The Plated Fouree in Circulation

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by kevin McGonigal, May 22, 2019.

  1. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    We all have a plated fourees or two in our collections. In another posting today I wrote a reply mentioning fourees that I realized might need its own thread. I have often wondered what happened to these coins once it was realized that they were not solid silver (or gold in a few instances). From the appearance of wear, some of these coins must have been in circulation some time before being withdrawn.

    Look at the three fourees from my own collection. The Ptolemaic tetradrachma of Ptolemy I has little silver plating remaining but shows wear, some of which may have happened after the plating was discovered. At 14.6 grams it is also noticeably lighter than the Attic standard tetradrachma of ca. 17 grams which Ptolemy I first employed. The Corinthian colt (actually Corinthian colony of Therion) shows where some of the plating has flaked off above Athena's helmet and a big chunk has flaked off below Pegasus. At 6.8 grams it is also light. The Roman denarius of Augustus may be a fouree but I am not sure. It is light at 3.0 grams and there are two spots that may be from bits of silver flaking off, one just in front of the chin of Augustus, the other a somewhat larger one in the middle of the shield which seem to show copper beneath.

    Anyway my question that I would like to raise is this. Are there any studies or writings that tell what happened to these coins once the purchasing public discovered that their coin was a plated, not sold silver coin? Would they be seized by authorities as unlawful counterfeits? Did they continue in circulation but at a discount? Did money changers accept them or confiscate them? Did the public try to palm off these coins in an evening darkened taberna and then clear out fast? Have the more obviously plated coins ever been found in hoards of good coins?
    So, as we look at out obviously worn and circulated plated fourees can we surmise what their fate was after it became IMG_0883[3325]plated fourree obv.jpg IMG_0884[3329]plated fourre rev.jpg obvious that they were plated coins?
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
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  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Your coins probably were in circulation untill they were buried by their own owners under the floor of their houses or in their garden.After 2000 years in the ground they look like your coins. The stater and especially the denarius look still OK.

    The Ptolemy tetradrachma was isued on the attic standard(17 gram) as well as on the rhodian standard(15 gram)

    P1210873 best.JPG

    Last week this fourree made 767 USD at CNG auction, amazing.

  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    At the recent Richmond show, a dealer had a die duplicate of my Caesar/Octavian fourree but in much better condition with much less core. That dealer should be in Baltimore this week if anyone is interested. I would rather have the better one but dd not feel the need to upgrade. Conversation for details.
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  5. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    I realize that $767 is nothing to many collectors, but it's Fort Knox to me, so I just can't get my head around why anyone would pay that much for a fake. What's the draw?
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  6. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Interesting post. I too wonder about fourrées - it sure looks like some of them passed for a while. What also baffles me is how accurate they are - I mean you could probably get away with a COS VI error, or a globe instead of a patera - but the few I have are pretty accurately rendered.

    For instance, here is the Trajan fourrée that I posted earlier, that I've since attributed:

    Trajan Fourree denarius May 19 from lot (0).jpg

    Trajan Fourrée Denarius
    (103-111 A.D.)
    Rome Mint (imitation)

    IMP TRAIANO AVG G[ER DAC PM TRP COS V P P], laureate bust right, draped far shoulder / SPQR OPT[IMOP]RINCIPI, Genius standing left, sacrificing on altar.
    RIC 184; RSC 394.
    (2.71 grams / 17 mm)
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  7. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    The accuracy may indicate official dies being used by mint workers supplementing their income off the books, striking coins with plated planchets supplied by forgers.
  8. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Why is it any less interesting than the coin it imitates? Both a the fourree and the coin it imitates are ancient, both tell a story of ancient history, and in addition, the fourree gives insight into crime and deception in the ancient world.

    You could argue that they should be worth more than the coins they copy! Okay, maybe that's pushing the point too far :D. Obviously the value is not measured in the spot price of silver, so the lower silver weight is irrelevant to value. Why do you (and virtually everyone) feel that fourrees should be valued so much lower than the coins they imitate? If it's just a matter of condition, I have a couple that are not low grade.

    I have no answers but imagining the circumstances is fun, as I did in the writeup for this Gragulus-Renius fourree mule:

    Roman Republic fourree mule denarius
    L. Antestius Gragulus, 136 BCE, and C. Renius, 138 BCE

    ancient forgery, 3.18 gm
    Obv: Roma helmeted head right, * below chin, GRAG behind
    Rev: Juno Caprotina in a biga of goats, C・RENI below, ROMA in exergue
    Ref: Obverse S.115, Cr.238/1, Syd.451, RSC Antestia 9; Reverse S.108, Cr.231/1, Syd.432, RSc Renia 1

    Another fourree, this one a serrate. So much for the "serrations deter counterfeiting" theory!. Someone filed a groove in one of the serrations, and rather recently given the lack of patina on the bronze in that area.

