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Always Check for Altered Dates


While many experts check for date and mint mark alterations on key-date coinage, especially that of the United States, it is important to check on all coins, even common ones, because sometimes you will find a surprise. A curious alteration was detected in a recent Paris Express Submission to PCGS Europe.

France “1781” Ecu with Altered Date Click image to enlarge.

Genuine France 1781-I Ecu – Image courtesy of iNumis – Mail Bid Sale 38 Lot 414. Click image to enlarge.

A French Ecu of Louis XVI was submitted for certification and grading. The coin was described as a “1781-I” from the Limoges Mint. Under inspection, it was revealed that this coin was actually an altered 1784-I Ecu. There is a price difference between the 1784 and the 1781 Ecu coins from the Limoges Mint, with the 1781 being a better coin than the 1784, but it is not a coin often seen as an altered date.

Regardless of rarity, the alteration looks old, possibly contemporary, where someone who was looking for that date either made or was deceived into getting one that had been altered. The coin features tooling to scrape out the top part of the “4,” leaving only a smaller line to look like a “1.” With French Ecu coinage of Louis XVI, adjustment marks are common. Adjustment marks occur at the mint where the planchets are filed down to an acceptable weight for coining and commerce. The altered date example here shows such mint-made adjustment marks throughout the lettering on both the obverse and reverse of the coin, which further goes to hide the deceptive tooling marks around the “1” of the newly altered date.

Genuine France 1784-I Ecu – PCGS MS65. Click image to enlarge.

Close-up of alteration on altered date 1784 Ecu. Click image to enlarge.

This coin is not the most deceptive alteration, but it goes to show that even a common coin poses danger to those who are not paying attention. PCGS has the most comprehensive and best guarantee of all third-party graders that if for some reason a counterfeit, alteration, or other problem coin does get certified and sold into the market, the owner will be made whole. Between skill, expertise, and guarantee there is a reason why PCGS is the most trusted third-party grading service in numismatics.

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