Removed Mintmarks

Removed Mintmarks:

A somewhat less often seen form of alteration is the removed Mintmark, also used to make a coin appear to be a more valuable date.  This is used less often, simply because most "key date" coins tend to have a mintmark in the first place.  There are however, some dates where the Philadelphia Mint product is far more valuable, such as the 1894-P Morgan Dollar.  This date was a true "sleeper" until about five years ago, so the price did not reflect the true scarcity.  It was rarely seen, at least in the West, as very few circulated even in the 1950's heyday of the Dollar in circulation (thanks to Las Vegas).

The most common alteration to produce this date was to scrape the "S" off of an 1894-S, if the counterfeiter was in the West, or remove the "O" off of an 1894-O, if they were in the rest of the country.  Making it more of a problem, this coin is not as easy as the 1893-S Morgan to authenticate, having fewer and less visible die markers.

Another area where removal of a mintmark was done to simulate a scarce Philadelphia Mint date is for the 1913 to 1915 Barber Half Dollars, usually where a San Francisco coin has the S removed (as they are common and easily available).  The image below shows such an alteration of a 1913-S Half.  At first glance it looks like a nice, original problem free 1913-P, but a closer look will reveal the truth.

Tilting the coin just a bit to allow the light to strike the surface at a sharper angle reveals the "shadow" of the removed "S".  This example is not as tricky an alteration as some, and may simply have been an attempt by a collector to fill a pesky hole.

Commonly, the marks present around the mintmark area is a giveaway, but be wary of any 1913-15 supposed P Mint Half that has been cleaned, a common trick to hide the work around the mintmark.


The other classic removed Mintmark senario is the removal of the "D" off of a 1922-D Lincoln Cent to produce a "1922 Plain".  Some of these were undoubtably produced to fill the hole for the "1922-P" that some manufacturers put into their folders, as prior to sometime in the 1940's/50's the existance and reason for the 1922 dated cents with no mintmark was not widely known, and it was assumed by some that the Philly Mint had produced some coins that year - again, that pesky blank hole had to tempt a few collectors at least into carving off the D to create a "Filler".  This was not dangerous then, but could be now.

More likely, most of the fakes were produced to fill the needs of commercial greed, however knowing the true characteristics of the authentic 1922 "Plain" will solve most of the problems.  HOWEVER, it is more complicated than that as there are three sets of dies acknowledged that produced coins with varying degrees of D mintmark showing, from the meerest pimple of a bump, to absolutely nothing at all.  ONLY one pair of dies, known as Die Pair #2, is considered to be the authentic no D coin, and this has certain specific characteristics that are hard to fake.