Featured My first Aureus...a Fourrée...and it's Holed...

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Nov 13, 2020.

  1. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    This is my latest acquisition. I bid on this coin because I've never owned a fourrée Aureus. This one is imitating a Probus' victory issue from Serdica in 290 AD, and probably produced by uncertain Germanic (Gothic?) tribes. Here is the aureus it supposed to copy :

    PROBUS fourrée Aureus
    21mm 3.51g

    Exactly the same coin, don't you think so :D ? No difference at all between the two...except de price...the genuine one cost 800 times more than the fourrée ! This is a description of this gold Probus : "Prior to his reign it was unusual to see an armoured bust with spear and shield, and especially to see the emperor wearing a helmet. Here we have the terrifying bust of an emperor ever-prepared to attack or defend on behalf of his empire. The helmet is elaborately decorated and crowned with a laurel wreath; the spear is in the prone position, and the shield is raised in defence. The impact of this war regalia is amplified by the 'heroic bust' composition, which harkens back to earlier numismatic prototypes. Probus' intention, no doubt, was to demonstrate the strength of his regime and to show the possessor of this beautiful aureus that Rome's future was secured by the strength of his command. If the obverse was meant to communicate Probus' unquestioned military supremacy, the elegant, noble reverse suggests the same level of confidence in the emperor's legislative authority".

    Some explanations about fourrés for our newest members: A fourrée is a coin, most often a counterfeit, struck with a base metal core that has been plated with a precious metal to look like its official solid metal counterpart. The term comes from a French word meaning "stuffed" and is most used to talk about ancient silver plated coins such as Roman denarii and Greek drachms but also to describe any plated coin.
    The manufacture of fourrée coins was done by placing a copper or bronze blank in a silver foil, this foil was then heated to very high temperature so that the silver and copper mix significantly and remain firmly attached to each other. These coins are more than likely all counterfeit coins but were probably rarely issued during the reign of the emperor they represent. This method is in fact popularized under Probus, and it is possibly under Probus that 90% of the fourrées were issued because it was probably much less dangerous to issue forgeries with the effigy of a deceased emperor than the reigning emperor. The most obvious way to detect a fourrée is a plating break exposing the base metal core like this old one in my collection :

    Often, however, plating breaks are not immediately obvious and the first indicator that a coin is a counterfeit is unofficial style. Copper and bronze are lighter than silver and gold. For example, mine is 3.5 g and the "original" ones weight between 6-7 g...Some counterfeiters were smart enough to make the flan slightly larger to achieve the correct weight, but fourrées are most often underweight. Ancient coins were often chiseled or "test cut" to ensure they were not plated. This next example (not my coin) is interesting and described as "defaced in antiquity with numerous test cuts, perhaps thinking that is was a fourrée. While it appears that there might be copper in the cuts, closer examination reveals that they are surface deposits in the cuts and elsewhere. Also, the weight is within the correct range for a silver denarius."


    Septimius Severus fourrée (???) denarius

    Silver fourrées are much more common than gold and electrum fourrées, perhaps because genuine silver coins are much more common, but also because the value of gold coins was so high that they were not be used by ordinary citizens for daily transactions, and they were certainly carefully examined each time they were used, like we do today when someone pays us with a hundred dollars bill...It is often claimed that some fourrée were issued by official mints or in official mints after hours by moonlighting mint workers. While this may have happened, it was certainly not common. Mints were were undoubtedly highly guarded and controlled in ancient times, as they still are today. Nearly all fourrée are unofficial counterfeits that were struck at illegal workshop.
    About my coin, I can't stop wondering if the poor guy (or gal) who punched it and proudly wear it as a pendant knew it wasn't the "real thing"...
    Please show us your aurei, fourrées, holed one or whatever you feel relevant !

    +VGO.DVCKS, finny, thejewk and 29 others like this.
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  3. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    ...a fourréeus? (sorry)
  4. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    At least you have an aureus @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, I don't

    Haha !

    Mark Antony, Fourree denarius - Minted at Athens in 32 BC
    ANTON AVG IMP III COS DES III III V R P C, bare head of Mark Antony right
    ANTONINVS / AVG IMP III in two lines
    3,52 gr
    Ref : RCV # 1478, HCRI # 347, RSC # 2, Cohen # 2

  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I would have to examine this one before believing it is fourree. I have been looking for fourrees of Eastern denarii for a long time and have none to show.

    I do not have a fourree aureus but have several Byzantines. One is even holed.

    Basil I with Constantine
    Basil II with Constantine VIII Of all my plated coins, this one has the most regular and attractive core exposure.
    Michael IV This one was $3 in 1990 which may be about melt value today???

    The above three photos all make me believe that there is no easier coin to photograph than a worn Byzantine fourree. The coins are trash but I am rarely this happy with coin images.
    finny, TuckHard, Edessa and 11 others like this.
  6. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Recently acquired aaand meets two of your three prerequisites my LEO AND SON CONSTANTINUS. 813-820, Syrakus Au-Tremissis fouree
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
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  7. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Nice, @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix ... I always wondered about gold fourees... think of the RISK of being caught pawning one of those off in a transaction. A silver Denarius would be angering, but a gold Aureus may had been death!


