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Author Topic: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii  (Read 7274 times)

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Offline Danny S. Jones

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Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« on: May 10, 2010, 09:41:16 pm »
I have recently seen several pieces from what is purported to be a hoard of cast billon denarii found in Roman Britain for sale on a popular auction site. These coins, in Sear's opinion, are authentic cast forgeries of the 2nd to 3rd centuries. He states that coin moulds have been found around Hadrian's Wall in Vercovicium and cast denarii were found in an archaeological dig at Coriosopitum (Corbridge).

I find this very interesting and was wondering if anyone had any extra information on the subject of contemporary cast forgeries from the Severan period. The porous surface texture of the coins resembles modern sand casting techniques. Other than the resemblance to modern cast fakes, there is no reason to doubt the authentication from both a respectable dealer and that of David Sear. I do not wish a discussion of authentication or identification, but rather that of the historical implements, implementation and implications of such a find.

Below are a few of the examples of this "forger's hoard."

Respectfully,
Danny

Offline Danny S. Jones

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2010, 09:46:06 pm »
And a couple more examples...

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2010, 11:04:35 pm »
Yes I've also been following these "forger's" hoard coins for about a month now.  I would be interested to find out more also.  Some, like the Dea Celestia are fantastic and there seems to be quite a few of them.  I wonder if there was a hoard analysis done on them...

Lloyd Taylor

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2010, 12:48:44 am »
This "forger's hoard" and its contents were discussed at length some months back on CFDL.  The conclusion of the cognoscenti was that the coins were of dubious ancient authenticity, notwithstanding Sear's certification. Caveat emptor.

Offline Danny S. Jones

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2010, 06:38:43 am »
This "forger's hoard" and its contents were discussed at length some months back on CFDL.  The conclusion of the cognoscenti was that the coins were of dubious ancient authenticity, notwithstanding Sear's certification. Caveat emptor.
Since you said that there was a consensus elsewhere that Sear was wrong, implying that these may be of modern origin, I think it would behoove us to discuss their authenticity further. On what grounds did the other other discussion on CFDL base their conclusion? Also, does anyone know what David Sear based his conclusion on?

Respectfully,
Danny

Offline Philoromaos

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2010, 07:02:06 am »
A massive hoard of Severan era coin molds were found in 1821, five minutes from where I live, at Lingwell gate in wakefield. A few still exist in the BM. Here's a video I found on youtube showing some of the molds and explaning how they were used.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d61ZLF6IiCs

"LINGWELL GATE, in the township of Stanley with Wrenthorpe, and parish of Wakefield, Agbrigg-division of Agbrigg and Morley, liberty of Wakefield, 3½ miles N. of Wakefield, 6½ from Leeds.
Here "were found in 1697, certain clay moulds for Roman Coins, all of such Emperors in whose reigns the money is known to have been counterfeited. This place takes its name from the Lingones, quartered at Olicana, Ilkley, and Wall, a corruption of vallum." --Gough's Camden.

In March, 1821 Mr. Pitts, of Wakefield, presented a number of clay moulds similar to the above, which were found at Lingwell Gate, in a field in the occupation of Mr. Spurr; they were turned up with a ploughshare, as many as would fill a wheel barrow. Several coins were found in the moulds. He also sent the Society sixteen Roman Copper Coins, found in an earthen vessel, in a field about a mile from Lingwell Gate, on the estate of the Marquis of Hertford. Mr. Pitts also sent some to the Society in 1820, vide his letter in Archaeologia, vol. XVII. and Appendix to ditto, vol. XIX."

Lloyd Taylor

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2010, 07:45:49 am »
The debate was lengthy and revolved around irregularities in composition of the hoard, differential wear between coins of different ages, metallurgy and patina.  To be honest, I didn't follow it too closely, but some very sound arguments were put against authenticity of the forgers hoard, while some equally strong opinions (though less convincingly reasoned in my view) were expressed as to its authenticity.  A lead into the thread and some of the arguments can be found here : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CoinForgeryDiscussionList/message/27987

jlh

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2010, 03:06:29 pm »
Also, does anyone know what David Sear based his conclusion on?

Back in December 2009, I actually asked this ebayer seller this question.  Here is his reply verbatim:

"Authenticated by David Sear" means he looked at the bag of coins I showed him and he agreed that they were ancient forgeries as opposed to modern ones (because people kept saying they were modern forgeries by just looking at the picture). I can give you a scanned copy of the authentication if you include a note with your payment.


Couldn't be much vaguer.  I passed on all such coins.

jlh

Offline Danny S. Jones

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2010, 02:29:01 am »
I'm still not sure that this topic deserves a place on the "Fake Ancient Coin Reports and Discussion" board, but definitely deserves looking into. Here's a link to the letter of authentication by David Sear that was posted on the seller's website:

http://www.ancient-treasures.com/~auctions/sear_billons.jpg


Lloyd Taylor

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2010, 05:04:34 am »
I'm still not sure that this topic deserves a place on the "Fake Ancient Coin Reports and Discussion" board, but definitely deserves looking into.

