that are now rare, unique or perhaps so far unknown. In other cases some varieties, especially those from larger families, may have intermixed dies quite frequently and as a result some varieties may have had very low production runs. Knowing how varieties relate to each other in a family, and creating die-link emission orders, will help us better understand the sequence of counterfeiting.

 

Counterfeit families are made up of both shared-side and single-paired varieties. All but one family, Y 1s, is known with at least one die reused creating multiple varieties. Varieties with shared-sides are somewhat common among families. Currently 77 of the 125 varieties share a side with another variety. This includes 24 varieties (11 different dies) where obverses were shared and 58 varieties (23 different dies) where reverses were shared; some varieties have both their obverse and reverse shared with other varieties. It is currently unknown why so many more reverse dies were shared than obverses. It could be due to the universal nature of reverse dies being more-or-less the same, whereas obverse dies are uniquely dated. This may also be related to which die was the hammer or anvil die, as was the case at the U.S. mint from die break and cud analysis, such that the hammer die (usually the reverse) generally fails more often than the anvil die (usually the obverse). It may also be the result of poorer quality die steel. Although it is also worth mentioning that most counterfeit CBHs are not known with die breaks or cuds (similar to Mint made CBHs) which may indicate smaller productions that did not result in die failure, or that larger planchet coins were not generally prone to die failure.

 

In contrast, 47 of the 125 varieties within these 22 families are single-paired varieties without either side known to be shared with another reported variety. It is almost certain that at least one side of some of these single-paired varieties will eventually become part of a shared-side emission order as new varieties are reported. Although still speculative, some single-paired varieties may have been distributed to other counterfeiting operations, and as such sold in obverse-reverse sets or another made-to-order combination of dies. This could explain why there are so many varieties from these families which are not part of a shared-side emission order. But we must also look at specimen survival bias and production to help dissect these families.

 

Production was a key part of counterfeiting. There was the production of the die and the production striking of the counterfeit. A skilled engraver could produce a counterfeit die or set of dies in a single day. Those dies likely would have needed to be tested to make sure they did not break shortly after being made, especially if they were being sold. Fortunately the results of some of these tested dies survive today as uniface strikes or die trials on real coins (likely simulating a planchet).

 

Production of counterfeits was also related to the type and amount of metal/alloy available. A large quantity of metal meant that you could theoretically produce a large number of planchets which could be struck all at once, possibly from a single pair of dies. After those planchets were used another batch of metal would need to be made. As time passed, different sided dies could have been married to start a shared-side emission order. In some cases those die pairings were used again to strike more counterfeits using different alloys. We know that some varieties were struck using strikingly different alloys such as copper, German silver and brass (i.e. 1824 1/A, 1828 1/A, 1830 8/H); preliminary metallurgical analysis using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) also indicates multiple alloys (some being relatively minor differences) were used to strike the same counterfeit variety (Bastacky 2015).

 

Larger, more successful, and possibly more complex, counterfeiting operations could have produced counterfeits for years before stopping or being caught. This could explain several questions including, 1) why some families are much larger than others, 2) why families used multiple dates and 3) why there are more shared-side emission orders for larger counterfeiting operations than smaller operations.

 

The dies themselves also needed to last for a considerable number of strikes to create a profit for the counterfeiter. Dies were expensive, and manufacturing counterfeits was a costly, labor-intensive operation. But, dies eventually failed. Due to a lack of surviving dies it is almost impossible to know how strong and reliable counterfeit dies were, and how long they would last until failure. As such, this adds a new factor to whether some varieties were single-paired because the dies broke early in production, or whether other factors were at work.

 

It is of interest to note that in general most contemporary counterfeit CBHs (like the US Mint made ones) do not exhibit large die breaks (one notable exception is 1833 24/X). This might indicate that little die breakage was occurring in the dies, and thus the dies were comparably strong. Then again, if a die broke a counterfeiter would not likely want to make a counterfeit with an obvious broken die feature because it would make that piece stand out in general circulation more clearly.

                             

Conclusions and Suggested Further Analysis:

 

This article’s main focus is to show that there are many more counterfeit families than previously recognized, and that some individual counterfeit families are larger than previously believed. We can categorically state that our understanding of these families is incomplete and more varieties likely exist(ed). Davignon identified five of the six largest known families, and identified similar characteristics among other varieties which were never formally matched to a family. This article formally names 17 additional families (Table 1), and adds to the discussion of counterfeit families and counterfeiting in general. Even more questions have been generated as a result of this research, and ongoing and future research will attempt to answer those questions.

 

The results of this research (Tables 2-23) have allowed us to be fairly confident that two of the families pre-date the use of German silver around 1837. Five families show transitional periods of billon (copper-silver alloys) and German silver alloys in their counterfeits dating to a period of manufacture around 1835-1840. Thirteen families are fairly confidently dated after 1837 since their preliminary metallurgical analysis suggests the use of German silver and not billon. And there is one family, 1815 Counterfeiter, where there is not yet enough information to estimate the relative age of manufacture. Several families have members with copper or bronze type alloys that were silver plated.

 

Silver plating copper planchets was one of the earliest forms of counterfeiting silver coins dating back to around 600-650 B.C. in Asia Minor. These early counterfeits were called ‘fourrée’s’ (several types of spellings), and were most commonly produced by taking a flan of copper, wrapping it with silver foil, heating it, and striking it with the dies. More recent forms of plating involved the ‘Sheffield plate’ method, and later the use of electrochemistry and electroplating. Sheffield plate, invented in 1743 by Thomas Boulsover in Sheffield, involved a thin sheet of silver placed over copper, heated to fuse the two layers, and rolled to the desired thickness. Counterfeiters quickly employed this technique, especially the Birmingham forgeries from 1796 to ~1820. Later, silver and gold electroplating was invented by John Wright of Birmingham, England and patented in 1840. This method involved using potassium cyanide as an electrolyte. Further research will need to clarify how silver plated counterfeit CBHs were produced.

 

Pre-1837 counterfeit CBH families, albeit rare, appear to be smaller operations using just a few dies and creating few die marriages. The ‘transitional’ families (~1835-1840), which are generally fairly large, may be related to the financial Panic of 1837. These families may have been making counterfeits throughout the Panic, and gradually grew in the number of dies made and used over time. The post-1837 families may also be related to the Panic of 1837, but possibly the tail-end of the Panic since these families tend to be smaller than the transitional families. The remaining ~168 varieties not listed with these families may or may not also be related to the Panic of 1837 or the 22 known families. Additional study of the edge designs and XRF analysis may help explain the extent of counterfeiting before and after 1837.

 

The use of German silver over billon was a more cost effective alloy for producing counterfeit silver coins. The transition from billon to German silver by counterfeiters is presumed to have taken place fairly quickly, although it may have taken several years before all counterfeiting operations stopped using billon. The Panic of 1837 may have been perfect timing for counterfeiters transitioning to this cheaper alloy since silver coinage was becoming quite scarce in circulation. Thus, the coincidental introduction of German silver coupled with the consequential Panic of 1837 may have been the perfect storm for counterfeiters, and could be the catalyst helping to explain the sudden surge in counterfeiting CBHs at this time.

 

There are five families with members listed in Riddell – Clinton Head, Buck-Tooth Eagle, Mexican Head (Class 1), Pointed Wing and Top Gun. The first four come from the four largest families, and were generally made during the transition period from billon to German silver; Pointed Wing likely post-dates 1837. The Top Gun family with only three known variety members is one of the two known pre-1837 families. The other pre-1837 family is Backward S’s, which was not listed in Riddell. What makes the Top Gun family so interesting and likely to be listed in Riddell is that all the members are common or extremely common; the Backward S’s family also has one variety member which is common. Most of the remaining families not listed in Riddell post-date 1837 and most of their members are rare or scarce. What this could indicate is that Riddell primarily identified pre-1837 and transitional varieties commonly found in circulation, but rarely post-1837 varieties, and most of those were likely non-family varieties. The only pre-1837 family not listed in Riddell is Backward S’s, and the only transitional families not listed in Riddell are Ski Nose and Mexican Head (Class 2). We should be cautious however to assume that the transition from billon to German silver was instantaneous around 1837, as some counterfeiters may still have been using billon alloys after 1837.

 

Another important aspect to analyzing counterfeit families is assessing how economical the counterfeiters were in using digits to make their dated dies. For Mint made CBHs the first and second numbers for the dates, 1 and 8, are constant for all dates, and therefore should always be used on counterfeits. The third digit should be one of four numbers – 0, 1, 2, 3 – and the numbers 2 and 3 were used twice as often as 0; in a few instances the number 4 was used by counterfeiters. The fourth digit in the date could be any one of ten numbers, but the numbers 7, 8 and 9 were used one time more than the others, and therefore has a slightly higher probability of being used by counterfeiters. Therefore, when analyzing how many times certain numbers were used to make Mint struck CBHs, 1 and 8 are the most common followed by 2 and 3; the least common numbers are 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9.

 

For counterfeiter die sinkers the most commonly used numbers, not surprisingly, are 1, 2, 3, and 8. These numbers can be used in the first three digits of most CBH dates, and when interchanged can make up to 12 different CBH dates; only the Mint Mimicked family used just these four numbers. The least used numbers are 6, 7, 9. These numbers are terminal in the sequence of a CBHs date, and therefore would be a more specialized number for a counterfeiter die sinker to make/acquire and use. Therefore, given when most counterfeit CBHs were made, and that 1820s and 1830s dated CBHs were most common in circulation, it was most economical for counterfeiters to primarily stick with the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 8 when making their counterfeit CBHs.

 

It also appears that the die sinker for each of the four largest counterfeit families preferred to make obverse dies with a specific date, and other dated dies were produced for diversity. The most common date for each of these families composes 33 to 60% of the known obverse dies for that family, whereas the other dates in these families composed at most of just 10 to 24%. It is also interesting to note that for the smaller families, those with fewer than 10 varieties in a family, six of these 18 smaller families appear to have used just one date to produce all their counterfeits.

 

One of the key remaining data collection methods which will aid in the study of counterfeit CBHs is the utilization of XRF analysis. XRF studies of counterfeit CBHs are currently underway and show some intriguing results. The goal of XRF analysis is to better understand provenance, especially in terms of when and where the counterfeits were made, but also to potentially identify who made them. The eventual goal will be to run XRF analysis on all known varieties and as many surviving pieces as possible.

 

XRF analysis of the alloys could let us know whether shared-side and single-paired varieties were used by the same counterfeiting operation or whether multiple operations were using dies from a single engraver. A generally uniform alloy used on most/all counterfeit varieties within the same family, would strengthen the assumption that the same counterfeiting operation was using all the dies. But if there are distinct, marked differences in alloys between shared-side and single-paired varieties for the same family then there is a potentially stronger indication that dies were sold to different counterfeiting operations.

 

Acknowledgements:

A special thanks goes to Keith Davignon (1996, 2010), the authors updating ccCBHcc.com, and other collectors for keeping an updated record of counterfeit CBH varieties. Without their tireless efforts this article and future research would not be possible.

 

Table 1. Counterfeit Families

Nickname

Varieties

Obv

Rev

Dates

Est. Made

Clinton Head

23

22

18

1813, 1814 1831, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1838

1835-1840

Buck-Toothed Eagle

17

16

13

1830, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1835, 1840

1835-1840

Mexican Head (Class 1)

13

12

10

1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1832, 1833

1835-1840

Pointed Wing

12

10

10

1811, 1815, 1826, 1828, 1829

Post-1837

Ski Nose

7

7

4

1817, 1829, 1830, 1831

1835-1840

Too Legit to Quit

5

4

2

1833, 1836, 1837, 1838

Post-1845

Mint Mimicked

5

4

4

1832

Post-1837

Never Too Late

5

5

1

1837, 1838, 1842, 1xxx

Post-1845

Square Tip

4

4

2

1822, 1830

Post-1837

Mexican Head (Class 2)

4

3

4

1833, 1835

1835-1840

Puckered Lips

4

4

3

1833, 1834 (similar to Clinton Head)

Post-1837

Y 1’s

3

3

3

1813, 1815, 1818

Post-1837

1821 Counterfeiter

3

1

3

1821

Post-1837

Top Gun

3

3

1

1822, 1823, 1825

Pre-1837

Long Neck

3

3

2

1838, 1840

Post-1840

1815 Counterfeiter

2

1

1

1815

Unknown

Backwards S’s

2

2

1

1823, 1824

Pre-1837

1830 Counterfeiter

2

1

2

1830

Post-1837

Smushed 8’s

2

2

1

1831, 1833

Post-1837

1833 Counterfeiter

2

2

1

1833

Post-1837

Late Comer

2

2

1

1837, 1838

Post-1837

Fantasy

2

1

2

1840

Post-1845

TOTAL: 22 Families

125

197 dies

 

 

 

Table 2. Clinton Head

Clinton Head

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

*1814

1

(A)

(Bi?)

Shared obverses and reverses

1813

(1)

(C)

(Br)

1813

(1)

(A)

 

1831

13

(M)

 

*1833

9

(I)

(Bi?)

1833

28

(CC)

 

Shared reverses

1835

8

(H)

 

1833

30

(EE)

(GS)

Shared reverses

1835

5

(E)

Bi

1831

19

S

(Br)

Similar reverse to 1835 5/E

1833

5

E

(Br)

 

1833

6

F

GS

 

1833

23

W

 

 

1833

40

NN

(Cu)

Similar to 1833 23/W

1834

11

K

(Cu)

Small letter reverse (look for other SL reverses)

1834

12

L

 

 

1834

13

M

 

 

1834

15

O

(GS)

 

1834

17

Q

(Br)

 

1835

11

K

Bi/Go

 

1835

12

L

 

 

1835

17

Q

GS

 

1838

4

D

 

 

 

The Clinton Head family has 23 known Davignon varieties dating from 1813 to 1838, although principally dated to the 1830s. The 1813 dated obverse die may have been a die sinking error intended to be 1831 especially given that the reverse used on 1813 1/A was also used on 1831 13/M. But since they also made an 1814 dated die the 1813 die may have been purposeful. It is also interesting to note that 1813 1/A is the only obverse die from this family known to be paired with multiple reverses. Nearly all varieties are rare, with few being very-scarce or scarce. Only 1833 6/F considered common, and 1814 1/A is currently unknown to survive since Riddell (1845). Only five number punches are known to make the dates for this family – 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 – suggesting this die sinker was fairly economical. 1833 is the most common date, with seven dies. Two of the Clinton Head varieties, 18141/A and 1833 9/I, were plated in Riddell (1845). This suggests that at least some of this family was being made before 1845. Given the rarity of these pieces today it is possible that most, if not all, varieties were in circulation but uncommon (either in quantity or by geography) when Riddell published his monograph. Although still very preliminary, XRF data and Davignon (2010) descriptions on the composition of these varieties suggests a pre- and post-1837 date of manufacture. Some varieties are made of billon/goloid (an alloy widely used by counterfeiters of silver coins before 1837) while other varieties are made of German silver (an alloy first introduced to the America’s around 1836/7 and adopted by counterfeiters shortly thereafter); other varieties are purported to be made of brass and copper (Davignon 2010) but the accuracy of this description is unknown. Further, given that only two obverse dies are dated before 1831 the minimum age of origin of this family is 1831. The latest date of manufacture is more difficult to determine, but given that one variety is dated 1838 this operation was likely still counterfeiting after that date. In general, this counterfeiting group was most likely in operation for several years, and likely operated around the second half of the 1830s (roughly 1835-1840) during the transition from billon to German silver; additional XRF data from all varieties will help better answer this hypothesis. It would also be interesting to test the hypothesis that this counterfeit family (and others) used specific metals/alloys at specific times which could indicate different temporal periods of manufacture; the use of more than one metal/alloy for a variety could indicate a transition period and help identify the sequence of manufacturing.

