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1798 One Cent contemporary counterfeit...or something else?

Greetings all.

I found a coin recently on an archaeology site and am looking for any information on it, as it certainly doesn't appear to be a mint-struck coin. The coin in question is dated 1798 and the pattern is that of a Draped Bust one cent. However, it is only 26mm (it is missing the beaded rim), weighs 2.1 grams, and is 0.5mm thick. The measurement differences are not due to wear. I've included photographs (or rather links to Google photos; I don't seem able to embed images in the post), though they are rather poor, as the coin has proven difficult to photograph due to the low relief and general "mushiness" of the features.

I suspect that this is a contemporary counterfeit, though I cannot imagine anyone that had ever held a real one cent being fooled by it. Perhaps it is along the lines of so-called "evasion coins" of England? A 1773 counterfeit British halfpenny was also recovered from the site, though those are common enough.

Thank you for any information or insights!

HAJ

Obverse: https://photos.app.goo.gl/rsCR4KfcNPACf7jJ6
Reverse: https://photos.app.goo.gl/x6WhRQG7FnWBiCqP7

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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

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    PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 45,432 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Probably real but heavily corroded. It would be impossible to authenticate a coin that is extremely corroded.

    Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.

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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @HAJ said:

    .
    as a new member, you don't have all privileges yet. i'm not sure anyone here can offer an expert opinion from those images.

    from the images, imo, it looks more like an acid-eaten coin than just a ground corroded one but we need better ones to offer up a solid assessment.

    1798 Has a draped bust with 2 different hair styles. images courtesy of CF.


    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

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    cmerlo1cmerlo1 Posts: 7,891 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Might have spent a long time at the bottom of an outhouse.

    You Suck! Awarded 6/2008- 1901-O Micro O Morgan, 8/2008- 1878 VAM-123 Morgan, 9/2022 1888-O VAM-1B3 H8 Morgan | Senior Regional Representative- ANACS Coin Grading. Posted opinions on coins are my own, and are not an official ANACS opinion.
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    moursundmoursund Posts: 3,207 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @cmerlo1 said:
    Might have spent a long time at the bottom of an outhouse.

    That is where the expression "spend a penny" came from...

    100th pint of blood donated 7/19/2022 B) . Transactions with WilliamF, Relaxn, LukeMarshal, jclovescoins, braddick, JWP, Weather11am, Fairlaneman, Dscoins, lordmarcovan, Collectorcoins, SurfinxHI, JimW. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that who so believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @cmerlo1 said:
    Might have spent a long time at the bottom of an outhouse.

    that is a good point. i guess kids were as prone to eating coins in 1798 as they are today!

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

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    Thank you for the replies.

    I realize that the images I shared are of poor quality and therefore difficult to work with. Even with the coin in hand, it is hard to see much detail.

    The appearance of acid etching is a result of the corrosion/toning on the coin coming off. The coin was found on a site that dates from approximately 1770-1830, so the condition is a result of whatever wear and tear it suffered while being used, and then being in the ground for 200 +/- years.

    The low relief of the coin images and letters is not solely a result of wear- if the details were removed (worn down) completely, what remains would be wafer thin. In other words, I do not believe that this coin ever had any real thickness to it.

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    moursundmoursund Posts: 3,207 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LanceNewmanOCC said:

    @cmerlo1 said:
    Might have spent a long time at the bottom of an outhouse.

    that is a good point. i guess kids were as prone to eating coins in 1798 as they are today!

    I hope not! Kids were smaller, pennies were WAY bigger, and probably the penny was a whole day's wages. :astonished:

    100th pint of blood donated 7/19/2022 B) . Transactions with WilliamF, Relaxn, LukeMarshal, jclovescoins, braddick, JWP, Weather11am, Fairlaneman, Dscoins, lordmarcovan, Collectorcoins, SurfinxHI, JimW. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that who so believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
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    airplanenutairplanenut Posts: 21,909 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Remember that when a coin is struck, the density of metal changes based on where there is or isn't a design element. As a coin corrodes, if it does so evenly, some of the design may, for lack of a better term, move into the coin so the coin itself gets thinner, but design elements remain. Imagine the coin were made from a stack of thin sheets of plastic. Corrosion is peeling off a sheet at a time--one layer that includes the design and the fields--which is not the same as wear, which would rub off the layers at the highest points.

    When coins get badly corroded some design elements can definitely remain, and the coin can take on somewhat of a wonky look. Your coin could be counterfeit, but given that it's not a rare coin in the grand scheme of things, the fact that it's badly corroded doesn't make me think it's not genuine just because it looks bad. At the very least the presence of corrosion certainly can explain why the coin looks the way it does.

    JK Coin Photography - eBay Consignments | High Quality Photos | LOW Prices | 20% of Consignment Proceeds Go to Pancreatic Cancer Research
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    airplanenutairplanenut Posts: 21,909 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I should add to my comment above that this is exactly the theory behind using acid to restore the dates on buffalo nickels. Granted the acid corrodes the date area in a matter of seconds, but even when the date is invisible, the density differences of the metal in the date area cause it to be eaten away unevenly, revealing the date. It's a different catalyst for corrosion (and it works much faster) but it operates on the same principle.

