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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Resources  |  Authentication, Fakes and Frauds (Moderators: maridvnvm, Ilya Prokopov)  |  Topic: Dangerous forgery?- Ideas? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Dangerous forgery?- Ideas?  (Read 6037 times)
Hydatius
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« on: May 18, 2006, 10:16:03 am »

I just won the solidus below from a major US auction house.  Stylistically it is perfect.  There is absolutely nothing about the appearance or the weight (4.34 g) to suggest that it was anything other than what it appeared to be.  It even has some flow lines on the left obverse legend.  Upon receiving it I noticed an odd flaw on the reverse (circled in the photo).  The gold was peeling off and underneath was a silvery-white metal.  I poked it with a probe and it is not just a grain of sand embedded in the metal, it is solid.  There are a few flaws and scrapes on the obverse and they are consistent with gold (and nothing is exposed beneath).  The kicker came when I dropped it.  It doesn't ring as other solidi do and the sound it made was of a lower frequency.  This coin was previously sold in the CNG Mail bid sale 64 lot 1229 on 24 Sept 2003.

Has anyone heard of modern forgeries like this?  I've seen a lot of fake fifth-century solidi and I've never seen one that is as stylistically perfect as this is.  It must come from a cast since the obverse shares a die with a legit coin sold by Sotheby's, NAC, and Gorny & Mosch between 1990 and 2004.  Without the flaw on the reverse I never would have suspected it.  And it has been around for a while: the surface is covered with scuffs and dings and dents.  Any suggestions?

 Richard
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2006, 10:18:44 am »

Here's the reverse in a larger size
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Miguel D
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2006, 05:36:29 am »

Could you scan or zoom ?

We can't see the silver color in your photo ...
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2006, 07:14:04 am »

I hadn't thought about a scan.  Doh!  Here it is.

Lots of views but no suggestions?  Is this a normal method of forging gold and I'm just clueless, or is this something new?
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2006, 08:28:39 am »

Are you certain it is a modern forgery, could it be a fourree possibly?

--Peter
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2006, 09:36:10 am »

No I'm not, but since I have never run across this sort of fake before I am asking Forum members to give me their opinions. 

What I can say is that the obverse is the same as an existing obverse: I include a picture below, though the specimen pictured was double struck so it looks a little odd.  The reverse is not like any other reverse I have seen.  My suspicion is, therefore, that it was cast from a real coin though obviously not from the one pictured below.  The coin itself looks perfect to my eyes (and to others' since, as I noted, its been sold through reputable auction houses twice in the last little while).  Any ancient gold fourée I've seen (all here on Forum) is obviously fake, either from the style or the casting process. 

I couldn't begin to judge whether it could be ancient and whether such a good coin could be produced by an ancient forger from a cast die (the gold appears to be thicker on the obverse then the reverse: there's a scrape that shows none of the core there).  That's why I'm appealing to the boards for expertise on this matter since I know nothing about the general quality of ancient gold fourées.

Richard
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2006, 09:57:48 am »

I suggest measuring the specific gravity to help determine if it is plated.
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2006, 10:36:59 am »

How would one go about doing that?  It's the right size and weight for a solidus in its condition.
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2006, 02:54:04 pm »

Here's another thought: could it somehow be some kind of inclusion, a bit of silver or something else that got into the gold when the coin was made (legitimately)?  Would that kill the natural ring tone when it is struck?

Richard
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2006, 03:26:08 am »

Are you sure it's silver ?

Perhaps it could be another alliage material (tin, lead, etc.) ...

The problem now is to know if it's a modern or an ancient forgery.

I am not a specialist of forgeries of ancient aurei. Could someone give more informations about them ?

I hadn't thought about a scan.  Doh!  Here it is.

Lots of views but no suggestions?  Is this a normal method of forging gold and I'm just clueless, or is this something new?
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2006, 05:17:08 am »

Could it be just a silver pellet not completely dissolved in the gold alloy? I know they minted very pure gold then, but I have no better idea.

Rupert
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2006, 07:03:07 am »

Are you sure it's silver ?

I didn't say it was.  I said it was 'silvery-white metal'.  It could be anything.  All I can say is that it loks much brighter and silvery in the scan than in real life. 

I'm glad others seem stumped by this as well.  I don't feel so dumb.
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2006, 07:48:48 am »

Unfortunately, your zoom is  fuzzy.  Please, try to get sharp picture of this detail.
 
 Usually, gold sounds.  Can such an inclusion prevent ringing? Or there is a core inside? 
It would be interesting  to measure the volume of this coin.

