Roman Coins (Ancient forgeries )

Roman Coins (Ancient forgeries )

This one is for the coin collectors, have any of you folks come across forgeries that were made before the fall of the Empire. I know that after the fall of the Empire , a lot of the smaller kingdoms made copies in the Roman style.

Of course, there are plenty of examples of ancient counterfeit currency.

In the ancient world, (generally speaking) currency (coinage) was valuable primarily because it contained a certain quantity of of precious metal that was considered intrinsically valuable.

Therefore, there were two general methods of counterfeiting in ancient times. The first and easiest is knowing as "clipping" or "shaving" - since the metal in the coins was intrinsically valuable, you could remove a small amount of the precious metal off a coin, use the coin at face value, and keep a small amount of bullion for yourself. There are countless examples of clipped ancient coins still around today, and you can see some in the above link.

The second general method is similar to modern counterfeiting techniques. Counterfeiters would duplicate the appearance of a genuine coin, but use cheap base metals instead, either by plating a core of cheap metal with a small amount of the precious metal, or by alloying the precious metal with cheaper metal. The Wikipedia page on counterfeit money shows an example of a counterfeit coin from the rule of Domitian, and Coinweek has an article on the subject with plenty of even older examples. That article notes: "Fourées are even older than coinage itself - plated base metal bars have been found that were made to imitate ingots of precious metal used as currency before the introduction of coins."

Counterfeits of higher-value coins in circulation, designed for general circulation at face value, have been made by criminals for thousands of years.

For modern coins in general circulation, the most common method of protection from forgeries is the use of bi-metallic coins made of two metals of different color, which are difficult to counterfeit at low cost. The most common way of forging these coins is to change the area that should be a different color by painting it however, the paint is often easy to scratch off and the coins soon look very crude once worn. An increasing number of coins are cast from the same composition alloy as the real coin, but have poor reproduction of details such as the milling on the side of the coin and the stamped lettering.

When the euro was introduced into Europe, there were initially very few counterfeits however, the number increased massively as time went by. [2] The high and increasing number of fake euro coins in circulation in 2004 led to the creation of a Technical and Scientific Center for the coordination of technical actions to protect euro coins against counterfeiting. [3] Between 2002 and 2006, approximately 400,000 counterfeit euro coins were removed from circulation however, "the overall number is very small by historical standards and by comparison to the 69 billion circulating (genuine) euro coins." [4]

In 2014, it was estimated that 3.04% of all UK £1 coins in circulation are counterfeit. [5] These coins were replaced on 15 October 2017 with new, harder to counterfeit, 12-sided bi-metallic coins. [6]

A well known and popular numismatic item is the 1944 nickel counterfeited by Francis LeRoy Henning. Unlike official specimens, this spurious item is missing a large mintmark for the Philadelphia Mint. Because of a different wartime composition, all nickels of this period had large mintmarks. Normally the Philadelphia mint would not have included one, but in 1944 all of its nickels had a "P" above the dome of Monticello. It is estimated that 100,000 of these coins were placed into circulation. [7] Today they remain readily available to collectors.

Both scarce 1923-D and 1930-D dimes were found in circulation, and they are of interest to collectors since no such date-mint combinations were issued for this particular denomination. It has been suggested that they may have been part of an attempt by the Soviet Union to sell its silver on the world market by counterfeiting (with full precious metal weight) U.S. coins. If so, the engravers blundered by producing "impossible" coins. [8]

Among the examples of counterfeits of high-value collectible coins are the "Omega" coins produced in the early 1970s by an unknown counterfeiter who signed his creations with a miniature Greek letter omega. He is believed to have made over 20,000 fake 1907 high-relief nominally US$20 gold Double Eagle coins with the signature omega in the claw of the eagle, worth hundreds of millions of dollars at today's prices. His counterfeits are of such high quality that collectors will pay upwards of $1,000 for one although a genuine coin sells for about $50,000 to $100,000. The same counterfeiter also counterfeited other US gold coins, including a large quantity of $3 gold pieces, dated 1874, 1878 and 1882, with the 1882 being the most prevalent. Three of the counterfeit $10 gold pieces, the 1910-P, the 1913-P and the 1926-P, have the omega placed upside down within the upper loop of the "R" of "LIBERTY" in the Native American's headdress. [9] [10]

Roman Coins (Ancient forgeries ) - History

Fake or Stolen Ancient Roman Coins

Modern Forgeries/Fakes of ancient Roman coins:

Reworked Caesar denarius , first as poor condition coin sold in auction, then a year later reworked as EF quality coin. Note the very good workmanship even under high magnification. Technology is so far not identified.