 

Table 3. Buck-Toothed Eagle

Buck-Toothed Eagle

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes (thin shield lines)

1831

7

(G)

GS

Shared reverse

1835

10

(J)

 

1832

6

(F)

 

Shared reverse

*1833

11

(K)

Bi/Go

1833

(19)

S

 

Shared obverse; backward 1 in date

1833

(19)

BB

 

1830

14

(P)

 

Shared reverse

1833

20

(T)

Bi

1840

3

(D)

 

1830

6

F

 

 

1831

14

N

 

 

1832

7

G

Bi

 

*1832

12

L

Bi

 

1833

29

DD

Bi (GS?)

 

1833

36

JJ

(Br or Cu)

 

1833

42

OO

 

 

1835

2

B

GS+Ag

 

 

The Buck-Tooth(ed) Eagle family has 17 known Davignon varieties dated from 1830 to 1840, although principally dated from 1830 to 1835. The date 1840 is a strange anomaly for this family of counterfeits given that it is dated five years after the next latest date, it is a fantasy date, and is the only known use of the digit ‘4’ by this counterfeiter/die sinker; this die sinker may have been anticipating bust halves being made in 1840 and prepared such an obverse die while reusing an older-style reverse die. This die sinker used seven digits to make all the counterfeits – 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 – suggesting a die sinker with likely a full suite of number punches. 1833 is the most commonly dated die, with at least six dies. All of the known varieties are considered rare, very-scarce, or scarce. Two of the Buck-Tooth(ed) Eagle varieties were plated in Riddell’s 1845 monograph, 1832 12/L and 1833 11/K, suggesting that some or all of this family was made before 1845. Although still very preliminary, the XRF data and Davignon (2010) descriptions on the composition of these varieties suggests a pre- and post-1837 date of manufacture. Some varieties are made of billon/goloid while other varieties are made of German silver; some varieties are also purported to be made of brass and/or copper (Davignon 2010) but the accuracy of this assumption is unknown. Further, and potentially most intriguing, is that Bastacky’s (2015) results indicated the presence of Iridium within the alloys of some of these varieties. Iridium is a platinum group element, which, at this time, was really only known from mines in Colombia and lesser so in Ecuador. This trace element could potentially indicate a location of origin for these counterfeits; varieties from the Mexican Head (Class 1) and Top Gun families are also reported as having Iridium within their alloys. In general, this counterfeiting group was most likely in operation for several years, and likely operated around the second half of the 1830s (roughly 1835-1840) during the transition from billon to German silver; additional XRF data from all varieties will help better answer this hypothesis.

 

Table 4. Mexican Head (Class 1)

Mexican Head (Class 1)

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1822

3

(C)

(Br)

Shared reverse

1831

2

(B)

 

1832

8

(H)

 

1828

(1)

A

GS (Br)

Shared obverse and reverse

1828

(1)

(P)

(GS)

1825

4

(D)

GS

*1828

4

D

(Bi?)

 

1828

5

E

 

 

1828

7

G

 

 

1828

11

K

 

Gang punches used

1831

8

H

 

 

*1833

2

B

Bi, GS

 

1833

17

Q

 

 

 

The Mexican Head (Class 1) family has 13 known Davignon varieties dated irregularly from 1822 to 1833. The Mexican Head style family is divided into two classes. Class 1 is characterized by rounded-top digits in the date and larger reverse lettering, and a similar, if not consistently identical portrait style hub punch; the Class 2 family has small, flat-top digits in the date and smaller reverse letters. This die sinker used five digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 – suggesting a fairly economical counterfeiter. 1828 is the most commonly dated die, with at least five dies; all other known obverse dies have just one or two dies with a different date. The varieties which survive today range from rare to extremely common. Two varieties from this family were plated in Riddell (1845), 1828 4/D and 1833 2/B; 1833 2/B is the only extremely common variety for this family. Although still very preliminary, the XRF data and Davignon (2010) descriptions on the composition of these varieties suggests a pre- and post-1837 date of manufacture. At the moment few varieties are known made of billon/goloid while most varieties and examples analyzed are made of German silver or have a brassy appearance. In general, this counterfeiting family was most likely in operation for a couple years, and likely operated around the end of the 1830s (roughly 1836 and later) during the transition from billon to German silver; additional XRF data from all varieties will help better answer this hypothesis. Their use of earlier, 1820s, dates could indicate that many of their pieces were weakly struck to signify the appearance of wear.

 

Table 5. Pointed Wing

Pointed Wing

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1829

2

(B)

 

Shared reverse

*1829

11

(B)

(GS)

1829

(8)

O

 

Shared obverse and reverse

1829

(8)

I

(GS)

1829

(8)

(H-P)

GS

1829

15

(H-P)

(Cu)

1811

2

B

 

 

1815

5

F

(Br or GS)

 

1826

1

A

GS

 

1828

17

R

(GS)

 

1829

13

N

 

 

1829

18

S

(GS)

 

 

The Pointed Wing family has 12 known Davignon varieties dated irregularly from 1811 to 1829. This die sinker used six digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9 – suggesting a moderately economical counterfeiter. 1829 is the most commonly dated die, with at least six dies; all other known obverse dies have just one die with a different date. The ‘6’ for 1826 1/A appears to be the same digit as the ‘9’, except turned upside-down. The varieties which survive today range from rare to very-scarce. One variety from this family, 1829 11/B, was plated in Riddell (1845). Although still very preliminary, the XRF data and Davignon (2010) descriptions on the composition of these varieties suggests a post-1837 date of manufacture. At the moment all varieties are known or reported in German silver and/or brass/copper alloys, and none are known in billon. This counterfeiting family may have been active for more than one year, and was definitely in operation before 1845. Their use of earlier, 1820s and 1810s, dated dies could indicate that the detail of the dies was low and/or they were weakly struck thus signifying the appearance of wear, especially since these were made after 1837.

 

Table 6. Ski Nose

Ski Nose

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1817

2

(B)

(GS)

Shared reverse

Reverse A is same as reverse S

1829

1

(A)

 

1830

1

(A-S)

 

1830

17

(A-S)

(GS)

1830

19

U

 

Similar obv. hub portrait as 1830 17/S

1831

1

A

Bi/Go

Same date gang punch as 1831 20/T (Boston?)

1831

20

T

(Br)

Wide top arrows

 

The Ski Nose family has seven known Davignon varieties dated irregularly from 1817 to 1831, although predominately from the 1830s. This die sinker used six digits to make all the counterfeits – 0, 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 – suggesting a moderately economical counterfeiter. 1830 is the most commonly dated die, with at least three dies, and there are two dies dated 1831. The varieties which survive today range from rare to common; 1831 1/A, the only common variety, may only be common because of a rumor of a hoard of 15-20 high grade pieces discovered in Boston (date of discovery unknown). No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). If the origin of manufacture was in/around Boston, this may explain why Riddell, being so far away in New Orleans, did not record any examples in his monograph – these may have been too geographically distant, and/or were produced late enough that their circulation did not reach New Orleans, if at all, until after 1845. Preliminary XRF data and Davignon (2010) descriptions on the composition of these varieties indicates a pre- and post-1837 date of manufacture since both billon and German silver alloys were used, along with brass.

 

Table 7. Too Legit to Quit

Too Legit to Quit

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1833

1

(A)

GS, GS+Ag

Shared obverse and reverse

Possible letter edge connection between 1837 2/B, 1838 3/C, 1838 3/E. 1837 2/B almost certainly made from same alloy as 1833 1/A. Overall alloys used by this counterfeiter were quite uniform!

1836

5

(E)

GS

1837

2

(B)

GS

1838

(3)

(C)

GS

1838

(3)

E

GS

 

The Too legit to Quit family has five known Davignon varieties dated from 1833 to 1838. This die sinker used just five digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 3, 6, 7, 8. Only one obverse die was used for each date. The varieties which survive are either scarce or extremely common; 1836 5/E is the only scarce variety. No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary XRF data suggest that all varieties were made of German silver, without other alloys known. Their composition is also remarkably uniform possibly suggesting a highly skilled counterfeiting operation. Given that these pieces are extremely common (overall), are made of German silver, and are not listed in Riddell’s monograph suggest a post-1845 date of manufacture. Their uniform composition and generally well struck examples may suggest a sophisticated counterfeiting operation, and one which may have operated overseas (such as Birmingham, England).

 

Table 8. Mint Mimicked

Mint Mimicked

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1832

2

(B)

GS, GS+Ag

Shared obverse and reverse

123 dentils

129 dentils

1832

(3)

(B)

GS

1832

(3)

C

 

1832

10

J

 

 

1832

13

M

 

 

 

The Mint Mimicked family has five known Davignon varieties and all are dated 1832. The varieties which survive range from rare to extremely common. Four digits were used to create these counterfeits – 1, 2, 3, 8. No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary XRF data show that at least 1832 2/B was made of German silver, however the other varieties have yet to be analyzed. This likely indicates a post-1837 (German silver) origin, and possibly a post-1845 (Riddell) origin given how common some of the varieties are. Their overall high quality in design and manufacturing could suggest that older, non-cancelled Mint dies were used to produce these counterfeits, or a highly sophisticated die engraver (possibly a former Mint engraver) made these dies.

 

Table 9. Never Too Late

Never Too Late

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1837

1

(A)

 

Shared reverse

1838

7

(H)

 

1842

1

(A)

 

1842

2

(A)

 

1xxx

[?]

(!)

 

 

The Never Too Late family has five known Davignon varieties (one being unvetted) dated from 1837 to 1842; the unvetted variety does not have a discernable date but shares the same reverse as the other four varieties. This die sinker used at least five digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 2, 3, 7, 8. Five different obverse dies were used, with one common reverse die. The reverse die is the old-style, lettered-edge type with ‘50 C.’ and not ‘Half Dol.’. The varieties which survive are either rare or very-scarce. No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). At the moment there is no information on the metallurgical composition of these pieces. Given that these pieces are all pretty rare and use a fantasy date, 1842, it is likely this counterfeiter made these after 1845, and these could have been made by a foreigner who may not have known that this style of half dollar stopped being made in 1839.

 

Table 10. Square Tip

Square Tip

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1822

4

D

 

 

1822

5

(E)

 

Shared reverse

1830

16

(R)

 

1830

24

(R)

(GS)

 

The Square Tip family has four known Davignon varieties, two dated 1822 and two dated 1830. This die sinker used just five digits to make all the counterfeits – 0, 1, 2, 3, 8. Four different obverse dies and two different reverse dies are known for this family. The varieties which survive are either rare or very-scarce; 1822 4/D is the only scarce variety. No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary Davignon (2010) descriptions indicate that 1830 24/R is made of German silver, although no XRF analysis has been reported or conducted for any of these varieties. If these were all made of German silver they origin would post-date 1837, and possibly 1845 since none are plated in Riddell. In general these varieties are fairly well made, although seem weakly struck.

 

Table 11. Mexican Head (Class 2)

Mexican Head (Class 2)

(Small, flat-top digits, and small letters)

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1833

18

R

 

 

1835

(9)

I

(Cu)

Shared obverse

1835

(9a)

R

 

1835

16

P

 

 

 

The Mexican Head (Class 2) family has four known Davignon varieties dated 1833 and 1835. This family is similar, but different to the Class 1 type in that the letters and numbers are smaller. The portrait style is similar in design, but used a distinctly different hub. This die sinker used just four digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 3, 5, 8. Three obverse and four reverse dies were used to make these varieties. The varieties which survive are either rare or very-scarce; 1833 18/R is the only very-scarce variety. No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary Davignon (2010) descriptions only indicate that 1835 9/I was made of copper; no other varieties were described and no XRF analysis has been reported for any of these varieties. The Mexican Head (Class 1) family was likely made during the transition from billon to German silver, and it is likely that these pieces were made around the same time.

 

Table 12. Puckered Lips

Puckered Lips

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1833

14

N

 

 

1833

22

V

 

 

1834

1

(A-T)

GS, GS+Ag, Bi

Shared reverse; both reverses identical

1834

20

(A-T)

(GS)

 

The Puckered Lips family has four known Davignon varieties dated 1833 and 1834. This die sinker used just four digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 3, 4, 8. Four obverse dies and three reverse dies were used to make these varieties. Three of the varieties which survive are rare while 1834 1/A-T is considered extremely common. No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary XRF data and cccbhcc.com descriptions for 1834 20/A-T indicate that German silver was used to produce these varieties; no other alloys are reported at this current time. This likely indicates that these counterfeits were made after 1837.

 

Table 13. Y 1s

Y 1’s

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1813

2

B

 

Third pale gule has three stripes

1815

2

B

(GS)

1818

6

F

(GS)

 

The Y 1s family has three known Davignon varieties dated 1813, 1815, and 1818. This die sinker used just four digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 3, 5, 8. Three obverse dies and three reverse dies were used to make these varieties. All of the known varieties are rare. No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary Davignon (2010) descriptions indicate that two of the varieties are made from German silver, although no XRF analysis has been reported from any of these varieties. This could suggest that these varieties were made after 1837.

 

Table 14. 1821 Counterfeiter

                                                               1821 Counterfeiter

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1821

(2)

B

GS

Shared obverse

1821

(2)

C

 

1821

(2)

E

 

 

The 1821 Counterfeiter family has three known Davignon varieties all dated 1821. This die sinker used just three digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 2, 8. All three obverses are the same and are paired with three different reverses. 1821 2/B is common whereas 1821 2/C and 2/E are scarce. No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary XRF analysis indicated 1821 2/B was made of German silver, and possibly brass (Davignon 2010). This suggests that these were most likely made after 1837.

 

Table 15. Top Gun

                                                                      Top Gun

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

*1822

1

(A)

Ag

Shared reverse

*1823

1

(A)

Bi, Ag

*1825

1

(A)

Bi/Go

 

The Top Gun family has three known Davignon varieties dated 1822, 1823, and 1825. This die sinker used five digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. Three obverse dies and one shared reverse die was used to make these varieties. These varieties are common or extremely common. All varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary XRF analysis suggests that these were made from a variety of metals and alloys, including, but not limited to, silver, oreide, billon and/or goloid; German silver was not detected during XRF analysis although Davignon (2010) suggests that 1822 1/A and 1823 1/A could be made of German silver. Since all three varieties are plated in Riddell, they are so common, and are so far unknown in German silver suggests a pre-1837 date of manufacture, and possibly using Mint made dies or hubs given the extremely high quality workmanship.

 

Table 16. Long Neck

Long Neck

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1838

13

(N)

 

Shared reverse

1840

4

(E)

(GS)

1838-O

12

M

 

Same artist

 

The Long Neck family has three known Davignon varieties dated 1838 and 1840, including an 1838-O. This die sinker used five digits to make all the counterfeits – 0, 1, 3, 4, 8. Three obverse dies and two reverses dies are also known. These varieties are considered rare or very-scarce. No varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary cccbhcc.com analysis suggests that 1840 4/E is made of German silver. Overall, this family of counterfeits was likely made after 1837, and more likely during the early 1840’s given the reverse O mint mark on 1838-O 12/M. A reverse mint mark was not added until Seated Liberty type coins starting in 1839.

 

Table 17. 1815 Counterfeiter

1815 Counterfeiter

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1815

(4)

D

(Br)

Shared obverse

1815

(4)

E

(Cu)

 

The 1815 Counterfeiter family has two known Davignon varieties all dated 1815. This die sinker used three digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 5, 8. One obverse die was paired with two reverse dies. These varieties are all rare. None of these varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary Davignon (2010) descriptions suggest that both are made from copper and/or bronze with a silver wash. As of yet it is unknown when silver plated/washed copper/bronze planchets were commonly done in counterfeiting. Therefore the relative ago of production is currently unknown.

 

Table 18. Backward S’s

Backward S’s (in PLURIBUS)

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1823

4

(D)

 

Shared reverse

1824

1

(A)

Bi, Ag

 

The Backward S’s family has two known Davignon varieties dated 1823 and 1824. This die sinker used five digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 2, 3, 4, 8. Two obverse dies were paired with one reverse die. 1823 4/D is considered rare while 1824 1/A is considered common. None of these varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary XRF analysis suggests that 1824 1/A was made primarily of silver, which may indicate a pre-1837 period of manufacture. The Backwards S is located in the word PLURIBUS within the scroll.

 

Table 19. 1830 Counterfeiter

1830 Counterfeiter

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1830

(2)

B

GS, GS+Ag

Shared obverse

1830

(2)

N

 

 

The 1830 Counterfeiter family has two known Davignon varieties all dated 1830. This die sinker used four digits to make all the counterfeits – 0, 1, 3, 8. One obverse die was paired with two reverse dies. 1830 2/B is considered common while 1830 2/N is considered very-scarce. None of these varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary XRF analysis shows 1830 2/B was made of German silver, and suggests a post-1837 date of counterfeiting.

 

Table 20. Smushed 8s

Smushed 8’s

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1831

3

(C)

GS

Shared reverse

1833

16

(P)

 

 

The Smushed 8s family has two known Davignon varieties dated 1831 and 1833. This die sinker used three digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 3, 8. Two obverse dies were paired with one reverse die. 1831 3/C is considered scarce while 1833 16/P is considered very-scarce. None of these varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary XRF analysis shows 1831 3/C was made of German silver, and suggests a post-1837 date of counterfeiting.

 

Table 21. 1833 Counterfeiter

                                                              1833 Counterfeiter

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1833

24

(X)

 

Shared reverse; 1833 41/X is the same variety as 1833 33/X

1833

33

(X)

GS

 

The 1833 Counterfeiter family has two known Davignon varieties all dated 1833. This die sinker used three digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 3, 8. Two obverse dies and one shared reverse die was used to make these varieties. These varieties are either rare or very-scarce. 1833 24/X is known by only one piece, and it has a dramatic obverse die crack across the obverse; this may indicate that this die broke shortly after being used. None of these varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary Davignon (2010) descriptions suggest that 1833 33/X is made of German silver. This would suggest that these counterfeits were all made after 1837.

 

Table 22. Late Comer

Late Comer

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1837

11

(K)

(GS)

Shared reverse

1838

10

(K)

 

 

The Late Comer family has two known Davignon varieties dated 1837 and 1838. This die sinker used four digits to make all the counterfeits – 1, 3, 7, 8. Two obverse dies were paired with one common reverse die. 1837 11/K is considered rare while 1838 10/K is considered very-scarce. None of these varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). Preliminary Davignon (2010) description suggests 1837 11/K is made of German silver. If so, this could indicate a post-1837 period of counterfeiting.

 

Table 23. Fantasy

Fantasy

Date

Obverse

Reverse

Alloy

Notes

1840

(1)

A

 

Shared obverse

1840

(1)

B

 

 

The Fantasy family has two known Davignon varieties both dated 1840. This die sinker used four digits to make all the counterfeits – 0, 1, 4, 8. One obverse die was paired with two reverse dies. Both varieties are considered rare. None of these varieties are plated in Riddell (1845). At the moment neither variety has been analyzed for composition, although their period of manufacture is likely post-1845. Further, this family may have been made by a foreigner who was unaware that this style of half dollar stopped being made in 1839. This counterfeiter, it is speculated, may have made earlier dated counterfeit half dollars.

 

 

1 Colors highlighting the Date/Obverse/Reverse represent relative rarity (Davignon scale) based upon the cccbhcc.com census information; Red is rare (1-2 known), Orange is very-scarce (3-5 known), Yellow is scarce (6-9 known), Green is common (10-19 known), Blue is very common (20-49 known), and Purple is extremely common (50+ known).

 

2 Dates with an ‘*’ to the left of them are identified in Riddell (1845).

 

3 Parentheses around Obverse numbers or Reverse letters represent shared dies.

 

4 Alloys listed come from the Harvey Bastacky collection, the Mark Glazer collection, and the Winston Zack collection and should be considered preliminary results until more examples are analyzed. Alloys listed in parentheses are from Davignon (2010), cccbhcc.com, or Riddell (1845), and are considered best-guess estimates until metallurgical analysis is conducted.

 

5Alloy abbreviations: GS (German silver), Bi (billon), Cu (copper), Ag (silver), Br (bronze), Go (goloid).

 

 

References:

 

Bastacky, Harvey. August 2015. Contemporary Counterfeit Bust Halves and their Composition. ccCBHcc.com.

 

ccCBHcc.com. 2015. Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Collectors Club.

 

Davignon, Keith. 2010. Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars. 2nd Edition.

 

Davignon, Keith. 1996. Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars.

 

Evans, Phil J. 1993. An Estimate of ‘The Survivors’. John Reich Journal 7(3).

 

Gurney, Robert. 2014. Counterfeit Portrait Eight Reales, the Un-Real Reales. Swamperbob Associates. Hope Mills, NC.

 

Kleeberg, John. 2000. Appendix 2: Flowing Hair and Draped Bust Counterfeit Half Dollars in the ANS Collection. Coinage of the Americas Conference, American Numismatic Society, New York.

 

Riddell, J. L. 1845. A Monograph of the Silver Dollar: Good and Bad.

 

Schmidt, Larry. March 2013. An Attempt to Solve Another Mystery. ccCBHcc.com.

 

Scuderi, Louis and Schmidt, Larry. March 2015. A Bigger Family – Part 2. ccCBHcc.com

 

Scuderi, Louis and Schmidt, Larry. November 2014. A Bigger Family – Part 1. ccCBHcc.com

   

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Look What Was Unearthed in New Hampshire! by Kathy P. - November, 2015 (2)
         
I was out at a sports field here in New Hampshire and was slowly working my way back to my car when I got a signal that my detector told me was a 50 cent piece. I pinpointed and dug a hole, and found... a nail. Then I used my handheld pin-pointer and found that there was another metal item on the side of the hole I'd dug, about 6 inches down. I loosened the dirt a bit with my fingers, and I saw the edge of the coin, but figured it was an old buckle, as I've found several of those in this area. I pulled out the item, and to my surprise, it was a large coin, covered in dirt, that looked to be made of copper. After wiping the dirt off a bit, I could make out 50c and United States on the reverse. I was thrilled! Happy with my digging that day, I left the site and headed home. I ran the coin under water and let it dry on a soft cloth, and did some research. Immediately when I found that this coin should have been made of silver, I was suspicious of its authenticity. I dug around on the Internet for a while, and came across ccCBHcc.com, and emailed the website. A response was received with a wealth of knowledge including identification of the coin as a variety 1821 2/E that at one time would have likely had a deceptive silver wash. My suspicions were confirmed that indeed this was a contemporary counterfeit coin. So cool!  
  

   

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Our Hobby’s Iceberg *  by Larry Schmidt - November, 2015 (1)

Within our hobby there is what may be considered our hobby’s iceberg, the 1845 publication A Monograph of the Silver Dollar: Good and Bad by J. L. Riddell, an employee of the New Orleans US Mint.  This publication pictured obverses and reverses with brief descriptions "alerting banks, commerce, and all other readers" of 38 Capped Bust half dollar struck and cast counterfeits dated 1814 to 1839.  Why can John Leonard Riddell’s publication today be considered our hobby’s iceberg?  J. L. Riddell's identification of 38 counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars was just the tip of the iceberg!   The 1845 reporting of 38 counterfeit Capped Bust halves is very much like an iceberg's 10% visibility above the waterline of the real size of the iceberg, that is Riddell's identification of the 38 counterfeits had just about 10% visibility of the now identified 372 contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollar varieties known today (i.e. see Census Section of this website to review the 372 current known varieties as of the June 1, 2015 census)!  

J. L. Riddell's 1845 publication has other interests for fellow collectors too.  Perhaps simply pointing to the difference of contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half variety survival rates, relatively few specimens of the 38 counterfeit varieties identified by Riddell have been rediscovered!  Identified clearly enough from Riddell’s pictured obverses and reverses all but one of the 38 counterfeits can be vetted to distinct Davignon varieties for collectors today.  Of the 37 Riddell / Davignon identifiable contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollar varieties; a) six vetted varieties have yet to have any known specimens found, b) 18 vetted varieties have rare rarity (i.e. 1 to 2 known specimens), c) five vetted varieties have very scarce rarity (i.e. 3 to 5 known specimens), d) one vetted variety has a scarce rarity (i.e. 6 to 9 known specimens), e) two vetted varieties have common rarity (i.e. 10 to 19 known specimens), f) two vetted varieties have very common rarity (i.e. 20 to 49 known specimens), and g) two vetted varieties have extremely common rarity (i.e. 50+ known specimens).  These rarity breakdowns are even more interesting considering that today when it is felt just ten "most common" contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollar varieties comprise approximately half of all surviving contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half specimens only four of the ten "most common" varieties are identified in the 1845 Riddell publication (i.e. see the Most Common Davignon Varieties section and the Collectors Corner November, 2012 article When Were Davignons Really Minted? both of which are on this website)

Note - Fellow collectors can find A Monograph of the Silver Dollar: Good and Bad by J. L. Riddell available as a hardcover reprint.

*  The stimulus for this article was the recent rediscovery of the second specimen of Riddell's 1845 Monograph No. 456, also known as the Davignon 1830 5/E variety.

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A Bigger Family - Part 3  - by Winston Zack   August, 2015 (2) 

Keith Davignon, in the 2nd edition of his book "Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars" made many connections between shared obverse and reverse dies as well as stylistic "Families" where the same artist and/or punch styles were used to create the multiple hand-cut die-struck counterfeits. Currently there are more than 300 known hand-cut die-struck contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust style half dollar die marriages known, and that list grows every year with new discoveries. As such, it is difficult to match up all the known counterfeit Bust half dollar die marriages to their respective Families. But, progress is being made by dedicated researchers. Here I present on a known, but growing Family of contemporary counterfeit Bust half dollars.

Davignon noted that 1829 2/B and 1829 11/B share the same reverse, and that 1829 8/H, 8/I and 8/O share the same obverse. He also noted that 1829 13/N, 15/P, and 18/S were stylistically similar - "very likely coined by the same counterfeiter". But there's more to the story than just these counterfeits dated 1829. More dates are involved in this Family of counterfeits.

The most striking attribute for this family, in my opinion, is the unique style of '8' in the date with it's tilted 'D'-shaped inner loops. On the reverse, the eagle's shield lines, and reverse lettering are also fairly unique to this Family. Given these similar stylistic characteristics, the following dates and die marriages are added to this Family: 1811 2/B, 1815 5/F, 1826 1/A, 1828 17/R (newly discovered).

Further, and unless I am mistaken, 1829 15/P shares the same reverse as 1829 8/H. It is also possible that 1828 17/R shares a reverse with one of these known die marriages in this family, but since it was double-struck it is presently difficult to distinguish.

Below is the list of all known family members at the moment:

1811 2/B

1815 5/F

1826 1/A

1828 17/R

1829 2/B (Shared reverse with 1829 11/B)

1829 11/B

1829 8/H-P (Reverse H and P are identical, in my opinion)

1829 15/H-P

1829 8/I

1829 8/O (Three shared obverse dies)

1829 13/N

1829 18/S

(1833 38/LL may tentatively match)

 

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CONTEMPORARY COUNTERFEIT BUST HALVES AND THEIR COMPOSITION by Harvey Bastacky - August, 2015 (1)  (with February, 2016  and December, 2016 updates)

Collecting Contemporary Counterfeit Bust Half Dollars has become more popular since the publication of Keith Davignon's book identifying and attributing most of the known counterfeit pieces. Pieces that are not in the books are still being discovered so collecting them is still in a stage of infancy.  With the new technology out there today, there is a "gun" that when directed at any metal will non destructively determine the composition of any metal or combination of metals, or alloys through XRF technology. It is used extensively today by jewelers to determine gold content and authenticity.

I had most of my collection of contemporary counterfeit Bust Half Dollars (i.e. I have accumulated about 94 pieces) tested and generated the attached chart below which shows the percentages of the metals used to produce each coin. The metals consisted of  copper (CU), nickel (NI), zinc (ZN), lead (PB), iridium (IR), gold (AU), silver (AG) and tin (SN).

The counterfeiters used every imaginable metal composition to produce these coins. I have identical varieties of some pieces and each has a different composition!  I noticed from the data that most of the early pieces before 1835 contained at least some silver, perhaps to help the alloy look more like silver.  After 1837 when German silver was developed, the counterfeiters stopped using silver and used the German silver alloy (i.e. in 1837 Dr. Feuchwanger produced one-cent and three-cent trial pieces to promote the United States adopting German silver as an official metal for coins which was followed by many bogus halves dated 1837 and 1838 appearing to be made of the same composition).

Date

Variety

Family

Cast/Struck

Appearance

Analyses

CU

NI

ZN

PB

IR

AU

AG

SN

Total %

Rarity

Comments: XRF Capped Bust Analyses - 1/5/16 update

XRF CAPPED BUST HALVES ANALYSES  UPDATE 7/5/2016

 

 

 

 

1806/5

??

