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Indians, Quarter Eagles, and Peace Dollars

What are the U.S. gold coins for which I should be most watchful regarding their possibility of being counterfeit?

Any $1 gold, Indian $2.50 quarter eagles and $5 half eagle coins, and all $3 gold coins are of the greatest concern. Some statistics I’ve seen suggest these four areas represent about 90 percent of all the counterfeit gold coins received by the major coin certification services.

Was there any logic to commencing striking 1921 Peace dollars so late in that year? Why didn’t the mint wait until 1922 to introduce the new design?

The new design was introduced by the Director of the Mint with approval of the Secretary of the Treasury and the blessings of the Commission on Fine Arts under excessive public pressure exerted by among others the American Numismatic Association. It doesn’t appear to have been a concern that by striking the new design so late in the year it would become a significant collectible.

A friend of mine insists his 1922 Peace Dollar is rare, based on something he saw on television. I say it is a common date coin. Can you explain this?

Rick Harrison from the television program Pawn Stars caused some confusion when a High Relief 1922 Peace dollar was shown on the program. The higher relief design used for a single week during 1921 proved to be a problem soon after using the same relief was tried to mass-produce 1922 silver dollars. Compare any 1921 Peace dollar to that of 1922 if you think you have a High Relief variety for 1922. They are similar, but not identical.

Is there a ‘field test’ I can use to ensure I am not purchasing a counterfeit Indian $2.50 quarter eagle or a $5 half eagle coin?

The best way to purchase these coins is encapsulated by a well-recognized third party certification service. When encountering a ‘raw’ example look for tooling marks both inside and at the back of the neck of the Indian as well as depressions in the fields. The color of the metal in the depressions should be brighter than that of the surrounding surface on genuine coins.

Raised die polish lines help authenticate many U.S. coins. Will this help authenticate an Indian $2.50 quarter eagle or $5 half eagle?

The incuse design on these two coin types makes it a problem to find raised die polish lines for authentication purposes. Look in the crescent of the headdress and in the recessed areas in front of the eagle’s left wing. These die polish lines will still be challenging to find, even there.