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PCGS identifies doctored copper

A coin doctor’s excellent work did not slip by Professional Coin Grading Service graders.

Mike Sherman recently pointed out that an elusive 1792 Washington Eagle Cent – 13-star reverse, lettered-edge piece showed up at the grading service in a lot better shape than when it was last seen.

Detective work by PCGS showed that the coin at top was actually a doctored coin that had started out looking like the piece at the bottom.

Cataloged as Baker 21 from the Ted Craige collection, it had been sold by Stack’s Bowers on two occasions in 2013 (the Americana Sale in January, where it brought $3,055, and the ANA Sale in August, where it realized $9,988).

It is pedigreed to Mayflower’s Stern’s Sale in December 1966.

This particular coin was a pleasing light brown specimen with fine sharpness but was holed at 12 o’clock on the obverse.

There had also been a crude attempt to re-engrave the stripes on the shield on the reverse.

But because only about half a dozen examples are presently known, with at least half of these damaged in some way, the temptation to improve it was apparently too great to resist.

The quality of the alteration was nothing short of phenomenal, Sherman relates.

But serious PCGS detective work saw through it.

“While the planchet was rather dark, the coin appeared to be undamaged and certainly worthy of a grade,” Sherman said.

“Some telltale marks began to match up, and despite looking superficially nothing like the holed piece, PCGS was able to conclude that the recently received coin was, indeed, none other than the Ted Craige specimen.

“The new look has surfaces darkened dramatically, but still to a very natural-appearing color. Further, the re-engraving on the shield was gone and the hole had disappeared without a trace.

“Missing detail from where the hole had once been was flawlessly reconstructed. Even the stars at the top of the reverse seemed to once again be visible. For all intents and purposes, it could easily pass as a previously unreported example of the rarity.”

“Had this one somehow slipped by, it could have easily brought $30,000 or more,” said PCGS founder David Hall.


This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.


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