C

silver

1

1

2.20

97.70

99.90

R

unvetted

1818

2/B

S

German silver

1

56.20

11.97

27.10

2.74

1.27

99.28

1818

10/J

S

billon

1

1

29.00

3.50

66.00

98.50

R

WAS NOT identified in silver in ccCBHcc.com vetting

1820

1/A

S

German silver

1

58.00

14.00

24.00

0.10

96.10

S

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1820

2/B

S

silver

1

31.17

 

 

 

6.20

0.90

61.20

 

99.47

1821

2/B

1821 Counterfeiter

S

German silver

1

52.90

12.02

32.45

1.37

98.74

VS

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1821

2/B

1821 Counterfeiter

S

German silver

1

55.00

10.00

31.00

0.40

96.40

VS

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1821

3/D

S

copper

1

99.00

99.00

R

Identified in copper and German silver in 2nd Edition

1822

1/A

Top Gun

S

silver

1

1

3.00

93.00

96.00

C

 

1822

2/B

S

billon

1

1

50.00

7.10

41.00

98.10

VS

1823

1/A

Top Gun

S

billon

1

1

VF

58.00

5.00

6.20

1.30

28.00

98.50

EC

1823

1/A

 

 

AG

55.14

5.19

3.99

34.90

99.22

1823

6/F

S

German silver

1

1

55.00

11.00

25.00

2.80

93.80

R+

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1824

1/A

Backward S's

S

billon

1

1

20.30

2.30

76.80

99.40

C

1824

2/B

C

billon

 

 

26.02

4.20

5.06

63.90

99.18

VS

SILVER

1824

3/C

S

German silver

1

1

3.02

0.94

95.80

99.76

R+

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1824

CH CFT

chinese cft

na

German silver

1

59.70

1.20

37.80

98.70

 

Modern Fake

1825

1/A

Top Gun

S

billon

1

1

24.00

2.90

3.50

 

68.00

98.40

EC

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1825

1/A

Top Gun

S

billon

1

1

23.00

2.20

4.60

67.00

96.80

EC

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1825

1/A

Top Gun

S

billon

1

1

41.00

5.00

5.30

46.00

97.30

EC

1825

1/A

Top Gun

S

billon

1

1

30.00

4.60

5.20

1.20

58.20

99.20

EC

1825

4/D

Mexican Head (Class 1)

S

German silver

1

57.00

9.20

28.70

2.99

 

97.89

VS

1825

7/G

S

German silver with yellow tint

1

1

36.67

5.92

14.12

39.85

96.56

S

1825

8/H

S

1

1

26.60

73.30

 

99.90

R

1826

CH CFT

chinese cft

na

1

8.50

0.60

99.90

90.8 iron  magnetic

1826

1/A

Pointed Wing

S

German silver

1

67.60

8.23

21.35

1.46

98.64

VS

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1826

4/D

S

BILLON

1

1

34.00

4.50

0.90

59.00

98.40

VS

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1827

4/D

C

SILVER

1

1

1.70

97.00

98.70

VS

WAS NOT identified in silver in 2nd Edition

1827

5/E

C

1

1

13.00

84.00

97.00

R

1828

1/A

Mexican Head (Class 1)

S

German silver

1

61.00

12.00

24.00

97.00

S

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1828

6/F

S

German silver

1

1

56.00

12.00

25.00

2.90

95.90

VS

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1828

10/J

C

lead

1

1

99.90

99.90

S

WAS NOT identified in lead in 2nd Edition

1828

10/J

C

lead

1

1

99.90

99.90

S

WAS NOT identified in lead in 2nd Edition

1828

10/J

C

tin, looks like aluminum

1

1

21.39

5.33

23.60

12.54

26.73

99.92

S

tin 26.73

1829

7/G

S

goloid

1

1

56.50

15.30

27.10

 

98.90

VS

1829

8/H

Pointed Wing

S

German silver

1

1

61.30

11.40

23.00

2.70

0.70

 

99.10

VS

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1829

9/J

C

SILVER

 

 

2.00

 

 

0.20

97.00

99.20

1829/7

16/Q

S

SILVER

1

1

3.25

 

 

96.00

 

99.25

R

WAS NOT identified in silver in 2nd Edition

1830

2/B

1830 Counterfeiter

S

German silver

1

1

64.00

12.00

14.00

0.46

7.70

 

98.16

C

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1830

22/X

S

German silver

1

52.90

9.10

33.10

1.48

 

96.58

R

1830

26/AA

S

billon

1

1

1

15.00

3.00

6.10

3.40

71.00

 

98.50

R

Identified as unknown metal with silver wash in New Discovery Section of ccCBHcc.com

1830

27/BB

S

brass

1

85.00

9.30

0.98

2.80

0.40

 

98.48

R

Identified in brass in New Discovery Section of ccCBHcc.com

1831

1/A

Ski Nose

S

billon

1

1

38.80

7.50

1.50

50.90

 

98.70

VC

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1831

3/C

Smushed 8's

S

German silver

1

57.19

7.92

28.30

1.33

1.34

2.28

98.36

S

sn2.28

1831/3

7/G

Buck Toothed Eagle

S

German silver

1

1

66.00

7.60

19.70

2.53

 

95.83

VS  D/S

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1832

1/A

S

German silver

1

59.06

14.09

24.55

1.77

 

99.47

C

1832

1/A

S

German silver

1

1

52.00

9.60

34.00

0.80

2.00

 

 

98.40

C

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1832

2/B

Mint Mimicked

S

German silver

1

59.70

12.00

26.50

 

98.20

C  D/S

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1832

3/B

Mint Mimicked

S

German silver

1

62.50

11.20

24.50

 

0.50

 

98.70

C

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1832

5/E

S

German silver

 

52.85

11.30

30.10

2.97

97.22

1832

7/G

Buck Toothed Eagle

S

billon

1

1

28.17

1.88

7.95

60.38

 

98.38

VS

1832

7/G

Buck Toothed Eagle

S

billon

1

1

49.50

13.00

11.50

23.00

 

97.00

VS

1832

12/L

Buck Toothed Eagle

S

billon

1

1

24.80

1.10

3.60

 

69.00

 

98.50

VS

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1832

12/L

Buck Toothed Eagle

S

billon

 

 

35.98

0.70

3.80

57.00

97.48

1832

19/T

C

brass

1

1

78.00

18.20

2.80

 

99.00

R

WAS NOT identified in brass in 2nd Edition

1833

1/A

Too Legit To Quit

S

billon

1

1

42.50

13.11

14.00

26.00

 

95.61

EC

1833

1/A

Too Legit To Quit

S

German silver

1

57.00

14.00

25.00

1.30

 

97.30

EC

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1833

1/A

Too Legit To Quit

S

German silver

 

56.80

11.50

28.00

1.15

97.45

EC

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1833

2/B

Mexican Head (Class 1)

S

billon

1

1

53.00

9.70

1.90

33.60

 

98.20

VC

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1833

2/B

Mexican Head (Class 1)

S

German Silver

1

54.00

18.80

25.00

 

97.80

VC

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1833/0

3/C

S

copper or brass?

1

90.00

 

6.00

1.90

 

97.90

S

WAS NOT identified in copper nor brass in 2nd Edition

1833

4/D

S

German silver

1

57.00

13.40

25.00

1.90

 

97.30

VS

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1833

6/F

Clinton Head

S

German silver

1

66.80

8.50

21.50

 

 

 

 

96.80

C

WAS NOT identified in brass in 2nd Edition

1833

8/H

S

German silver

1

59.00

14.90

24.00

1.30

 

99.20

VS

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1833

11/K

Buck Toothed Eagle

S

billon

1

1

27.00

3.60

11.00

1.90

54.00

 

97.50

VS

1833

20/T

Buck Toothed Eagle

S

billon

1

1

54.70

4.20

11.20

26.90

 

97.00

S

1833

29/DD

Buck Toothed Eagle

S

billon

1

1

1

48.60

2.90

8.20

40.20

 

99.90

R

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1834

1/A

Puckered Lips

S

billon

1

1

49.22

8.30

17.10

2.00

 

16.84

5.4

98.86

VC

sn5.4

1834

1/A

Puckered Lips

S

German silver with yellow tint

1

1

38.89

8.15

7.36

 

 

40.40

4.49

99.29

VC

sn4.49

1834

1/A

Puckered Lips

S

German silver

1

1

56.90

14.50

24.60

2.60

98.60

VC

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1834

5/E

S

German silver

1

59.00

11.40

24.40

0.85

95.65

VS

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1835

2/B

Buck Toothed Eagle

S

German silver with yellow tint

1

1

43.70

8.70

15.40

0.70

30.80

99.30

S

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1835

5/E

S

billon

1

1

49.30

15.70

5.68

29.10

99.78

VS

1835

9/I

S

billon

 

 

46.99

14.50

34.00

0.9

95.49

1835

11/K

Clinton Head

S

billon

1

1

1

50.70

1.10

13.20

2.20

31.00

98.20

VS

1835

14/N

C

white metal

1

1

xf

1.10

1.87

 

 

4.60

90.8

98.37

R+

 sn90.8

1835

14/N

C

white metal

 

 

G

5.21

1.38

93.4

99.99

1835

15/O

C

silver

1

1

0.60

98.90

99.50

VS

WAS NOT identified in silver in 2nd Edition

1835

17/Q

Clinton Head

S

German silver

1

66.60

8.36

22.80

1.30

99.06

R

Identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1836

5/E

Too Legit To Quit

S

German silver

1

57.00

11.70

26.00

 

 

 

1.30

96.00

S

WAS NOT identified in brass in 2nd Edition

1836

5/E

Too Legit To Quit

S

German silver

 

91.15

2.40

4.84

0.90

99.29

S

WAS NOT identified in brass in 2nd Edition

1836

7/G

S

German silver

1

64.50

11.70

21.90

0.60

98.70

R

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1836

9/I

C

German silver or brass?

1

1

67.80

13.30

18.80

 

99.90

VS

WAS NOT identified in German silver nor brass in 2nd Edition

1837

2/B

Too Legit To Quit

S

German silver

1

57.40

14.60

25.40

1.17

98.57

C

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1837

2/B

German silver

 

59.30

5.04

35.66

100.00

1837

2/B

German silver

 

57.60

11.58

27.65

2.09

0.60

99.52

1837

3/C

S

German silver

1

57.20

16.90

23.70

`

97.80

C

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1838

1/A

S

German silver

1

61.00

12.20

24.70

97.90

S

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1838

2/B

S

German silver

1

54.10

9.40

32.30

1.60

97.40

S

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1838

2/B

C

German silver

1

55.60

9.27

30.00

94.87

C

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1838

3/C

Too Legit To Quit

S

German silver

1

59.00

8.30

29.20

1.20

0.21

97.91

EC

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1838

3/E

Too Legit To Quit

S

German Silver

1

57.40

7.76

31.01

1.60

97.77

EC

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1838

3/E

Too Legit To Quit

S

German silver

1

58.80

10.50

28.20

1.50

99.00

EC

WAS NOT identified in German silver in 2nd Edition

1838

21/V

S

 Tin

1

 

 

 

99.50

R

sn99.5

Date

Variety

Cast/Struck

Appearance

Analyses

CU

NI

ZN

PB

IR

AU

AG

SN

Total %

Rarity

Comments

Verify

CU

NI

ZN

PB

IR

AU

AG

SN

Low %

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

All eight metals in any one alloy were never used

High %

99.00

18.80

36.00

99.90

13.20

27.01

98.90

96.07

A surprising high level /frequency of both gold and silver were found

First year (date on Daivgnon) +2% metal used

1806

1818

1818

1818

1818

1823

1806

1824

Last year (date on Davignon) +2% metal used

1838

1838

1838

1836

1835

1835

1835

1835

German silver (primarily copper, zinc, nickel)

38

38

38

Goloid alloy (significant gold content)

1

1

1

Billon alloy (primarily copper, iridium, silver (+26%)

21

21

21

Alloy with +90% silver

5

5

CU

NI

ZN

PB

IR

AU

AG

SN

 



 
 
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Between Historic Contemporary Counterfeits and Today’s Fakes by Larry Schmidt - June, 2015

This is an article about known groups of counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars.  There is one group of 372 now known varieties of cast and struck contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars that historically were minted to be dubiously passed at their implied face value in general circulation.  There is the recent group of silver plated base metal (i.e. or even 90% silver!) Capped Bust half dollar fakes that have no U.S. legally required Hobby Protection Act markings which are so expertly struck as to fool today’s numismatist.  While these two well known groups of counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars have a history of some 175 to 200 years separating them from each other there is a third group between the historic contemporary counterfeit and today’s expertly struck fake Capped Bust half dollars!

Before there were today’s counterfeiters who clearly understand the nuances of early US coinage, there were counterfeiters thought to be active in the mid 20th century who did not have a solid knowledge of early US coinage.  Some of their minted counterfeits are simply wild with different mint types muled obverses and reverses (e.g. a known 1797 dated Draped Bust Type half dollar obverse muled with a Capped Bust Type half dollar reverse).  Other specimens from this mid 20th century counterfeiter group while very obvious to collectors of genuine Capped Bust half dollars can confound collectors of contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars!  A sample specimen felt by a consensus of fellow collectors to belong to this 'between group' of fakes from mid 20th century counterfeiters of early US coinage is displayed below.  This 1838 dated specimen has as an obverse of an atypical Liberty with raised lettering on the headband, bloated date numerals and smaller than expected stars, plus a reverse with an invalid use of “50 Cents” instead of “HALF DOLLAR”, bloated legend lettering followed by a bold period, and simplified vertical stripping on the shield.

So what makes this specimen a mid 20th century fake?  The appearance of wear patterns that are impossible is one of the key factors, most visible when comparing the Liberty bust to the rest of the elements on the obverse.  Also notice the strength and regularity of the rim’s segments (i.e. the edge's reeding that can't be seen in the images also have strength and regularity) that identify this specimen as a mid 20th century fake rather than a historic contemporary counterfeit.

 


 
 
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A Bigger Family - Part 2 by Louis Scuderi and Larry Schmidt - March, 2015

Contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves made to be passed in general circulation at their implied face value were either cast or struck.

Cast contemporary counterfeits were dubious copies made from impressions taken from genuine coins forming molds into which molten metal was poured. If a cast counterfeit Capped Bust half dollar was done well enough and has survived in a high enough coin grade it can actually be identified by specific design elements and die wear / fatigue to an exact genuine half dollar variety, either an Overton variety (1794-1836) or a Graham variety (1836-1839).

Struck contemporary counterfeits were minted from obverse and reverse dies that under the pressure in a press which transferred the images from dies onto properly sized blank metal discs called planchets. Obverse and reverse dies were either; 1) completely hand-made as one whole, 2) assembled like components from punches of all the obverse and reverse design elements, 3) or worn/damaged/out-of-date US Mint dies deemed unworthy for further official that were illegally used. While it is speculated that some genuine Mint dies may have been illegible acquired, it is known that the Mint sold as a practice policy worn/damaged/out-of-date dies as scrap metal not recognizing that counterfeiters would purchase these discarded dies for further use.

This article is about a specific group of struck varieties from dies assembled from common punches of obverse and reverse design elements. There are multiple variety groups identified like this, but this particular group uniquely is comprised of 15 contemporary counterfeit varieties (a.k.a. Davignons) dated from 1830 to 1835. Each of the 15 varieties share atypical design elements on both the obverse and reverse, most notable an atypical eagle design and is known as the "Buck-Tooth Eagle" family that can be seen in the 1830 6/F specimen below: 

Collectively the 15 contemporary counterfeit varieties of the "Buck-Tooth Eagle" family represent an opportunity to more fully understand how counterfeiters plied their illegal skills. By comparing the varieties within this family to each other an understanding can be gained of which obverse and reverse design elements used separate design element punches verses gang punches (i.e. gang punches combine multiple design elements together) for creating the dies used to strike the counterfeits. This opportunity might seem unremarkable until it is realized that the 15 varieties in this family are comprised of four Rare rarities (i.e. only one or two specimens known), eight Very Scarce rarities (i.e. only three to five specimens known), and three Scarce rarities (i.e. only six to nine specimens known). Add to this that surviving specimens can be quite worn and may no longer exhibit all of the design elements clearly.

