QUIZ: What is the "clue" that this is an altered coin?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by Insider, Feb 24, 2023.

  1. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    When grading a Morgan dollar, the first place I look is the hair detail over the ear. This is also one of the places where detail is lost from a weak strike. The luster and originality of the surface separates the two (strike/wear).

    This is an altered coin. How EXACTLY can you tell from18X Micrograph.
    Degree of difficulty: 8-9
    Chance the average collector would catch this alteration: extremely low.

    GoldFinger1969 likes this.
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  3. desertgem

    desertgem Senior Errer Collecktor

    Nothing about waiting? It appears that the depth and width of the hair(lines) above and behind the ear is much more than that near the lobe. Nobody likes flat hair and it "improves the grade" :)
    CoinCorgi likes this.
  4. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis OWNER - EBS Numis LLC Supporter

    That is the first place I look, as well.

    Jim said it well, I think I definitely see signs of tooling.

    In theory, this tooling if left undetected could make the difference between an AU and MS coin. The tooling marks here don't seem to follow the flow of the rest of the hair in the area, so perhaps this is another tell.

    Below I have (poorly) circled the areas in question. If I had this coin in hand, I think I'd catch this as I can tell the difference between unstruck material and worn points. However, many do not do their due diligence when buying, as I'm sure we all know.

    Screenshot 2023-02-24 at 2.28.24 PM.png
    Mr.Q and -jeffB like this.
  5. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    Now that you see the alteration, describe it. Hint: It is NOT TOOLED in the strictest sense!
    Mr.Q likes this.
  6. desertgem

    desertgem Senior Errer Collecktor

    Looks a little like the use of an extremely,extremely, small rotary engraver tool like I use on gemstones. Small rounded head bit. Jim
  7. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    I'll be watching with interest to see what the "strictest sense" of "tooling" is, then.

    I don't see this as a chemical alteration, but a physical one. Is it what Jim suggested, where a tool removed material to form the grooves without displacing it to the sides?
    MIGuy likes this.
  8. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    Nope, you guys are over-thinking. Tooling, burnishing, smoothing (a weasel word "coined" to lessen the effect on the buyer's brain) implies the movement of metal. Metal is moved in this type of alteration also; however, it is not tooling. It is an altered design but is not considered to be re-engraved. Only one thing left. What is it?
  9. physics-fan3.14

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

    The only thing left I can think of is "whizzing", where a small tool with a very high RPM head polishes a metal. I've never seen it used to cut grooves like this, but I could see how it would.

    A high speed mechanical device would lend toward the straight lines as seen.

    But.... that's a pretty delicate touch on the whizzer!
    manny9655 likes this.
  10. rte

    rte Well-Known Member

    Ok so I took a look at the picture and figured looking at the area description...made a few highlights of what I thought was described. IMG_4331~2.JPG
    Then scrolled down to see the other picture with the red marks. Good information to know I don't look at my coins under magnification...looks like I still missed one.
    Dealing with a higher value Coin I can see the need for magnifying.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
  11. rte

    rte Well-Known Member

    I'd consider that etching.
  12. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    Nope. Do you guys want the answer now; or let you figure it out until tomorrow? I've already told you what it is not and gave you a good hint. If I say anymore...

    So. one last hint and you should get it right away. Or, wait until tomorrow for the final hint? Remember the coin is genuine but altered and you have ID'ed the alteration. How was it done is the final question?
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
  13. Jack D. Young

    Jack D. Young Well-Known Member

    Improved die struck counterfeit:D...
    Mr.Q and MIGuy like this.
  14. rte

    rte Well-Known Member

    MIGuy likes this.
  15. MIGuy

    MIGuy Supporter! Supporter

    "Gussied Up!"
    (I have no idea, but this is fascinating)
  16. rte

    rte Well-Known Member

    That's like adding makeup to adulterating.
    MIGuy likes this.
  17. longshot

    longshot Enthusiast Supporter

    I seem to remember talk of substances being added to a coin, maybe auto body filler (?). But I really don't see that, guess I'm an average collector.:wacky:
  18. rte

    rte Well-Known Member

    Well NGC glossary says ENGRAVED :D - Carving details into the surface to enhance the coin's appearance.

    You May be looking for a term Chasing.

    Precision Alterations

    May have cheated? But I'm learning stuff, so it's all good.
    MIGuy likes this.
  19. IntenseBlue

    IntenseBlue New Member

    You can't teach patience, but you can set an example
    rte likes this.
  20. rte

    rte Well-Known Member

    The term puttied, usually associated with gold coins I think I saw someplace.
    Jack D. Young likes this.
  21. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    NOPE, NOT putty. I already said metal was moved.

    Here goes. This is a lesser seen type of alteration. Most idiots just take a sharp tool and make scratches for hairlines. That is the type of thing folks correctly refer to as "engraved" or "reengraved" or "tooled." Reengraving brightens the metal and must be "dulled down' and the sharp edges smoothed. Top engravers can do an excellent job.

    I told you all that metal was moved as a hint. Think about it. Metal can be moved in several directions INCLUDING UP & DOWN! ;)

    This coin was altered using a tiny tool. The design on the tool was punched into the coin in THREE aligned places where the normal hair line would be. One punch is above these. ANSWER: The key is their identical shape. That's what I hoped someone would notice. Easy for me to see because I caught the first one as this MADE WITH THE IDENTICAL TOOL using my scope back in the 1980's!

    Don't get discouraged. This was a tough quiz. More next week.
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