    JK Coin Photography - eBay Consignments | High Quality Photos | LOW Prices | 20% of Consignment Proceeds Go to Pancreatic Cancer Research
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    opportunityopportunity Posts: 1,008 ✭✭✭✭

    I think it's most likely genuine, but could have been exposed to not only the environment, but also some sort of chemical exposure. That's basically a guess, I can't tell for sure unless I see it in hand. Chemicals can do weird things to coins, copper especially.

    Early American Copper, Bust and Seated.

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    @airplanenut said:
    Remember that when a coin is struck, the density of metal changes based on where there is or isn't a design element. As a coin corrodes, if it does so evenly, some of the design may, for lack of a better term, move into the coin so the coin itself gets thinner, but design elements remain. Imagine the coin were made from a stack of thin sheets of plastic. Corrosion is peeling off a sheet at a time--one layer that includes the design and the fields--which is not the same as wear, which would rub off the layers at the highest points.

    When coins get badly corroded some design elements can definitely remain, and the coin can take on somewhat of a wonky look. Your coin could be counterfeit, but given that it's not a rare coin in the grand scheme of things, the fact that it's badly corroded doesn't make me think it's not genuine just because it looks bad. At the very least the presence of corrosion certainly can explain why the coin looks the way it does.

    Food for thought, thank you.

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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting find.... the corrosion/wear really make it impossible to determine authenticity IMO.... That being said, if I found it under those conditions, I would certainly keep it and put a written history with it. Cheers, RickO

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    WAYNEASWAYNEAS Posts: 6,350 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Definitely has a lot of miles on it.
    Still a great memento.
    Wayne

    Kennedys are my quest...

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    OldhoopsterOldhoopster Posts: 2,930 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Based on the find context, I think its a very high probability that the coin is an authentic US large cent.

    Copper is a very reactive metal and the appearance is consistent with exposure to a corrosive environment, IMO. It could be the localized soil conditions or long term fertilizer applications.

    Were any other metallic artifacts found in the vicinity during the archeological dig and are they heavily corroded?

    Member of the ANA since 1982
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    Many people seem to think that this is authentic. A remaining question I have in regards to that is, how would a coin lose 80% of its weight (10.9grams to 2.1 grams), yet still retain traces of the design on both sides? In addition, how would it lose 3mm of size evenly?

    While I am certainly not a coin expert (hence why I am here), I do have a good amount of experience with metals and conservation. Given that, I do not believe the condition (other than the surface appearance) of this coin is purely a result of corrosion and being buried for a few hundred years. Please don't take this as me rejecting opinions after I asked for them- I appreciate them all, and also realize that coins such as this will be outside of many peoples' experience- I am just trying to come to terms with the metrics of this coin and what they "should be". It is the metrics that made me think it was a contemporary counterfeit to begin with.

    @Oldhoopster said:
    Copper is a very reactive metal and the appearance is consistent with exposure to a corrosive environment, IMO. It could be the localized soil conditions or long term fertilizer applications.

    Were any other metallic artifacts found in the vicinity during the archeological dig and are they heavily corroded?

    The soils in the area do have some acidity to them; the condition of copper alloy items in the vicinity are hit or miss. The site produced about 4 dozen copper alloy buttons, most of which are in rather good condition other than some surface pitting similar to have is seen on the coin. Silver from the site is in fantastic condition (no coins, though), pewter is rough, lead is good, iron is poor to excellent.

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    OldhoopsterOldhoopster Posts: 2,930 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As someone mentioned early,acid will attack all surfaces evenly, unless there is a significant difference n densities. Think of the ions from the acid coming into contact with the copper surface of the coin. Why would it only react with the high points when it's in contact with the entire surface? It's going to react with all the surfaces more or less equally. The corners/edges usually see more erosion, but you see that in the mushy appearance.

    Back in grad school, I occasionally soaked coins in nitric acid. They eroded just like your coin, with the details still identifiable. If you have access to some acid in your conservation lab, pour a little into a breaker and toss in some change. Guarantee that will convince you

    It's understandable why one would think that acid would attack the high points first. We see lots of mechanical abrasion/erosion around us. But if you think through how acid reacts with metal surfaces, the appearance of the coin makes a lot of sense. If you're able, I would highly recommend soaking a few coins yourself

    Hope this helps

    Member of the ANA since 1982
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    @Oldhoopster said:
    If you're able, I would highly recommend soaking a few coins yourself

    I've done numerous ill-advised things to excavated coins and metal while trying to clean them over the course of my career. Acids, bases, mechanical cleaning, electrolysis, etc. While your theory is interesting, and you are certainly correct regarding how an acid would eat away at a coin versus normal wear and tear, I still don't think that is the answer for this coin. Primarily because the surface is smooth, not unevenly pitted, which is my experience with metal corrosion. I understand that looking at the coin photo it may look pitted, but this is damage from cleaning- basically it is pits from the degraded/corroded metal being removed. In other words, it is recent pitting. If you could hold the coin you would understand what I mean, but unfortunately you just have poor photographs to go by. Thank you for your opinion, though!

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    BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,484 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That piece looks like an Indian cent I had many years ago that had been dipped for a long time in acid. The piece was close to paper thin, and the design devices were shadows of what they had once been. Here is a 1798 large cent in fairly high grade one can use to compare the piece.


    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
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    CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,603 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BillJones just a gorgeous coin! I would love to have that in my collection.

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"

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