Through detail analyses of the "Buck-Tooth Eagle" family’s 15 varieties it can be determined that the following techniques were used to create the dies that struck the contemporary counterfeits:

Obverse

  • The Liberty bust was a gang punch including Liberty’s headband with lettering showing distinctive spacing and alignment of the TY lettering. Some of the family’s varieties exhibit a well centered placement of the bust while other varieties Liberty busts are off-center or have high placement.
  • Each star was a common punch with various placement variations and rotations in relationship to accompanying stars between varieties. It should be noted that all varieties show a very high degree of skill in placement as groups Stars 1 -7 and Stars 8 -13.
  • The date numerals were individual punches with significant variation between the 15 varieties (e.g. the numeral 1 is found in a shortened version, a backwards version, and an equal length to other date numerals version).

Reverse

  • The buck-tooth eagle complete with arrowshafts and arrowheads was a gang punch. However differently positioned shields were found with either a six or seven strips indicating the use of a separate additional punch with quite unique spacing between the stripes by variety.
  • Each of the individual legend words UNITED, STATES and OF were gang punches aligning and spacing the letters of the three separate words. These three words are found to vary in spacing between each other within the varieties. The legend word AMERICA was comprised of common individual letter punches with significant variations in spacing and alignment for this word between varieties.
  • The scroll with E PLURIBUS UNUM lettering was a gang punch (e.g. note the consistent high N in UNUM) differently positioned resulting in variety specific left end of scroll (a.k.a. LES) and right end of scroll (a.k.a. RES) alignment to legend lettering.
  • The numbers and letter and period for 50 C. are individual punches with variations in spacing and alignment between varieties. 

As previously stated there are other multiple variety groups that have also been identified in addition to the "Buck-Tooth Eagle" family. In Keith Davignon’s 2nd Edition identified are four additional but smaller contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollar families nicknamed “Top Gun”, “Mexican Head” or “Hair-Do”, “Ski-Nose”, and “Too Legit to Quit".  Newly discovered families continue to be found too (e.g. noted in the ccCBHcc.com Collectors Corner March, 2013 article An Attempt To Solve Another Mystery.  Do these families point to an industrious individual contemporary counterfeiter per family? Or did contemporary counterfeiters of Capped Bust halves likely sell equipment/punches/edge lettering devices to each other similar to the sharing of punches of design devices as seen in some colonial contemporary counterfeits?


Epilog - A fellow collector has already noted a 16th member to the "Buck-Tooth Eagle" family!  This family is now identified as six Rare rarity Davignon varieties (e.g. 1832 42/OO, 1833 19/BB, 1833 29/DD,1833 36/JJ, 1835 10/J and 1840 3/D - reverse die only), eight Very Scarce rarity Davignon varieties (e.g. 1830 14/P, 1831 7/G, 1831 14/N, 1832 6/F, 1832 7/G, 1832 12/L, 1833 11/K, 1933 19/S), and three Scarce rarity Davignon varieties (e.g. 1830 6/F, 1833 20/T).  Note - All variety rarities are based on the most current updates that can be found in the Census section of this website. 


 

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More on Rarity and Collecting by Larry Schmidt –February, 2015

The question “Where then does rarity fit in our world of collecting contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves?” had been previously raised in this website's Collectors Corner article Rarity and Collecting – December, 2011.  In the previous article it was noted that it was suspected that many contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half variety rarity designations would continue to change with the ongoing cumulative finds made by fellow collectors.  This conjecture seems to never be truer when looking at the statistics for our historic and educational hobby. 

Between the 14 year period from Keith Davignon’s Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars – First Edition published in 1996 and his follow-up publication 2nd Edition published in 2010 there were; a) 150+ vetted variety discoveries bringing up to 339 the number of then known varieties, b) 35 variety rarity level updates were made due to additional specimen finds, c) 41 second specimen finds for varieties that each had only a single previously known specimen, and d) 8 first specimen finds were made for known varieties that had been documented in 1845 by John Riddell, a New Orleans US Mint Branch official.

What has occurred since the publication of the 2nd Edition, now going on four and a half years?  There have already been; a) 32 vetted variety discoveries bringing up to 370 the number of currently known varieties, b) 32 variety rarity level updates have been made due to additional specimen finds, c) 24 second specimens finds for varieties that each had previously only a single known specimen, plus d) 1 more first specimen find has been made for a known variety that was documented in 1845 by John Riddell, a New Orleans US Mint Branch official. 

From these statistics what projections can be made comparing the periods between; 1) the publications of the 1st Edition and the 2nd Edition, and 2) since the publication of the 2nd Edition to the present?  Great discovery varieties continue to be found, although at what appears to be a slowing pace (i.e. see the New Discoveries section of this website for vetted variety discoveries made after the 2nd Edition's publication), while additional specimens of known varieties are being found at an ever quickening pace resulting in higher cumulative counts / further variety rarity level updates (i.e. see the Census section of this website for the periodic reporting of rarity updates after the 2nd Edition's publication)!!!  

 
 
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A Bigger Family - Part 1 by Louis Scuderi and Larry Schmidt - November, 2014

Contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half families are those struck varieties which appear to share the same punches that created design elements in working dies used to strike the counterfeits. Never has this been clearer than in the recent ccCBHcc.com vetting of the 1833 42/OO discovery variety pictured below:

During the vetting process of the 1833 42/OO variety it was discovered that the same punches were used as those of other known varieties in the previously identified “Buck-Tooth Eagle" family that includes the 1830 6/F, 1832 6/F, 1832 7/G and 1833 11/K as noted in Keith Davignon’s writings. The difference between these varieties are the placements of the same design elements made from punches on both the obverse and reverse. These similarities (e.g. Liberty's profile, an elongated eagle with raised feathers on right of neck, legend lettering and slogan lettering) can be seen in the 1833 42/OO.

But during the vetting of the 1833 42/OO the “Buck-Tooth Eagle" family has also been discovered to include the 1830 14/P, 1831 14/N, 1833 19/S and 1833 29/DD varieties too! This expanded family could point to a very industrious single counterfeiter or quite likely counterfeiters that sold equipment/punches/edge lettering devices to each other (i.e. similar sharing of punches of design devices are also seen in some colonial contemporary counterfeits).

It is interesting to note that along with the discovery of the larger "Buck-Tooth Eagle" family another very closely "Buck-Tooth Eagle" related family was also discovered that used a six vertical bar shield (i.e. instead of the seven vertical bar shield of pales noting red gales) that minimally include the 1831 7/G, 1832 6/F, 1832 12/L, 1833 19/BB, 1833 36/JJ and 1835 10/J varieties.  


 

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Capped Bust halves that are not Davignons - Part 3  by Larry Schmidt - October, 2014 (2)

Deciding if a particular specimen is a contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollar variety (a.k.a. Davignon) or not can many times be based on knowledge of the hundreds of genuine die varieties that are further defined by die states (i.e. see Capped Bust halves that are not Davignons - Part 1 article in this Collectors Corner section).  Adding to these complexities genuine Capped Bust halves can be found that have been modified in various ways that can lead to first-glance questioning if a specimen could be a contemporary counterfeit or not.

Modified genuine Capped Bust halves can be as simple as having had their edges trimmed leaving a smooth non-lettered surface. Trimming was a practice of dishonest people who sought to make an illegal profit from filing off the edges and selling the precious metal removed. The smaller diameter of the trimmed coin often went unnoticed, but his dishonest practice decreased the value of the original silver or gold coin. To curb the practice of trimming the Mint began milling reeded edges so a coin could be easily identified if it was trimmed. Reeded edging became standard for the half dollar with the Capped Bust half dollar Variety 2 in 1836.

Other examples of modified genuine Capped Bust halves can be rather unique and bring a smile to a collector. Take for example the altered date specimen displayed below, an erroneously dated 1802 Capped Bust Type Lettered Edge half dollar.  This "impossible" 1802 dated specimen reaches back to the Draped Bust Type with Heraldic Eagle Reverse Half Dollar (i.e. minted with regular issues from 1801 to 1807 struck with entirely different die designs than the Capped Bust Type Lettered Edge half dollar). Detailed study of this "impossible" 1802 altered date Capped Bust Type Lettered Edge half dollar specimen shows that it can be identified to have originally been an 1812 Overton 106 variety by its unique heavy die crack position on the coin’s reverse. Understanding how the 1 was changed to a 0 is to appreciate the significant difference in the metal mass between the smaller 1 numeral and the much larger 0 numeral making chasing an impractical counterfeiting technique. There can be little doubt that a technique totally replacing the 1 was used. Using this total replacement technique the second 1 in the specimen’s date would have been removed to the field level of the coin (i.e. the coin’s level with neither raised nor incuse design) and either a handcrafted 0 numeral or a 0 numeral removed and transferred from a genuine coin was soldered onto this specimen replacing the original second 1 numeral. 

Another example of an altered coin is a genuine 1837 Capped Bust half with a modified eye in Liberty displayed in images below. This “modification” could have resulted from damage (i.e. many bust coin collectors have come across a damaged coin now and again that just doesn’t fit), or this specimen was carved intentionally creating this graffiti (i.e. carved coins were not made to deceive but are interpreted instead as an individual's folk art created for their own satisfaction). However this 1837 specimen’s change to its Liberty’s eye occurred, for the contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollar collector similar specimens like these can raise first-glance questions.     

 



Other modified specimens like these provide great learning opportunities and are part of the fun of our hobby!


 

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Stories Behind Discoveries - Part 2 by Roy Lee Hampton - October, 2014 (1) (with December, 2016 ccCBHcc.com notation in blue)

     

This dubious counterfeit coin has been in my family for at least three generations. It’s really more a family curse than an heirloom. My mother inherited it from my grandfather’s modest coin collection after his death in 1971. I have no idea how long he may have possessed it before then. Having been a beat cop during the 1930s and 1940s he may well have taken it off of someone knowing it was a fake. With only 10 stars it isn’t very hard to spot!  I also believe that my uncle, who kept the best coins from the collection for himself, probably also knew it and that’s why he threw it in with the sack of junk coins that he gave to my mother; just to get her riled up.

 
Did it ever, when she looked the coin up in The Red Book and saw what it was worth (in 1972) she flipped out. It was promptly taken to a local coin dealer who pronounced it a “worthless forgery.” It seemed incomprehensible at the time that anyone would take the time and effort to carve their own coin die and make counterfeit 50¢ pieces. Obviously 50¢ was worth a whole lot more in the 19th century than in the 20th. Needless to say my mother was very disappointed and threw it back in the coin sack, only for me to discover decades later and fall for the same cruel prank.
 
I had all but forgotten about the unfortunate incident years later when I was sorting through the family collection of unremarkable coins when I looked up this half dollar. Needless to say, it gave me quite a start when I saw “An extreme rarity!” and read what the genuine article was worth. Still, it all sounded too good to be true. I remained cautious and did a little research. Even as a complete numismatic neophyte I could tell there was something not right about this coin. So I downloaded an image of a perfect 1838 O proof and over laid it with my bogus half dollar in Photoshop, and Voila! About the only things alike about these two coins is they are both round and made of metal! Then I realized that this was the same coin that had caused such a ruckus after my grandfather’s death and almost brought my mother to tears.
 
Obviously this coin was not contrived to deceive a numismatist or anyone else really, who had time to give it a second glance. Given its level of wear (if even that’s genuine) it no doubt got passed off quite a few times while in circulation. No doubt causing a lot of trouble and strife along the way, not just within my family alone. Thanks to ccCBHcc.com the mischievous thing has finally been identified and cataloged (e.g. Davignon 1830O 12/M variety) and won’t ever fall again into unsuspecting inexperienced hands.
   
   
ccCBHcc.com Notation - On the reverse to the right of HALF DOL is what is likely the mark of a test drill made in the coin's history by a merchant to verify that the coin was solid silver.  Note that the there was not an attempt to pierce through the coin and that there are remnants of metal on the edges of the pierced area, both characteristics of test drill usage. 
 
 
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Capped Bust halves that are not Davignons - Part 2  by Larry Schmidt -  September, 2014

Many collectors of contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves (a.k.a. Davignons) are first and foremost advanced collectors of genuine Capped Bust halves who have an in-depth working knowledge of the nuances of hundreds of genuine Capped Bust half die varieties further defined by die states (i.e. die varieties identify by date different observe and reverse die combinations and die states identify a die variety's wear and degradation of the dies from usage that are not to be confused with coin grade). Other collectors, including myself, are focused contemporary counterfeit collectors who have a less keen knowledge of genuine Capped Bust half die varieties and die states which can lead to first-glance confusion, that is, deciding if a particular specimen is a contemporary counterfeit or not? Such a questionable specimen is pictured below which is a learning opportunity of genuine verses contemporary counterfeit determination.

For me this 1830 small 0 specimen raised first-glace questions if the specimen was a contemporary counterfeit or was a genuine coin because of certain attributes as seen in the close-up images below: 

 


 

Note the 8's reshaped, distorted appearance in the bottom loop on the left side.


 

When the working die begins to deteriorate over time from usage the letters and stars like the 50 C. near the edge elongate. The die spreads out and devices near the edges connect to the rims as can be seen at the bottom of the 5 and C.


 

 

 

Some banner letters are missing that are not due to coin wear as can be seen from the overall higher coin grade of the specimen.  The missing letters in the scroll are a function of too little pressure and not enough metal with the high point.


 

 

 

 

There is a raised line on the planchet most noticeable in the field on the right side of the Eagle's neck with a slight overlap.


 

With the helpful expertise of a couple of genuine Capped Bust half collector friends this specimen is properly identified as a well known genuine 1830 Capped Bust half Overton 118 die variety very late die state with significant die clashing, more common on early dates (i.e. a die clash error happens when obverse and reverse coin dies come together in the coining press without a planchet between which can cause an imprint of each die to be left on the opposing die face). 

This specimen and others like it provide great learning opportunities and are part of the fun of our hobby!


 

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Stories Behind Discoveries - Part 1 by Larry Schmidt - April, 2014  (with September, 2016 update) 

Many contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves have been simply put aside as interesting but unidentified novelties many years before Keith Davignon's 1996 1st Edition initially identified varieties in our field of numismatic study. Individual specimens can sometimes be traced through the last few owners such as the 1838 19/T variety (e.g. ‘Wicked Witch of the West' Liberty, missing period after HALF DOL pictured in the 2nd Edition as well as below) that was found in a Texas estate, passed through two Illinois coin dealers and finally to a fellow collector.

   

Other specimens have more in depth provenance stories such as the ones below: 

  • The 1813 1/C was truly a buried treasure (i.e. pictured in New Discovery section on website). This specimen is so far the only metal detector find of a new variety. From its time since being lost and buried in a Civil War battlefield, this specimen has a large resulting crack and surface characteristic of a casting although the variety is a struck contemporary counterfeit.