There was a thread
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=26882.msg175695#msg175695
where drainage ducts were mentioned.  Could it be one?
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2006, 08:14:52 am »

Unfortunately, your zoom is  fuzzy.  Please, try to get sharp picture of this detail.

That's the best I can do.  It was scanned at 6000 dpi (I guess I could have gone to 9600 but the photo was almost 20 MB as it was).  I'd need a microscope to get a better picture.  The coin has been sent back for evaluation.
 
Quote
Usually, gold sounds.  Can such an inclusion prevent ringing? Or there is a core inside? 
It would be interesting  to measure the volume of this coin.

These are the questions I need answers to!  Joe suggested getting the SG but I have no accurate means of doing so and since we're out of term it'd take a while finding anyone at the university with the apparatus to do it properly, and, as I said, I don't have the coin at the moment.

Quote
There was a thread
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=26882.msg175695#msg175695
where drainage ducts were mentioned.  Could it be one?

Not likely since the peeling gold is in the middle of the coin (circled in the first picture).

Richard
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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2006, 01:38:31 pm »

I don't see the peeling you are refering to. I do see the white blob in your fuzzy enlargement. Looks like a piece of wax left over from a previous casting or perhaps an embedded piece of sand. It should pry off without much difficulty and I owuld guess it would be gold underneath.

When I said "previous casting" I meant someone made a cast of this coin, not that this coin is cast. People make cast impressions all the time for various reasons, just ask Curtis. Often times you'll get bits of wax or plasticine stuck in some of the devices.

The coin look perfectly fine to me.

Barry Murphy
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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2006, 02:22:49 pm »

The edges of the exfoliated gold are along the top and right hand side of the white 'blob' (which, as I said, isn't that bright in normal light it, just reflects the scanner light very well).  It is definitely solid and it definitely continues under the gold in all directions; it's not just a piece of sand (my original thought was that it had been forced into the reverse through pressure, but it's actually UNDER the gold).  I suspect that the gold came loose under pressure from the plastic flip (it is a raised point on the reverse).  I suspect that by the time it gets looked at the peeled gold will have come loose.  But I agree with Barry that to look at the coin there is nothing wrong with it.  I would never have suspected it but for the peeling gold, which then led to the sound test.  If it were wax or a bit of sand, could that explain why the coin goes 'clunk' insted of that lovely light 'ting' when raised on the edge and let fall?

Richard
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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2006, 02:39:22 pm »

Being heavier and softer than silver, gold doesn't produce as bright a "ting" as the latter. Not exactly "clunk" but the sound, produced by the vibration of the elastic metal, would have to be duller, I presume. Have you compared this coin to other solidi?

Rupert
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« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2006, 03:18:49 pm »

Have you compared this coin to other solidi?

Yes, I have many other solidi including two from the same mint one struck approximately five years before and the other five after.  They all sound the same, except for one solidus of Anthemius that has a hole in it.  It's the only one that sounded similar.  Even my wife (who knows nothing about coins) could tell which one this was when I sounded a group of three Constantinopolitan solidi and she kept her eyes closed.   Weird, eh?

Richard
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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2006, 04:18:09 pm »

Yes, really. On the other hand, this might point to a slip in the production of the flan. Some foreign inclusion that shouldn't be in there might have a similar effect on the sound of the coin as the hole in your Anthemius solidus.

Rupert
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« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2006, 08:57:56 am »

I don't know if this is any help or not, but here is another coin with this "problem", I think.  I just found it online and I would be a bit worried about these myself.
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« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2006, 09:06:31 am »

Yes, that's very much the same sort of thing, though the gold has been scraped, it isn't flaking.  What's the obverse?  Could you post it?

Richard
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« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2006, 09:12:11 am »

Here is the obverse.  It doesn't seem to show any of these types of problems.  If you blow up the reverse,  there are silvery looking patches all over that look rubbed or are just plain uncovered perhaps. 
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« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2006, 09:18:19 am »

Oops. I am wrong, there are little white areas on the obverse as well if you blow it up.
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Jeff Clark
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« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2006, 02:53:43 pm »

You're right, though I suspect that some at least are just highlights that are overexposed.  The gouge on the reverse is the most like it, though.  Where did you you find this?  The type and officina are very rare (cited from one sale in 1970 by Kent).  You have good eyes!

Richard
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« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2006, 03:00:27 pm »

It is currently for sale on ebay...but as a live auction that will occur at Long Beach.  It is a type I would love to have, but I won't be getting this one for sure!
I also don't think many of the silver areas are really overexposures either since many of them occur in recessed areas and pits.  The one dot on the lower right of the cross doesn't really seem overexposed either, but it could be.
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