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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |Unofficial & Barbaric||View Options:  |  |  |   

Counterfeit, Unofficial, Imitative and Barbaric Roman Coins
Constantine the Great, Early 307 - 22 May 337 A.D., Unofficial Barbaric (Pannonian Tribes?)

|Constantine| |the| |Great|, |Constantine| |the| |Great,| |Early| |307| |-| |22| |May| |337| |A.D.,| |Unofficial| |Barbaric| |(Pannonian| |Tribes?)||solidus|
In Roman Imperial Coinage, on page 473, in the section on Sirmium, footnote 42 says, "In L. [London=British Museum] an irregular SECVPITAS PEI-PETVAE, obv. CONSTNATTI-VAS P F NNG, Bust B1, m.m. SINN, 3.71 gm." Our coin is apparently from the same dies. Certainly unofficial, perhaps this coin was struck by a Pannonian tribal mint?
SH94406. Gold solidus, RIC VII Sirmium 42 var. (British Museum specimen of same irregular variant noted), gF, well centered, blundered legends and mintmark, pale gold, light scratches, probably holed and filled, weight 4.100 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, unofficial mint, c. 324 - 325 A.D.; obverse CONSTNATTI-IIAS P F NNG, laureate head right; reverse SECIIPITAS PEI-PETVAE, Emperor standing left, in military attire, right hand crowning trophy of captured arms erected before him, transverse scepter in left hand, shield and cuirass(?) left of base of trophy, SINN in exergue; 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

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

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

Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C., Ancient Counterfeit

|Julius| |Caesar|, |Julius| |Caesar,| |Imperator| |and| |Dictator,| |October| |49| |-| |15| |March| |44| |B.C.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||denarius|
RS91805. Fouree silver plated denarius, cf. Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399 (silver, official, military mint), aVF, excellent centering, uneven toning, small plating breaks, weight 2.862 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 0o, unofficial counterfeiter mint, c. 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a carnyx (a Celtic war trumpet) ornamented to look like a dragon, CAESAR below; reverse implements of the pontificate: culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), securis (sacrificial ax), and apex (priest's hat); ex Numismatik Naumann auction 75 (3 Mar 2019), lot 584; SOLD

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

|Roman| |Egypt|, |Nero,| |13| |October| |54| |-| |9| |June| |68| |A.D.,| |Roman| |Provincial| |Egypt,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||tetradrachm|NEW
In 1933, J.G. Milne wrote, "There are scarcely any counterfeits or forgeries of Alexandrian coins in existence, other than those made in modern times." This coin is, however, an ancient counterfeit, a die match to two specimens in William Metcalf 's "A Hoard of Forgeries from Luxor" in Revue Belge de Numismatique CXXII (1976), pp. 65 - 77, pls. 1 - 2 (Available Online). Metcalf records a hoard of ancient Alexandrian forgeries in the American Numismatic Society collection, acquired at Luxor in March 1908, by the E.T. Newell. The 76 pieces in the ANS not be the entire hoard, since Newell was in the habit of disposing of duplicate or damaged specimens. The coins are of acceptable weight and struck, not cast, and copied coins struck 41 - 161 A.D. The hoard was clearly as intended, a hoard of counterfeits only, likely the forger's own stock. There are two specimens from the same dies in the ANS. Our coin may have been part of this original hoard or it may be a coin that the forger had already put into circulation.
RX93591. Billon tetradrachm, Metcalf Forgeries p. 72, obv: IX / rev: 17 & obv: pl. 1, 11 / rev: pl. 2, 13 (for prototype see Dattari 256, struck 67/68 A.D.), VF, very close to official style, light marks, tight flan, edge cracks, weight 11.725 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, die axis 0o, criminal mint, c. 161 - 165 A.D.; obverse NEPO KΛAY KAIΣ ΣEB ΓEP AY, radiate bust of Nero left, wearing aegis, L I∆ (year 14) before; reverse ∆IOΣ OΛYMΠIOY, laureate bust of Zeus Olympios right, no star; ex Naville Numismatics auction 51 (21 Jul 2019), lot 241 (not identified as counterfeit); $405.00 (€0) ON RESERVE

Constantius II, 22 May 337 - 3 November 361 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit With Julian II Reverse

|Constantius| |II|, |Constantius| |II,| |22| |May| |337| |-| |3| |November| |361| |A.D.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit| |With| |Julian| |II| |Reverse||reduced| |siliqua|
This coin combines an obverse die of Constantius II, 337 - 361, with a reverse die of Julian II, 360 - 363 A.D. The unlikely hybrid of types from different emperors and issues, the light weight, and the flan flaw on the reverse indicate it is a plated ancient counterfeit.

