Studio Haskovo

By Dr. Ilya Prokopov

While working on the fake reports, I noticed a series of replicas and copies and recognize they were the specific products of steel dies that I have documented in the fake coin reports. These dies are from one of the Dimitrovgrad studios which we have named Studio Haskovo.  Dimitrovgrad is a town in Haskovo Province of southern Bulgaria.  The fake coin reports include reports of both the steel dies as well as their derivatives.  The intent of this article is to present them here arranged for easy comparison, more conviently than could be done using the reports.   Due to its large volume I will split the article into several parts.

PART ONE: GREEK ARCHAICAL AND CLASSICAL

Syracuse, Silver Tetradrachm, minted under Agathokles, c. 317 - 310 B.C.
28 mm, 17.5 g
Obverse: Head of Persephone left, wearing wreath of corn; three dolphins around
Reverse: Galloping quadriga driven left by charioteer holding goad; above, triskeles; in ex, SURAKUSIWN / NI
Steel dies: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=738  
Replica:  https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=810


Rhodos, Rhodes, Silver Tetradrachm, 387 - 304 B.C.
26 mm, 16.5 g
Obverse: Head of Helios
Reverse: Rose with bud on left, RODION
Steel dies: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=666
Replica: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=660



Amphipolis, Silver Tetradrachm, 410-357 B.C. 
26 mm, 16.5 g
Obverse: Head of Apollo right, of vigorous classical style, laureate, and with hair disheveled
Reverse: AMIOITEN on raised frame containing a race torch, A to right of torch; all within incuse square
Replica: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=82 
Steel dies: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=79


Olynthos, Chalkidian League, 420 - 392 B.C.
26 mm, 16.4 g
Olynthos, a city known as a center of the opposition to Athenian imperialism.
Obverse: Head of Apollo to left,
Reverse: Greek legends around Lyre.
Replica: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=530
Steel dies: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=260



Ainos, silver tetradrachm, c. 405 - 357 B.C.
25 mm, 16.5 g
Ainos, situated on a peninsula at the mouth of the river Hebros.
Obverse: Head of youthful Hermes facing, wearing petaso, ornamented with beads above brim.
Reverse: AINION above goat standing to right and a trophy before.
Replica: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=52
Steel dies: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=38


Pantikapaion, gold stater (replica struck in silver), 4th Century B.C.
23 mm, SGCV 1693
Head of Pan left, wreathed with ivy / ΠAN, Griffin standing left on stalk of corn, head facing, spear in mouth Obverse: Head of Pan, God of shepherds and flocks, son of Hermes and a nymph.
Replica: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=548
Steel dies: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=542




Lykkeios, Paeonia, Silver Tetradrachm, 359 - 335 B.C.
24 mm struck in  Obverse: Laureate head of Zeus right. Supreme god of the Olympians. Father of Perseus and Heracles, the latter of whom once wrestled him to a draw. Zeus's Roman name was Jupiter. Reverse: Heracles strangling Nemean lion, club behind.
Replica: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=540
Steel dies: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?album=10&pos=454


It does not take an expert to see that the replicas are products of these die pairs.  Notice the replicas are marked with a positive inscription COPY put in an incuse oval; but we can see there is no such inscription on the dies. Therefore "copy" has been added later by a countermark like strike on the reverse. This leaves an impression that "copy" marking is a question of a subjective decision. If the steel dies producers had the sincere desire to avoid scams or delusion with their products they would probably put the marking on the dies themselves. So far I have seen more than 150 steel die pairs of this group of studios and not even one included a mark to indicate that the product is a replica or copy.  Some of the replicas have already shown up on the market unmarked but when we compare the style and manner of work to the originals, we can be identify these forgeries. Identifying the difference in style and manner of work between replicas and the originals is easier with the types engraved in sophisticated style with fine portraits and peculiarities that are emblematic of the type recognizable to collectors.  But what can we say about the more schematic late ancient, Byzantyne and other coins?