How to Spot Fake Indian Head Cents


Fake coins are the bane of the collector's existence. Nothing is more frustrating than finding a key Indian Head Cent, buying it and then finding out that it is counterfeit. In order to tell if an Indian Head Cent is real or not, you need to know some important information about the coin itself. Never buy an Indian Head Cent if you have any doubts about its authenticity. When dealing with valuable coins, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnifying glass
  • Portable digital kitchen scale
  • Metric ruler (with millimeters)
  • Examine a real Indian Head Cent very closely. If you own any real Indian Head Cents, examine them with a magnifying glass. If you don't already own any, find a high-resolution image on a reputable website like the Professional Coin Grading Service's site. Make note of all of the defining features of the coin.

  • Look over the Indian Head Cent that you think may be fake. If at all possible, try to compare it side by side with one you know is authentic. If any obvious differences exist between the coins, the one you're examining is probably fake. Note that the 1859 Indian Head Cent does not have a shield at the top of the wreath on the back of the coin, so the lack of a wreath on that particular coin is not cause to assume it is counterfeit.

  • Closely examine the numbers and the lettering on the coin with a magnifying glass. If these do not look like the numbers and letters on the authentic coin, chances are the coin is fake.

  • Measure the coin if possible. A real Indian Head Cent is 19 mm in diameter. If the coin has a different diameter, it is not real.

  • Weigh the coin. Indian Head Cents weigh 4.67 grams. Any difference of more than a few hundredths of a gram is proof that the coin is fake.

Tips & Warnings

  • Buying coins from a trusted dealer is the best way to avoid fake Indian Head Cents. Be extra careful when purchasing coins from flea markets or small, non coin-centric auctions.


  • Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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