Altered Date Fake Australian 1923 Half Penny

January 6, 2013

The Australian 1923 half penny is one of the most commonly forged or counterfeited coin of the pre-decimal series. One method of creating a fake 1923 half penny is using a genuine coin and altering the date to give it the appearance of the rarer year. While it's not actually illegal to own an altered date coin it is an offense to try and pass off the coin as it's rarer year type.

Often a 1933 half penny is date altered to take the form of the 1923, a low mintage year that commands a high premium when sold. A genuine 1923 half penny can bring anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 depending on the condition.

Recently we became aware of one such altered date 1923 halfpenny graded as NGC XF45BN and appearing in a Heritage coin auction. Thankfully Australian numismatic experts pounced on this coin advising the auction house of the error which we're sure will be passed along to NGC where they'll likely have to pay out on their numismatic grading guarantee. The auction house was quick to do the right thing for potential buyers and remove the item from sale.

It's been common for collectors to be deceived by these coins but not too often do we see one that isn't picked up by the auction house or indeed the third party grading service and listed or authenticated as the genuine coin. No doubt NGC will flag this coin in future for a more rigorous authentification process. How many collectors are holding 1923 half pennies in the belief that they are genuine when they are not?

The NGC graded altered date can be easily picked if you know what to look for. The host coin, a 1933 was probably chosen because the last 3 of the date was likely to be the digit most scrutinized and this isn't the number that needs altering. The 2 (that was once a 3) in the date just doesn't look right but is difficult to tell from the image as you see it in the link. The key to picking this fake is that the die for the host coin, the 1933 is very different to the 1923 genuine coin. The reverse lettering on the genuine 1923 half penny is flat based whereas the lettering on the host 1933 coin has a curved base. This and other differences are clearly outlined in the article on thesandpit website "How To Pick A Fake 1923 Halfpenny". You can clearly see the NGC graded altered date example has this curved base lettering. Compare this lettering to a genuine 1923 half penny.

Andrew Crellin of Sterling and Currency has also written a comprehensive article on the Australian 1923 half penny which is well worth a read.

Posted by harrisk at January 6, 2013 2:25 PM
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