Privately Made Question

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raynat3
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Privately Made Question

Post by raynat3 » Sun Nov 24, 2019 4:41 pm

Are there theories or facts as to why the contemporary counterfeits (privately made) that are listed appear to first start with 1893 date?

Kissov
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by Kissov » Sun Nov 24, 2019 8:14 pm

Without any research whatsoever, perhaps the price of silver was relatively low at that time and made such counterfeits were more profitable than previously.

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CascadeChris
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by CascadeChris » Sun Nov 24, 2019 8:29 pm

@dcarr @vampicker & @messydesk would be the possible go-to's on this question.
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messydesk
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by messydesk » Sun Nov 24, 2019 10:21 pm

Facts, no. Theories, yes. Availability of host coins in adequate condition at the time they were made. As of only a few years ago, the earliest was thought to have been 1896, but that has changed, and now it's 1893. No telling whether or not there's anything earlier out there without looking for it. Wouldn't a 92-O VAM 5 obverse with a C4/C3 reverse be cool?
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RogerB
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by RogerB » Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:59 am

The subject of counterfeit silver dollars of various dates, but of similar characteristics is one of those “numismatic mysteries” that begs speculation and inventive explanations. Over the years I’ve been on the lookout for anything mentioning these coins or circumstances that might help understand them better.

The first economic factor in counterfeiting any silver coin is the cost of materials – in this case silver. The second is fabrication sufficient to allow unquestioned acceptance of the coin by merchants. Third is distribution by methods that do not attract attention by over-supply within a limited geographic area.

Obviously, the “popular” and once called “authentic” by notable coin authentication companies, are an ideal example of all three factors. Here are some thoughts and sample letters mentioning silver dollar counterfeits identified within the period of suspected manufacture.

The market price of fine silver (0.999) fell precipitously between 1892 and 1894, dropping from an annual average of 87-cent in 1892 to 63-cents in 1894; it never rose above 68-cents over the next 20 years. As can be seen from the FRB table a silver dollar coin was worth only about 50-cents in metal; or, $1.26 in silver could be used to make $2.00 in dollar coins. Almost any high-silver alloy would look like coin silver, and sterling scrap was available for the small cost of melting. Further, members will recall that XRF tests on some of the counterfeit dollars show predominantly Sterling silver alloy. Again, easily accessed sources of metal.

Fabrication was not as difficult as many would assume. Dies were made by careful electrotyping. This had been demonstrated in the 1880s by the Royal Mint’s creation of a two-headed Morgan dollar that U.S. Mint officers and Secret Service considered almost undetectable. In the late 1830s Franklin Peale and Joseph Saxton made virtually perfect copy dies from medals at the US Mint using the same technique. Blanks could be cut from rolled metal, adjusted by file, and stamped using a simple drop forge. Pieces thus made would have a normal metallic ring. Manufacturing technology of the 1890s made this both feasible and practical.

With a tidy 63% gross margin the ideal distribution areas were the Mississippi Valley and Southern states – places were silver dollars were common and local populations less likely to question the fakes – especially good looking ones. If the counterfeits were initially a bit rough, a few minutes of tumbling with dirt would take the “edge” off.

The two letters below reveal the possible detection of counterfeit Morgan dollars by 1896 and their wide distribution just a few months later. This implies distribution beginning at least in early 1896. In any case, hope members find this little essay interesting and possibly informative.
Attachments
18970204 Counterfeit silver dollars_Page_1.jpg
18970204 Counterfeit silver dollars_Page_1.jpg (187.39 KiB) Viewed 392 times
18970204 Counterfeit silver dollars_Page_2.jpg
18970204 Counterfeit silver dollars_Page_2.jpg (179.71 KiB) Viewed 392 times
18961207 Counterfeit dollar mfgr rumors_Page_1.jpg
18961207 Counterfeit dollar mfgr rumors_Page_1.jpg (190.85 KiB) Viewed 392 times
Price of silver.jpg
Price of silver.jpg (173.93 KiB) Viewed 392 times

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vampicker
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by vampicker » Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:14 pm

I had published a theory years ago but it fell apart when more facts came to light. A well circulated example of the 1900-O VAM 5 (listed as microscopic o) appears in the Neil auction in the 1940's. The pieces in the 'Micro O' family are almost all die linked, so I'm dubious of an origin before the latest date found. I think that is still 1902. I've also seen an example with the date 1905 scratched into it, strongly suggesting these things were around shortly after 05.
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dave700x
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by dave700x » Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:15 pm

Very interesting and informative thread!
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Longstrider
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by Longstrider » Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:33 pm

Very interesting. I enjoy reading these posts and reading the original letters. History. Thanks.

