US Confederate Half Dollar (Possible fake) 1861
Either you have a very valuable coin, or you have one that is worth nothing. How's that for narrowing it down.
During the Civil War, the Confederate (southern) States of America issued only two types of coinage: a one cent piece and a half dollar. (See our write-up on the one cent piece at this CoinQuest link .) They minted very few of each, so if you have a genuine, original CSA half dollar, you have a coin worth tens of thousands of US dollars today. Genuine CSA half dollars are so rare that the coin catalogs do not even list an estimated value! The coin in our main is a genuine piece.
In addition to genuine coins, a man named J W Scott obtained the reverse die used to make the genuine coins during the late 1800s. (A die is a piece of hard metal used to strike patterns into coin blanks.) Scott used the real die to mint a small quantity of restrike coins. These are worth $3000 to $10000 today, depending on condition. The restrikes have only the reverse ('tails' side) of the coin as shown; the obverse ('heads' side) does not have the Confederate obverse design, but other designs including wordy explanations and Lady Liberty from Union half dollars. There is an excellent explanation of Confederate restrikes at CoinAuctionsHelp.com [Press Here].
Sometimes you see a fantasy coin with two 'tails' sides. These are produced in modern times and are worth very little.
Virtually all the CSA half dollars you see today are replica
coins. Replicas are completely different than restrikes. Replicas are worth about zero, a few dollars at most. When replicas are not precise and only resemble real coins, they are often called fantasy coins. A reader named Jim told us about his fantasy coin with two 'tails' sides, one with '1861' and one with 'HALF DOL.' Fantasy coins, like replicas, carry very low values. There may be a few fantasy collectors, but most coin collectors want real coins for their collections, not make-believes. See more info in the comments section below.
Rick Snow, expert numismatist of Eagle Eye Rare Coins in Tucson, Arizona, has a comprehensive article on Confederate half dollars on the Collector's Universe web site, located at this link.
US Rare Coin Investments in Port Charlotte, Florida, has a Scott restrike for sale.
The image of the genuine coin comes from the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, courtesy of Stacks Bowers Galleries with locations worldwide.
The collection of images below show several comparisons of genuine, restrike, and replica coins. You can see minor differences between the designs of the replicas. The genuine and restrike pieces look the same, since they are minted using the same die.
(1) Genuine coin, essentially priceless (thanks to Stacks Bowers )
(2) Scott restrike, worth 1000s of US dollars (thanks to US Rare Coin Investments )
(3) Typical replica struck as a souvenir, worth zero
(4) Silver art round, worth its weight in silver (see this link )
(5) Replica with word COPY, worth a few dollars
(6) Another replica with COPY, worth a few dollars