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1882 $3 commonly counterfeited U.S. coin


clinic0415.jpgWhat?s the most counterfeited U.S. coin?

This question gets several answers as there doesn?t seem to be general agreement. The old ANACS said the 1882 $3 gold is the winner, with the 1916-D dime in second place. Hancock and Spanbauer said that the 1950-D is the most counterfeited nickel. The British Royal Mint, which authenticates coins, lists the 1853 $1 gold. Undoubtedly there are other contenders, such as the 1943 steel cent on brass, etc.


What is the dollar increment for the numbers in the numerical grading system?

This is a frequently repeating question because of the confusion over the fact that the numbers apply only to the exact amount of wear, and not to the value. The present system is based on the old one designed by Dr. William Sheldon. In that system, a coin worth $1 in grade 1 was worth $70 in grade 70. It?s impossible to apply such a system to the present grading standards and coin market.


Do the shields used on U.S. coins follow the customs of Heraldry?

They seem to be variations of the pointed Nordic and English shield, which is one of the four basic shields recognized by various Heraldic rules. The other three are the round shield of Asiatic countries, the curved point shield of France and Central Europe, and the rounded shield of Spain and Portugal. One source, commenting on such variations, says, ?Dozens of other shields exist, many quite impossible or pure fantasy. One is wise to leave them alone.?


What is the significance of the diamonds in grading Indian Head cents?

Just as the horns on Buffalo nickels are used as a grading indicator, the Indian Head cents were often graded by the number of diamonds showing on the Indian?s headdress. There are four diamonds on the hair ribbon, which happens to be the first point to show wear. If you use them to grade a coin, use a magnifier to make sure that someone hasn?t sharpened up the diamonds with an engraving tool to enhance the grade.


What is a ?rat head? cent?

1817 cents with a small die break on the head are nicknamed rat head, snail, mouse or dolphin. Actually, there are four or five dies with a nearly identical break. One has 1-817 spacing, and one has 181-7 spacing.


Address questions to Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions. Include a loose 41-cent stamp for reply. Write first for specific mailing instructions before submitting numismatic material. We cannot accept unsolicited items. E-mail inquiries should be sent to Answerman2@aol.com.

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