Fake Leo Tremissis , sold at Munich fair 2011, note the strangely dancing Victory and the soft plastic like letters. Likely a pressed forgery
Below a fake Anastasius Tremissis of the same make, using the same reverse die !

close up of the Anastasius

Learning from close up looks at Genuine ancient coins:

Here two images shown as question to CFDL, but of a genuine coin, to show variety of gold coin surfaces under high magnification::
here a close up of an authentic aureus, has anyone expereince with tiniy surface damages such as above the "I", looks like a layer of gold peeled off showing a deeper core also of gold.Weight is correct by the way.. I have seen this with silver denari, but not yet with gold.

Here another image close up of the other side, with lines so typical for struck aurei auf the Antonines. The white fluffy thing is a human skin particle :-)

On this page we offer the listing of stolen coins, to permanently make the images available. If you see any of these coins, please send an email to [email protected] Thank you

1. Stolen in registered mail transit between Germany and PA in USA, ca. December 2010:

Marc Antony and Octavian denarius, please inform us if you come across this coin.

Roman Coins (Ancient forgeries ) - History

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History of Roman Coins

At the beginning, as in different parts of the world, commercial transactions were carried out in Rome through barter, but also by paying with the sheep, very much in use among Roman shepherds (it is no coincidence that the term “pecunia” comes from “pecus “sheep, even if some deny it) and also with metals.

Pecunia is in fact the oldest name of the coin because in the archaic times of the pastoral age it was used to express the value of things by comparing it to that of the sheep, which also acted as a means of payment through barter, the term then passed to indicate the subsequent coin metallic.

Soldo is an ancient but more recent name deriving from a prestigious gold coin, the Solidum, which by Constantine, in the year 312 was placed at the base of the Roman monetary system subsequently the name was deformed first in Solido and then in Soldo.

This currency dominated the great economy until the fall of the empire and continued in the Byzantine and barbarian coinage. With the money they paid the soldiers who were therefore called hired and later soldiers.


From the foundation of Rome (21 April 753 BC) to the entire monarchical period (753-509 BC) and part of the republican period, up to the third century BC, trade was not based on the use of money, but on a kind of barter or pseudo-coinage for which the means of exchange were bronze processing scraps (aes rude), based on the value of the metal and therefore its weight.

Given their considerable weight, these irregular bars, devoid of any sign of recognition, had more function of hoarding than of a daily commercial use. The most used form was the barter, flour in exchange for eggs, wood in exchange for furs, or for more substantial expenses a piece of cut and weighed bronze.


King Servius Tullius first impressed copper (aes signum). Before, as Timaeus recounts, raw copper was in use. The stamped seal represented a sheep, which is why the coin was called pecunia. Silver was minted as a currency in the year 485 auc (286 a, c.) under the consulate of Quinto Ogulnio and Caio Fabio, five years before the Punic War I.
And it was established that:
– a Denarius was worth ten pounds of bronze,
– the quinario five,
– the Sestertius a dupondius and a semisse.
The next crime was the one who first minted gold coin, this crime also remained hidden because the author is uncertain. The Roman people did not use silver coined before the defeat of King Pyrrhus.

– Aes signatum, (marked), was a bar (or ingot) of cast bronze with a seal stamped on it to guarantee weight and material, used in central Italy before the aes grave and after the aes rude. it was produced in directing age, in the fourth century BC., and had written Romanom and monetary system was bronze and sometimes silver. that was strictly Roman bronze, the silver was a Roman-Campanian of Greek origin.

the weight of the bars was between 1,150 and 1,850 kg: about 5 Roman pounds and therefore of 5 axes.They had no face value and therefore had no fixed types, but were worth their weight and were cut as needed.

The seal was first a branch without leaves and then various animals: an eagle holding a lightning bolt in its claws on one side and a flying Pegasus on the other a sword and a sheath outer side and inner side of a shield elephant and pig. The dating is from 275 BC The aes signatum was supplanted by the aes grave.

With the reduction of the weight of the coin, the bronze coins, during the Roman Republic, were not only melted, but beaten with various hammers, a kind of mold on a rondel, that is the minting.


– Aes Grave, introduced in the early days of the Republic, was often melted to obtain bronze, until its face value did not exceed the value of the metal. It flourished with the birth of trade by sea around 335 BC, under the consuls Marco Valerio Corvo IV, and Marco Atilio Regolo Caleno.

The aes grave went from the 4th and 3rd centuries BC issued in central Italy by different populations, its standard was the weight of one pound which could be 272, 327 or 341 grams. The term used to indicate Aes was “Æ”.

The first minted coins issued by Rome were some silver didrachmas and some fractional linked coins in both silver and bronze. These coins are referred to as Roman-bells, as they were most likely minted, in the style of the Greek ones, in Campania in the third century BC, in order to facilitate trade with the Greek colonies of southern Italy.

