Mark Hofmann’s Forgeries in the Rare Coin World Still in Circulation Today

Mark Hoffmann, the most accomplished forgers in history comes from Utah. He started his career by forging rare coins and early Mormon currency. Hundreds of which are still in circulation.


Murder among the Mormons is the new Netflix film Directed by Jared Hess. The documentary film depicts the life of Mark Hofmann. The film does not spend much time on how Hofmann began producing successful forgeries of coins as young as fourteen.

Hofmann’s early forgery career was almost exclusively in coins and rare Mormon currency and he likely created hundreds of forgeries that are still in circulation today. This is according to an interview by long-time Hofmann friend and confidant Shannon Flinn, who was one of the main characters in Murder of the Mormons.

A fascinating chapter not covered much in the film was Hofmann’s relationship with longtime coin dealer Alvin Rust. It was by dealing with Rust that Hofmann perfected his craft of forgery through trial and error. Hofmann sold Rust dozens of coins and eventually currency. About a dozen examples of Hofmann’s forgeries are in Alvin Rusts’ book entitled Mormon and Utah Coin and Currency.

Rust’s addendum to his book published in 1984 demonstrates how thorough Hofmann’s deception was in the rare Mormon coin and currency world. What is remarkable is that it is highly likely that Hofmann’s pieces are still traded and sold today among coin collectors as authentic.

Flinn remarks that there are tests that can be rather easily conducted on coins to determine if they are authentic, but neither coin dealers nor collectors want to subject their collections, which are worth thousands of dollars, to these tests, which could make their coins worthless.

Utah Stories intends to investigate if any coin dealers would like to put their coins for sale up to the test.

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