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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.

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 - 168; Cohen I 3, BnF II Caligula 77 - 97, 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 (127.50)

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 (106.25)

Arados, Phoenicia, 400 - 350 B.C., Ancient Counterfeit

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Arwad, Syria, an island in the Mediterranean, was settled by Phoenicians early in the 2nd millennium B.C. In the Bible it is called Arvad. In Greek it was known as Arados. The city also appears in ancient sources as Arpad and Arphad. Antiochus I Soter renamed it Antiochia in Pieria.
GS88202. Fouree silver plated diobol, cf. BMC Phoenicia p. 8, 48 (silver, official, .77g, obol); cf. HGC 2 41 (silver official, c. 3.5g, tetrobol, R1), gVF, rough area at edge, no trace of silvering, weight 1.614 g, maximum diameter 10.7 mm, die axis 0o, unofficial counterfeiter's mint, 400 - 350 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded male deity (Ba'al-Arwad) right, normal profile eye; reverse war galley right on waves, Aramaic letters above: MA (from right to left); $90.00 (76.50)

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 (46.75)

Roman Republic, Lucius Flaminius Chilo, c. 109 - 108 B.C., Ancient Counterfeit

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The Roman numeral X is a denomination mark for the denarius. Originally the denarius was valued at ten asses, explaining the origin of the mark. When the denarius was revalued to 16, a ligature of of XVI ( X ) was adopted as a mark of value, but the older X was also still used. A genuine Roman denarius would not have more than one mark of value on the obverse. No copper or bronze core is visible but the fabric is clearly unusual and unofficial.
RR88427. Fouree silver plated denarius, cf. Crawford 302/1, Sydenham 540, BMCRR Rome 537, RSC I Flaminia 1, RBW Collection 1144, SRCV I 179 (official, silver denarius, Rome mint), F, uneven dark toning, rough areas, off center, weight 2.431 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, unofficial mint, c. 109 - 105 B.C.; obverse head of Roma left in winged helmet, ornamented with griffin head, peaked visor in three pieces, wearing single drop earring and necklace, X behind and second X below chin; reverse Victory in biga right, raising wreath in extended right hand, reins in left hand, L FLAMINI below, CILO in exergue; $38.00 (32.30) ON RESERVE



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 Saturday, February 23, 2019.
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Ancient Counterfeit Coins