Aes Grave was succeeded by the coin guaranteed by the state: the Asse (in Latin as, assis), a bronze coin (later replaced by copper) in use during the Republic and also during the Roman Empire.
It came into use during the fourth century. BC as a large bronze coin. The term as indicated a unit of measurement of weight, namely 327 g. The coin had its fractions and its multiples.

When it went from molten coinage to hammer coinage, produced from a smooth metal disk (a roundel) hit by a hammer to produce the image on both sides, it had constant value, and it worked for the whole republic.



A major innovation on coins was brought by Julius Caesar by placing his own portrait instead of that of his ancestors. The example was also followed in the imperial period, with the image of the head of government used to reinforce the image of the state emperor and his rules. Subsequently, the image of the emperor was associated with that of the deities.

In the campaign against Pompey, Caesar issued coins with also images of Venus and Aeneas, to propagate his divine descendants. Commodus even proclaimed his divine status by issuing a coin in 192 that depicted his bust covered with a lion’s skin on the obverse, and on the reverse an inscription proclaimed him the reincarnation of Hercules. From the time of Augustus until the end of the empire, in fact, the representation of ancestors was replaced by that of the emperor’s family and heirs, strengthening the public image of those who were wanted to be considered at the height of the emperor himself therefore legitimate successors to the throne.


In the last years of the Roman Republic, just before the birth of the principality, in a period torn apart by civil wars, coins were issued in the name of the generals who fought each other by virtue of their imperium.

This type of coinage was called imperatorial. These coins were issued by Pompeo, Julius Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Labienus, Sextus Pompey, Lepidus, Marcus Anthony and Octavian alone or together with each other or with other people. Often these coins had high propaganda content.

Denarius of Augustus

The weight loss of

In the second half of the third century. BC, the weight of the axis decreased to half a pound, but the Latin pound of 273 g was no longer taken as the unit of measurement, but the Roman pound of 327 g which became the fixed unit of measurement.

Therefore an axis weighed half a Roman pound: 163.5 g, and the submultiples were adjusted to this weight. In this series the coins are melted except the sextant and the ounce which are minted. Therefore:
Axis – 12 ounces – 163.5 g
Semisse – 1/2 axis – 121 g
Triente – 1/3 axis – 54.5 g
Quadrant – 1/4 axis – 40.8 g
Sextant – 1/6 axis – 27.25 g
Ounce – 1/12 axis – 13 , 6 g

Its fractions:
– bes (2/3), – dodrante (3/4) – semisse (1/2), 136.5 g – quincunciation (5/12), – triente (1/3), 91g – quadrant (1/4), 68.25g – sextant (1/6), 45.5g – ounce (1/12), 22.75g – half ion (1/24) 11, 37

its multiples:
– dupondius (2), – tresse or tripondio (3), – quadrusse (4), – quinquesse (5), – decusse (10).

DODRANTE – The Dodrante, perhaps derived from quadrans with a de privativo, was issued together with the Bes, and was a coin equal to three quarters of the axis (i.e. 9 ounces). It was issued during the Roman republic, but only twice: in 127 BC by Marco Cecilio Metello, and the following year by Caio Cassio who also issued the bes, equal to two thirds of the axis, that is eight ounces.

BES – The Bes has on the obverse the head of the Free Italic God turned to the right with a crown of vine, behind the sign of the value: S ••. On the reverse there is the ship’s prow typical of Roman coinage in bronze with the indication: – of the monetary magistrate Caius CASSI above, – ROME below, and the same indication of the value in front. In addition to the bes and the dodrante, a denarius and a quadrant were also issued. Only one example of the latter coin is known in the Capitoline collection.

SEEDS– Semisse (lat. Semis semisses – half) a small bronze coin that was worth half of an axis. During the Republic it was distinguished by an “S” or by 6 globules (for 6 ounces). It had the image of the God Saturn on the obverse and the ship’s prow on the reverse. It was initially cast, like all Roman republican bronzes it was instead beaten shortly before the Second Punic War (218-204 BC). The coin was rarely issued during the Roman Empire and ceased under Hadrian (117-138 AD).

SEMISSE GOLD The half-axis is reintroduced by Constantine I but as a gold coin, with a value of half a solid (therefore 2.27 grams).

Gold Coin of Trajan


All the coins tied as a unit of weight to the pound were made by casting, pouring the molten metal into refractory matrices (fired clay) with the negative image, that is, hollowed out. The matrix was unique but had grooves for various coins with a very thin communicating groove whereby the metal flowed through all the grooves producing more coins in a casting.

When the product had cooled, the thin bars that joined the coins together came off. Subsequently only the major coins were merged, while the minor ones were minted. With the reform of Augustus in 23 BC, the Axis was beaten on copper instead of bronze, while the Sesterzio (4 Assi) and the Dupondio (2 Assi) were in copper and zinc alloy (orichalcum).

