My First Nero Sestertius! Or, My First Fake Nero Sestertius.

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Marsyas Mike, Aug 15, 2021.

  1. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    When a Nero sestertius shows up on eBay for $9.95 "buy it now," I find my trigger finger getting itchy. It was described only as "looks Roman" so the seller was making no claims. At that price, I figured it was worth the risk. :nailbiting:

    This is the common 2 horsemen DECVRSIO type, and I was able to narrow it down to two possibilities (the obverse legend is somewhat degraded, so I couldn't narrow it any further).

    Forgery Network has several fake example of this type, but I'm not seeing a die match (most of them have a globe at the base of the neck for Lugdunum, or bust if facing left, and are much higher grade, etc.). In other words, there does not appear to be a fake die-match for this one. (And no, it did not come from Bulgaria - the seller is USA and I've bought from him before - he sells a wide variety of world coins cheap, with occasional ancients).

    Obviously this is not a high grade specimen, but I was surprised how high relief both the bust and horsemen were - for the wear I'd expect a "flatter" feel to it. Is this the sign of a cast fake? The overall appearance is somewhat "soapy" but I've seen this look with AEs that have been harshly stripped of their patina (as this one appears to have been). I see no edge seam. The weight is a bit low at 21.50 grams, but given the wear and patina stripping, this doesn't seem too far off. The 31 mm diameter seems in keeping with these. It has a nice, mellow yellow color with pleasing contrasts (at least I think so):

    Nero - Sestertius DECVRSIO Aug 2021 (0).jpg
    Nero Æ Sestertius
    (c. 62-68 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG [GER(M) P M TR P IMP PP], laureate head right with aegis / DECVRS[IO] below, SC, Nero riding right escorted by a soldier riding right, holding vexillum.
    RIC 170 or RIC 172 (see notes).
    (21.51 grams / 31 mm)
    eBay Aug. 2021 $9.95 BIN
    Attribution Note: Many varieties of this type:
    Obv.: Laureate bust right with aegis, no globe at tip (thus not Lugdunum mint), CLAVDIVS in full.
    Obverse legend variations (not visible on this specimen):
    RIC 170: GER (no M),
    RIC 172: GERM

    Nero - Sestertius DECVRSIO Aug 2021 (0det).jpg

    Any opinions on this in regards to authenticity, etc. would be appreciated. Hunches and wild guesses are fine - at this price I am not going to burst into tears if it's a fake - if nothing else, I learned a lot about the sestertii of Nero this morning!

    Also, I'm sure there are some prettier examples of this out there, which I'd like to see. If somebody has a (genuine) die match, then, please, make my day! :woot:
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  3. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Certainly not from the same dies, but the same tone:

    Bildschirmfoto 2021-08-15 um 17.45.15.png

    NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P - Laureate head to left /
    DECVRSIO S C - Nero on horse galloping to right, holding spear, accompanied by soldier riding to right behind with vexillum over shoulder
    Sestertius, Rome mint 64 A.D.
    35mm / 25.64g / 6h
    RIC I 171; BMCRE 145 (same dies), Cohen 84, Cayon 106
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  4. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    :O wow! of the century there Mike..:)
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  5. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Dang. I hope it is good for your sake. What a great deal if it is.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  6. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thanks, @ominus1 - I think it is definitely the deal of this year for me. When shopping on eBay you have to kiss (or at least look at) a lot of frogs before you find a princess!
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  7. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Nobody seems to be calling "fake" on this, so I am feeling somewhat confident that it is legit.
    furryfrog02 likes this.
  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    That is a beauty, for sure @Julius Germanicus It looks very high-relief too, like mine (though yours has much less wear). Thanks for sharing it!
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  9. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Hey now! I resent that comment... :p

    I also spend way too much time on ebay looking at frogs.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  10. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Actually, I am afraid I have spent so much time in the eBay swamp I am actually beginning to prefer frogs! Eww! :)
    furryfrog02 likes this.
  11. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    I don't see any obvious signs of a casting seam or file marks on the edge, so, based on the photos, I think the coin is authentic and cleaned.

    The weight is low, but that could be due to weight loss from the cleaning, corrosion and circulation.

    Nice find!
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  12. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Looking at pictures of my first Nero Sesertius which is about as worn as the OP coin and comparing detail and wear pattern I must say that I am not so sure if the OP coin is indeed genuine.

    Bildschirmfoto 2021-08-16 um 21.37.15.png

    Also, the 31 mm of the OP coin seem very small. Genuine specimens measure an average of 35 mm.
  13. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the input. Yeah, I doubt I'll ever have complete confidence in it. :nailbiting:

    Your observations sent me to acsearch, where I searched DECVRSIO types. With over 400 hits, there is a lot to choose from. As you note, most are c. 35 mm and weigh more than mine. But after only looking over 50 or so, I did find several corroded/worn examples that are somewhat around the weight of mine (some lighter):

    20.37 grams:

    23 grams / 35 mm:

    20.97 grams / 35 mm:

    21.46 / 35 mm:

    These light ones are around 35 mm though, 3mm bigger than mine. Mine does have somewhat rounded edges, and the obverse inscription is more crowded than most of the other specimens I've looked at. Maybe mine was in a jewelry mount of some sort, filed edges? Or a fake.

    Thanks again. :)
  14. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you! I hope the "good" three C's - Cleaning, Corrosion and Circulation - are the reasons for its current status.:)

    Those, rather than the "bad" three C's - Cruddy Cast Copy:(
  15. RichardT

    RichardT Well-Known Member

    Circulation wear should still leave sharp details in protected areas of the coin, like the legends or Nero's eye. I think comparison with JG's example makes it quite clear that the wear on the OP coin is too uniform. My two cents.
  16. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you Richard. I appreciate the input and agree with your observation on wear.

    However, mine is quite pitted - pitting is not really a respecter of protected areas; the fields suffering as much as the legends/devices.

    Of course the pitting could just be a counterfeiter's way of making a cast fake look more "ancient." Not sure why they would go to the bother to lower the grade to such an extent, but I don't have a criminal mind! :angelic:
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