  • The 1826 17/Q (i.e. pictured in New Discovery section on website) was a multi generation unknown coin that had been in one family for three generations. Years ago the grandfather, who was described as a serious coin collector, use to interest his then young grandson with a few low grade coins to play with to make believe he too was a coin collector along side his grandfather. Years later the now adult grandson had inherited belongings of his grandfather’s and at the bottom of one of the boxes these same low grade coins he had played with as a youth were found, amongst them the 1826 17/Q!

Please use the Contact Us section of this website if you too have a discovery story that you believe fellow collectors would enjoy hearing about and share authorship for any addition(s) to this article!
 
 
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    We're Writing Our Red Book Yet  by Larry Schmidt - February, 2014

    A Guide Book of United States Coins, commonly called the Red Book, has been the primer for US coin collectors since 1947. It is often joked amongst fellow contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollar collectors that we're still writing our own specialized Red Book. Never has this been truer given the activities that began in the last weeks of 2013!

    At the end of 2013 the sharply struck new discovery German silver 1840 4/E variety was vetted. Just recently the latest new discovery variety 1829 20/U has been vetted.  Including the 1840 4/E and the 1829 20/U the total is now 28 new varieties discovered since the publication of the 2nd Edition in 2010.  All 28 new discovery varieties can be viewed in the New Discoveries section of this website.

    Besides looking forward with new discovery varieties we're looking back too! Previously identified varieties are being updated further as more becomes known about a variety though additional specimens for the variety that are being found.  By example there was recently a discovery of the second known 1826 3/C, one of the counterfeits originally identified by John Riddell in his A Monograph of the Silver Dollar: Good and Bad published in 1845. This second discovered 1826 3/C is a single struck specimen updating significantly the variety's original description that had been based on the weakened multistruck plate coin illustrated in both the 1st Edition and 2nd Edition. Comparison studies between varieties are providing further updates too. For instance the previous '1842 1/A with Recut Date' specimen is now considered a variety unto itself and has been revetted as the 1842 2/A variety.  It was found that this newly revetted 1842 2/A variety belongs to a family of at least four contemporary counterfeit varieties that share a common obverse master die to which dates were added in their respective working dies. Both the 1826 3/C and the 1842 2/A variety updates can be viewed in the 2nd Edition Errors/Changes section of this website.

    Are we getting close to finishing our own specialized Red Book? If the activities just since the end of 2013 are any indication, I think not.  With little doubt there will still be plenty of collecting discovery trills and continued education advancements yet ahead for fellow collectors!


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    History Keith Davignon's Editions of Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars by Larry Schmidt - November, 2013 (with February, 2014 update)

    There are a number of different published 1st Editions and 2nd Editions plus one Unpublished Die Varieties by Keith Davignon's of his milestone Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars. As these different publications potentially make their way onto the secondary market an overview understanding of them can be significant to the collector.  The history of the publications of 1st Editions, Unpublished Die Varieties and 2nd Editions are provided below in their chronological sequence: 


    1st Editions 

    500 bound black cloth copies with silver printed Title/First Edition/1842 Obverse Counterfeit Image/Authorship by-lines cover. Spine silver printed Authorship/Title/ First Edition/ Publisher plus publisher's image by-lines. Silver on black patterned endpapers. Copyright 1996. 188 die variety descriptions with images appendix. 

    The above 500 copies were printed first followed by three limited copy versions which were published all at the same time (see the following).

    5 bound full dark brown leather copies with gold printed Title/First Edition/1842 Obverse Counterfeit Image/Authorship by-lines cover. Spine gold printed Authorship/Title/First Edition/ Publisher plus publisher's image by-lines. Copies have an added numbered "Presentation Copy" bookplate signed by the author (printed in silver ink - not as a script signature). Brown toned marbled endpapers. Copyright 1996. 188 die variety descriptions with images appendix.  

    25 half black leather bound with gray and black gloss marbled card stock copies with gold printed Title/First Edition/1842 Obverse Counterfeit Image/Authorship by-lines cover. Spine gold printed Authorship/Title/First Edition/ Publisher plus publisher's image by-lines. Copies have an added numbered "Deluxe Edition" bookplate signed by the author (printed in silver ink - not as a script signature). Silver on black patterned endpapers. Copyright 1996. 188 die variety descriptions with images appendix.

    40 bound black cloth copies with silver printed Title/First Edition/1842 Obverse Counterfeit Image/Authorship by-lines cover. Spine silver printed Authorship/ Title/First Edition/ Publisher plus publisher's image by-lines. Copies have an added numbered "Special Numbered Edition" bookplate signed by the author (printed in silver ink - not as a script signature). Silver on black patterned endpapers. Copyright 1996. 188 die variety descriptions with images appendix.


    Unpublished Appendix of Die Varieties

    Unbound Supplement Aug 06 - Appendix Catalog of Die Varieties. Microsoft Office Word file of 310 die variety descriptions without images appendix that was shared with Keith's permission.


    2nd Editions

    6 galley bound proofs on gloss black flexible card stock printed with white Title/2nd Edition/ Authorship cover. Spine black spiral used to hold printing together. White endpapers. Copyright 2010. 339 die variety descriptions with images appendix.

    6 bound gloss black card stock binding copies with white printed Title/2nd Edition/1836-O Obverse Counterfeit Image/ Authorship by-lines and image cover. Spine white printed Title/ 2nd Edition/Authorship by-lines. White endpapers. Copyright 2010. 339 die variety descriptions with images appendix.  

    134 bound gloss black card stock binding copies with silver/gray printed Title/2nd Edition/1936-O Obverse Counterfeit Image/ Authorship/Edited By by-lines cover. Spine silver/gray printed Title/2nd Edition/Authorship by-lines. White endpapers. Copyright 2010. Paper is white and light weight. 339 die variety descriptions with images appendix.  

    150 bound gloss black card stock binding copies with silver/gray printed Title/2nd Edition–2nd Printing/1836-O Obverse Counterfeit Image/Authorship/ Edited By by-lines cover. Spine silver/gray printed Title/2nd Edition/ Authorship by-lines. White endpapers. Copyright in 2010. Paper is off white and heavy weight. 339 die variety descriptions with images appendix. 


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    Multi-Struck - Part 1 by Larry Schmidt – May, 2013 (with January, 2017 updates)
     
    The terrific article Fascinating 1836 Double Struck Half by Jeff Heisenberg with expert analysis by Edgar Sounders in the John Reich Journal pointed out that a quick count in AMBPR revealed only 46 double or triple struck genuine Capped Bust halves. The article further added Edgar Sounders's remarks regarding multi-struck genuine Capped Bust halves ..... "I would think that they are, as a rule, all very rare. Perhaps only 100 to 120 in all grades - and that would be at the very high end." (i.e. see Links section of this website to the John Reich Collector Society). These multi-struck beasts are indeed extremely rare considering over 88 million Capped Bust halves were minted for multi-strikes to have survived in such low numbers!!! How does this apply to contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves? The estimates of surviving multi-struck contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves encountered seemed much, much higher than multi-struck genuine Capped Bust halves. But was this right?
            
       
    Six collections of contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves that make up 78.1% of the 306 known struck Davignon varieties identified in the December, 2016 census (i.e. see Census section on this website) were analyzed for the frequency of multi-struck contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves, updating the May, 2013 analyses. This update found 40 single sided or double sided multi-struck specimens across 34 different Davignon varieties.  Statisticially this is a surprising 5.17% of the 774 struck Davignon specimens in the six collections, and 11.1% when comparing the 34 multi-strikes in different Davignon varieties to the total 306 known struck Davignon varieties!!! (Note - The analyses of the collections carefully netted out what looked like multi-strikes but were instead recuts, double detailing from poorly cast counterfeits, and potential multi-struck specimens too worn to absolutely confirm.)    
          
          
    The higher occurrence of contemporary counterfeit multi-strikes likely point to lower production skills / standards practiced, plus perhaps reflecting lighter weight presses used by counterfeiters compared to our early US Mint's.  The use of a lighter weight press needed either more striking pressure or multiple strikes to bring up detail for silver counterfeits, or an alloy that looked silver, with the certainly harder metal taking a toll on die life.
    The higher occurrence of multi-strikes found in this survey are the remnants of the many counterfeiters who raced to profit by their crime.

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    An Attempt To Solve Another Mystery  by Larry Schmidt – March, 2013

    As previously explained in the Collectors Corner September, 2010 article titled Another Mystery Solved:

     "You know the coin is a definitely an old counterfeit, but normally due to a lot of wear and / or a weak strike which one?  Is it an extremely common variety, or a rare discovery specimen?"

    This is another article about a contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half that has proved difficult to identify.  The contemporary counterfeit in question is pictured below which has a weak, uneven strike visible on both the obverse and reverse.  Before reading any further try your own hand at attempting to identify this specimen.  In your efforts you will likely find that attempting to identify this specimen will definitely have some surprises!

     



     

     Well, if you think you know the answer and are reading this far it's time to share the techniques used in attempting to identify this specimen: 

    1st Step - Given that all attempts to read the date on the unidentified specimen were not successful regardless of the lighting conditions, the first step narrowed the search to known Davignon varieties that had similarly positioned tight chin Liberty profiles.  This matching effort was not an exacting process, but rather a process that was approximate in which it was best to include rather than exclude potential variety candidate matches.  An approximate approach was used to compensate for atypical differences in surviving variety specimens due to minting variations (i.e. multi strikes, off-strikes, weak strikes, etc.) and / or various metal alloys that were used that can have quite different wear patterns.  The combined factors of minting variations and wear pattern differences can really have a tremendous affect on the appearances of specimens even for the same Davignon variety! 

    Liberty’s similarly positioned tight chin profile was used for an approximate search criteria as the position and design of the profile’s outline are normally strong surviving attributes that can be seen even in very worn specimens (i.e. very worn contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust Halves are quite common even amongst the plate coins illustrated in the Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars, 2nd Edition.)  The match for similarly positioned tight chin Liberty profiles like the unidentified specimen’s resulted in 69 Davignon candidate matches conservatively identified out of the 361 currently known Davignons listed in the Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars, 2nd Edition plus additional varieties listed in the New Discoveries section in this website (e.g. 1813 1/C, 1814 1/A, 1815 3/C, 1818 6/F, 1819 4/D, 1822 7/G, 1822 11/K, 1829 4/D, 1829 5/E, 1829 6/F, 1829 9/J, 1830 4/D, 1830 5/E, 1830 10/J, 1830 10/O, 1830 12/L, 1830 13/M, 1830 28/CC, 1831 9/I, 1831 10/J, 1831 11/K, 1831 13/M, 1831 19/S, 1831 20/T, 1832 10/J, 1832 13/M, 1832 14/O, 1832 20/U, 1833 8/H, 1833 9/I, 1833 12/L, 1833 13/M, 1833 23/W, 1833 27/AA, 1833 31/FF, 1833 41/X, 1834 2/B, 1834 3/C, 1834 4/D, 1834 5/E, 1834 7/G, 1834 8/H, 1834 9/I, 1834 10/J, 1834 11/K, 1834 14/N, 1834 15/O, 1834 16/P, 1834 18/R, 1835 3/C, 1835 4/D, 1835 7/G, 1835 8/H, 1835 13/M, 1835 14/N, 1835 15/O, 1836 1/A, 1836 3/C, 1836 6/F, 1836 7/G, 1836 8/H, 1836 9/I, 1836 10/J, 1836 14/N, 1836 15/O, 1837 1/A, 1838 7/H, 1842 1/A, 1842 1/A with Recut Date.) 

    2nd Step - The list of the 69 potential Davignon candidates compiled in the first step was further narrowed by matching or eliminating each of the candidates against additional distinguishing attributes of the unidentified specimen’s: 

    • Star 8 size / location to Liberty’s cap,
    • Visible block-like (i.e. non tapered) lower serifs in the letters in AMERICA,
    • Distinctive "50" numerals in 50 C.,        
    • RES at the outer edge of the M’s left bottom serif,
    • Long eagle claws grasping arrow shafts that do not extend continuously as would be expected. 

    When matching or eliminating each of the 69 Davignons it was important to anticipate that not all of the unidentified specimen’s distinguishing attributes would be visible for all of the illustrated plate coins (i.e. due to atypical differences within a Davignon variety as mentioned in the previous step).  After matching / eliminating the 69 Davignons respectively with / without visible distinguishing attributes to the unidentified specimen’s there were four matched Davignons remaining (e.g. 1837 1/A, 1838 7/H, 1842 1/A, 1842 1/A with Recut Date.)

    3rd Step – It was anticipated that a single match of one of the four remaining Davignons to the unidentified specimen could now be made using a fingerprint technique.  The basics of the fingerprint technique used picked two imaginary points on either the obverse or reverse of the unidentified specimen which were then used to draw an imaginary line noting what detail design features on the counterfeit were crossed by the line.  Three imaginary lines were drawn on the unidentified specimen’s obverse in this manner.  The first line drawn was from the center of star 5 to the center of star 11 noting where Liberty’s eye was passed through by the line.  The second line drawn was between the center of star 1 and the center of star 8 noting where just to the left of the Y in Liberty’s headband the line passed.  The third line drawn was from the center of star 13 through the intersection of the first two lines drawn noting where the extended line passed on the left edge of star 7.  The combined results of the three lines passing by or through details of the design created a fingerprint for the unidentified specimen (i.e. additional lines could have been added creating more details to a fingerprint if it was felt necessary.)  The same imaginary pairs of points and lines were drawn on each of the four remaining Davignons creating individual fingerprints.  An attempt was then made to match the fingerprint of the unidentified specimen to one of the four fingerprints of the remaining Davignons.  Normally only a single Davignon would have matched the unidentified specimen using this fingerprint technique, however with this unidentified specimen the unexpected happened!  The fingerprint of the unidentified specimen matched each of the fingerprints of the four remaining Davignons!  This commonality had not been previously seen across these Davignons before!  The matching fingerprints unexpectedly proved that the same master dies had been used over and over again to make working dies with date numeral changes! 

    Getting back to the unidentified specimen, progress had not continued using the usually reliable fingerprint technique, so an additional matching attempt was made to compare “micro fingerprints” of the small area on the obverse between the widest left and right lower Liberty profile edges down through the area of the date for the unidentified specimen and all four remaining Davignon varieties.  Digital images of these micro fingerprints were scaled equally in size, aligned to star 1 and then compared with imaginary vertical lines seeking to find any common alignment between potential fragment(s) of date numerals possibly visible on the unidentified specimen to identical positioned portions of date numerals on any of the four Davignon varieties. Yet even with these attempted micro fingerprint comparisons no further matches could confidently be made due to the lack of credible fragments on the unidentified specimen’s date.  

