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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Resources  |  Fake Coins and Notorious Fake Sellers (Moderators: maridvnvm, Ilya Prokopov)  |  Topic: Licinius Ostia-Arles transfer - what's the tell ? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Licinius Ostia-Arles transfer - what's the tell ?  (Read 327 times)
Congius
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« on: September 12, 2020, 09:17:53 pm »

This isn't a fake report - it's a question about why/how a coin was identified as fake

1st specimen (link below) is in Forvm fake reports identified as a modern fake by none other that out host, Joe!

2nd specimen is from the master's thesis of (CGB boss) Laurent Schmitt's son. I believe the coin was bought by Phillipe Ferrando. [Edit:] It is now in the Arles museum!

3rd specimen is currently for sale at CGB, for EUR 1700 !

4th specimen, sadly, was bought by me a long time ago. Luckily I only paid 25 pounds ("SPQR mint" ?!)

5th specimen is ex. Victor Failmezer (plate coin in his book if I recall).

All coins are obviously from same dies/moulds - including lump/flaw at back of Licinius' head.

Weights are all different: 1/2/3/5 are 3.4g, 2.9g, 2.72g, 2.7g. I've never weighed mine.

My question, primarily to Joe, but also to anyone else who can answer, is how one might identify this as fake without seeing the multiple specimens, or is that the only tell ? It seems to have deceived some people with considerable expertise (as well as myself  Smiley).

Ben

This is the link to the Forvm fake report for the first coin:

https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?pos=-17896
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Joe Sermarini
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2020, 07:11:58 am »

Please modify your first post to include a link to the fake coin report.
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Joseph Sermarini
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2020, 07:33:39 am »

I've added the link, Joe.

I left the copy of the photo for ease of comparison with the others.

Ben
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2020, 02:39:53 pm »

The report was filed in 2016. I no longer remember how it was identified. There may be a thread on this discussion board.
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Joseph Sermarini
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2020, 02:50:53 pm »

So I guess that means that original coin, by itself, doesn't jump out at you as fake ?

What about now seeing all 4 together - especially with that lump at the back of Licinius's head ? Would you definitely condemn them ?

I'll check the board to see if there was any prior discussion when the report was filed.

Thanks,
Ben
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2020, 04:12:48 pm »

This isn't a fake report - it's a question about why/how a coin was identified as fake


My question, primarily to Joe, but also to anyone else who can answer, is how one might identify this as fake without seeing the multiple specimens, or is that the only tell ? It seems to have deceived some people with considerable expertise (as well as myself  Smiley).

Ben

This is the link to the Forvm fake report for the first coin:

https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?pos=-17896


A good question.

I'd say the the 4th example is genuine - you can't fake a hard black patina like that. (So prove me wrong).

Ross G.
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2020, 05:04:07 pm »

It'd be nice if that was true, Ross, but the number of flaws in common with the second one is certainly major cause for concern. Is it possible that these are all die flaws rather than signs of copying ?

I'm adding one more specimen to my post above, having realized it's also from same dies/moulds. This one is ex. Victor Failmezger, since resold by a dealer.

These are the only specimens of the type (RIC 32) I have ever seen in over 15 years. RIC cites specimens in the BM (which doesn't appear to be online) and Copenhagen, neither of which I have seen.

The type is rare enough I suppose it's conceivable only a single die pair was used for Licinius, but then with 5/5 here from same dies, one might also expect a match to the ones cited by RIC... I wonder if that is the case ?

But those "die flaws" ... hmm ...

Ben
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2020, 10:13:33 pm »

The fake coin report coin may have been cast from a genuine coin. I believe it was actually sold as a replica. I agree that the 4th coin may be genuine. The other coins are suspicious. Not because of any of the flaws that are marked above. Not because of anything on the obverse, but rather because of the identical pitting on the reverse upper left. Identical raised bumps on coins can be the result of bumps or dings on a shared die. Dings are not rare. Identical pitting is more difficult to explain. 
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Joseph Sermarini
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« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2020, 11:49:22 pm »

Interesting - thanks, Joe.

