1798 S-158 Large Cent Counterfeit Attribution
With the improvements in die struck counterfeits, I've become more and more weary of low grade early coins, with the reasoning being that wear can hide counterfeit details.
Here's an article by Jack D. Young / @burfle23 on CoinWeek discussing the 1798 "S-158" / 1st Hair Style Large Cent, referencing a struck counterfeit that was slabbed by multiple top TPGs and sold by top ranked auction houses. This was researched by EAC members and published in the Penny-Wise publication. The great thing about the story here is that once the fakes became known, the TPGs are able to handle this under their grade guarantee. Of course, while some people want to get reimbursed, others may want to keep these as collectibles and may even pay a premium for them!
While I've grown weary of these coins, if I were going to buy them, I'd buy them from large auction houses and top TPGs that have strong incentives to make collectors whole, which is what this article talks about. It's also important to be part of the collector groups for the coins of choice, e.g. EAC, LSCC, etc.
Do you collect low grade early Federal coinage or colonials? If so, how do you protect yourself?
Here's a short excerpt from the article covering the diagnostics.
In the fall of 2015 a fellow EAC’er (member of the Early American Coppers Club) alerted the EAC Copper Notes group to an apparent deceptive fake 1798 large cent, changing how many of us view the hobby going forward! From the discussions this prompted in that forum and the following Penny-Wise articles written on the subject we suddenly became aware of a new level of “struck counterfeits” (actually I’ve been told the correct term is fake, replica, etc. since early copper isn’t “current currency”), so genuine appearing that this one, and ultimately many others were in top tier TPG holders. This example, a supposed “S-158” appeared to be a new variety, an “improbable die state” as another respected long-time EAC member noted, or in fact fake.
The “Y” in LIBERTY was too long for any known 1798 large cent, the reverse die break was partially tooled away as not seen for this variety before, and there were a series of blemishes including “dimples” on the bust as struck. The notice of this one opened the floodgate, as I found another example on eBay, then another member reported a 3rd, and then a 4th appeared again on eBay, eventually adding up to eight total documented examples currently, all with common “dimples”, scratches and other circulation marks, which just can’t be. These are all apparently in the dies, impressing these common identifiers in all examples struck; individual pieces have other marks, damage and inflicted “weathering”, possibly to try to hide the truth, but a diligent eye can still help flush them out.
Here are the diagnostic images from the article: