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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.

Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit

|Domitian|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||denarius|
Minerva is the virgin Roman goddess of wisdom, justice, law, victory, poetry, music, medicine, commerce, weaving and strategy. Minerva is not a patron of violence such as Mars, but of defensive war only. From the second century B.C. onward, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena. Minerva is one of the three Roman deities in the Capitoline Triad, along with Jupiter and Juno. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the "owl of Minerva", which symbolized her association with wisdom and knowledge as well as, less frequently, the snake and the olive tree. Minerva is commonly depicted as tall with an athletic and muscular build, as well as wearing armour and carrying a spear. As the most important Roman goddess, she is highly revered, honored, and respected.
RS99197. Fouree silver plated denarius, cf. RIC II-1 787 (C2); BMCRE II 230; RSC II 292; BnF III 206; Hunter I 91; SRCV I - (official, solid silver, Rome mint, 95 - 96 A.D., gVF, light toning, light marks, flow lines, minor plating breaks, weight 3.027 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, unofficial, counterfeiter's mint, c. 96 - 100 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P XV, laureate head right; reverse IM (sic) XXII COS XVII CENS P P P, Minerva advancing right, draped, wearing helmet with crest and aegis, brandishing javelin in right hand, round shield on left arm; ex CNG e-auction 500 (22 Sep 2021), 735 (part of); ex Mercury Group Collection; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Unofficial or Semi-official Cast in Gaul

|Augustus|, |Augustus,| |16| |January| |27| |B.C.| |-| |19| |August| |14| |A.D.,| |Unofficial| |or| |Semi-official| |Cast| |in| |Gaul||as|
This coin is clearly cast and not an official struck Rome mint issue. The molds were made with an official Rome mint as, struck under the moneyer Volusus Valerius Messalla, c. 6 B.C. 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 may have been cast at that time.
RB110362. Cast bronze as, cf. RIC I 441, BnF I 738 (struck, Rome mint, 6 B.C.), F, nice green patina, usual soapy appearance of casts, flaw upper reverse field, weight 5.508 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 315o, c. 6 B.C. - 54 A.D.; obverse CAESAR AVGVST PONT MAX TRIBVNIC POT, bare head right; reverse VOLVSVS VALER MESSAL III VIR AAA FF, legend around S C; scarce; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


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


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 280 B.C., Ancient Counterfeit

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Seleukos| |I| |Nikator,| |312| |-| |280| |B.C.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||tetradrachm|
Superb ancient counterfeit with intact plating and of finest style.
SH24647. Fouree silver plated tetradrachm, cf. Houghton-Lorber I 173 (official Susa mint), combining monograms of 173.14 and 173.16, Choice EF, weight 14.724 g, maximum diameter 26.8 mm, die axis 0o, unofficial mint, after 305 B.C.; obverse bust of Alexander or Seleukos wearing helmet covered with panther skin and adorned with horns and ears of bull; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΣEΛEYKOY, Nike with spread wings, standing right, crowning trophy with wreath, AX and ΠA control-marks across lower field; ex Gorny&Mosch 141, lot 161; SOLD







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REFERENCES

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 Thursday, February 2, 2023.
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