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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Numismatics| ▸ |Counterfeits||View 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.

Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C., Portrait of Alexander the Great, Ancient Counterfeit

|Kingdom| |of| |Thrace|, |Kingdom| |of| |Thrace,| |Lysimachos,| |305| |-| |281| |B.C.,| |Portrait| |of| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||tetradrachm|
This coin was previously attributed as an official Lampsakos mint issue. It is no wonder, the style is superb, the portrait of Alexander the Great is struck in magnificent high relief. Other than a base metal core, this work of a criminal engraver and workshop was equal to the finest tetradrachms struck for Lysimachos at his kingdom's official mints.
SH85159. Fouree silver plated tetradrachm, cf. Thompson 49, SNG BnF 2548, SNG Delepierre 843, SNG Cop 1097, Müller 399 (all solid silver, official mint issues), Choice EF, masterpiece portrait in high relief, well centered, some die wear/damage, slight double strike, small areas of exposed core, weight 15.269 g, maximum diameter 29.4 mm, die axis 270o, unofficial counterfeiter's mint, 297 - 281 B.C.; obverse diademed head of deified Alexander the Great wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛYΣIMAXOY, Athena enthroned left, Nike crowning name in extended right hand, left arm rests on grounded round shield decorated with Gorgoneion, transverse spear against right side, ∆/Ξ monogram inner left field, crescent horns left in exergue; ex Art of Money (Portland, OR); SOLD

Pescennius Niger, April to 1 June 193 - March, April or May 194 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit

|Pescennius| |Niger|, |Pescennius| |Niger,| |April| |to| |1| |June| |193| |-| |March,| |April| |or| |May| |194| |A.D.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||ancient| |counterfeit|
SH34918. Bronze ancient counterfeit, cf. RIC IV 84 (denarius, official, Antioch mint), VF, weight 2.225 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 0o, unofficial mint, obverse IMP CAES C PESC[...] NIGER IVSTI AVG, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIAE (victories), Victory standing left, holding palm frond in left, with right inscribing AVG on shield set on column; very rare; SOLD

Macedonian Kingdom, Philip II of Macedonia, 359 - 336 B.C.

|Macedonian| |Kingdom|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Philip| |II| |of| |Macedonia,| |359| |-| |336| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Gorny and Mosch listed this coin as plated with a square punch on the reverse. The dark area on the reverse is not a punch, the rider's leg and other details remain intact within the dark square. It is a flan flaw or lamination defect. The obverse is a die match to three plate coins in Le Rider, which also have this apluster reverse. A die match to an official coin usually indicates an official issue. This coin is perhaps not a fouree but rather just has a defect due to a poorly amalgamated alloy.
SH68251. Silver tetradrachm, perhaps a plated ancient counterfeit, cf. Le Rider pl. 39, 409 - 410 (same obv die, O409/R-), SNG ANS 543 ff., SNG Cop -, aEF, flaw on reverse, fine style, weight 14.246 g, maximum diameter 25.15 mm, die axis 225o, Amphipolis mint, c. 342 - 328 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOY, naked youth pacing right on horseback palm frond in right, reins in left, galley stern with apluster to left below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 216, 2263; SOLD

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt, Ancient Counterfeit

|Counterfeits|, |Nero,| |13| |October| |54| |-| |9| |June| |68| |A.D.,| |Roman| |Provincial| |Egypt,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||tetradrachm|
J. G. Milne wrote in 1933, "There are scarcely any counterfeits or forgeries of Alexandrian coins in existence, other than those made in modern times." This is an ancient counterfeit Alexandrian tetradrachm of Nero struck with unofficial dies shared with counterfeit coins published by William Metcalf in "Two Alexandrian Hoards." The first of the two hoards, a "Hoard of Forgeries from Luxor" was acquired by E. T. Newell at Luxor in March, 1908. The American Numismatic Society Collection includes 76 pieces from the hoard. The counterfeits were probably struck c. 138 A.D., the date of the latest official prototype imitated in the hoard. The die combination of our coin is upublished.
RX85240. Billon tetradrachm, Metcalf Two, part 1. A Hoard of Forgeries from Luxor, Obv. IV / Rev. 8 (unlisted die combination); cf. Dattari 246, RPC I 5293 (official, Alexandria), VF, attractive dark toning, well centered and struck on a tight flan, weight 13.386 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, unoffical counterfeiter's mint, c. 138 A.D.; obverse NEo KΛΛV KAIΣ ΣEB ΓEPM, radiate bust right, wearing aegis; reverse AVTO KPΛ, helmeted and cuirassed bust of Roma right, L IΓ (year 13 = 29 Aug 66 - 28 Aug 67 A.D.) to right; very rare; SOLD

Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit

|Caracalla|, |Caracalla,| |28| |January| |198| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||denarius|
The Paris coin referenced by RIC, RSC, BMCRE and Cohen is listed as issued by the Laodicea ad Mare mint, but it is also undoubtedly an ancient counterfeit.
SH28321. Silver denarius, RIC IV 355 var., RSC III 20 var., BMCRE V p, 300 var., Cohen 20 var. (all refer to a single Paris coin Laodicea ad Mare mint, CERERI FRVGIS revs), gVF, frosty surfaces, weight 3.873 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, illegal mint, obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate and draped young bust right; reverse CERERI FRVGTI (sic), Ceres seated left, stalks of grain in right hand, long scepter vertical in left; extremely rare; SOLD

Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Plain Globular Type

|Archaic| |Electrum|, |Ionia,| |c.| |650| |-| |600| |B.C.,| |Plain| |Globular| |Type||hemihekte|
Mankind's first counterfeit coin type! Rare and important. This is an example of the very earliest form of coinage; a type-less (blank) electrum globule, weighed to a specific standard, with a simple square punch mark on one side (two or three punch marks on larger denominations). But this is not solid electrum; it is a counterfeit of electrum plated copper or bronze. Counterfeiting began almost immediately after the first coinage was introduced.
SH86630. Fouree electrum plated hemihekte, cf. 1/12 stater, SNG Kayhan 676, SNGvA 7763, Rosen 324, Traité II -, Weidauer -, VF, bumps and marks, a few plating breaks, weight 0.839 g, maximum diameter 6.8 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Ionian mint, period of the Artemision Find, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse plain flattened globular surface; reverse incuse roughly square pyramidal punch; SOLD

Tiberius, 19 August 14 - 16 March 37 A.D., Tribute Penny of Matthew 22:20-21, Ancient Eastern Imitative

|Tiberius|, |Tiberius,| |19| |August| |14| |-| |16| |March| |37| |A.D.,| |Tribute| |Penny| |of| |Matthew| |22:20-21,| |Ancient| |Eastern| |Imitative||cast| |imitative| |denarius|
Part of a hoard of nearly 200 Tiberius and Augustus denarii found in India. Imitations, such as this coin, were produced in India, and used for local trade. Some of these imitations appear to have be struck, some cast. This coin was cast.
RS27887. Silver cast imitative denarius, cf. Giard Lyon, group 2, 146; RIC I 28 (S); BMCRE I 44; RSC II 16b; SRCV I 1763 (official Roman, struck, Lugdunum mint, c. 15 - 18 A.D.), VF, weight 3.404 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 45o, obverse TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS, laureate head right; reverse PONTIF MAXIM (high priest), Pax (or Livia as Pax) seated right on chair with ornately decorated legs set on base, long scepter vertical behind in her right hand, branch in left hand, no footstool; ex Triton X, lot 1559; SOLD

Abdera, Thrace, c. 365 - 346 B.C.

|Abdera|, |Abdera,| |Thrace,| |c.| |365| |-| |346| |B.C.||stater|
Abdera was sacked by Philip II of Macedon in 350 B.C. and was absorbed in to Philip's empire. According to May, Philip closed the mint in 346 B.C. The city was later sacked and controlled by Lysimachos of Thrace, the Seleucids, the Ptolemies, again the Macedonians, Eumenes II of Pergamon and finally the Romans.
SH42186. Silver stater, Possibly an ancient counterfeit, cf. May Abdera 464 ff. (none retrograde); SGCV I 1551 (same), VF, porosity around edges, weight 6.108 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 180o, obverse EΠI above, ΠAYΣANIΩ in exergue (all retrograde), recumbent griffin right; the entire obverse is retrograde (the griffin is normally left); reverse AB∆HPI/EΩN, laureate head of Apollo right, within incuse square; ex Gorny and Mosch; SOLD

Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C., Ancient Counterfeit

|Alexander| |the| |Great|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |336| |-| |323| |B.C.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||stater|
The engraver of the dies for this ancient counterfeit skillfully copied the types, but the blundered legend reveals he was illiterate. Looking at this coin, we can't help but wonder about the fate of the maker. Did he prosper and become wealthy? In the end did he pay for his crime?
SH65420. Fouree gold plated stater, cf. Price 3724 (official, solid silver, Babylon mint, 317 - 311 B.C.), aVF, breaks in plating exposing bronze core, weight 4.857 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 0o, illegal mint, after 315 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right in crested Corinthian helmet decorated with griffin; reverse AΛEΞANY BAEIΛEE (sic!), Nike standing left, wreath in extended right hand, ship's mast in left, XA monogram lower inner left; rare; SOLD

Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C., In the Name of Alexander the Great, Ancient Counterfeit

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Seleukos| |I| |Nikator,| |312| |-| |281| |B.C.,| |In| |the| |Name| |of| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||tetradrachm|
An ancient counterfeit with very attractive style remarkably similar to the official issue.
SH26703. Fouree silver plated tetradrachm, cf. Price 3747 (official, Babylon mint), aEF, small areas of base core, weight 16.177 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 270o, unofficial mint, c. 300 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus Aëtophoros enthroned left, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, right leg drawn back, monogram in wreath left, MI under throne; nice-style and high-relief obverse; SOLD


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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.

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