The main coins then became:
the as – of copper,
the sestertius, the quinarius, the denarius, – silver
the aureus, – of gold.

With the transition to hammer coinage, the axis became a fiduciary currency, the value of which was no longer linked to the metal content. Originally the as contained a pound of copper, but over time it decreased to 1/24 of a pound. The as was divided into 12 unciae, so much so that uncia generally meant a twelfth. The semis (half axis) was half of this as divided into twelve parts. I

AXIS 272 gr.
SEMIS S 136 gr. 1/2
TRIENTE °°°° 90 gr. 1/4
DIAL °°° 45 gr. 1/6
SEXTANT °° 22 gr. 1/12
OZ ° 22 gr. 1/12
HALF S 11 gr. 1/24

DUPONDIO II. 2 (axles)

– The semis was half of the as divided into twelve parts.
– The sestertius contained 2 as and 1/2,
– the quinarius 5 as,
– the denarius 10 as.


The silver coin that formed the basis of the Roman economy was the denarius, first minted in Rome around 211 BC, a small silver coin with a value of 10 axes, as indicated by the X sign present in the first issues. and was defeated during the Second Punic War. The images of the first denari usually consisted of the bust of Rome on the obverse and of a divinity driving a chariot or chariot on the reverse.
The first coins weighed 4.55 g, 1/72 of a Roman pound, and featured the helmeted head of Rome on the obverse and the Dioscuri on horseback with the legend ROME on the reverse. Then the weight was lowered to 3.9g. Around 142 BC its value was set to 16 axes and the symbol from X became XVI, first in extended and then in monogram.
The new deniers, weighing 3.9 g, show the head of Rome on the obverse, while the she-wolf with suckling Romulus and Remus on the reverse behind a fig tree, in the exergue the legend ROME. For example, the coins minted by Marcus Antony during his war with Octavian were slightly smaller in diameter and with a considerably lower title: the obverse depicted a galley and the name of Antonio, while the reverse presented the name of the particular legion for which the coin had been issued.
Note that these coins remained in circulation for more than 200 years due to the shortage of precious metal. However, the weight remained almost unchanged until Nero’s reform of 64 AD, which lowered it to 3.4 g.
Under Marcus Aurelius the weight was brought to 2.36 g, and under Septimius Severus to 1.7 g. After 250 its weight was 0.17 g, after which Aureliano introduced the nummo (equivalent to 5 denarii). Around 300 the exchange of the denarius with the gold was 1,600 denarii for one aureo, after which under Constantine the denarii were no longer minted.

The production of gold (golden) coins was very sporadic before the conquest of Gaul (and its mines) by Julius Caesar. The first gold issues, following the Greek monetary system to facilitate trade with the south of Italy and the East, occurred in 286 BC (with a gold weight of 6.81g) and in 209 BC ( with a weight of 3.41 g).

The first truly Roman auras were minted in 87 BC by Silla (value of 1/30 of a pound, 9.11 g), followed by issues in 61 BC by Pompey (value of 1/36 of a pound, 9 , 06 g), in 48 BC by Caesar (value of 1/38 of a pound, 8.55 g) and in 48 BC, again by Caesar (with a value of 1/40 of a pound, 8.02 g).

Hadrian Gold Coin


1) In the calculation of money the unit was the sestertius, also called nummus

a) the units, tens and hundreds are written with sestertii and the cardinal number:
quinque sestertii = 5 sestertii
viginti sestertii = 20 sestertii
ducenti sestertii = 200 sestertii.

b) One thousand sestertiums = one thousand sestertiums, or one thousand sestertiums.

c) Up to 1,000,000 sestertiums, thousands are written:
(1) milia sestertium (gen. plur.),
(2) with sestertia: duo milia sestertium, or duo sestertia = 2,000 sestertia
quinque milia sestertium, or quinque sestertia = 5,000 sesterces.

d) For one or more million sesterces: sestertium, with the value of 100,000 sesterces the numeral adverb, decies, vicies, etc. is used.
decies sestertium = 1,000,000 (10 x 100,000) sestertium
vicies sestertium, 2,000,000 (20 x 100,000) sesterces.
For 1,000,000 sesterces “decies centena milia sestertium”.
The words centena milia were omitted, so sestertium became a declinable noun.
2) Sometimes sestertium is omitted, leaving only the numeral adverb: decies = 1,000,000 sesterces.
3) The HS sign is often used for sestertii, or for sestertia, or for sestertium:
decem HS = 10 sestertii (HS = sestertii).
dena HS = 10,000 sestertia (HS = sestertia).
decies HS = 1,000,000 sesterces (HS = sestertium).

