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Joe Sermarini:
When referring to ancient coins...

Fake should only be used when referring to modern copies or ancient coins that have been altered.  A fake patina or modern patina is an intentionally created chemically induced patina.  

Forgery should only be used when referring to modern fakes meant to deceive collectors.  An ancient counterfeit may also be called a forgery but I prefer to use the more specific term counterfeit for forgeries that were intended to circulate as money.  

Replica refers to modern fakes that are not meant to deceive collectors.  

A "tourist fake" is a fake sold by locals at ancient sites, often misrepresented as genuine, but which will not deceive most collectors.  Tourist fakes sometimes do not even remotely resemble a genuine ancient coin type and are often less realistic than replicas.  Before describing a coin as a tourist fake, consider that your comment may insult the owner because it implies they lack basic knowledge and perhaps should have known better.      

Counterfeit should refer to ancient fakes meant to circulate as the genuine original.  Counterfeit is sometimes used to describe modern fakes made to deceive collectors but I prefer to use the term counterfeit only for forgeries intended to circulate as money (ancient forgeries).  For greater clarity "ancient counterfeit" is better than just "counterfeit" and "modern forgery" is better than "modern counterfeit."  

The term "contemporary counterfeit" is sometimes used to describe ancient counterfeits (genuinely ancient coins but from an illegal or unofficial mint).  "Contemporary" has multiple meanings, two of which follow: 1) existing, occurring, or living at the same time, 2) of the present time, modern.  See the problem?  We have received many questions from new collectors confused by the use of the term contemporary.  "Contemporary" should not be used to describe any coin, modern or ancient, official or unofficial.  

To remove any possible confusion, we recommend using the terms "ancient counterfeit" and "modern forgery" and avoiding the terms "contemporary counterfeit," "contemporary forgery," "ancient forgery" and "modern counterfeit."    

A fouree (various spellings possible) is a plated ancient counterfeit (silver plate on a bronze core for example).  A plated modern fake should be called a plated modern fake, plated modern forgery, or a plated replica, but not a fouree.

Imitative refers to ancient coins that copy another type, but which probably were not meant to circulate as the genuine original.  Some imitative types were used as currency in an area outside the area the original coin was issued.  Some may have been used as substitutes for the original coin in areas where coinage was in short supply.  

Barbaric imitative refers to imitative coins of a non-Greek or non-Roman style, usually but not always crude.    

Tooled or tooling refers to mechanical alteration of a coin, for example engraving to change the letters of the legend or to sharpen details of a portrait.  

Smoothed or smoothing refers to a less damaging form of tooling that penetrates beyond the patina and into the metal but which is limited to smoothing rough surfaces. Smoothing does not include strengthening, changing, or creating detail.  

Not Recommended                      Preferred Alternative
contemporary counterfeit                  ancient counterfeit
contemporary forgery                       ancient counterfeit
ancient forgery                                 ancient counterfeit
ancient fake                                     ancient counterfeit or ancient imitative
modern counterfeit                           modern forgery (or fake, or replica)
modern fouree                                 plated modern forgery (or plated fake, or plated replica)


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