Ben
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« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2020, 05:53:49 pm »

The one in the fake reports also looks soapy with soft details, mores than any of the others.
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2020, 06:15:18 am »

It was sold at auction together with other fakes as "Modern fake for study".
The auction house did not explain what is supposed to be wrong with each fake so it is not clear!
If this fake, was condemned for being a cast fake or transfer die fake and the imprints were taken from an authentic mother than of course authentic coins from this dies can exist.
But if the coin was condemned because it is a fake from modern hand cut die then of course all die matching coins must be modern fakes, too.

Maybe anyone wants to check if  die matches or die links exist to authentic coins in museums etc?

Licinius I (308-324). Fake Follis (20mm, 3.40g, 62h). Arelate, 313-5. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r. R/ Female standing r. on prow, holding cornucopiae, received by turreted Arles holding sceptre; PARL. Cf. RIC VII 30. Modern fake for study

I removed the name of auction house from screenshot
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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2020, 07:26:49 am »

Thanks, Din.

I'm pretty sure the coins are copied from authentic dies, if not themselves authentic. The obverse style is impeccable for Arles at tihs date, and I see no reason to doubt the reverse either.

I have been looking for die matches - but none yet. I'm expecting that the reverse die might be shared on other types issued for Licinius about the same date (esp. Sol), but no match so far - some are very close though.

There seems to have been a fairly strict officina assignment in use at this time, with S all-but-reserved for Licinius. There are a variety of reverse legend breaks on this type. RIC only notes DE-NT-IA for Constantine, althought the ANS ("NYNS") coin they cite is actually DEN-TI-A, and I've also seen DE-NTI-A for Constantine.

The crowded DE-NTI-A break is not common, but RIC says both the BM (off. S) and Copenhagen (suposedly off. T) coins for Licinius have this break, same as all above, so the BM coin (not available online) maye be a die match. I will try to contact them to get a picture.

Other than Licinius, I've only seen the DE-NTI-A break on one RIC 30 for Constantine (unlisted for off. S), which is not a reverse match, and one off. T for Constantine with an unlisted LDC bust.

Incidentally, for the paired VTILITAS PVBLICA type (Moneta departng from Ostia, vs arriving at Arles on PROVIDENTIA), RIC gives officina T for RIC 51, citing Voetter, but 6/6 specimens I've seen are all officina P, so "T" seems questionable.

Ben
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2020, 01:37:03 pm »

Now this is starting to get very interesting !

Picture below is of the BM specimen (provenance unknown), from Patrick Bruun's doctoral thesis "The Constantinian Coinage of Arelate". Picture kindly provided by Victor Clark.

Weight of this specimen is 2.84g.

A number of things stand out:

- it's from the same die pair
- it has same obverse raised die dings and scratches as above coins (assuming that's what they are)
- it also appears to have same reverse top left pitting behind Moneta's back !
- the obverse has significant concretions/deposits on the bust
- the reverse is significantly more worn/flattened than the best of the above coins

Per last two points, this can't have been used as a source for the above coins, if they are copies, unless the copied dies/moulds were significantly reworked to remove bust deposits and add reverse detail. I don't think the bust on #2 has been reworked though - looks ancient to me (maybe others disagree?).

The exergue of the BM coin appears almost (if not exactly) identical to the better preserved specimen #2 above, including what look like gouged indents (raised on die).

In also transpires (per Schmitt-Cadet's thesis) that coin # 2 is in the Arles museum now.

I've contacted the BM to see if I can get a better photo, and also Copenhagen asking for a photo of theirs.

Hmm ...

Ben

P.S. I keep reading my own title as "what the hell ?" ... maybe that would be more appropriate !
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otlichnik
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« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 04:43:33 pm »

I read your title as what the hell too!!