The sestertius became the most widely used currency. The term derives from semis-tertius = 2 1/2. Like aureus, denarius etc., the name was originally an adjective that modified the currency.


In the Roman Empire some cities retained the right to issue their own coins. These coins were primarily used for the internal trade of a city or a limited area. As a result, emissions were much more limited and less regular. Furthermore, the types used reflected local themes. This coinage was invaluable as it revealed otherwise little known details of the life of the Roman world.

With coinage, counterfeiters and scams spread:
– coins in precious metal with low-grade alloy,
– gold coins stained when rubbed, a sign that they were in alloy
– copper coins laminated with gold or silver, they tested with their teeth for hardness
– the coins were filed to reduce their weight, therefore coins with a serrated edge came into use.


– At the time of Augustus a man could belong to the equites (knights) if he owned a property of at least 400,000 sesterces (100,000 denarii).
– A senator was to own properties for 1,000,000 sesterces (250,000 denarii).
– A simple soldier under Augustus and Tiberius (ca. 15 AD) earned 10 aces a day or 900 sesterces a year. Under Domitian (ca. 85 AD) it had only increased to 1,200 sesterces a year.
– The Praetorian legionaries under Augustus received 2 denarii a day, or about 730 a year.
– The centurions received 3750 denarii per year under Augustus and 5000 under Domitian.
– A lawyer under Claudius (ca. 50 AD) could ask clients up to 10,000 sesterces for his defense.
– Juvenal (ca. 100 AD) complained of circus champions, who earned 100 times what a lawyer earned – 15,000 to 60,000 sesterces for a victory.
– Martial, II half I century. dc, told of the charioteer Scorpus who won 15 bags of gold in an hour, and that a slave, which cost 10,000 sesterces, laughed at the masters who could only donate 100 quadrantes (6 1/4 sesterces) a day to their clients. .
– Another charioteer, under Hadrian and Antoninus Pius (140 AD), was said to have accumulated 35,863,120 sesterces.
– In the first century. AD, olive oil cost 2 or 3 sesterces per liter, and wine from 1 and 4 boards for 1/2 liter.
– An entrance to the spa cost 1 quadrans for a man and 2 quadrantes for a woman, while the children did not pay.
– In Pompeii a man paid a denarius for a prostitute.
– A city house in Rome could cost between 500,000 (125,000 den.) And 2,500,000 sesterces (625,000 den.), And one iugerum (2,400 sq m) of land cost between 1,000 (250 den.) And 12,000 sesterces (3,000 den. .).


Money as a handy means, produced and guaranteed by an internationally recognized political entity, to quickly ensure the acquisition of goods and the use of services within its own territory, was adopted by Rome quite early.

The tresviri (or triumviri) monetales were three young magistrates in charge of controlling and operating the mint, located on the Capitol, near the temple of Juno Moneta. The temple stood on the place from which the alarm for the night assault of the Gauls had started, an alarm that had allowed the city to be saved. In memory of this episode a temple had been raised to Juno called “Moneta”, that is “she who warns” (from monere).

The official name was “IIIviri monetales aere argento auro flando feriundo” (III VIR AAAFF), ie monetary triumvirs to melt (flando) and beat (feriundo) bronze (aerop), silver and gold (auro). On a denarius of Manio Aquilio, senator in 74 BC, we find the inscription “III VIR” on the obverse we find the same writing on the back of several bronzes of Augustus.

They were responsible for the casting of the gold bars, the alloy, the weight and engraving of the struck coins, as well as the accounts of the mint and therefore the coins issued were signed by them. But there are also coins issued by consuls, praetors, quaestors or by aediles. Extraordinary emissions were somehow identified, for example with the abbreviation SC (Senatus Consultum).

– “ordinary coins”, which had the task of the mint in Rome, or were delegated above all by the Senate to exercise similar functions outside Rome in various centers, or in some districts, but in any case within the border of Italy
– “special coins”: invested by the Senate, through special provisions, with the authority to initiate extraordinary issues. The issues of these “special coins” are distinguished from ordinary issues by particular abbreviations (for example SC, since the authorization was often provided by a senatus consulto) or by the different title of the magistrate, or by the two combined indications.
– “military coins”: following the army especially in the provinces. These could be quaestors, legates and prefects to the orders of the generals in command.


It seems strange today, but it was the people gathered in the comitia to decree all the characteristics of the coin, to establish which metal it should be made of, as well as the type and weight. The Senate then had to make sure that those decrees were duly executed and to assign particular officials to that end. Especially the consuls, who, by virtue of their imperium, exercised their authority over the execution.

They would exercise general control over the issue time, weight, size and value of the coins. Their authority was of a public nature, so on the first bronze issues one encounters only representations of tutelary deities of Rome on the D / and the prow of the ship at the R /.