RogerB
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by RogerB » Mon Nov 25, 2019 5:25 pm

The pieces might have been made at any time after the dates on coins - or over a period of several years. They do not seem to be rare - almost in the "Henning counterfeit nickel" category.

vamsterdam
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by vamsterdam » Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:18 am

Interesting idea but, as has been stated, I don’t see them being made before the date on th coins. Whoever did it had a pretty fair knowledge of how to make uniform blanks of the proper diameter , and how to make dies. One is an obvious doubled die for which no genuine morgan example is known.

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Unc90o
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by Unc90o » Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:26 am

IMO, it has to be after 1900 due to the fact C4/C3 and C4 rev was not introduce until then.

dcarr
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by dcarr » Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:10 am

RogerB wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 5:25 pm
The pieces might have been made at any time after the dates on coins - or over a period of several years. They do not seem to be rare - almost in the "Henning counterfeit nickel" category.
As a whole, there is a pretty good quantity of them.
But all are rare in higher grades (EF-AU-UNC).
Some die pairs have only one or two specimens known.

collectinsince65
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by collectinsince65 » Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:41 pm

What a great thread!
Learned alot from reading everyone's posts.

Started hunting for these counterfeits during the summer.
Found this one back in July
Just back from PCGS bulk 4 this morning
1896-o AU53 VAM-22

Mike

CaptHenway
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by CaptHenway » Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:39 pm

Greetings all.

I recently read a theory that the linked group counterfeit coins were made at an official but not currently working northern Mexico Mint during the Mexican Revolution of 1914-15. The coins may then have been used to buy arms and ammunition. Chihuahua was suggested as one possible mint.

No proof was offered but the idea is plausible. Has anybody else heard of this suggestion? If so, what do you think of it?

Does anybody think that precise elemental testing of some genuine Mexican coins from the northern mints of the period and the linked counterfeits might be successful in proving, or disproving, a link?

TD

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CascadeChris
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by CascadeChris » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:35 pm

CaptHenway wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:39 pm
Greetings all.

I recently read a theory that the linked group counterfeit coins were made at an official but not currently working northern Mexico Mint during the Mexican Revolution of 1914-15. The coins may then have been used to buy arms and ammunition. Chihuahua was suggested as one possible mint.

No proof was offered but the idea is plausible. Has anybody else heard of this suggestion? If so, what do you think of it?

Does anybody think that precise elemental testing of some genuine Mexican coins from the northern mints of the period and the linked counterfeits might be successful in proving, or disproving, a link?

TD
If that were the case, they would have just used 90% planchets and not varying purities of 92%-96% sterling, no?
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CaptHenway
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by CaptHenway » Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:27 am

The precise fineness did not matter, did it? The coins passed quite well in circulation.

Locally mined silver, crudely refined and struck. Why not?

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CascadeChris
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by CascadeChris » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:46 am

CaptHenway wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:27 am
The precise fineness did not matter, did it? The coins passed quite well in circulation.

Locally mined silver, crudely refined and struck. Why not?
My response was based on something I didn't catch, that the mint wasn't in operation. Carry on Cap.
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messydesk
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by messydesk » Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:11 pm

CaptHenway wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:39 pm
Greetings all.

I recently read a theory that the linked group counterfeit coins were made at an official but not currently working northern Mexico Mint during the Mexican Revolution of 1914-15. The coins may then have been used to buy arms and ammunition. Chihuahua was suggested as one possible mint.

No proof was offered but the idea is plausible. Has anybody else heard of this suggestion? If so, what do you think of it?

Does anybody think that precise elemental testing of some genuine Mexican coins from the northern mints of the period and the linked counterfeits might be successful in proving, or disproving, a link?

TD
I hadn't heard that theory yet, but it is plausible. There was only about 40-45c worth of silver in a dollar coin then, so making it into fake dollars would have stretched your peso, especially if you minimized startup costs by using an existing mint. We could put our theories together and say that the New Orleans mob assisted with their distribution, I guess. Heck, maybe the mob used a Mexican mint and paid a kickback. It is a little far west, though, and I'm not sure that their influence would have included west Texas then.

Elemental analysis should be able to show that it may be or cannot be locally mined. Most are Sterling silver, so assortments of alloys inconsistent with refining them in Chihuahua would seem to shoot the theory down.

There are some circumstances that could challenge that theory -- the high grade of an 1896-dated host coin, one coin with "1905" engraved on it, why no S mint reverses -- but nothing that, to use a favorite word of a certain author, "refutes" it.
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vamsterdam
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by vamsterdam » Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:06 pm

Jb- could you explain your comment about a high grade 1896o host coin?

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messydesk
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Re: Privately Made Question

Post by messydesk » Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:17 pm

vamsterdam wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:06 pm
Jb- could you explain your comment about a high grade 1896o host coin?
18 years may be a little long for an 1896 silver coin released into circulation to still have sufficient detail to make a decent looking fake. It's not impossible, however.
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