The 1959-D Wheat Ears Reverse Cent is one of the most controversial coins to appear on the market in decades. Many experts who have examined the coin are at a loss to explain its existence. Several experts have stated that they believe the coin to be counterfeit, although they are unable to give specific reasons why. On the other hand, the Secret Service has given the coin their stamp of authenticity - on at least two occasions! The coin was scheduled to be sold in Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc. "The Pre-Long Beach Auction", September 23-24, 2002 (see description below), but the coin was pulled from the auction at the eleventh hour when convicted forger Mark Hofmann claimed to have made the coin. Subsequent investigation failed to confirm this claim and the coin was re-consigned to the Goldberg's "The Benson Collection Part III", February 24-25, 2003, Lot 159. As of February 23, 2003, no major grading service had chosen to certify the coin as genuine.
Another area involves fakes of mint errors. According to Bob Campbell, there are still mint error fakes floating around the Salt Lake City area. Maybe the most famous item claimed by Hofmann is a US 1959-D Wheat Ear Reverse Cent, supposedly found in circulation in 1986. Two times autheticated by the Secret Service, but denied by all grading services. There are a number of reasons to doubt its validity: according to engraver Frank Gasparro, the mint was very concerned about producing such a mule, and therefore was extremely careful during striking; and no such mules showed up in circulation in 1960 during the hunt for small date cents. This piece sold for $48,300 in 2003, and Bob considers it Hofmann's greatest error forgery.
Another (aledged) forgery by Hofmann: One of his first altered coins was a 1916 US dime with an added D mintmark. The D was added using electroplating, by selectively adding silver in the mintmark area while the surrounding area was masked; pronounced genuine by the Treasury Department. Some doubters question how thoroughly Treasury checked the mintmark, while others who have tried that procedure have not produced good results.
I believe the reluctance on the part of the TPGs is driven by liability more than any other factor. Since no discernible die characteristics to match the obverse to a known 1959-D die or the reverse to a known 1958 or before die (most likely 1958 or 1958-D) are available, the TPGs would need to perform analytical techniques such as spectroscopy, x-ray and metal analysis to give an educated guess. If the coin were to be slabbed and sold for an extraordinary amount of money only to be proven fake later on then the TPG in question would be on the hook for a substantial amount of money. In the opinion of the TPGs this is apparently not a good gamble.
_________________________ Tom Posts are based on experience and are opinion only. Experiences and opinions of others may differ.
Loc: Big Sky Country
Quote: Since no discernible die characteristics to match the obverse to a known 1959-D die or the reverse to a known 1958 or before die (most likely 1958 or 1958-D) are available
This is exactly the problem. Someone with a lot of time on their hands needs to do an analysis on the dies. This would be exceedingly difficult for a modern coin, but for Denver minted coins, there would at least be a place to start - the mint mark. Since mint marks were still being placed by hand punches at the time, this might be one approach to proving authenticity or lack thereof. The obverse and MM would require comparison with several years. The reverse may be discernable in terms of die state and the subtleties of die fatigue evidence, particularly in the wheat ears.
Personally, I can't imagine doing this. The process would be ugly, at best.
As for the spectroscopy, the only things I'd imagine that would reveal would be that the coin is struck, and that it was struck on a genuine planchet, which would not have been tough to get a hold of.
_________________________ I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer. ~Rainer M. Rilke
#1500550 - 12/20/0603:13 PMRe: MULE or NO MULE? 1959-D Lincoln Cent with Wheat Ears Reverse
The Post-man always rings twice. Uhm... ring ring?
I was not referring to grade but rather to its being genuine or fake. This is the difference between rarity and really expensive forgery. Everybody knows the 1804 is genuine (whether restrike or original) and therefore is recognized as a true rarity. There is a good chance this coin will never attain that status.