Experts Warn of Altered, No Edge-Lettering Dollars
(Fallbrook, California) – The Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), a nonprofit organization composed of the country’s top rare coin and paper money dealers, issued the following consumer protection advisory on March 21, 2007 about altered coins being sold as genuine errors.
Some 2007-dated Presidential dollar coins, deliberately altered after leaving the United States Mint to remove the edge lettering including the motto, “In God We Trust,” are being offered to unsuspecting buyers in online auctions and at swap meets. The Mint mistakenly released for circulation thousands of genuine coins without the edge lettering, but the PNG cautions that worthless, fake versions now are appearing in the marketplace, especially Internet auctions.
“The edge lettering on some perfectly-made coins is being intentionally removed in machine shops to fraudulently make the coins appear to have a plain edge without the date, without the mintmark and without the mottos, In God We Trust and E Pluribus Unum. It’s the wild, wild West out there online, and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better,” said Fred Weinberg of Encino, California, a former President of the Professional Numismatists Guild and an internationally known expert on mis-struck coins.
“You run the risk of paying $100 or more for an altered coin that’s only worth one dollar. Unless you know how to determine authenticity, the coin should be certified by a nationally-recognized authentication company or you should know the reputation of the professional dealer you’re buying it from.”
The normal weight of the George Washington dollar coins is 8.1 grams (125 grains) and the diameter is 26.5 millimeters. Any plain-edge coins that weigh less than 8 grams (123 grains) or with a diameter of 26 millimeters or less should be viewed with skepticism. They may have been deliberately trimmed to remove the edge lettering, according to the PNG.
“The altered coins are deliberately machined down until the lettering on the edges disappears. It’s also possible for the incused lettering to be filled in, then re-plated or re-colored, and then the altered coin is deceitfully sold as a genuine Mint-made error,” Weinberg explained.
Weinberg also cautions consumers to be wary of sale pitches for so-called “upside-down” lettering errors.
“The relationship is random between the edge lettering and the ‘heads’ side on the Presidential dollars. Some coins have the letters reading ‘up,’ and some are ‘upside-down’ when you view the front of the coin. These are not inverted-lettering errors, only a random method of placing the edge-lettering on the coins. Half the coins will have the letters up, and half will appear upside down.”