4. The Akragas Decadrachm, 411 BC

Akragas Decadrachm, 411 BC, via the British Museum, London

The Akragas Decadrachm is one of the rarest ancient coins. Fewer than ten are known to have survived from antiquity. It is one of the great coins issued during the 5th century on the island of Sicily. These cities were among the earliest to begin minting silver coins.

The coin was likely issued to honor the winner of an Olympic chariot race in 411 BC. The front is a depiction of the sun god Helio traveling in his chariot. The sky is represented by an eagle and the sea below is represented by a crab. The back of the coin shows two eagles standing over the body of a hare.

The coin was likely used primarily as a commemorative piece. The amount of silver used to produce the coin made it too valuable to use in everyday transactions.

Roman Coins (Ancient forgeries ) - History

Denominations of Roman Coins

The RNG is not focussed on coin denominations, sizes, weights, or reference numbers such as from the Roman Imperial Coinage (RIC) catalogue.
Rather it centers on the artistic and historical value of the Roman coins, that are not shown in actual size but with varying degrees of enlargment.

For those viewers without own collection (we do feel sorry for you and recommend to remedy such deficit quickly) we include the below brief summary of denominations with actual sizes and weights. Please note that your screen resolution influences the size you see on your screen.

Coin Dies for Marcus Antonius Legionary denarius, and for Caracalla denarius, likely from ancient coin forgers.

Coin treasure from the Scottish National Museum, Edinburgh


Some of the most common ancient Roman coins include the aureus (gold), denarius (silver), and the sestertius (bronze). These coins were minted from half way through the third century BC till half way through the third century AD.

Antoninianus - This coin, valued at 2 denarii, was brought into play in the Roman Empire by Caracalla in 215. Initially launched as a silver coin, it was later lowered down to the bronze metallic appearance. The silver coin looked analogous to the denarius. The difference was it was larger and its characteristic trait was that it featured the emperor wearing a crown and hence was valued almost twice that of a denarius.

This coin was highly responsible for increasing inflation as it was a fact that the actual silver usage was just 1.5 denarii. As the many emperors and rebels paid their soldiers with them, the antoninianus lost even more silver content with every new issue until nearly the entire coin was made of bronze. Shop owners to compensate for this lower silver content slowly raised their prices.

Denarius - The most widely used coin in the Roman Empire and it was made up of silver, minted initially in 211 BC. For the first century its weight remained around 4 grams but later got degraded to 3.4 under the reign of Nero. Till the middle of the third century the predominance of this coin prevailed but after the launch of the antoninianus this coin was discontinued. It was also observed that the last insurance of these coins were in the bronze metal shape and were found in 270 to 275 AD.

Initially with the weight of 4 grams it was supposed to net ten times the asses and hence it was named as "denaris." Even after their discontinuation, the legacy of these coins continued and was used by Arabs in particular.

Sestertius - This coin was initially a small silver coin priced at one quarter of denarius. However in 23 BC during the reformation of Augustus the coin equaled to the domination of a huge brass coin. Initially they were manufactured at the mint of Rome but when Nero came to power, these coins were produced at the mint of Lyon. These brass coins weighed around 28 grams and had a diameter of 34 mm and were almost 4mm in thickness.

There was a notable difference between brass and bronze for the Romans. Brass was considered as double the value of bronze as the former one resembled gold like appearance and was termed as "gold copper." The last sestertius coins were considered to be minted during the Aurelian.

Roman Coins (Ancient forgeries ) - History

W elcome to the NEW version of the V irtual C atalog of R oman C oins, a Web site devoted to helping students and teachers learn more about ancient Roman coins. These pages contain images and descriptions of coins from the Early Republic through the end of the 4th century A.D. and the formal division of the Roman Empire into east and west. The Catalog provides only a sample of the thousands of Roman coin types, but it is constantly growing so please check back from time to time to view the new material.

T he site is arranged to provide easy access to coins from a particular period or to let users browse the coins however they choose. Users may also search for a particular feature on the coins, a goddess or god, an emblem, or part of an inscription. Use the Main Catalog and Search links on the left.

T he VCRC is an innovative project based on the collaboration of private coin collectors and dealers and a college professor who wants to create a useful resource for his students, other teachers and their students, and the general public. The images and initial descriptions are provided by collectors and professional numismatists, allowing us to present a more extensive database of coins that would otherwise be possible. Photo and coin quality depend on what is provided descriptions are edited to achieve a degree of consistency. Coins are usually the main Roman issues with Latin legends, but a few provincial coins are included at this time. The coin types represented depend on the material available. All photographs in the catalog are attributed to the persons who granted permission to use them. We are grateful for their willingness to share their materials with those who wish to learn about Roman coins. We also invite others to participate with us in this project. All contributors are listed on the Thanks and Credits page.