I have been spending a lot of time recently with my Chinese and Vietnamese cash coins, which include a lot of contemporary counterfeits, unofficial issues, etc.  When it comes to Vietnamese cash in particular, 3rd or even 4th generation casts (casts of casts of casts) are common and of course even the original issue coins were cast.

The point is I have recently been looking at hundreds of cast coins and it helps to exercise the eye when it comes to trying to spot casts of struck coins.

Coin #1 just screams cast to me.  The muddiness of the reverse lettering in particular.  This is subtly different from natural wear.  The blob where the exergue should be is an even better clue as it is clearly not wear.  It is a blob formed from poor casting - perhaps a poorly formed "negative" in a sand mold.

Coin #2 is better.  The horizontal line at the top of the reverse could at first glance be taken for a die crack.  However the mint mark is still blobby enough to set off alarm bells and cause the close examination which would highlight more issues re lettering.

Coin #3 is even better in that it appears to be in poorer condition and the lettering looks more worn than the result of poor casting.  It might have received post-casting abrasion to wear it down.  I would have bought this coin if it was cheap.  But knowing it was rare, and being the suspicious type, I would look further and be concerned about a blob in the mint mark.  While the whole mint mark is no longer a single blob (maybe it was tooled) there is still metal present where there shouldn't be - between mint mark letters.  This metal does not look like corrosion or adhesion product but looks like what it is - a casting flaw.

Coin #4 is very convincing.  If not original then it is a high quality cast made by someone with skill.  Concerning - and only an issue if checked very carefully before a big purchase - is the small dot/blob behind the head and the slight mess at the modius on head of right hand figure / adjacent letter.  These would have to be a) casting flaws, b) die damage, or c) an early adhesion product that then gained the same patina as the rest of the coin.  I agree that a true thin hard black patina may be very difficult or impossible to create, but you can't tell from a photo that it is such a true har patina - could be a good paint job till you get it in hand.

Coin #5 is also very convincing, at least as a photo.  The thick yellow-green patina is clever if this is a fake as it hides casting muddiness.  Likewise the deep scratches could hide casting flaws.  When i blow the photo up though I do see indications of porosity - lots of possible tiny casting bubbles. However, the poor condition and remaining patina might make you think it received harsh treatment - either in the ground or at the hands of man - and dismiss the concerns.  Would likely need this in hand to be sure.

Shawn

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SC
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« Reply #14 on: Today at 07:44:49 am »

Thanks Shawn !

I really appreciate the application of your trained eyes to this !

Your "metal where there shouldn't be" comment seems a pretty profound damning of some of these, as is Joe's comment on the diagnostic value of pitting vs raised areas.

It does seem that specimens 1, 2, 3 and 5, which seem to share both these traits - the horizontal line at top of reverse, reverse left pitting, and the blobby "metal where there shouldn't be" mintmark, are likely all casts.

I've heard that the ex. Failmezger coin #5 is now in hands of a dealer who has since had it professionally cleaned of that thick yellow-green patina (I haven't seen it in cleaned state), but I'm not sure given these commonalities that additional detail would redeem it.

I guess so far my #4 and the BM coin are looking best of the bunch, although neither would appear to be the original from which the others were cast, so the search continues. I'm still a bit concerned about the multiple obverse "die dings/scratches" that even these two share, so it would be good to find a die match to something with a decent pedigree!

I didn't get a photo from the BM yet, but they've replied in the past, so I expect they are just under-staffed and backlogged with requests at the moment. The BM coin does seem to have the same two pits behind Moneta's shoulder as the others, but not the extended pitting below that that looks a bit like a folded wing on the others. We really need a better photo.

Thanks again!

Ben
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otlichnik
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« Reply #15 on: Today at 12:23:52 pm »

Yes, I am wondering whether the "damage" we see in the fuzzy BM photo is in fact sign of a bad casting - metal blobs.

I look forward to see the better image.

Somewhere there has to be an "original;" that these were cast from.  Who knows whether it was genuine or a modern struck or tooled coin.

S
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