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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Ancient Coin Forum (Moderator: Dr. Danny S. Jones)  |  Topic: Is it Real? The How-to Guide 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Is it Real? The How-to Guide  (Read 521 times)
Dr. Danny S. Jones
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Danny Jones

« on: May 31, 2019, 02:05:42 pm »

For the new collector of ancient coins, or anyone else who holds a small round object, pondering if it is a genuine ancient coin, a modern forgery, or an arcade token, I wanted to start a post with some basic guidelines. I know there are plenty of posts on the subject. I was hoping to consolidate them here. I will start with some basics and pin this post, adding to it as others chime in on the matter.


1. Does the style match known types?
2. Does the weight fall in an accepted range of known types?
3. Does it match the die of a known forgery?
4. Does it possess any characteristics of a forgery? (i.e. casting marks, unusual uniformity, applied patination, wrong material, unusually uneven wear, etc.) 
5. Does a coin expert who has handled thousands of ancient coins tell you that it is genuine or fake? *

*On point number five, remember that slabbing companies such as NGC do not guarantee authenticity, only grading.

Can our resident experts add to this list?


Joe Sermarini
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2019, 02:47:38 pm »

Here is a little longer list:
Does the style match the expectations for the type?  (Strange style may mean pressed or struck with modern dies.)
Does the metal match expectations for the type?  (Many replicas are made in a different metal than the genuine original.)
Does the fabric match expectations for the type (thick, thin, squared, oval, round, etc.)?
Does this coin have the expected edge for the type (ragged, with or without sprues, beveled, straight, etc.)?
Does the strike match expectations for the type (weak, strong, even, uneven, centered, off center)?  (Perfect on a type that is almost never perfect needs close examination.)
Do the flow lines match expectations for the type with similar die wear?  (Particularly for some Roman silver, the more apparent die wear, the stronger the flow lines should be.)
Does it have edge cracks and splits within normal expectations for the type?  (Too few for the type may indicate casting. Too many for the type may be a sign of machine pressing.)
Does the weight fall within expectations for the type? (Some types are never light. Some often are, but underweight is still a reason for a closer look.)
Does it have casting bubbles?
Does it have casting pearls from bubbles in a mold created by casting?
Does it have a ghost line indicating the edge of an original coin used to make the mold?
Does it have missing legend or parts of the type and indications that it was cost from a mold made with a coin with those parts off flan?
Does it have waves in the fields (from uneven cooling after casting)?
Are the fields unusually flat? (May indicate machine pressing)
Does it have filing on the edge?
Does it have a casting or electrotype seam on the edge?
Are the edge cracks and splits real?
Does it have tooling?
Does it have a natural patina or an artificial patina?  (A genuine coin may have an "enhanced" patina, but a fake coin will never have a natural patina.)
Does it match any fake in the fake coin reports?
Is it for listed on eBay by a member of the Notorious Fake Seller List (NFSL)?
Is it for sale on eBay and the seller says no returns or has private listings?
Is it for sale on eBay and it is a very rare type or emperor, misattributed as a common coin?

The challenge of authentication is not just knowing what to look for, but also knowing what is normal for the particular type.

When NGC says they do not guarantee authenticity, what they mean is they aren't going to give you any money if they are wrong. How could they? You pay them $45 and they are going to guarantee your $5000 coin or even your $500 coin is genuine? Really they don't guarantee grading either. NGC authenticates coins and they have expertise. The guarantee limitation is not even worth mentioning. NGC is an unbiased highly expert opinion worthy of considerable respect. They can be wrong but they are more likely to be right than you are (and you means almost everyone).


Joseph Sermarini
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2019, 07:27:36 am »

How was the coin acquired?  Aside from the coin itself, the manner in which it was purchased can raise concerns.

- Was it an unbelievable deal?  There rarely are super deals these days.  The internet has taken care of that.  If you bought the coin for 1/10th the value of one listed on reputable sites you should be suspicious.

- Does the seller list/sell other items that are known fakes?  This does not guarantee that the coin in question is fake, but it does raise HUGE concerns.  I have condemned a few items that were in the questionable or uncertain authenticity category when I discovered that the dealer/vendor had many fakes for sale.


(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)
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