Who Was the Mysterious Omega Man?

treasures in coinsOne of the great mysteries and questions amongst the coin collecting community is ‘who was the Omega Man?’ After almost 50 years, still no one knows. In fact, no one can even say for certain if the person who produced one of the best known counterfeit coins of all time was a man. Maybe this skilled counterfeiter was a woman.

In the early 1970’s, numerous 1907 high relief Double Eagle Gold Coins began to surface within the collectible coin market.  For such a rare coin, this caused suspicions and prompted a closer look at these valuable gold collectibles.

It was discovered there was a certain anomaly, a Greek Omega symbol, added to some of the beautiful coins. This addition revealed the $20 gold coins were being counterfeited, and it was believed the Omega Symbol was the personal mark of the craftsman.

Other than this ‘signature’, which is only seen under magnification, the fake Double Eagles appear authentic.  The ‘Omega Man’ (as the creator of the coins was so named because his true identity is unknown), had produced a coin that could fool even the professionals upon simple inspection. It’s assumed that if the ‘Omega Man’ hadn’t placed his mark, or hadn’t pushed an over abundant amount into the market at once, his coins may have passed as real ones for many more years.

The counterfeit coins were extremely difficult to discern between actual coins from the US Mint to the Omega versions.  Because of this, the counterfeit coins are even collected today. Both the Mint’s and Omega Man’s pieces illustrate the beauty of the coin designed by Saint Guadens. The coins feature Lady Liberty raising a torch (enlightenment) in one hand, and holding an olive branch (peace) in the other, on the obverse.  The reverse features the flying eagle.  They are elegant and brilliant specimens. Omega Counterfeit or not.

The 1907 Gold Coin was not the Omega Man’s only counterfeit, though.  His mark was later found on 1874, 1878, and 1882 $3 gold coins and 1913 and 1926 $10 gold coins.  The placement of the ‘Omega Mark’ varies for the coins.  On the high relief Double Eagle, it can be found within the claw of the Eagle.  On others, it was within the R in the word ‘Liberty’ on the coin.

One of the clues to possibly help solve ‘who was the Omega Man’ is to consider the ‘symbol’ he chose to use as his ‘signature’.  Could the meaning of the symbol offer any hint to the character/purpose of the person responsible? It would be assumed the symbol held at least some special significance for him to use it as his mark.

One of the meanings for this 24th Greek letter is that it was used for the Vietnam resistance.  Considering the time frame (early 70’s), and location of the Omega Mark (within the word Liberty and claw of the Eagle), it may be productive to research those both actively and passively involved in opposing the war.  Might someone skilled enough to create such coins be linked to the resistant movement?

But the above is only one possible application. There are are multiple meanings for the Omega symbol and although to try and deduce a meaningful connection to person might prove worthwhile, it might also lead down many rabbit holes. With so much time passed, it’s likely the Omega Man will remain a mystery, unless additional Omega coins are discovered in a personal collection and can be traced back to the original owner- the actual identity of this mysterious counterfeiter.

What isn’t a mystery is that He (or she) produced thousands (believed to be over 20,000) of fake coins just as beautiful, and collectible, as the US Mint.



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5 Responses

  1. Buckeye Bob says:

    But I wonder, why would someone assume that it was an anti-Vietnam war statement?
    I can see that with an omega symbol under a claw might lean that way. But with one inside the R in “liberty”, that’s hardly a statement against a war to defend freedom against totalitarian aggression.
    Which, from our perspective, was really a fight against communist expansion.
    Six of one, half-dozen of another.
    The world would look a lot different today if we’d have just sat back and watched while communist expansion spread and human rights declined all around the world. The economic power would be shifted away from freedom and we’d be on our heels. And the Western socialist movement would probably have had us by now. Talk about rules and regulations via bureaucracy, we’d probably know it very well. And we aren’t out of the woods, not by a long shot.
    As the world spins. The future is not very bright by any means.

  2. Buckeye Bob says:

    The thought just struck me that the omega signs might have been a statement like:
    “End the United States’ power”
    “End liberty.”

    That would make sense.

  3. Maria Rigel says:

    Looking at the amount of coins and the amount of gold needed to make them, and the fact that they were deliberately marked, it seems to me less like an individual did them, but rather an organization or even the government of a small country (like Vietnam) could have used them to raise funds.

    There are examples of countries at war faking another country’s currency for various war purposes, and this could fit within that pattern. Marking the coins would be done deliberately thinking about the future, when the war is over. If this was done by Vietnam, there would be no way for the Vietnamese government to know how unhappy the US government would be about this. Marking the coins allows the US government to quantify what’s been done and deciding what measures, if any, they want to include about this in a peace treaty once it’s signed. If the Vietnam theory is right, it looks like the US government didn’t see it as significant enough to even mention it publicly.

  4. Buckeye Bob says:

    Augustus Saint-Gaudens was really a master sculptor.

    He worked on the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial for 14 years, and it’s a masterpiece.

  5. Pertinax says:

    I have a Norwegian 1879 1 krone silver coin with a raised omega as if it were on the die when the coin was minted. The Norwegian Numismatic Museum hasn’t seen such a coin before. The omega is tiny but visible to the naked eye. The coin is in GF/VF condition and it’s not a rare coin but I wonder if it’s a creation of the ‘Omega Man’?

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