Fake KKK itemsBy Mark Chervenka
Fake KKK items
similar to forged Civil War ID discs
Another article explains fakes of Civil War identification discs. Also in existence are similarly made fakes represented as Ku Klux Klan (KKK) items. Those fakes include not only simulated coins but various pins and badges.
Like the fake Civil War identification discs, names used on the faked KKK items are historically accurate. One of the KKK discs, (Fig. 2) for example, is engraved with the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Forrest is best known to the public as the brilliant, if eccentric, Civil War Confederate cavalry commander. A slave trader, land speculator and cotton buyer before the war, Forrest made up for his lack of military experience with unorthodox, creative tactics. Less well known is that Forrest was the first Grand Wizard, or top official, of the KKK who headed the first KKK convention in Nashville, Tennessee in 1867.
Another important early KKK name is John B. Lester which also appears on a fake coin (Fig. 3). Corporal Lester was one of six men who met in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1866 to form the secret club that in a short time would become the KKK.
Like the Civil War discs, the engraved names KKK "coins" are not even forgeries on genuinely old coins. The "coins" are cast, not die stamped as authentic coins are made. Look for ripples and pits in the surface which are signs of casting. New KKK "coins" also show excessive wear with the reverse sides nearly smooth. Many different name have surfaced on the Civil War discs so be alert for additional names on the KKK discs other than the ones reported here.
Although the forgers obviously read history books for the names engraved on their fakery, they failed to read the correct books on how to mark their silver.
The mark "coin silver" was used primarily between 1830-1855 on holloware and flatware. It would be extremely unlikely that that mark would ever appear on small items like pins or badges allegedly made during the 1860s. The "coin silver" mark on jewelry and small items is most frequently found on pieces made in small home shops and particularly by Southwestern native Americans and Mexicans in the 1920-30s.
Original research and photos appear courtesy Peter Bertram The Confederate Medals, Badges, & Ribbons Newsletter and Nancy Dearing Rossbacher, managing editor North South Trader's Civil War Magazine.