    4th StepThe results from the previously steps exhausted what could be done to analyze the obverse and the reverse.  The identification efforts for the specimen continued onto what is sometimes called the third side of the coin, its edge. It is realized that for the reader this step would not have been possible to conduct given the lack of edge descriptions for most Davignon varieties in the Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars, 2nd Edition, but this effort did further narrow the possilbe matches for the unidentified specimen, an effort thought worthwhile to share.  In collaborating with fellow collectors it was found:

    • The unidentified specimen’s edge is fully milled (a.k.a reeded) without any lettering,
    • The only known Davignon 1837 1/A’s edge has identified small areas of milling here and there on the edge (i.e. it is quite common for milling to be worn off in some areas of an edge or the quality of the milling to be poor and inconsistent when minted),
    • The very scarce rarity Davignon 1838 7/H’s edge has identified milling imprinted with “FIFTY CENTS * OR HALF OF A DOLLAR”.
    • The very scarce rarity 1842 1/A’s edge has identified milling with an occasional gap / weakness here and there (i.e. it is quite common for milling to be worn off in some areas of an edge or the quality of the milling to be poor and inconsistent when minted),
    • The only known 1842 1/A with Recut Date’s edge has identified milling imprinted with “HALF DOLLAR”.  

    By matching the attributes of these edges it could now be said that the previously unidentified specimen was either a Davignon 1837 1/A or a Davignon 1842 1/A.  This was the limit of the final analysis that could be made*

    *     Physical attributes of contemporary counterfeits’ planchet thicknesses and weights can not be used for identifying a specimen.  Very intentionally Davignon varieties resembled the diameters of genuine Capped Bust half dollars they were imitating to be passed in general circulation as inconspicuously as possible (i.e. 32.5 mm diameter for Variety 1 1807-1836 or 30 mm diameter for Variety 2 1836 – 1837 and Variety 3 1838 – 1839).  Unlike relatively uniform diameters contemporary counterfeit planchet thicknesses and weights though varied greatly.  This is evidenced in the example of two surviving Davignon 1823 1/A specimens in extremely fine coin grades.  The first 1823 1/A specimen was minted in copper with a 1.73 mm thickness and weight of 10.9 g.  The second 1823 1/A specimen was minted in German silver with a 1.85 mm thickness and weight of 12.9 g.  Keeping this example in mind it is believed some counterfeiters (a.k.a. of a Davignon variety) appeared to have used whatever planchets were available, while more sophisticated counterfeits (a.k.a of another Davignon variety) appeared to have increased the mass of their counterfeits by increasing the planchet thickness to lessen the specific gravity disparity of their alloy used to that of the silver and copper alloy used for genuine Capped Bust halves.  Because planchet thicknesses and weights can be so inconsistent they are unfortunately unusable for identification purposes.  Given these caveats, planchet thickness / weight for the unknown specimen are 2.33 mm /15.5 g, for the only known Davignon 1837 1/A are .96 mm / 6.54 g, for two very scarce rarity Davignon 1838 7/H specimens are respectively .95 mm / 7.18 and 2.13 mm / 14.2 g, for the very scarce rarity Davignon 1842 1/A are 1.42 mm / 7.18 g, and for the only known Davignon 1842 1/A with Recut Date are 1.06 mm / 6.86 g.  Note - Rarities have been additionally noted to give the reader an understanding that there are few specimens known for all four Davignon varieties forming too small of a sample size to be statically relevant (i.e. see ccCBH Census section on this website for Davignon variety counts).

           Could the unidentified specimen be only the second known 1837 1/A Davignon variety?  More likely could the unidentified specimen be another very scarce rarity 1842 1/A Davignon variety (i.e. very scarce rarity equals six to nine known specimens)?  Who can tell?     

    In the end the effort to identify this specimen had both good news and not so good news. The good news was that the 1837 1/A, 1838 7/H, 1842 1/A and 1842 1/A with Recut Date Davignon varieties were discovered to share the same master dies from which working dies with date changes were made.  The not so good news was that while the specimen can not be absolutely matched to a single Davignon variety, this contemporary counterfeit could be identified as either a Davignon 1837 1/A variety or a Davignon 1842 1/A variety demonstrating that unfortunately not all contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves can be always absolutely identified.                  

         Note – If all this detective work had not identified any match(es) the potential of a discovery Davignon variety was possible.  Keep in mind that previously unknown Davignon varieties continue to be found!  In the New Discoveries section in this website 22 discovery Davignon varieties can be viewed that have been brought forth since the October, 2010 publication of the Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars, 2nd Edition (i.e. as of February, 2013)Please don’t hesitate to contact this website if you think you’ve found the next discovery Davignon!


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    Contemporary Counterfeits Verses Modern Fakes

    by Harvey Bactacky, Louis Scuderi and Larry Schmidt  - January, 2013 

     
    There are two types of minted counterfeit coins. The first, historic counterfeits, were made to be accepted and passed in general circulation for everyday purchases at their implied face value. Known as “contemporary counterfeits” this type was produced (struck or cast) at approximately the date on the coin in order to blend in as inconspicuously as possible with genuine coins in general circulation.  These contemporary counterfeits were made during times when a day’s pay could be measured with just a few low denomination coins, and are the focus of this educational website, specific to the contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars known as Davignon varieties.

    The other category of counterfeits are imitations of numismatic items that are in violation of the Hobby Protection Act of 1973 and do not, as required by law, have the word "COPY“ marked legibly, conspicuously, and non deceptively on the obverse or reverse. While there are a flood of modern imitations on the market correctly marked with "COPY" there are also many of these exact coins without the "COPY" markings making them illegal fakes. These are fakes manufactured to fool the modern day coin collector. Most of these illegal fakes are lustrous and in high grade, but that said, many of them still have some problems with date punches and some of the lettering that clearly indicate recent manufacturing. One such example is an 1824 currently seen on the market which can be found with and without the required "COPY" marking (The coin pictured below has the legally required "COPY" marking). This coin has attributes of a large wide date with a horizontally elongated 4 on the obverse, and small legend letters plus an eagle with no tongue on the reverse.  Additionally, the ES letter bottoms are open in STATES and the shield has partial crossbars and stripes on the reverse, all likely due to poor strike and/or die preparation by the counterfeiter. On this example the combined obverse and reverse attributes have no matching counterpart of a genuine Capped Bust half dollar Overton variety. We do note that in some cases actual coins have been used to mass produce these counterfeits and that these specific fakes are difficult to detect.
     

     

    This flood of modern fakes of early coins is likely coming out of China where examples of counterfeit United States coins can be found for sale in most large cities and tourist attractions. A small percentage have the word COPY on them but most do not. Today’s coin collectors have to be very careful when buying these early coins. If you are not very familiar with a particular series of US coins that you are thinking of collecting, stay away from raw examples until you gain some knowledge about the characteristics of genuine examples from the series. We would recommend that novice collectors buy only slabbed coins from reputable third party certification services and that they purchase copies of the excellent reference books available for all of the early US series before they purchase these coins.

     


    Epilog (June, 2014) - Another modern fake pictured below has surfaced to challenge fellow collectors.  Look closely and you'll see blunt stars with uneven sized points on the obverse, plus a reverse loaded with "errors" including; 1) overly long claws on the eagle's feet with the rightmost claw on the eagle's left (viewing) foot touching, but not overlapping the center claw, 2) uneven scroll lettering (e.g. note BUS and UNU), 3) legend STATES has a smaller A, AMERICA has a tilted E which is much higher than M at the base plus a base of A much higher than M, and 4) missing continuous arrow shafts under the grasp of the eagle's right foot claws.  The specimen has a square rim, lettered edge lettered as normal but with a thin style font that does not quite match the Mint's style font, and does not ring at all. 

    Epilog (December, 2014) - Another modern fake pictured below has surfaced to challenge fellow collectors.  Note the bloated stars and the wrong 5 in 50 C.  It even has a reeded edge!

     

     

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    When Were Davignons Really Minted? by Larry Schmidt - November, 2012 (with January, 2013, October, 2105 and January, 2017 updates) 

     

    "The dates on counterfeits of course give us no real clue as to when they were struck."

     

         This quote from John P. Lorenzo in Circulating Counterfeits of the Americas raises the question of just when were our beloved contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars minted anyway?  As suggested by Mr. Lorenzo an exact year can’t be determined when a specific variety was minted, however approximate date ranges can be estimated when specific groups of contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust half dollars (a.k.a. Davignon varieties) were minted which are described below.    

     

         An overall approximate date range can be estimated when the earliest to the last of the Davignon varieties were minted.  To understand the date when Davignons were most likely first minted it would seem significant to understand that both Flowing Hair Type half dollars 1794 - 1795 and Draped Bust Type half dollars 1796 - 1807 were counterfeited (i.e. see Before Davignons section in this website). But there is controversy as to when these pre Capped Bust halves were minted.  

         John Riddell in his A Monograph of the Silver Dollar:  Good and Bad of 1845 published a list with illustrated facsimiles of the then known half dollar counterfeits.  Riddell’s earliest listed half dollar counterfeits began with an 1814 Capped Bust Half (a.k.a Davignon 1814 1/A variety).  No Flowing Hair Type half dollars nor Draped Bust Type half dollars were listed as counterfeits by Riddell. Another source, Don Taxey in his 1963 landmark Counterfeit Mis-Struck and Unofficial U.S. Coins notes an 1813 origin: 

    "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 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 1794 and 1813.  And yet the omission of any 1787 dies following 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 last century, along with the 1650 Pine Tree shillings, the Washington half cent, and other such fancy productions." 

         To understand when the last of the Davignons were minted it is important to understand the nature of the counterfeiter.  A belief held today is that counterfeiters meant to pass their minted counterfeits as inconspicuously as possible into general circulation to avoid detection and the harsh prosecution that would follow.  For Davignon varieties this likely meant they were minted up to a period before drawing undesired attention for closer inspection amoungst a more and more Liberty Seated coinage dominated general circulation (i.e. the Liberty Seated Half Dollar 1839 – 1891 replaced the Capped Bust Half last struck in 1839).  With a recognized degree of conjecture this likely sets an approximate ending period when Davignons were last minted from at least one generation but less than two generations beyond 1839 to an 1850s / 1870s date range estimate.  While this 1850s to 1870s date range is certainly not absolute it is a conservative estimate (i.e. if fellow collectors feel a need to adjust this date range keep in mind that as a guideline research consensus states that during the first half of the 19th century 20 to 25 years equaled one biological generation).  

         Within an approximate date range when Davignons were minted from as early as 1813 / 1814 to the 1850s / 1870s it is important to understand terminus post quem, that is, it is easy to mint and circulate a counterfeit coin dated in the past, but it is difficult to mint and circulate a counterfeit coin dated in the future.  By example an 1827 1/A Davignon variety could have been minted from as early as 1827, but not before 1827, to any year up to the 1850s / 1870s date range estimate.  This method to estimate the approximate date range from the earliest year to the last year range when a Davignon variety was minted though is just the beginning in that some groups of Davignon varieties that share common attributes may be refined further.

     

         For a group of Davignon varieties as late as around 1845 can be used to narrow the ending period of their approximate date range when they were minted.  In the already mentioned A Monograph of the Silver Dollar: Good and Bad by J. L. Riddell, published in 1845, 38 Capped Bust half dollar struck and cast counterfeits dated 1814 to 1839 obverses and reverses are pictured with brief descriptions "alerting banks, commerce, and all other readers".  This work by John Leonard Riddell, an employee of the New Orleans US Mint, alerted the public, likely stopping counterfeiters in short order from continuing to mint these specific Capped Bust half dollar counterfeit varieties (i.e. if they were yet being struck)A breakdown of Riddell’s 38 listed Capped Bust half dollar counterfeits is as follows:  

    • 30 of Riddell’s identified Capped Bust half dollar counterfeits are cross referenced within the descriptions of Davignon varieties to Riddell's 1845 Monograph listed numbers in both the Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars First Edition and 2nd Edition by Keith Davignon (i.e. see footnote 1 at the end of this article for these Davignon variety cross references).
    • Six of Riddell’s identified Capped Bust half dollar counterfeits can additionally be cross referenced to specific Davignon varieties that were not included in either the Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars First Edition nor 2nd Edition  (i.e. see footnote 2 at the end of this article for these additional Davignon variety cross references)
    • Two remaining Capped Bust half dollar counterfeits referenced by Riddell are not identified yet to any specific Davignon variety due to the monograph’s poor picture quality (i.e. see footnote 3 at the end of this article for these Riddell listed numbers).  

         The group of 36 Davignon varieties that can be cross referenced to Riddell’s Monograph listed numbers have an ending period as late as around 1845 for their approximate upper date range when minted.  By example the 1824 2/B Davignon variety listed by Riddell as Number 446 likely has an approximate date range when minted from as early as 1824 to as late as around 1845.   

     

         For a group of extremely common rarity Davignon varieties Riddell’s 1845 Monograph can also be used to conservatively narrow the earliest period to after 1845 for their approximate date range when they were minted.  It stands to reason if certain Davignon varieties are found to have extremely common rarity today these same varieties were just as likely to have been quite common if already known in 1845.  To show just how numerous the populations of these extremely common rarity varieties still remain it has been speculated by Keith Davignon that collectively they account for considerably more than half of the total surviving population of bogus halves!  It would seem impossible that extremely common rarity Davignon varieties such as the 1831 1/A, 1833 1/A, 1838 3/C and 1838 3/E would certainly have been listed by Riddell if known, yet none of these varieties are found in his 1845 monograph!  There is little speculation that the earliest period of an approximate date range is after 1845 when this group of extremely common rarity Davignon varieties not listed by Riddell were minted.  By example the 1838 3/E Davignon variety (i.e. today stated as probably the most common of all bogus bust halves) was not listed by Riddell and would have an approximate date range after 1845 to the 1850s / 1870s when minted (i.e. reference earlier analysis in this article for estimating an upper date range). 

     

        For the group of Davignon varieties that each have a known German silver specimen for their variety the earliest period can be narrowed to around the 1830s for an approximate earliest date range when they were minted.  Keith Davignon and Bradley Karoleff in Circulating Counterfeits of the Americas discuss Dr. Lewis Feuchwanger's metal (a.k.a. Feuchwanger's composition, or German silver). German silver was stated to be a new metal alloy of the 1830s comprised of copper, zinc and nickel.  This alloy was even suggested by Dr. Feuchwanger to the US Congress that the metal be used as a substitute for copper to mint small denomination coinage.  In fact, in 1837 Dr. Feuchwanger produced one-cent and three-cent trial pieces to promote the United States adopting German silver as an official metal for coins, to which he would profitably supply the planchets.  Davignon varieties struck in German silver are identified within their descriptions in the Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars First Edition and 2nd Edition.  It is significant to note that additional Davignon varieties continue to be found minted in German silver including the 1825 2/B, 1825 6/F, 1828 5/E, 1828 6/F, 1828 7/G, 1828 11/K and 1828 16/Q Davignon varieties (e.g. known from my own collection)All Davignon varieties with specimens found minted in German silver have an approximate date range narrowed from the 1830s to the 1850s / 1870s  (i.e. reference earlier analysis in this article for estimating an upper date range).  The approximate date range for struck Davignon varieties found in German silver also applies to other alloys found struck for the same Davignon varieties.  It stands to reason that the dies struck different alloy planchets that were available roughly during the same approximate period (i.e. also different alloys were thought to test the new dies of a Davignon variety).  Going even further, some Davignon varieties minted in German silver can use a combination of clues already discussed to narrow even further their approximate date ranges when minted.  For example, the Davignon 1826 3/C is found in German silver, placing from the 1830s when minted, but additionally the variety is listed by Riddell in his 1845 monograph too.  So the approximate date range for the 1826 3/C is from the 1830s to as late as around 1845 when minted. (Note - The dating from the 1830s is not absolute but extremely likely.  German silver in the 1830s became a readily available imitation alloy of a lesser known Chinese alloy paktong also comprised of copper, zinc and nickelPaktong resembles silver and was used occasionally as early as the eighteenth century and had been imported to England from China.)  