T he entries and web materials are edited by Robert W. Cape, Jr., Associate Professor of Classics, Austin College. Special thanks go to Julie Bergfeld and Molly Simpson who were crucial to the transformation of the project from static pages to dynamic database. Thanks are also due to the Cullen Fund for Teaching, which has supported the project.

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Modern Forgeries Turning Up in
Uncleaned Ancient Coin Lots.

This site shows a group of suspect coins from a lot of 1,000 uncleaned ancient coins that came on the market in late 2003. By posting what I have encountered, I am hoping both collectors and dealers will be better able to identify what appears to be a group of modern forgeries of late Roman and early Byzantine bronzes dumped enmasse into the market via uncleaned coin lots. Many thanks to Tom Schroer for his help in ID'ing the Byzantine forgeries. In early April 2004, I discovered a tiny AE-4 in another 1,000 coin lot of either Theodosius II or Valentinian III with crucifix reverse that is an obvious fake from this same series.

Source: Eastern Europe, most likely Bulgaria.

In December 2003, I discovered 316 coins in a 1,000 uncleaned coin lot that are clearly modern forgeries. Since then, I have encountered individual stray pieces from the same forgery source in other uncleaned lots I have handled. These fakes continue to appear even six years later in 2009 in various "Uncleaned Coin" auctions on eBay.

Below is a sampling of 8 Jovian AE-3's - all struck from a single die. Originally I thought these and the other forgeries were cast but, on closer examination, they appear to be struck fakes.

Suspect Jovian group - Obverse

Suspect Group Jovians - Reverse

The die links here are clear, note the mouth and lips on the obverse and the "O" in VOT on the reverse.

Below is an authentic uncleaned Jovian AE-3

Suspect group of Justinian 20 nummia pieces. Style clearly renders these as fakes (note the eye) as well as identical dies.

Below is a set of six Urbs Roma types with Wolf & Twins reverse. Again, style is completely out of keeping with the authentic series as well as the clear die links indicating these coins were all struck from the same die.

Below is an authentic uncleaned Urbs Roma issue from the Siscia mint.

The following information will serve as a guide for spotting these fakes in uncleaned lots :

1. They are mostly AE-3's (15-17 mm,) some AE-3/4's (12-14 mm) with a few early Byzantine AE-2's (19-21 mm) and AE3/4's (13-16 mm) along with a significant number of Severan provincial issue forgeries (14-16mm.)

2. The flans, on examination, are not ancient but modern, too perfect for an ancient coin that has lain in the ground for 1500 years.

3. These fakes show no patinas but rather a modern chemical induced toning that is often blue. The toning has proved corrosive over time with several of the smaller coins developing a liquified coating resulting from a reaction with the planchet metal. Dirt doesn't adhere to the coins, but rather brushes off with a few swipes of the toothbrush indicating the coins have been dirtied to imitate authenticity. In addition, the suspect coins, although they purportedly range in date from over a three hundred year period, all display the exact same toning, level of wear, flan types and style.

4. Currently I have identified 20 types, each similar type (say Urbs Roma w/wolf & twins) coming from the same dies (known as die links.) This is an uncommon occurrence in ancient coins but to have it occur over and over in 300+ coins from a single uncleaned lot supposedly collected from multiple sources, not possible.

5. These all look like they are struck forgeries, with large areas of the flans smooth. Some have clearly been clipped off the molten metal with tips of metal left where the liquid metal flowed out from between the dies.

6. Most importantly, the style of the engraving is not ancient Roman, neither is that of the lettering in the inscriptions. They are also not ancient barbaric imitations (the uniformity of flan compostion, artificial toning, and similarity of condition despite supposedly originating over a 300 year period, eliminate them as barbaric imitations) but similar to known forgeries to come out of Bulgaria.

A catalogue of the coins found in the 1,000 coin lot.

Some of the coins are purely ephemeral or "mules" with the reverse types not matching issues of the obverse emperor or reverse types from one emperor paired with obverses of another. So far I have identified 20 forgery types. The number in parenthesis is the count and the percentage of the 316 total to give an indication of scarcity. Percents have been rounded to one decimal place.

