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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.

Decentius, Caesar, July or August 350 - 18 August 353 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit or Barbaric Imitative

|Decentius|, |Decentius,| |Caesar,| |July| |or| |August| |350| |-| |18| |August| |353| |A.D.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit| |or| |Barbaric| |Imitative||maiorina|
This interesting ancient counterfeit or imitative specimen combines the mintmark of the mint at Ambianum, and the reverse field control letters S-V which are only found on issues of Lugdunum. Also, Ambianum did not use this mintmark with AMB flanked on both sides with a palm. The Bastien MM specimen was found near Lyon. We know of about a half dozen specimens of this imitative, all from the same dies.
RL98410. Bronze maiorina, Bastien MM pl. XVII, 32 (same dies); RIC VIII -; LRBC II -; Cohen VIII -; SRCV V -, gVF, good centering, very sharp detail, areas of porosity, ragged edge, A's appearing as H (as normal on official issues of the era), weight 3.158 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 180o, barbarous imitation of Ambianum (Amiens) mint, c. 351 - 353 A.D.; obverse D N DECENTIVS NOB CAES, bare-headed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIAE DD NN AVG E CAE (victories of our lords, Emperor and Caesar), two Victory's standing facing each other, between them holding a shield resting on a short column, shield inscribed VOT / V / MVLT / + in four lines, S - V flanking column, palm AMB palm in exergue; very rare; $220.00 SALE PRICE $198.00
 


Imitative Byzantine Anonymous Follis of Christ, c. 970 - 980 A.D.

|Anonymous| |Folles|, |Imitative| |Byzantine| |Anonymous| |Follis| |of| |Christ,| |c.| |970| |-| |980| |A.D.||anonymous| |follis|
Of this type of imitative, Lampinen writes, "The second phase of Balkan coinage production goes into high gear with the introduction of the anonymous follis series during the reign of John I (969 - 976). The explicit Christian imagery must have struck a chord with the recently converted Balkan masses because the official mint issues were accompanied by a fair quantity of copies, to meet the excess demand. These Christian issues would also be the prototypes for the initial coinage of several medieval Christian states, such as the first Crusader issues of Edessa and Antioch, medieval Armenia and distant Georgia in the Caucasus."
BZ89911. Bronze anonymous follis, See Lampinen Imitative p. 154 for a similar imitative; for the likely prototype cf. official Byzantine anonymous class A1 folles; SBCV 1793, VF, green patina, double struck, porous, crude and blundered, weight 6.880 g, maximum diameter 26.3 mm, unofficial (Balkan?) mint, c. 970 - 980 A.D.; obverse facing bust of Christ, wears nimbus cruciger ornamented with two pellets in each limb of cross, pallium, and colobium, Gospels in both hands, blundered imitation of the abbreviation: IC - XC (Greek: Ihsoús Xristós - Jesus Christ) across field; reverse blundered inscription imitating: + IhSuS / XRISTuS / bASILEu / bASILE (Greek: Jesus Christ King of Kings); rare this crude; $170.00 SALE PRICE $153.00
 


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit

|Marcus| |Aurelius|, |Marcus| |Aurelius,| |7| |March| |161| |-| |17| |March| |180| |A.D.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||denarius|
The style of this coin is very similar to official issues but it was struck by an unofficial criminal mint. It was stuck on a flan made with a bronze core wrapped in thin silver foil. It likely circulated easily when it was a newly made counterfeit. After centuries underground, has the deceit has been exposed. The bronze core has corroded in spots, expanded, and pushed up the silver foil. This is most visible on the obverse where the lifted silver has chipped away under his eye and the core is exposed, and on the reverse at 11:00 where the silver remains but has been pushed up and cracked. Part of the edge of a silver foil which was folded over from the obverse is visible on the reverse from 7:00 to 9:00.
RS97922. Fouree silver plated denarius, cf. RSC II 848a, BMCRE IV 245 var. (note), RIC III 103 var. (no drapery), Hunter II 17 var. (bare head), SRCV II - (official, silver, Rome mint), Choice VF, toned, scratches, core exposed under eye, lamination defects, edge splits, weight 2.971 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 0o, unofficial mint, c. 164 A.D.; obverse •M•ANTONINVS AVG IMP II, bare-headed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse TR P XVIII COS III, Minerva standing left, wearing crested helmet, olive branch in right hand, left hand on grounded shield, spear vertical with point upward resting against left forearm; $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00
 


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit

|Marcus| |Aurelius|, |Marcus| |Aurelius,| |7| |March| |161| |-| |17| |March| |180| |A.D.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||denarius|NEW
The style of this coin is very similar to official issues but it was struck by an unofficial criminal mint. It likely circulated easily when it was a newly made counterfeit. It was stuck on a flan made with a bronze core wrapped in thin silver foil. Although the bronze core is not exposed anywhere on the coin, the bronze has corroded in spots, expanded, and pushed up the silver foil. This is most visible on the obverse in the left and right fields where the silver remains but has been pushed up and cracked. The edge on the obverse from 12:00 to 2:00 is a bit odd, probably showing the edge of the silver foil folded over from the reverse.
RS97923. Fouree silver plated denarius, RSC II 292c, BMCRE IV 568, RIC III 276 var. (laur. head), cf. SRCV II 4901 (TR P XXVI), Hunter II 58 (same, laureate head), aVF/F, well centered, radiating flow lines, scratches, lamination flaws, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.102 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 0o, unofficial mint, c. 173 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXVII, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse IMP VI COS III, Mars standing right, wearing military garb, inverted spear vertical behind in right hand, resting left hand on grounded oval shield; $110.00 SALE PRICE $99.00 ON RESERVE


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||denarius|
Isis was the goddess of motherhood and fertility in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. In later myths about Isis, she had a brother, Osiris, who became her husband, and she then was said to have conceived Horus.
MA96710. Fouree silver plated denarius, cf. RSC III 174, RIC IV S577, SRCV II 6606 (official, silver, Rome mint), VF, unusual style, about 1/4 of the bronze core is exposed, weight 2.450 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 180o, unofficial criminal mint, c. 196 - 211 A.D.; obverse IVLIE AVGVSTA (sic), draped bust right; reverse SAECVLI FELICITAS (retrograde), Isis nursing the infant Horus, standing left with right foot on prow, anchor rests against altar behind (the entire reverse, not just the legend, is a reverse of the official type); $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
 







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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.

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