Added Materials

A last category of alteration is the addition of metal or another foreign substance onto a coin, in order to enhance its appearance, or to try to represent a scarce variety such as an off-metal error.  This category would include: re-plating a coin's surface to hide wear, adding putty or metal to replace lost detail or hide marks, and adding false "cameo" surfaces - I am sure that there are more that I have not listed.

I have two good examples to show.  The first is the classic scenario - copper plating a 1943 Steel Cent to simulate the rare off metal coins struck on a bronze planchet.  I cannot tell you how many of these I have seen, bought or talked to peole about over the last 15 years!  You would think that there was a factory somewhere cranking these out.  My retrired business partner had the opinion that many of these were created in high schoolshop classes during the 1950's-60's, as a practical lab in electroplating.  Luckily, these are easily spotted with the simplest of authentication tests - a magnet.

The example shown below is better than most, as the underlying steel planchet has not begun to rust - this shows through the plating almost immediately, once it starts.

The next coin is considerably more dangerous.  It is an 1891-S Morgan Dollar with false cameo contrast added, then artificially toned.  This is a relatively recent product of the coin doctors, but represents a first or second generation approach - they have gotten much better now, unfortunately.

Overall, it looks good at first glance, but if you llok at the second photo on the right, you can see that the "cameo contrast" has sort of an island/waterline look about it, a sign that it was applied in a liquid form but did not cover the whole coin surface.  In the image below, you can see the same sort of waterline effect around the tail of the eagle and the arrow bundle.