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Investor’s Alert: How to Identify Counterfeit Kennedy Half Dollars

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1. Checking for Weight Discrepancies

Authentic Kennedy half dollars minted in 90% silver from 1964 to 1970 weigh around 12.5 grams, while those minted after 1970 in copper-nickel clad weigh about 11.34 grams. Use a precise digital scale to compare the coin’s weight against these standards. Significant deviations may indicate a counterfeit made from incorrect materials.

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2. Examining the Edge Lettering

Post-1964 Kennedy half dollars feature edge lettering with the coin’s date, mint mark, and “E Pluribus Unum.” Inspect the edge under magnification for clear, uniform lettering. Counterfeit coins often lack these inscriptions or have irregular lettering patterns.

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3. Verifying the Mint Mark and Date

Each genuine Kennedy half dollar bears a mint mark indicating where it was minted (e.g., “D” for Denver, “S” for San Francisco). Cross-check the coin’s date and mint mark with reliable numismatic references to ensure accuracy. Counterfeiters may use incorrect dates or mint marks.

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4. Inspecting the Portrait Details

Genuine Kennedy half dollars exhibit sharp details in President Kennedy’s portrait on the obverse. Look for fine hair strands, facial features, and clothing textures. Counterfeits typically lack this level of detail and craftsmanship.

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5. Testing Magnetism

Silver Kennedy half dollars from 1964 to 1970 are non-magnetic due to their silver content. Use a magnet to check if the coin is attracted to it. If it shows magnetic properties, it is likely a counterfeit made from ferromagnetic metals.

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6. Authentication by Professional Grading Services

For valuable coins, consider submitting them to reputable grading services like PCGS or NGC for authentication. These services use advanced techniques to verify authenticity and grade coins objectively. Certified coins come with detailed information about their authenticity and condition.

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7. Evaluating the Sound

Genuine silver coins produce a distinct ringing sound when struck together. Tap the edge of the coin against another silver coin to listen for this resonant ring. Counterfeits made from base metals or alloys often produce a dull or flat sound.

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8. Seeking Expert Opinion

Engage with experienced collectors, dealers, and numismatic experts for guidance. They can provide insights based on their knowledge and practical experience in identifying counterfeit Kennedy half dollars. Networking at coin shows or online forums can be valuable for learning and verification.

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Conclusion

Detecting counterfeit Kennedy half dollars requires careful inspection and knowledge of their distinctive features. By using these eight essential methods—checking weight, examining edge lettering, verifying mint marks, inspecting portrait details, testing magnetism, seeking professional authentication, evaluating sound, and consulting experts—you can confidently authenticate genuine coins. Protecting your investment involves diligence and utilizing resources within the numismatic community to build a collection of authentic Kennedy half dollars with historical and monetary value.

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