     

         For groups of Davignon varieties that have either the same obverse or reverse die there is a common narrowed approximate date range when they were struck.  A Davignon variety not listed in Riddell that has the same obverse or reverse die as a Davignon variety listed by Riddell in 1845 can be assumed to have been actively using the same die during the same approximate date range period.  Such an example is the 1821 2/B Davignon variety that is listed by Riddell, yet both the 1821 2/C and 1821 2/E Davignon varieties that used the same obverse die are not listed by Riddell.  Thus using the Riddell’s Monograph clue applicable to one of the related varieties, all three of these 1821 varieties would have been likely struck to as late as around 1845.  Further narrowing their same approximate date range when struck the 1821 2/B variety is also known in German silver (i.e. no specimens of either the 1821 2/C or 1821 2/E varieties are yet known in German silver)It can be reasoned that with the added 1821 2/B German silver clue all three of these 1821 varieties have a common narrower approximate date range when struck from the 1830s to as late as around 1845 (i.e. again because of the active use of a common die during the same approximate date range period)Although there are relatively few Davignon varieties which used same obverse or reverse dies known today, other varieties will likely be discovered with same dies and this technique can increasing be used to determine an approximate date range when Davignon varieties using the same die were struck. 

     

         There are exceptions though making it not possible to estimate approximate date ranges when certain counterfeit specimen exceptions were struck.  Muddying the efforts to estimate approximate date ranges are frustrating counterfeit specimens that intermingle characteristics of Davignon design trends and mid 20th century fakes.  Take for example the 1807 pictured below which has been tested to be an alloy of 64% copper, 31% zinc, 3% silver, 2% other metals, but has no nickel and thus is not Feuchwanger's German silver metal by definition (i.e. the alloy could have begun in part with a low grade of silver called billon, sometimes silver in color, ususally made of part silver and part copper).  This specimen’s obverse has Davignon characteristics of an after 1809 proportionally shorter and broader figure of a rounded cheek Liberty, plus oversized wirey stars that are more like those found in many 1820s Davignon varieties.  Confounding this specimen though is a Flowing Hair Type half dollar reverse of 1794 -1795!  The specimen has a non lettered edge without reeding with instead an edge filled with non uniformly spaced lines likely caused from extruding the oversized 33.81 mm planchet through the dies while in the press.  Could this mule specimen pictured below possibly be a trial strike of a Capped Bust obverse hand made die with an outdated Flowing Hair Type reverse hand made die (i.e. this reverse is not found in any known Flowing Hair Half Dollar contemporary counterfeit - see Before Davignons section in website)? More likely though this specimen is a broadstruck mid 20th century fake, manufactured when such mulings were known to have been created out of early US coinage ignorance.  Unresolved absolute answers to questions like these will continue to add difficulty in estimating approximate date ranges when particular counterfeit specimens were minted.

     

       

     

         Similar rule of thumb answers for estimating approximate date ranges when other varieties of contemporary counterfeits were struck are also needed.  Take for example the multiple specimens known of an 1833 dated half dollar that is a Liberty Seated Variety 3 - Arrows at Date No Rays 1854 – 1855, one of which is pictured below!   

       

       

         January, 2017 Update - Cited references to the 1850s / 1870s estimated upper date range for when contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves continued to minted should be reconsidered instead to be up to the 1850s / 1860s.  Findings shared by a fellow collector shows strong evidence that between the Civil War until the end of Reconstruction, approximately 1861-1875/7, silver coins were not being counterfeited again until after the Reconstruction.  Newspaper reports of the era stated that those silver coins that were counterfeited after Reconstruction were of the Liberty Seated Mint Type, most likely because this was the Mint Type design most numerous in general circulation.

     

    1. Davignon varieties referenced (i.e. with added latest rarity updates found in the Census section in this website) to listed numbers made by Riddell in 1845:

    Davignon 1814 1/A cross referenced (i.e. no pieces yet reported) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 440,

    Davignon 1817 1/A cross referenced (i.e. no pieces yet reported) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 441,

    Davignon 1818 1/A cross (i.e. rare rarity) referenced to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 442,

    Davignon 1821 1/A cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 443,

    Davignon 1824 2/B cross referenced (i.e. very scarce rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 446,

    Davignon 1826 2/B cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 448,

    Davignon 1826 3/C cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 449,

    Davignon 1827 2/B cross referenced (i.e. no pieces yet reported) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 450,

    Davignon 1828 2/B cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 451,

    Davignon 1828 3/C cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 452,

    Davignon 1828 4/D cross referenced (i.e. scarce rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 453,

    Davignon 1829 3/C cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 455,

    Davignon 1830 5/E cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 456,

    Davignon 1831 4/D cross referenced (i.e. rare  rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 457,

    Davignon 1832 4/D cross referenced (i.e. no pieces yet reported) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 459,

    Davignon 1832 5/E cross referenced  (i.e. very common rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 460,

    Davignon 1833 4/D cross referenced (i.e. very scarce rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 464,

    Davignon 1833 9/I cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 461,

    Davignon 1833 10/J cross referenced (i.e. very scarce rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 462,

    Davignon 1833 11/K cross referenced (i.e. very scarce rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 463,

    Davignon 1833 12/L cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 465,

    Davignon 1834 3/C cross referenced (i.e. no pieces yet reported) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 467,

    Davignon 1834 4/D cross referenced (i.e. no pieces yet reported) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 468,

    Davignon 1836 2/B cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 469,

    Davignon 1836 3/C cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 470,

    Davignon 1837 3/C cross referenced (i.e. common rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 472,

    Davignon 1838 2/B cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 473,

    Davignon 1838 16/Q cross referenced (i.e. no pieces yet reported) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 474,

    Davignon 1839-O 1/A cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 475,

    Davignon 1839 2/B cross referenced (i.e. rare rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 476,

    Davignon 1839 3/C cross referenced (i.e. very scarce rarity) to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 477.

     

    2. Davignon varieties previously not referenced in their descriptions (i.e. with added latest rarity updates found in the Census section in this website) to listed numbers made by Riddell in 1845:

    Davignon 1822 1/A description (i.e. common rarity) not cross referenced to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 444,

    Davignon 1823 1/A description (i.e. extremely common rarity) not cross referenced to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 445,

    Davignon 1825 1/A description (i.e. extremely common rarity) not cross referenced to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 447,

    Davignon 1832 12/L description (i.e. rare rarity) not cross referenced to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 458,

    Davignon 1833 2/B description (i.e. very common rarity) not cross referenced to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph No. 466,

    Davignon 1836-O 4/D description (i.e. scarce rarity) not cross referenced to Riddell’s 1845 Monograph as No. 471.

     

    3. Listed number made by Riddell in 1845 monograph that is not cross referenced to a Davignon variety:

    1829 listed in Riddell’s 1845 Monograph as No. 454,

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    NC by Larry Schmidt - July, 2012  (with June, 2015 update)

    Making the numismatic headlines of 2012's late spring was ANACS attribution of the seventh NC-3 1795 large cent.  What does this have to do with collecting contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves?  NC,  the coin collecting acronym for "Not Collectable" denoting a unique or nearly unique coin, certainly can apply to many of our Davignon varieties, but in 2012's late spring too there was a much more quiet NC related breaking headline for our hobby.  The NC barrier was broken for the 1836-O 4/D, a cornerstone of our hobby that is pictured on the cover of the 2nd Edition.  The known population of Davignon 1836-O 4/Ds increased to make the variety a collectable Scarce rarity rating! 

    The 1836-O 4/D's change in rarity is representative of the continuing dynamics of our hobby.  Reported populations continue to rise of known specimens for varieties adjusting their rarity ratings (e.g. see the updated rarities within the Census section of our website for continued adjusted variety designations   noting that by the June 1, 2015 ccCBHcc.com Census the cumulative count reporting from collectors participating in the census further updated the 1836-O 4/D variety to a Common rarity rating).  Within these increases in known specimen populations are included higher grade specimen finds giving a much, much greater understanding for a variety (i.e. see the latest high grade specimens found in the 2nd Edition Errors / Changes section of this website).  And yes, counterbalancing all this new variety discoveries continue to be made .... our own latest NCs (i.e. see New Discoveries section of this website).  

     

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    Rarity and Collecting by Larry Schmidt - December, 2011

    In Keith Davignon's 2nd Edition our world of collecting contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves is described as one where "more than half of the surviving population of bogus halves consists of only five to ten 'extremely common' die varieties", and yet "the great majority of the different varieties known are quite scarce relative to genuine coins"  (i.e. today over half of the die varieties are unique with only one specimen known).  Add to these two descriptive dynamics an understanding that our collecting world is far from static!  14 new varieties have already been discovered since the publication of the 2nd Edition (i.e. see New Discovery section on website).  Additional specimen finds continue to be made for known die varieties, in many instances redesignating prior rarity levels (i.e. see Census section in website for rarity redesignations, plus keep in mind unreported collection inventories not included in the census).  It can be expected that rarity redesignations are to continue, especially for struck varieties which account for four out of five of all known varieties, assuming contemporary counterfeiters would have struck as many counterfeits as possible from their laboriously crafted dies.

    Where then does rarity fit in our world of collecting contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves?  Look beyond what seems like a never ending supply of 'extremely common' rarity die variety finds, where your next find might be the discovery coin of a new die variety.  Where your next find might be the second specimen of a previous 'only one known specimen rare' die variety.  Where your next find might be an additional specimen for a Davignon designated 'scare rarity' variety (i.e. of 6 to 9 known) that combined with your recent find is now redesignated as a 'common rarity' die variety (i.e. 10 to 19 known).  Begin to think of rarity designations as fleeting, constantly changing from the ongoing finds made by yourself and fellow collectors.

    Consider not looking at rarity designations in collecting.  Focus rather on collecting that which is of your greatest personal interest in contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves. Are the Mexican Head varieties your keenest interest? Is your greatest desire the impossible varieties of 10 or 12 or 14 stars or 1840s? What about multiple strike contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves?  While there are many other specialized directions that one may take, a single specialized direction might seem far reaching for many collectors today.  As your collection grows though it is likely a question that you may ask yourself in the future.

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    Variation or New Variety? Part 2   by Larry Schmidt - June, 2011

    Since the original Variation or Variety? article was written for the Collectors Corner further comparisons have been made of other contemporary counterfeit Capped Bust halves (ccCBh) varieties.  These additional comparisons have formed key understandings between variations of the same Davignon variety verses similar but distinct Davignon varieties which are described below: 

     Even if a ccCBh when struck had not transferred all design elements from the die it is regardless the same Davignon variety.  This is a pretty bold statement to make when more often than not so few specimens of many varieties are known and are available for comparison. One example of not all the design elements transferring from the die are the 1827 1/A specimens compared in the original Variation or Variety? article in which one specimen has the variety's signature raised triangular eye while the other specimen's triangular eye portion of the design is totally omitted.  A second example of omitted design detail is a fine / very fine specimen of an 1833 2/B that has no period following the 50 C on the reverse.  These examples of omitted design detail of known Davignon varieties are the result of either; 1) too much grease left in a die and / or dirt having filled a die cavity and thus not permitting all detail to have transferred from the die to the planchet when struck, or 2) die wear created areas that no longer transferred all design detail to the planchet when struck.  Additionally, different types of planchet metals can show significant variation in the strength of design detail, while off-struck or multi-struck specimens can obliterate design detail.  It is important to remember that counterfeiters, though skilled, did not necessarily maintain the same high quality controls of the US Mint and thus variations of design detail omissions as represented by these examples can be expected to continue to be discovered.

    A ccCBh's that has different design detail placement to other known Davignon varieties for the same date point to the discovery of a new Davignon variety. If there are any location differences of a ccCBh obverse's stars, date numerals, Liberty, etc., or the reverse's LES, RES, alignment of legend lettering to scroll lettering, arrows, 50 C., etc. to known Davignon varieties for the same date then a new Davignon variety has been discovered that may be very similar but is none the less distinct.  Many similar but distinct Davignon varieties are already known including multiple obverse / reverse marriages (these different die marriages perhaps hinting at an active die exchange between counterfeiters).  A list of similar yet distinct Davignons noted in the Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars, 2nd Edition that can be expected to expand includes; 1815 4/D vs 4/E, 1821 2/B vs 2/C vs 2/E, 1822 2/B vs 2/I, 1828 1/A vs 1/P, 1829 2/B vs 8/H vs 8/I vs 8/O vs 11/B, 1830 2/B vs 2/N, 1830 16/R vs 24/R, 1832 2/B vs 3/B vs 3/C, 1833 33/X vs 24/X vs 41/X, 1833 19/S vs 19/BB, 1835 9/I vs 9/R, 1838 3/C vs 3/E vs 1833 1/A vs 1835 5/E.

    Regardless of recuts and/or repairs made to a ccCBh die, the same die was used to strike variations of the same Davignon variety.  Recuts made for design adjustments or to complete repairs in the case of chipped dies or broken / welded dies should be considered variations (i.e. die states) of the same Davignon variety. One example of this variation is the 1825 2/B plate coin in the 2nd Edition showing a specimen without any four pointed stars yet this Davignon variety is known to have some stars recut with only four points (e.g. S4, S6, S11, S12, S13).  A second example of this type of variation is a discovered 1835 12/L with a base of the E in STATES that is not crooked though the middle horizontal t-bar in the E has added material which appears to be all part of a poor recut. The quality of recuts and / or repairs were sometimes of low workmanship, perhaps just good enough to get the die back into the press to strike more counterfeits.  As collectors we need to keep in mind that counterfeiters probably kept striking their dies to produce as many counterfeits as possible until their dies literally fell apart and were beyond repair.  Thus recuts and repairs will likely continue to be discovered as our collecting hobby matures.

    Low grade ccCBh's can make identification of Davignon variety variations verses similar yet distinct Davignon varieties a never ending challenge.  Further compounding this challenge the coin grade of specimens can vary significantly between the obverse and reverse, or are weakly struck overall as some counterfeiters attempted to fool the public into thinking that their freshly struck counterfeits had been in general circulation for some time as shown by their imitated worn state. Keeping all this in mind the following guidelines are presented as summary rules of thumb for the fine line of identifying a ccCBh to be a variety variation or a distinct new variety:

    1.  Omitted design elements of a known Davignon variety are a variation and not a new variety.

    2.  Differences in design detail placement to known Davignon variety detail placement for the same date point to a discovery variety even if very similar.

    3.  Recuts or telltale repairs are variations of the same Davignon variety.

     

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    True and False Follow-up by Larry Schmi