    Roman Republic, Lucius Aurelius Cotta
    105 BCE
    Fourree AR serrate denarius, 20 mm, 3.8 gm
    Obv: draped bust of Vulcan right, wearing laureate pileus; tongs and star behind; all within wreath and dotted border
    Rev: eagle standing on thunderbolt, head left; L·COT below, V to right; all within laurel wreath and dotted border
    Ref: c.f. Crawford 314/1c; Sydenham 577a; Aurelia 21b
    formerly slabbed, NGC ChVF, 5/5 strike, 3/5 surface

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  9. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    I'd like to know more about the Iron core fouree Republican/1stC BC denarii, which have been found in territorial fringe areas like Germany.

    Why use Iron as the cores? Has anyone studied or published anything about this?

    ironcore1.jpg ironcore2.jpg
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  10. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    I've owned a few fourrees, but they are usually transient in my collection.

    One of my favorites that I sold about a year ago, a fourree quinarius of celtic Gaul, Arverni tribe, circa mid-1st century BC

    Celtic gaul Arverni fourree quinarius.jpg

    This one saw a little circulation until the test cut did its job and exposed the bronze. My guess is that it was simply discarded after that; maybe the unfortunate owner was relieved of his head or one of his hands?

    I collect oddities of the Indo-Sassanian series, and that includes fourrees, which are actually quite rare



    Added: These were both bought from the same seller in the same large batch of coins which I believe was a singular large hoard. Thus, they probably circulated and the plating came off underground.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  11. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    I certainly didn't buy it, and $767 for a denarius is frankly out of my league, yet I think I understand the draw.

    The coin below was much (!) cheaper. Since it was hard to impossible for me to get a regular example in similar grade without breaking the bank, I happily settled for a fourrée. It is as ancient as its official cousins. As @TIF said, it undoubtedly has some fascinating history behind it, and possibly is even struck from official dies – and you have to admit that it's a pretty good looking coin. Similar thoughts might have motivated whoever bought the Saserna denarius.

    Persien – Siglos, Carradice IV C.png
    "Artaxerxes II – Darius III, Achaemenid Empire" (more probably a Lydian regional issue), fourrée siglos, ca. 375–336 BC. Obv: Great King kneeling left, holding dagger and bow, three pellets on chest. Rev: irregular punch. 14.4mm, 4.92g. Ref: Carradice 1987, type IV C (prototype).

    There are other fourrées that I bought exactly and only because they are ancient forgeries. In my opinion, fourrées, inofficial issues, and barbarous imitations make for a fascinating collecting area of their own.

    Römische Republik – Denar, fourree, Naevius, Triga..png
    Roman Republic, moneyer C. Naevius Balbus, denarius serratus (fourée), 79 BC, prototype from Rome mint. Obv: Diademed head of Venus right, SC behind. Rev: Victory in triga right, C NAE BALB in exergue. Ref: Crawford 382/1. 16mm, 3.11g. Ex Savoca.

    Römische Republik – Denar, fourée, Cipius, Roma und Victoria in Biga.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: Marcus Cipius M. f., fourrée denarius, 114–114 BC, Rome mint (prototype). Obv: Helmeted head of Roma r.; before, M CIPI M F upwards; behind, X. Rev: Victory in biga r., holding reins in l. hand and palm-branch tied with fillet in r. hand; below, rudder; in exergue, ROMA. 17mm, 2.95g. Ref: RRC 289/1. Ex Warren Esty.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  12. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    Because they're fake? I agree that they're interesting for many reasons, but that doesn't change what they are. Should someone pay gold prices for a gold covered brick because it's interesting?
  13. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Of course not, nor is anyone paying solid silver prices for silver covered bronze fourree coins. The value is in the coin and history, not in the metal. We're paying ancient coin prices for genuine ancient coins. (Fourrees are genuine ancient coins, of course.)
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  14. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    That depends on your definition of "fake".

    TIF has pointed out a crucial difference between collecting modern coins and collecting ancients: for modern collectors, a coin usually is "authentic" only if it was minted by an official, state-sanctioned mint. Everything else is "fake" or a token.

    This does not apply to ancients for several reasons, for example because it is all but impossible to define an "official mint" in the absence of a modern state. Furthermore, many ancient collectors are more interested in the history and aesthetics of their coins than in officiality or rarity.