The matter turns on whether they are authentic ancient fakes, or modern fakes of ancient fakes.  A certificate of authentication represents one view and equally respectable experts dissent from that view. Contentious at best.  Therefore I think it fits within the "Discussion" component of "Fake Ancient Coin Reports and Discussion".

Question:  Does anyone believe that an attempt to pass these supposed forger's coins in the ancient market place would not amount to an immediate death sentence? Take it from there in terms of reasoning.

Offline monty

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2010, 07:36:01 am »
if these coins were found in britain, there should be a record of the find, as these would have come under the treasure act.

if the coins are ancient and were not reported, there sale is illegal any way.

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2010, 09:04:45 pm »
Before posting that you disagree with David Sear, when he saw the coin in hand and he is David Sear, and all you have seen is photo and you are you, perhaps you should consider carefully what you have to say.  David Sear is not infallible, but there are very few members of this discussion board that I believe have the expertise to challenge him without appearing foolish. 
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Offline Enodia

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2010, 10:47:37 pm »
Before posting that you disagree with David Sear, when he saw the coin in hand and he is David Sear, and all you have seen is photo and you are you, perhaps you should consider carefully what you have to say.  David Sear is not infallible, but there are very few members of this discussion board that I believe have the expertise to challenge him without appearing foolish. 

sorry, but i'm not exactly sure to whom this was directed.   ???

~ Peter

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2010, 12:15:40 am »
Before posting that you disagree with David Sear, when he saw the coin in hand and he is David Sear, and all you have seen is photo and you are you, perhaps you should consider carefully what you have to say.  David Sear is not infallible, but there are very few members of this discussion board that I believe have the expertise to challenge him without appearing foolish. 

sorry, but i'm not exactly sure to whom this was directed.   ???

~ Peter

No one in particular and everyone. 
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Offline Danny S. Jones

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2010, 05:22:04 am »
Question:  Does anyone believe that an attempt to pass these supposed forger's coins in the ancient market place would not amount to an immediate death sentence?

The dealer who is selling these coins must feel very confident in the authenticity of the lot. Otherwise, passing off so many pieces that were dubious in nature would be a "death sentence" to his business. This particular seller has been an honest and respectable coin dealer for many years. He did list some Bulgarian cast fakes at one point, but took them down when he realized they were fake. I That is a sign of a respectable dealer to me. (I've seen cast fakes listed on popular Vcoin dealer's lots - Fakes happen.) It would be a terrible gamble on his part to pass off an entire hoard of coins if they turned out to be fake. I sure would not feel I'm qualified here to either condemn or authenticate these coins.

To that end... I've emailed both David Sear and the seller and asked if they would weigh in on the discussion.

Waiting to hear.
Respectfully,
Danny

Offline Danny S. Jones

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2010, 02:35:33 pm »
I received a response from David Sear today via email quoted below.

Quote
Dear Danny,

There is no doubt that these coins are cast forgeries. The only question that remains to be settled is whether or not they are ancient. That can probably be decided by a metallurgical analysis which, as far as I know, has not yet been conducted on any of these pieces. I have certainly seen coins from an archaeological context which closely resemble these pieces but I am, of course, willing to bow to the scientific evidence with regard to whether or not the metal is ancient in the case of this particular group.


I hope you will find this helpful.


With my kindest regards,


David R. Sear

Offline areich

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2010, 03:44:16 pm »
What kind of costs are we talking about for a conclusive analysis?
Andreas Reich

Offline maridvnvm

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2010, 04:18:39 pm »
Examples from the same hoard are now turning up on ebay.fr.

Martin

Lloyd Taylor

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2010, 06:09:58 pm »
What kind of costs are we talking about for a conclusive analysis?

If they are a variety of modern "white metal" then it an easy task. Buy a forgers cast coin, buy an authentic example of the type (control) clean a surface on each and conduct XRF analysis of the cleaned surfaces. All up cost, including coin purchases probably $500-1000 (note: I have no recent experience in analytical costing so it could prove to be more or less depending on lab/country and cost of coins).  If the forger/faker has attempted to truly replicate ancient billon then detailed trace element analysis of both coins by destructive assay may be required to establish the modern and ancient trace element fingerprint. More costly by perhaps a factor of three depending on what is required by way of accuracy and trace element fingerprinting.

A metallurgist on CFDL made some observations on one coin and believed it to be most probably modern white metal rather than genuine billon.

A CFDL chemist made observations on the fake nature of the patina, encrustations and adhesions. 

These observations are before the difficult to conceive composition of the hoard and anomalous differential wear aspects are considered.

