1904 $20 Liberty Head - fake, rare variety or double die obverse?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by larssten, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. larssten

    larssten Active Member


    Someone I know has this 1904 $20 Liberty Head.
    Need an experts opinion on the possible alternatives mentioned in the title.


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  3. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Looks highly suspicious to me, but I don't know for sure. The date numerals are "off".

    By that, I'm not referring to the apparent doubling, but to the fact that they just look wrong. Too skinny. Could that be the result of some kind of error? I suppose that's possible, but the coin just doesn't look right to me.

    Wait for more a more experienced opinion.
  4. C-B-D

    C-B-D Well-Known Member

    Fake. 100% guaranteed. The date has the stereotypical Chinese style digits.
  5. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank

    I have to agree, the numerals are too thin for a real $20
  6. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Those were my thoughts exactly, but I didn't wanna go sticking a "Made in China" label on it until somebody else confirmed those suspicions.
  7. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    @larssten - allow me to compliment those photos at least. They were excellent.

    (Too bad the coin isn't.)
    green18 likes this.
  8. C-B-D

    C-B-D Well-Known Member

    Also does not appear to be real gold.
  9. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    It's double-struck, with the second strike shifted just over half the width of the upright of the 1 to the left (at the date, anyway). This has the effect of smashing the first strike, making the digits very thin. Take a look at this Morgan dollar, especially the letters in UNUM to see what it looks like.

    That said, it still looks off. The denticles on the reverse are almost totally missing, and there's no sign of the double-strike on the reverse. The Chinese are counterfeiting errors, too. Weigh it, and have someone qualified take a look in person, but I'm going to say it's probably fake.
    Dynoking likes this.
  10. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I would agree with others here. What strikes me at first impression, and not pulling out my own examples, is what forgeries usually get wrong. Some details way too strong, others too weak. If all details are strong or weak strike could be a factor, but most forgeries I see from China have a mismatch of strong and weak, only meaning it can be a fake. Strike could never cause both.

    I think the date issue you see is from counterfeiters being cheap and reusing dies for multiple dated fakes. It is smart to fake a 1904, since it is by far the most common and least looked at date by collectors.
  11. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    It smashes the first strike, but the second strike is full width, that isn't the case on this double eagle, especailly the 1.
  12. capthank

    capthank Well-Known Member

    Compared to the one I have the numerals are too thin but otherwise good fake. What is the weight?
  13. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    On the Morgan, the reverse also shows doubling. On this coin, it doesn't, leading me to believe it was a double strike with the obverse die rotating a little between strikes. The difference this will make is that since the coin is still seated in the reverse die when struck a second time, the second strike won't bring up new details out of the struck field. Had the coin rotated in the collar instead, it would be sitting on top of the reverse die like a fresh planchet, causing the second strike to have more proper breadth.

    I still don't think it's real, however.
  14. CaptHenway

    CaptHenway Survivor

    100% Counterfeit, but I believe only struck once. The Obverse die was doubled when the counterfeiter pressed the obverse of a coin into a matrix of some sort (dental ceramic maybe?) and accidentally pressed it in twice with a bit of rotation between impressions. The matrix was hardened and used to cast molten steel against, creating a hub. That hub was used to make a die that showed the doubling on it.
    Had the die been doubled legitimately, the date would not have been doubled since the dates were added later. The use of dated hubs began in 1907 on the new St. Gaudens gold designs and on everything else during 1908.
    Bob Evancho and Dynoking like this.
  15. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    Had the counterfeiter done this, they would have effectively been creating a doubled master die, which would show properly notched digits. Had one impression been weaker than the other, you'd see a "shadow" date, but not one that made the primary date from the strong impression thinner. These digits show double strike characteristics that could have been produced while making a working hub (all dies made from the hub would show the same doubling) or while striking the coin.

    The doubled "working hub" would be made from the normal working die specifically to create a working die that would produce counterfeit double-struck 1904 $20 Libs.
  16. GoldBug999

    GoldBug999 Active Member

    I agree, fake!
  17. halfcent1793

    halfcent1793 Well-Known Member

    Concur with messydesk and Conder101.
  18. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter


    I'd be surprised if it were even real gold. The color looks off.
  19. GoldBug999

    GoldBug999 Active Member

    What does the coin weigh?
  20. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    A counterfeit for sure. The digits in the date are off, and that’s just the start. I almost got stuck with a fake 1904 double eagle in the 1970s. It was a better fake than this one.
  21. green18

    green18 Unknown member Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Gut says fake, but I've nothing (expertise) to back up my assessment. Suffice to say, I'd never pick this coin up raw, unless I were dealing with a trusted dealer.......
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