    An ancient coin, as far as I understand it, is thus considered authentic if it is ancient. Ancient fourrées are 'authentic forgeries,' and the coin below is an 'authentic imitation.' I cherish it nonetheless and would even value it higher than a comparable official antoninian of Tetricus:

    Rom – Barbarous Radiate, Stag reverse.png "Tetricus I" or similar, Roman Empire, barbarous radiate, late 3rd century AD, unofficial mint in Gaul or Britain. Obv: [...] I II II, bearded, radiate head r. Rev: V I [...]; human figure riding on stag l.; 13–14mm, 1.38g. Ex Ken Dorney.
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  15. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    This one received a bunch of test cuts...

    MACEDONIAN Alexander the Great - AR Fourree Tetradrachm Test Cut 3423.jpg
    MACEDONIA, Kings of. Alexander the Great
    Fourree Tetradrachm. 16.61g, 31.7mm. Irregular mint, imitating Aspendos, circa 208/7-195/4. Cf. Price 2876ff (for prototype); Leu Web Auction 3, Lot 197 (same dies). O: Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress. R: AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus seated left on low throne, holding long scepter in his left hand and eagle standing right with closed wings in his right; to left, AΣ.

    The die duplicate of my coin that I found online managed to survive the ages without becoming the recipient of the indignities suffered by mine. :D

  16. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    That is pushing it waaaaay too far IMHO and I probably have more fourrees than anyone here. I particularly dislike sellers who think fourree prices can ignore ugliness caused by the plating breaks. As a rule, I would not pay more than 1/4 the solid price for a fourree that had little or no core exposure and every bit of core would subtract a lot from that starting point. It also makes a BIG difference where the core exposure is located. I can tolerate a spot in the fields or hair but really do not want core exposure that eats away the nose. Each of you can decide what coins to buy and what to pay. I pretty much stopped buying fourrees unless they have something really different to recommend them.
    A fourree I like (thick silver, tiny core spots, OK style?):
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
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  17. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    This Hadrian fourée denarius circulated for quite a while. Its fourée nature is only apparent because the plating has bubbled up in various places and cracked on the obverse and reverse. It's a bit underweight, too, of course.

    Hadrian AEGYPTOS denarius.jpg
    Hadrian, AD 117-138.
    Roman fourée denarius, 2.98 g, 17.7 mm, 7 h.
    Rome mint copy, ca. AD 138.
    Obv: HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P, laureate head, right.
    Rev: AEGYPTOS, Egypt reclining left, holding sistrum and leaning on basket, around which a snake coils. Ibis on left, facing right.
    Refs: RIC 296, BMCRE 801-804, RCV 3456, Strack 294.
    Notes: Underweight. Plating has bubbled away from the core and cracked in front of the portrait on the obverse and above the sistrum and in the exergue on the reverse.
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  18. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I'd like to see other opinions on this, RC. I've seen some denarii with that same look, but I wonder if it is just planchet laminations on a genuine coin? I don't have any photos handy, but I have a couple that look sort of like this and I've not been sure about a fourree diagnosis. As for the underweight, 2.9 grams isn't too off base for a Hadrian denarius with that kind of wear, is it?

    Like I said, others have far more experience than I do with this sort of thing. But in my very inexpert opinion, I think it is possible yours might be silver (and official).

    Either way, it is a handsome coin. Great ibis!
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  19. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    That’s what it looks like to me, too.
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  20. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    I tend to agree, but hey, to each his own, right? I'm sure there are many who have scholarly interest in fourrees, and the number of specializations and specialists in the field is enormous, so you never know. There is an awful lot of room for "to each his own" within the sphere of ancient coins, so more power to 'em.
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  21. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Active Member

    My prettiest fourrée. A pitty: it's a nice detailled coin.

    Fourree Denarius
    Obv: still readable: AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P
    Complete text should probably be: IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P
    Rev: AEQVITAS AVGVST; Aequitas, draped, standing left, holding scales in right hand and cornucopiae in left
    Details: Ø: 1.9cm, Weight: 2.43g

    Or, the fourree of Nero. I'd like the observe, so it will likely stay in my collection for a while:
    Fourrée Denarius
    Obv: NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS: Head of Nero, laureate, right, with beard
    Rev: IVPPITER CVSTOS: Jupiter, bare to waist, cloak round lower limbs, seated, left on throne, holding thunderbolt in right hand and long sceptre in left
    Details: Ø: 1.8cm, Weight: 2.35g
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