This may not be an all inclusive list since a total of roughly 20,000 coins were imported, the percentage of which were fakes is uncertain. Other types may still be unidentified. The ones known to me are listed below:

AE -3 Urbs Roma, Wolf & Twins reverse ( 23 - 7.3% )
AE-3 Valens, Victory advancing left reverse, Securitas Reipublicae ( 36 - 11.4% )
AE-2 Justinian, K nummia reverse ( 2 - 0.6% )
AE-3 Jovian, Vot V Mult X in wreath reverse ( 19 - 6.0% )
AE-3 Justinian "H" 8 nummia of Thessalonika ( 23 - 7.3% )
AE-3/4 Justin I with Chi Rho reverse, Constantinople ( 7 - 2.2% )
AE-4 Justinian decanummia with "1" Anno xxii reverse, Constantinople mint( 11 - 3.5% )
AE-3 Constantinus I, altar and phoenix, Fel Temp reverse ( 25 - 7.5% )
AE-3 Constantinopolis, victory reverse ( 15 - 4.7% )
AE-3 Valentinian II with Concordia Avgg reverse ( 18 - 5.7% )
AE-3 Constantius II Fel Temp Reparatio reverse, soldier spearing fallen horseman ( 24 - 7.6% )
AE-3 Licinius II. Iovi Conservatori reverse ( 17 - 5.4% )
AE-3 Crispus, Providentiae Caess reverse ( 7 - 2.2% )
AE-3 Septimius Severus Provincial ( 30 - 9.5% )
AE-3 Septimius Severus Provincial Variation ( 10 - 3.2% )
AE-3 Constans, Gloria Romanorum reverse ( 29 - 9.2% )
AE-3 Constantinus I Virtus Exercitu reverse ( 12 - 3.8% )
AE-3 Constantius II, Victoriae DD AVGG QNN reverse ( 11 - 3.5% )
AE-3 Constantinus I, Gloria Exercitus, pair soldiers w/standards reverse. ( 10 - 3.2% )
AE 3/4 Pentanummia Justin II w/reverse of Justinian (Antioch mint) Fantasy "mule." ( 7 - 2.2% )
AE-4 Valentinian III/Theodosius II crucifix reverse (discovered April 11, 2004 in a separate 1,000 coin lot.) (1 coin)

The most plentiful of the forgeries appear to be the Severan provincials, the Valens Victory advancing left, and the Constans Gloria Romanorum. The least plentiful is the AE-2 size 20 nummia K reverse of Justinian with only two pieces represented and the AE-4 Valentinian/Theodosius crucifix reverse.

Photos of the coins not appearing above are below. Pair coins are displayed in order to show die links.

Set 1 below from left to right they are:
AE-3/4 Justin I with Chi Rho reverse, Constantinople.
AE-3 Valens, Victory advancing left reverse, Securitas Reipublicae.
AE-4 Justinian decanummia with "1" Anno xxii reverse, Constantinople mint.

Set 2 below from left to right are:
AE-3 Constantinus I, altar and phoenix, Fel Temp reverse.
AE-3 Constantinopolis, victory reverse.
AE-3-Valentinian II with Concordia Avgg reverse.

Set 3 below from left to right are:
AE-3 Licinius II. Iovi Conservatori reverse.
AE-3 Crispus, Providentiae Caess reverse.
AE-3 Constantius II Fel Temp Reparatio reverse, soldier spearing fallen horseman.

Set 4 below from left to right are:
AE-3 Septimius Severus Provincial.
AE-3 Septimius Severus Provincial Variation.
AE-3 Constans, Gloria Romanorum reverse.

Set 5 below from left to right are:
AE-3 Justinian "H" 8 nummia of Thessalonika.
AE-3 Constantine I, Virtus Exercitu reverse.
AE-3 Constantius II, Victoriae DD AVGG QNN reverse.

Set 6 below from left to right includes:
AE-3 Constantine I, Gloria Exercitus, pair soldiers w/standards reverse.
Samples illustrating modern clipping and metal tips on flans left over from striking/casting.

Set 7 below from left to right:
AE 3/4 Pentanummia Justin II w/reverse of Justinian (Antioch mint) Fantasy "mule."

Set 8 below from left to right:
AE-4 Valentinian III/Theodosius II cross reverse fake.
Real AE-4 Valentinian III with cross reverse.

A note at the end - 2009. Although first appearing in large numbers during 2003-2004, these forgeries continue to show up in uncleaned lots and smaller offerings on a regular basis on e-Bay. These fakes should put to rest any contention that there are coins that are too cheap or too small to be worth forging.

An extreme example is the crucifix coin in set 8. This 9mm coin (that's nine millimeters, one of the little nodules) is a fairly common Valentinian III, Theodosius II AE-4 with crucifix reverse.

Summer 2009 - As added information that these coins are still "circulating," below are a pair that recently turned up in an otherwise decent lot of uncleaned coins. Thanks to Gene Mayo for the heads up and the photographs.

Both are AE-3 size. The second coin is clearly the same as the sample in picture set five, the third pair, Constantius pair victories reverse. The first coin with the red toning matches the first coin in picture set five, Justinian 8 nummia of Thessalonika.

Bob Bischoff
[email protected]