I won't repeat these here, as I am not the expert. 

Suffice to say a lot of specialist expert opinion exists to suggest these may be modern rather than ancient casts.

Remember, when buying "genuine ancient" cast forgeries the issue around authentication must be taken to a much higher level, than with an "authentic ancient" struck coin, particularly in the context of purported "ancient" casts of the billon variety.  It is easy to determine the existence of a subaerate core in the case of ancient forged silver, but with billon forgeries that is an entirely different matter because the forger is not attempting to arbitrage base metal for silver.

Knowingly buy an "ancient" cast fake with the identical characteristics of a modern cast fake and the risk of getting burned is higher than ever. Caveat Emptor (as we noted at the outset). 

Something to think about: If you have made a bunch of cast fakes, how do you most easily move them into the market en masse? 

However, for those who feel compelled to own an "genuine" ancient forger hoard coin, this is probably as good as it gets and I wouldn't get in the road of anyone so inclined to believe that is what they are purchasing. Rather, I've come to the conclusion that on the weight of probability they are of very uncertain if not dubious authenticity. As David Sear notes "There is no doubt that these coins are cast forgeries. The only question that remains to be settled is whether or not they are ancient."

You pays your money and you takes your choice, if you are so inclined.

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2010, 06:53:59 pm »
...A metallurgist on CFDL made some observations on one coin and believed it to be most probably modern white metal rather than genuine billon.

A CFDL chemist made observations on the fake nature of the patina, encrustations and adhesions. 

These observations are before the difficult to conceive composition of the hoard and anomalous differential wear aspects are considered.

I won't repeat these here, as I am not the expert. 

Suffice to say a lot of specialist expert opinion exists to suggest these may be modern rather than ancient casts...

No, I don't think you can say a lot of specialist expert opinion exists.  A metallurgist on CFDL and a CFDL chemist may be an experts or they may be idiots, or may they not actually be a metallurgist and a chemist, or they may never have done a single test.   Experts have names and tests have results.  What kind of white metal?  What did the chemist determine regarding the patina, encrustation and adhesions discover that makes him believe they are fake?  You are maligning the opinion and reputation of a world-renowned expert and a reputable dealer based on what exactly? 
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Lloyd Taylor

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2010, 07:09:32 pm »
You are maligning the opinion and reputation of a world-renowned expert and a reputable dealer based on what exactly? 

No way Jose.... by David Sear's own words.... in bold underlined and italicized....

I received a response from David Sear today via email quoted below.

Quote
Dear Danny,

There is no doubt that these coins are cast forgeries. The only question that remains to be settled is whether or not they are ancient. That can probably be decided by a metallurgical analysis which, as far as I know, has not yet been conducted on any of these pieces. I have certainly seen coins from an archaeological context which closely resemble these pieces but I am, of course, willing to bow to the scientific evidence with regard to whether or not the metal is ancient in the case of this particular group.


I hope you will find this helpful.


With my kindest regards,


David R. Sear


As noted the authentication of ancient cast fake billion coins is a difficult matter and much uncertainty/doubt exists.  David Sear even acknowledges this. It might be helpful to appreciate this if you were to read the extensive CFDL discussion of the matter.

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Forger's Hoard of Cast Denarii
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2010, 08:48:54 pm »
His second sentence ONLY restates the question.  He is not saying that he doesn't have an opinion.  He gave his EXPERT opinion on the certification.  He then says his opinion is based on comparison of the coins with proven ancient casts (unsaid but I am sure he compared the fabric, indications of methods of manufacture, wear, corrosion, deposits, etc.).  He acknowledges he could be wrong but he does not say that he doubts his original opinion.  I believe you have read more into his words than exists.   

I know very well how hard it is to authenticate casts as ancient.  If I had been sent this hoard, even if I felt they were genuine, I would not buy or sell them unless I had a second opinion from David Sear, Ilya Prokopov, Barry Murphy, Curtis Clay or an expert of that caliber (of which there are few). 

My point is not about these coins.  It has to do with what we post and do not post on this discussion board.  This is not targeted at you Lloyd.  There are many posts in this thread that break the rules.     

1)  On this discussion board, any post questioning the coins of a reputable dealer must not actually name the dealer.  The discussion must be about the coins, not the dealer.  The dealer must remain anonymous.  The only dealers named on this board in connection with selling or authenticating suspected fakes are those on the Notorious Fake Sellers List and those who are being nominated for the list. 
 
2)  On this board we respect acknowledged and proven expertise.  We do not compare nameless or non-expert opinions with those of acknowledged experts as if they were of equal weight.  The TV and Internet are full of idiots pretending to be experts and the planet is going to hell (not literally) because of it.  In the little piece of the world that I can control, we will distinguish between the real experts and pretenders. 
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