    Roman Republic,
    fourée mule,
    anonymous obverse,
    reverse of Q Fabius Labeo
    Fourée denarius, 18mm, 2.9g, 10h; after 124 BC.
    Obv.: Helmeted head of Roma right, mark of value X to left.
    Rev.: Jupiter driving galloping quadriga right, hurling thunderbolt, holding reins and scepter; Q FABI in exergue.
    Ref: cf. Crawford 159 (as one example of many similar obverse designs); Crawford 273/1 (reverse).
    Ex: @John Anthony, From the Doug Smith Collection #384


    Spain Lepida-Clesa
    Lepidus 44-36BCE
    C Balbus L Porcius
    Colonia Victrix Ivlia Lepida Victory -
    Bull holed
    RPI 262 plate 19
  8. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    My first and only Aureus is also a plated and holed imitation:

    Bildschirmfoto 2020-11-14 um 07.54.43.png

    IIII-IT — IIIIII - laureate and cuirassed bust of Diocletian or Maximian left.
    II — IISIII (the S reversed) - helmeted Roma seated left on throne with X beneath seat, holding Victory on extended right hand and resting on sceptre held in left.
    Aureus (gold plated over base metal core), irregular mint in western Ukraine, Chernyakhov culture, ca. 300-310 aD
    19,83 mm / 2,56 gr. / pierced in antiquity
    Oleg Anohin "Counterfeiting among barbarian tribes in the territory of modern Ukraine and Moldova. Catalog of barbaric imitations" (2015), Nr.87 (this coin illustrated); for a specimen from the same dies but struck in gold, cf. Leu Numismatik, Auction 4 (25 May 2019), lot 819 (“The Aurum Barbarorum Collection”).
    found in the Ternopil region, Ukraine, ex Savoca Numismatik 17th Blue auction (01.03.2019), lot 1894

    Our coins stand at the very beginning of Germanic coinage and were never intended for circulation. They were pierced right after being struck in western Ukraine to be worn as status symbols by Eastern Gothic warriors. These are always holed at the top of the portrait and were obviously gilt afterwards. Higher ranking chiefs received pure gold examples. They were most likely burried with their owners and so survive in substantial numbers.

    You can find a detailled discussion here:

    An amazing collection of high quality specimens (including unholed and pure gold pieces) fetched high prices at Leu´s Aurum Barbarorum auction. You can trace different stages of barbarisation of the legends of your design which is called the "Probus Group A" of imitations.

    It is hardly possible to buy more interesting history for the price you paid. Congratulations!
    +VGO.DVCKS, finny, thejewk and 11 others like this.
  9. Silverlock

    Silverlock Well-Known Member

    I don’t have any aurei, gold or otherwise. But I will share this as I find it fascinating.


    Ionia, Uncertain
    Circa 600 BCE
    1/24th Stator
    Clockwise swastika pattern
    Incuse punch
    Rosen 365 type
    Fouree, electrum plated silver

    Here we have a coin from the earliest days of coinage. Most scholars believe metal coinage can trace its origins to Ionia in the period 600 to 650 BCE, though a few push it back as far as 700 BCE. Coins of this period tended to be simple punched designs of naturally occurring electrum or native silver. Refined gold, silver, and electrum, with consistent levels of purity, wouldn’t become the norm until sometime 600 to 550 BCE, when enterprising kings realized they could profit by tariffing coins at fixed values yet with lower precious metal content than naturally occurred in the region.

    This coin is fascinating because within a few decades after the invention of coinage, we have evidence of the invention of coin forgery. Not just forgery, forgery using sophisticated techniques for the day. Uniform metal plating in that period required a skilled metallurgist. You would think that would give the authorities a very small pool of suspects, but these forgers somehow managed to operate at such a scale evidence of their efforts survived to this day.

    Fourees such as this were the first shots in what would become an ever-escalating war of producing and detecting fakes: plating, detection by weighing, plating base metals to make correct weight forgeries, test cuts, forgeries with precious metal infill plating of test cuts, counter marks, falsified counter marks, increasingly detailed designs, casts from molds of those designs, and so on right up to today.

    [Unless, as has been suggested, coins such as this one are not fouree at all, but officially issued in an attempt to enrich the treasury by deceiving the public. In which case the coin is still fascinating, but for different reasons.]
    +VGO.DVCKS, finny, thejewk and 7 others like this.
  10. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Many thanks @Julius Germanicus for the details. I missed your thread last year and will certainly add those infos in the description of my fourrée!
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  11. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    I don’t have any ancient fourée aurii, but here are some cool counterfeits:

    This is my oldest fourée, being a Greek Cheronessos drachm

    8BF38F54-5CBA-4F18-B199-CB59DEF9171F.jpeg 2CF3499E-CD39-48A5-A88A-36DA900538EE.jpeg

    Here modern “fourée” of a Julius Caesar aureus I bought in a museum gift shop in Trier, Germany.

    93A3DCAC-70DB-4D2E-9484-455BA3FC0378.jpeg 976D6A21-9E54-41CC-9C1E-9E052ED4B8EB.jpeg

    And lastly is a contemporary counterfeit of the Wang Mang value-1000 spade, while not gold, it was a bronze coin with a face value worth its weight in gold. Someone risked the lives of themselves, their families, and five nearest neighbors to make this counterfeit. An official issue is on the left, with the counterfeit on the right.

  12. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    ..perhaps its the ancient equivalent of modern costume jewelry...:D..
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  13. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Interesting. I also have a fouree Cheronessos:
  14. Aleph

    Aleph Well-Known Member

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  15. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    It's hard to tell because I can't decipher the legend...doesn't seem to match the original aureus or even your plated ant example. I believe that the barbarians copies have that kind of unreadable legend.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  16. Aleph

    Aleph Well-Known Member

    I couldn’t read the legend either. With all the ants in circulation, it seems easiest just to plate one of these. I have several plated anonymous quadrantes made to appear as either a denarius or an aureus. Plating an already counterfeit coin seems like double work. For lime denarii, the advantage of plating a base metal counterfeit core is that the official examples were of course silver so you save the metal cost by making the base metal core. But when the official ants were already very low value compared to the target aureus, why not just start from one filched from circulation.

    Super cool coin in any event!
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
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