1886 Double Eagle Gold Coin

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by suite1307, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. suite1307

    suite1307 New Member


    Double Eagle Back.jpg

    Double Eagle Front.jpg

    I have attached a scanned image of a coin my mother has had for over 40 years now. She received it as a gift from my Grandfather and she has now passed it to me.

    I have searched the net and all sites I came across indicate the mintage of this coin in 1886 was limited to a few thousand. Most sites also state that in 1886, that Philadelphia was the only location to strike these coins in 1886 and that the marking under the eagle would be blank. However, the coin I have has a "S" under the eagle. A couple of sites state that in 1886 San Francisco didn't make an 1886 Double Eagle, but I do see them making them in 1885 and 1887.

    Can anyone clarify the mintage of the 1886 Double Eagle Gold coin. Were they produced in San Francisco in addition to Philadelphia and other sites?
    Does anyone know the value of this coin?

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  3. rotobeast

    rotobeast Old Newbie

    I don't know a lot about those, but something doesn't look right about that coin.
    Someone with extensive knowledge will surely be along shortly to address your questions.

    What jumps out at me is....
    The tiara is nearly touching the rim on yours and on ones I've seen are far lower.
    The lines of the hair look a lot more narrow, too.

    Here is a link to an auction with an 1887-S so you might see what I'm looking at.
    (the coin in the auction is ugly & cleaned)


    I really hope I am wrong.
  4. jon67

    jon67 Loves Lincoln's

    do you have bigger pics
  5. Bonedigger

    Bonedigger New Member

    According to the research I've done there were NO 1886-S Double Eagles struck in San Francisco.

  6. Mark Feld

    Mark Feld Rare coin dealer

    Sorry to tell you that it's a counterfeit. And I thought that based just upon the obverse image - the detail is wrong for a genuine coin. The S mint-mark, which was not used on genuine examples from 1886, confirmed my initial belief.

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Howdy suite - Welcome to the Forum !!

    Your pics are a bit small to be able to judge the coin but I can tell you this. You have one of three things - an altered coin which I think unlikely, a outright fake, or a great rarity that no one has ever heard of.

    Just an opinion, but the most likely explanation is the coin is a fake. It would need to be looked at in person by someone who knows these coins to make sure.
  8. suite1307

    suite1307 New Member

    Double Eagle Back 2.jpg

    Double Eagle Front 2.jpg

    This is the biggest I get when scanned.
    I have seen other sites that have auctioned a 1886, but the only difference is the "S' under the eagle. It may be the quality of the scan, but the crown reaches mid way between the stars.

    Thanks for your help. If you know any names or places I can contact that would be more knowledable about the double eagle it would be appreciated.
    I have GOOGLED everything imaginable, but i seem to find the same thing about limited mintage, but nothing to explain why the "S" mark is there when all sites state none were minted in San Fran in 1886.

    I will try and take pics or short vid if I can...the quality is not as good.
    I will also try to see if i can scan a better and bigger image.

    Thanks J
  9. Mark Feld

    Mark Feld Rare coin dealer

    I guarantee the coin is a counterfeit and I don't make such statements unless I am 100% certain. I hate to see you hold out any false hope that it's genuine.
  10. suite1307

    suite1307 New Member

    Thanks all for your thoughts...
    I wondered whether it could be real when I couldn't find anything about it being minted in San Fran.

    One site said there were fakes or imititaion made of these coins in Europe, but they never stated how you can tell.

    They also mentioned alterations, but they altered it by REMOVING the mint mark.

    Anyways.. If anyone does know a person or place it would be great if you can pass that info. I am in Toronto.

    Thanks A bunch

  11. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    J - Mark Feld is one of the most knowledgeable and highly respected people there is in numismatics. If he says he's sure it's fake - you can take that to the bank.
  12. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot there is no spoon

    I'm sorry to say that I agree with Mark and GDJMSP. :(
  13. 900fine

    900fine doggone it people like me

    The head is very conspicuously oversized. It extends almost to the rim. On legit specimens, it is well within the stars, with the coronet near star 7.

    Less obvious is the oversized eagle on the reverse. On a real $20, the banner with "E PLURIBUS" is well apart from the denomination. On the coin in question, the banner almost touches the T in TWENTY.


