Caveat Emptor

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by romismatist, Feb 14, 2021.

  1. romismatist

    romismatist Active Member

    Hello Everyone,

    I've only recently gotten back into the routine of spending time in the CT Ancients section, and have tremendously enjoyed the different discussion posts and lively and passionate conversations about ancient coins. For the time being, I will likely read more and post less, but I thought that this topic was an important one which hasn't really been discussed in much depth recently.

    I'll be the first to admit that there are some great deals on online auction sites like EBay, but it's still critical not to take anything at face value and always do your homework to avoid fakes. A recent example: I came across an interesting Tarentine diobol from an Irish Ebayer recently. The coin had authentic-looking wear and patina, but its style looked a bit off. There were also other coins being offered that looked interesting, including an "Africa" denarius of Septimius Severus and a Trajan Decius Restitution antoninianus of Augustus.

    Just to be sure, I checked Forum and Dr. Ilya Prokopov's Fake Ancient Coin Reports and quickly found a die match for the Tarentum diobol with a known fake, posted May 2016, and even before that, in March 2008. Out of curiosity, I looked up the other coins and found fakes that die matched all of them as well.

    I've been collecting coins for over 35 years and have seen (and sometimes bought) my share of fakes. Some Ebay sites (like the Medieval one) seem to post more fakes than real coins these days. For this seller, the most galling part of this was that the post stated "Authenticity : All coins are checked by a professional numismatist and confirmed to be authentic Ancient coins before the auction so bid with confidence !!!". I guess it pays never to take anything for granted.

    In summary, my point for this thread is to highlight the need for continued vigilance when buying coins. There have been instances where I have seen fakes offered by respected auction houses and coin dealers (a recent batch of "well preserved" legionary denarii of Mark Antony comes to mind), so it's not just EBayers that need to be careful. I'm a lot more cautious these days when buying coins that look a little too perfect, and the example above highlights the fact that forgers continue to get better at their craft, and continue to recycle their fakes in ever more deceptive ways.

    I've tried to insert the pictures of the diobol from Ebay and from the Forum site here, but previously had problems doing so. If the pictures don't work, the links for EBay and the Forum Fake Coin Reports are here:

    I'd be interested in learning more about any recent less obvious fakes everyone else has come across, and what to look out for moving forward. @dougsmith's excellent pages have provided a good initial baseline, but I'm always looking to improve. Feel free to post your fake coin pics, or anything else you feel would add to the discussion.

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  3. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    That 'ash' like patina really gives it away though!
  4. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    The seller is a known fake seller.
    Pellinore likes this.
  5. romismatist

    romismatist Active Member

    @JayAg47, I guess you're right. The patina does look a bit too even, and the coin almost seems like it was "pressed" rather than struck...
    JayAg47 likes this.
  6. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    There's only a handful of ebay sellers I will buy Greek silver from - the fakes are too numerous and too well done.
  7. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    If you are going to collect ancients, you are going to collect some fakes. Even if you deal only with reputable auction houses and respected dealers it is virtually inevitable that you will acquire them and often in a way that makes it impossible to return them, given both time and distance. Over a period of several decades, despite trying to educate myself and being a cautious buyer, I have picked up coins which I later discovered to be fraudulent. That is why I also have a "Black Cabinet" in my collection, as a depository for all those fake coins. They make an interesting study in themselves and serve as a constant reminder to be careful. Get one. Hopefully, a small one will do. And, caveat omnis.
  8. romismatist

    romismatist Active Member

    Well said, @kevin McGonigal! Along my collecting journey I have invariably picked up some fakes and have learnt many difficult lessons as a result. I wonder how many fake "sleepers" exist within each of our collections...

    I too have a "Black Cabinet" (love that term) of fakes - they do serve as a reminder for continued vigilance. I have returned several of the recent fakes I acquired, but remember one seller, once exposed, refunding me the money but telling me not to bother returning the coin.
  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    This has happened to me more than once. If the dealer has no recourse to return the coin to where he got it, it seems the best thing to do. I have a fake that I was not convinced was good when I got it but later came to believe it was OK only later to find certain proof it was fake. By that time, 25 years and the seller had passed.
    Is it the coin in Dattari/Savio or was that pencil rubbing the real one? I would love to know where and when mine was made.

    Another I only had for 20 years before I realized I was stupid when I bought it from an auction I had never used before or since. Slow learner! This one is pretty obvious but we see what we want to see and ignore what we want to ignore.
    Phraates III
    romismatist, Clavdivs, PeteB and 2 others like this.
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