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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Numismatics ▸ CounterfeitsView Options:  |  |  | 

Ancient Counterfeit Coins

Counterfeits of some of the very earliest coins prove that counterfeiting is nearly as old as coinage. The coins on this page are not the official issues of the various Greek cities or kings, or of the Roman or Byzantine empires, but they are all ancient, historic, and collectible. These are not modern replicas.


Imitative Byzantine Anonymous Follis of Christ, c. 970 - 980 A.D.

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Of this type of imitative, Lampinen writes, "The second phase of Balkan coinage production goes into high gear with the introduction of the anonymous follis series during the reign of John I (969 - 976). The explicit Christian imagery must have struck a chord with the recently converted Balkan masses because the official mint issues were accompanied by a fair quantity of copies, to meet the excess demand. These Christian issues would also be the prototypes for the initial coinage of several medieval Christian states, such as the first Crusader issues of Edessa and Antioch, medieval Armenia and distant Georgia in the Caucasus."
BZ89911. Bronze anonymous follis, See Lampinen Imitative p. 154 for a similar imitative; for the likely prototype cf. official Byzantine anonymous class A1 folles; SBCV 1793, VF, green patina, double struck, porous, crude and blundered, weight 6.880 g, maximum diameter 26.3 mm, unofficial (Balkan?) mint, c. 970 - 980 A.D.; obverse facing bust of Christ, wears nimbus cruciger ornamented with two pellets in each limb of cross, pallium, and colobium, Gospels in both hands, blundered imitation of the abbreviation: IC - XC (Greek: Iisos Xrists - Jesus Christ) across field; reverse blundered inscription imitating: + IhSuS / XRISTuS / bASILEu / bASILE (Greek: Jesus Christ King of Kings); rare this crude; $300.00 (264.00)


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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The legends are mostly off flan. Reverse legend possibilities include LEG XX V V, LEG XX AVG, LEG II PARTH, LEG V [...] S M AVG. The mintmark may be retrograde MC, which is known for Camulodunum (Colchester, England), but no boar standing right types are published for Camulodunum. Perhaps the mintmark is retrograde ML, but that too is unpublished. This was likely struck in an unofficial mint (an ancient counterfeit?). Carausius' legionary boar types are highly desirable, and all seem to be quite rare. We do not know of another specimen of this variety.
RA73285. Billon antoninianus, cf. RIC V-2 82 (R2), Cohen VII 148, Hunter IV 13, Webb Carausius 97 - 99, Askew 151, SRCV IV 13617, aF, green patina, earthen deposits, tight flan cutting off legends, a little rough, weight 3.769 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 45o, unofficial(?) mint, c. 287 A.D.; obverse [IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG?], radiate and draped bust right, early reign 'moustache' portrait; reverse L[EG...], boar standing right, large tusks, prominent ridge of spinal bristles, [reversed C?]M in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; very rare; $220.00 (193.60)


Agrippa, Military Commander, Friend of Augustus, Grandfather of Caligula, Ancient Unofficial Cast

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This coin is clearly cast and not an official struck mint issue. Many unofficial counterfeits or perhaps semi-offical local imitations were struck and cast in Gaul, especially during the reign of Claudius (up to 50% of the bronze Claudius coins found in some areas), apparently due to shortages of official coinage. This coin was probably cast at that time.
RB88887. Cast bronze as, cf. RIC I Gaius 58, BMCRE II Tiberius 161, BnF II Caligula 77, Hunter I 1, Cohen I 3, SRCV I 1812 (official, Rome mint, struck under Caligula), F, green patina, corrosion, casting seams and sprues, weight 15.775 g, maximum diameter 30.7 mm, die axis 180o, unofficial mint, 38 - c. 60 A.D.; obverse M AGRIPPA L F COS III, head left wearing a rostral crown; reverse Neptune standing facing, head left, nude but for cloak draped over arms, dolphin in right hand, trident vertical in left hand, large S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $150.00 (132.00)


Roman Republic, Unofficial, c. 169 - 91 B.C.

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Crawford notes, "The very common quadrantes with M and N (as Milan 351) are clearly unofficial."
RR79715. Copper quadrans, cf. Milan 351 (from Crawford appendix p. 309 unofficial issues of bronze coins), Sydenham -, VF, centered on a tight flan, light marks,, weight 4.182 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 135o, unofficial mint, c. 169 - 91 B.C.; obverse head of Hercules right, wearing Nemean Lion scalp headdress, three pellets behind; reverse prow right, ROMA below, three pellets before, M above; ex FORVM (2006), ex Goodman collection; $125.00 (110.00)


Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D., Ancient Counterfeits

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Many ancient plated counterfeits have an obverse and reverse that do not match. The dies were likely created using impressions of genuine coins. Two different coins had to be used because producing each die destroyed the coin used to create an impression. The forgers were apparently unconcerned about mismatched types. The silver from the destroyed coins could then be used to make the silver foil for plating.
RS91042. Fouree silver plated denarius, cf. RIC II-1 720 for obv. (silver, official, Rome, Sep 90 - Sep 91); RIC II-1 789 for rev. (silver, official, Rome, Sep 95 - Sep 96), F, many platting breaks, weight 2.286 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, unofficial counterfeiter's mint, c. 95 - 99 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P X, laureate head right; reverse IMP XXII COS XVII CENS P P P, Minerva standing left, helmeted and draped, thunderbolt in right hand, spear vertical behind in left hand, grounded shield at feet behind; $60.00 (52.80)


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D.

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Providentia is the personification of the ability to foresee and to make provision for the future. This ability was considered essential for the emperor and providentia was among the embodiments of virtues that were part of the imperial cult. Cicero said that providentia, memoria (memory) and intellegentia (understanding) are the three main components of prudentia, the knowledge what is good or bad or neither.
RS85049. Fouree silver plated denarius, cf. RIC III 19, RSC II 804, BMCRE IV 66, Hunter II -, SRCV II - (official, Rome mint, 10 Dec 180 - 10 Dec 181 A.D.), aVF, well centered, toned, bumps and scratches, edge cracks, copper core exposed in a few spots, weight 2.713 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 0o, unofficial counterfeiter's mint, c. 181 - 182 A.D.; obverse M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse TR P VI IMP IIII COS III P P, Providentia standing half left, head left, wand in right hand over globe at feet, long grounded scepter in left hand; $55.00 (48.40)







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REFERENCES

Campbell, W. Greek and Roman Plated Coins. ANSNNM 75. (New York, 1933).
Metcalf, W. "Two Alexandrian Hoards" in RBN CXXII (1976), pp. 65 - 77, & pls. 1 - 2.

Catalog current as of Monday, June 17, 2019.
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Ancient Counterfeit Coins