    Most importantly... there were no 1886-S $20s.
  14. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot there is no spoon

    FWIW, here's a real coin to compare it to:
  15. mikenoodle

    mikenoodle The Village Idiot

    you know, one of the things I am learning about counterfeit coins is this: Typically there is something wrong about the coin that is obvious so that the counterfeiter is able to tell his/her work at a glance so as not to ever "buy" any of their counterfeits back. This coin has a wrong date and mintmark combination. I have a really nice 1838 lettered edge bust half. problem is... they stopped lettering the edge in 1836

    This is not a hard and fast rule, but it is true of many counterfeits made in the late 19th century.
  16. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot there is no spoon

    p.s. the thing that immediately struck me with the OP's coin was the size/placement of the stars on the obverse (too big and too close to dentils). Liberty's portrait also looked slightly "long-jawed" for lack of a better term.
  17. Hobo

    Hobo Squirrel Hater

    There is no question this coin is a counterfeit. The obverse design is incorrect and there were no Double Eagles minted in San Francisco in 1886.

    I cannot find this counterfeit in any of the following counterfeit reference books: United States Gold Counterfeit Detection Guide (Bill Fivaz), Detecting Counterfeit Gold Coins Book 2 (Lonesome John), Standard Catalog of United States Altered and Counterfeit Coins (Sanford Durst), Counterfeit Gold Coins (Alfred Dieffenbacher).

    I have a theory that may explain this counterfeit. It may have been struck to skirt the law banning private ownership of gold in the US (1933 to 1974). Ownership of gold bullion was banned but gold coins with a numismatic value to collectors were allowed. Many counterfeit gold coins were struck abroad so they could be imported into the US under the pretext of being collectible coins when in fact the criminals were primarily interested in getting the gold itself into the US. This may explain the crude obverse die design.

    It may also explain the mis-matched obverse and reverse dies. The counterfeiters most likely had multiple obverse and reverse dies. They either did not know or did not care that the pairing of an 1886 obverse with an 'S' mintmark reverse would produce a fantasy piece. They were not making these coins to sell to collectors (who would notice their error); they only wanted to get them past Customs. And make a profit by cheating on the gold content of their "coins".

    The Middle East (Lebanon in particular) was one of the largest producers of counterfeit gold coins prior to 1975. Their products were generally short on the gold content. After gold ownership became legal in the US in 1975 the counterfeiters turned their attention to collectors. Most counterfeit US gold coins made since 1975 are within (or close to) US Mint tolerance. These coins will be 90% gold and will usually be the correct weight. (In fact, it is very common for counterfeiters to melt genuine US gold coins with little or no numismatic value just for the gold so they have the correct alloy).

    If you have not already done so you should check the weight, specific gravity and diameter of your coin. If it is outside of Mint tolerance is may be a pre-1975 Middle East counterfeit.

    I think ANACS would like to see this coin so they can add its diagnostics to their database (if they don't already have it).
  18. suite1307

    suite1307 New Member

    HI Everyone,
    I have no doubt that there is something very suspicious about the coin especially since there was no 1886 mintage at San Fran, therefore counterfeit. That is why I came here to get an opinion or if someone knew something that I couldn't find on the net would be able to tell me.

    Thank you Hobo for the detailed explanation on the counterfeits from Europe. As I stated I read something about it on another site, but it never told me much especially what to look for. You provided a lot of info.

    The scans I provided are not exactly what it looks like in person. The crown and lettering are not as tight as they look. I have looked at the coin against others sites like this...
    From my UNTRAINED eye, everything falls in place like the coin at the site above except the "S" mark. If I can scan a bigger view of my coin it may provide a better view.
    I haven't done any weight checks etc. but will do so. I will check into ANACS as well.

    thanks all again...
  19. hontonai

    hontonai Registered Contrarian

    Let's see if I've got this straight -
    • To your admittedly untrained eye the things that real experts are seeing about the design are not there
    • It has one characteristic (the "S" mintmark) that simply does not exist in real life, but a "bigger view" might be a "better view"
    • you haven't got a clue as to whether it's the right weight/metallic content
    but you're not yet convinced that you have a fake.

    Will anything short of a notarized confession by the actual couinterfeiter, backed up by video of the manufacture, convince you?
  20. Mark Feld

    Mark Feld Rare coin dealer

    While I am sorry to see "suite1307/J" hold out false hope that the piece is genuine, I can understand it. Over the years I have seen many other people do the same when confronted by comments that their coins were counterfeit, over-graded and/or worth far less than they had thought.

    For one thing, we are strangers to him and it's difficult for him to ascertain what we really know or don't know. For another, I think it's human nature not to want to believe surprising/bad news. Different people sort through feedback in their own ways. We've given him our opinions and information and the rest is up to him.
  21. Bonedigger

    Bonedigger New Member

    Good call Rotobeast. You caught it first. :)

    Take Care
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