A rare Liberty Head coin is no small drop in the bucket.

The Salvation Army in Madison learned that last week after someone donated what appeared to be a genuine 1817 Liberty Head Large Cent, which could have been worth several hundred dollars.

The coin was donated during the Salvation Army's annual holiday kettle drive, which kicked off Nov. 9 and will run until Christmas Eve.

While the coin was considered a generous offer, on closer examination by Madison company London Starr Metals LLC, it was determined to be a modern replica that carried no value.

In light of the disappointment, London Starr Metals donated a coin of slightly greater value than an authentic Liberty Head coin - a genuine one-quarter ounce American Gold Eagle coin.

"It's wonderful," said Salvation Army Corps Officer Lt. Matt Phelps. "We're very grateful here."

If genuine, a high-grade Liberty Head coin could have fetched about $350. The new coin is worth more than $400.

"Somebody obviously meant well with the donation, and we wanted to honor that good intention and assist," said store owner Jacob McCollum.

He said the replica Liberty Head coin showed - among many suspicious details - several signs of artificial aging and had too many crisp features for such an allegedly old piece.

"There were some pretty large discrepancies from that and an authentic piece," he said.

The Salvation Army has set a $116,000 goal for this year's Christmas drive, and it is hoping to draw $50,000 just from the kettles.

Last year, the organization raised about $118,000.

During the Christmas drive, the Salvation Army will operate anywhere from seven to 10 bellringing stations at different locations across town.