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That is certainly strange and intriguing.  Does it appear to be the right thickness?  As you noticed it weighs less than half of what a genuine silver dollar of that time period should.  The density of copper (or bronze or brass) is not that much less than 90% silver alloy so I expect it is thinner than the dollar.

Typically when a design change occurred the mint would mint a few pattern coins, often of base metals, as a kind of prototype for those in the decision chain to decide the final design.  Those are rare and quite valuable, but why would that end up getting lost?  Well, strange things happen.  You mention counterfeiting and replica making as possibilities.  Those could carry value, too, although given its condition probably not that much.

Here's a book that would likely indicate if a pattern for that coin was made and what its composition was.

More research needed!

 

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It is attracted to a magnet so the FE of some sort is confirmed.  It does appear to be on the thin side compared to a legit silver dollar but that could be due to the rusting away of the surface.  Given the fact that it is obviously iron and so little detail is left, I think that the only value is of conversation at best. LOL  I find it fascinating that such odd things can be found at the beach.  If someone takes anything to the beach they are liable to lose it there.  In this case I am grateful that my ole detecting buddy was more curious than I was and insisted that I check out the rusted disc.  Now I have a great conversation piece. 😀  And now those of you who read this post will be thinking about all the odd things that you found and threw away over the years and now are wondering "what if I had cleaned that thing up just a little bit..." 

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   One of the first things i learned about beach hunting from the old timer's! Never toss anything away till it is absolutely identified! Many finds on the Treasure Coast, and elsewhere, that are valuable, have been next to corroding iron, and can get covered, or encased in iron oxides, or beach sediments, or any combination of concretions! Judging from the pics, i think some more cleaning is needed to be definitive! Than a chemical test or metal scan! Still my be silver with enough oxides on it to be mildly magnetic?!🤞👍👍

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Somebody went to a lot of trouble to make what appears to be some sort of counterfeit coin. It certainly seems to have the right pattern, but if it really is of some ferrous metal, (even more difficult than if made of copper), why would they? Maybe it is just coated with iron oxide from something in the ground near or over it, at one time.

Fascinating.

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To add a thought to my previous post, I'm wondering how it would look if it was soaked in Evapo-Rust. I had an opportunity to use that for the first time recently, and it amazed me how well and quickly it worked. It is actually a pretty gentle rust remover.

From their website: EVAPO-RUST® – Super Safe Rust Remover

Evapo-Rust® is a non-toxic rust remover dip for restoring rusty treasures. With Evapo-Rust® you can remove rust to bare metal without sanding or scrubbing. Evapo-Rust® is the best rust remover available on the market today. It is safe, simple, and easy to use. No need for mixing. The solution is ready to use.

 

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On E bay there was a time when you could buy a lot of counterfeit coins made in China. They showed them with the copy stamp, but you would get them without it many times. I bet that is one of those coins. They copied many coins including non rare, common date  large cents too. Apparently, they liked the old looking large cents 😄

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I will add that it is not "mildly" but "wildly" magnetic.  It will "jump to a magnet.  Who knows why or who made it.  Maybe a movie prop.  I know that KellyCo sends out "copies" of Reales in some of their "bundles". 

I may look at that EVAPO-RUST® but doubt that I do anymore with it.  I don't dig relics like I once did so it would just be a waste really for me.  I also don't have the room for anything else in my apartment. LOL

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The "Jumps to a magnet" is a telling sign! But still interesting!👍👍

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Pure nickel will stick to a magnet also.

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