Spotting fake ancients

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Vess1, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Vess1

    Vess1 CT SP VIP Supporter

    Hey guys. I was going to ask this somewhere else but didn't want to thread hijack. I think ancients are cool though I haven't purchased any yet. Wondering how difficult it is to spot fakes out there? Some are highly detailed but some are not. And then some could be made to look like something that's just worn. With many poorly made and worn examples, what do you look for besides obvious casting bubbles? It seems to me these would be harder to verify. You wonder how many fakes are bought and sold. Which ones are faked the most? Just wondering in case I ever want to purchase something not slabbed.
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    Best Answer
    It is relatively simple for a beginner to avoid buying fake ancients. Just stay away from amateur, flea market grade sellers and buy from dealers who specialize only in ancient coins who guarantee what they sell for life. After you get to know th subject a bit better, you will probably risk buying some coins based on your skills but realize that you will make mistakes then. For now, be very careful where you buy the coins.

    There are fakes that anyone with common sense could know are fakes (there is a fake of Julius Caesar clearly dated 44 BC) and there are fakes that fool many people with considerable experience. Even the best will be fooled occasionally.

    The most often faked coins are those that appeal to the most people. That includes the Athenian owl tetradrachms, Tribute Pennies (Tiberius denarius) and 30 pieces of silver (Shekels of Tyre). There are fakes of low demand, common coins but there are types where you see more fakes than real ones. Find a dealer you trust and buy the coins he sells.
  4. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Also, note that eBay feedback is not a reliable indicator of a dealer’s true reputation.
    Pavlos likes this.
  5. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    I don't know that there is any better advice than what Doug just gave.
    Nicholas Molinari likes this.
  6. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Just be aware that a slab, while certainly a vote of confidence in, is not a guarantee of a coin's legitimacy. Slabbing companies can make mistakes, too.
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    True but there are several companies that encase coins in plastic but have little or no knowledge of coins. They could be fake or not by luck. IF you are going to spend the money on a slabbed coin, you might pay extra for a good company like NGC but please don't think that a plastic case adds any value on its own. There are many companies I have not studied but the only one I have seen as adding any value on a consistent basis is NGC.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  8. Valentinian

    Valentinian Well-Known Member

    First of all, take Doug's advice.

    However, if you try eBay or buy from sellers who are not vetted, consider these possibilities.

    has many ancient-coin fakes identified. On the main page ignore the three "Class, Category, and sub-category" lines and just enter something in the "Keywords" line, usually the name of the Greek city or Roman emperor.

    Forum Ancient Coins has a forum with fake coin reports and a list of eBay fakesellers:

    It is an extensive site and you can learn a lot about fakes from it.

    Read this web page for good advice:

    There is an email list with reports of fakesellers on eBay:

    Maybe you don't want this much involvement with the identification of fakes. Okay. Then be sure not to buy from listed fakesellers. Here is Forum's list:
    Here is another:

    Do not think that fakesellers lists are complete. They are not. There are new fakesellers popping up every week.
    Do not think that a high percentage feedback means the seller does not sell fakes. It doesn't. Many sellers of fakes have 100% feedback because the suckers who bought from them do not know they bought a fake instead of a bargain (and, they did not read the above pages!)
    Do not think that sellers not on the lists are necessarily selling genuine coins. Many sellers not on the lists are not good at weeding out fakes and occasionally offer them as genuine.

    What the fakesellers lists do tell you is that you are taking a big and unnecessary risk if you buy from a listed fakeseller.
    Vess1, thejewk and Orfew like this.
  9. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    All of the above is true. But don't let the threat of fakes scare you off. Just go slow, start small, and stick with reputable dealers. Or if you do go on eBay, keep your initial purchases/bids under $15. You are much less likely to buy a fake coin in that price range (although it is possible).
    Vess1 likes this.
  10. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    And it's a very minimal/cheap way to learn from the experience.
  11. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I have been collecting coins since I was a kid and that was 1957. I bought my first ancient in the spring of 1961. Whenever possible I like to have a coin in hand before purchase. I have an extensive library on ancient coins. I go to several major shows each year. In any one of those intervening years I have purchased at least a couple coins that turned out to be fraudulent. I now have an extensive "Black Cabinet" collection of fake ancient coins to remind me to be cautious. Presently I have two such coins to be returned to two separate coin show vendors. If one collects ancients long enough one is going to wind up purchasing fake coins. The current fakes are very, very good and I suspect a number of people reading this here have been swindled by unscrupulous sellers. If you like to hike in the woods you are going to run into poison ivy and ticks. You take prudent precautions but while one can reduce the chances of getting ticks and poison ivy you cannot eliminate the exposure. You learn as much as you can about ancient coins, deal with reputable sellers but still you are going to get stuck with fraudulent coins. Learn as much as you can, buy from dealers who have been around for a while, have built up a reputation for honesty and don't get too upset when you find yourself stuck with fake junk. Despite my occasional bad experiences, the joy and excitement of handling a coin once possibly held by Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar or one that bought a cup of posca at the local tavern in Pompeii or helped ferry a loved one across the River Styx makes the occasional deception worth it to me.
  12. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    Well said!
    J.T. Parker likes this.
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