Ancient counterfeits often have mismatched obverses and reverses. Transfer dies were made using genuine coins which were destroyed in the process. Since making each die destroyed the coin, the same coin could not be used to make both dies. The destroyed coins were undoubtedly melted to contribute to the silver foil plate.

Unlike counterfeit denarii, counterfeit siliqua are very rare. Siliqua are so thin, that striking counterfeits with a bronze core apparently could not provide an economic benefit worth the effort and risk.
SH58910. Fouree silver plated reduced siliqua, cf. official, Lugdunum mint, silver, RIC VIII Lyons 180 (for obverse, Constantius II) and 233 (for reverse, Julian II), VF, toned, reverse flan flaw, weight 1.300 g, maximum diameter 17.1 mm, die axis 180o, illegal mint, c. 360 - 365 A.D.; obverse D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VOT / X / MVLT / XX in four lines within wreath, PLVG in exergue; extremely rare; SOLD

Caligula, 16 March 37 - 24 January 41 A.D., Germanicus Reverse, Ancient Counterfeit

|Caligula|, |Caligula,| |16| |March| |37| |-| |24| |January| |41| |A.D.,| |Germanicus| |Reverse,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||denarius|
RS74523. Fouree silver plated denarius, cf. RIC I 18, BnF II 28, BMCRE I 19, RSC I 2 (solid silver, official, Lugdunum mint, 37 A.D.), F, multiple plate breaks, scratches and scrapes, weight 2.722 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 345o, unofficial counterfeiter's mint, 37 A.D.; obverse C CAESAR AVG GERM P M TR POT, laureate head of Caligula right; reverse GERMANICVS CAES P C CAES AVG GERM, bare head of Germanicus right; SOLD

Geto-Dacian, Roman Republic Imitative, c. 82 B.C. - 1st Century A.D.

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |Geto-Dacian,| |Roman| |Republic| |Imitative,| |c.| |82| |B.C.| |-| |1st| |Century| |A.D.||denarius| |serratus|
In ancient Greek and Roman writing Dacus (plural Daci) and Geta (plural Getae) were interchangeable names for tribes of the Dacia region, distinct from but influenced by and possibly related the Thracians and Celts. Modern historians prefer to use the name Geto-Dacians.
CE68430. Silver denarius serratus, cf. Davis C52 and M166; for the Rome mint, C. Mamilius Limetanus, 82 B.C., prototype see: SRCV I 282, Sydenham 741, Crawford 362/1, gVF, weight 3.846 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 135o, tribal mint, c. 82 B.C. - 1st century A.D.; obverse bust of Mercury right wearing winged petasus, caduceus over shoulder; reverse Ulysses (Odysseus) walking right, greeted by his dog Argos, staff in left hand, C MAMIL downward on left, LIMETAN (AT ligate) upwards on right; SOLD


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Cahn, H. "EIDibus MARtiis" in QT 18 (1989), pp. 229-231, 9a, 20a, and 25b.
Campbell, W. Greek and Roman Plated Coins. ANSNNM 75. (New York, 1933).
Crawford, M. "Plated Coins - False Coins" in NC 1968, pp. 55-59, pl. xiv.
Crawford, M. Roman Republican Coinage. (Cambridge, 1974), vol I., pp. 560-565, vol II, p. 570.
Davis, P. "Dacian and Celtic Imitations of Republican Denarii" in The Celator 18-4, April 2004, pp. 6-16.
Davis, P. "Dacian Imitations of Roman Republican Denarii" in Apvlvm Number XLIII/1. (2006).
Davis, P. Imitations of Roman Republican Denarii, website:
Davis, P. & E. Paunov. "Imitations of Republican Denarii from Moesia and Thrace" in Studies Prokopov. (2012).
Lawrence, L. "On a Hoard of Plated Roman Denarii" in NC 1940, pp. 185-189.
Popović, Petar. "Hoard of imitations of the Roman Republican denars from the Belgrade National Museum" in Numizmatikai Közlöny 1974, pp. 7-13 & pl. 1.
Ranieri, E. La monetazione di Ravenna antica dal V all' VIII secolo: impero romano e bizantino, regno ostrogoto e langobardo. (Bologna, 2006).
Southerland, C. "'Carausius II', 'Censeris', and the Barbarous Fel. Temp. Reparatio Overstrikes" in NC 1945.
Sydenham, E. "On Roman Plated Coins" in NC 1940, pp. 190-202.
Sydenham, E. The Coinage of the Roman Republic. (London, 1927 1952). pl. xliii-xliv.
Vasic, M. "A IVth and Vth Centuries Hoard of Roman coins and imitations in the collection of the National Museum in Belgrade" in Sirmium VIII, p. 128-129, 6-19.

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