A recent post on the CoinTalk.com site provided a review of one of my favorite books. Headlined "Sometimes the old reference books are still informative", it was written by Jim, a "Senior Errer Collecktor".
Like most variety collectors, I have almost every book I know about on small cents, and many on buffalo five centers, and I usually try to get the most recent figuring the older published books are outdated. But when this book I am currently reading was mentioned in a prior thread, I found one from one of Amazon's resellers, and it was inexpensive and new. It is Hancock's and Spanbauer's Standard Catalog of United States Altered and Counterfeit Coins (1979) 220 pages.
It doesn't have the high definition photos of most newer books (most are line drawing types), but it covers a wider range of deceitful coins and their origins. It also provides much info on practices before I began to really collect this area. I don't want to cover too much, but I found the table of weights and specific gravities of coins very useful. Quite a bit about modern and ancient castings, and modern EDM ( electrical discharge manufacturing ) making of dies. The photo of the 1955/55 DDO fake that the maker had the 2nd strike in the wrong direction or Henning's 1944 Jeffersons where the P was left off.
I didn't know that in 1968 one dealer sold 95,000 fake 1909-SVDB coins that could pass eye inspection. Anyway, it is an enjoyable read, I can pass over the part where ANA and ANAC are mentioned as the only safe way to check your coin as PCGS, NGC, etc. were not yet players as I recall.
If you don't find a way to buy it, ask your college or county library if they participate in Interlibrary loan where they can borrow it from another library for you to read.
I used this as a desk reference for years - it was always great for bursting the bubbles of people who'd like to think they found a valuable rarity in uncle Dan's dresser drawer. I'd look up the weight of the genuine coin in the Redbook or another reference, then the description and weight of the known fakes in the Hancock/Spanbauer. I'd let them put their coin on my electronic scale and let them see the result for themselves. Sorry - keep buying those lotto tickets.
Given the recent rash of new counterfeit coins it's high time a publisher comes out with an expended version of this book or a new one similar to it. Of course now, some of these fakes (like the Wyatt, Robinson, Idler, Bolen and Dickeson copies of U.S. colonial coins) actually have some value in the market and could be priced in the book. Is anyone working on such a book project?
To read the complete article, see:
Sometimes the old reference books are still informative.
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