Types of fakes...and how to identify them

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Clavdivs, Feb 16, 2019.

  1. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    As I am just over a year into my Ancient Coin collecting hobby. (it's been awesome - thanks to many here!) ...
    I understand the "know the coin or the seller - preferably both" mantra - so I thought I should get that excellent advice out of the way first.

    I also check the "Fake Seller List" on Forvm (when eBay shopping), checking return policies of sellers, and feedback (although not to be relied upon really).. and I also know that you can never be sure of the authenticity of a coin from a photograph.

    I would like to understand what a "cast fake" means.. I assume a mold is made of an authentic coin and copies are made from that mold.. in most (?) cases leaving a seam (which may be filed down to make this harder to identify?) and in many cases "flow lines" of the metal on the coin (especially from the legends) are a pretty good sign of authenticity.. although would that not work from a mold? Also legends or the general look of the coin may be "mushy" or not as sharp from a mold - which makes some sense to me.

    Regular visitors here also understand that there are nearly daily requests posted asking for authenticity confirmations..

    This I know... but there is so much that I do not.

    Tonight I have seen a term I have not noticed before - "sand cast mold".

    I am hoping that the experienced members here can:

    -display some fake coin examples
    -explain how they are made
    -explain what to look for in general terms

    New technologies may be able to help us identify these fakes (I hope)- but also may work the other way and make them more difficult to identify I assume.

    This issue may be a huge threat to our hobby and I hope that the experienced collectors here can help me get up to speed on this issue.
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  3. EdThelorax

    EdThelorax Well-Known Member

    i couldn't agree more, other than noting that this is not a new problem. The lax enforcement of the collectible coin protection act which is an amendment of the hobby protection act is appalling. Ebay and the FTC do nothing to stop or punish known sellers of counterfeit coins. This gives the Chinese the money needed to fund better and better methods of manufacture of fakes. The sand cast method is outdated as are many cast versions. Two things to look for are pits from gas bubbles and extra metal bumps from missing areas in the molds. Many times they will wizz the coin to remove bumps then "antique" the coin to give it the appearance of circulation. I don't do ancient coins but the processes are the same. You have the basic casting process correct. They have moved on to die stamped counterfeiting where they make a die from an original coin then stamp the copy just like a mint would. At this rate in ten years only expensive testing methods will be able to detect them. Any coin that now costs less than 100$ will not be available raw with certainty it is genuine. it will cost more to test it than it is worth if real. As for pictures, I have a bunch of US stuff but no ancients. I suggest you search ebay for "faux" ,"replica" ,"copy", country of origin China combined with what you are familiar with and you will find coins that are admitted fakes. It's easy since ebay doesn't care at all. Then you will get an idea of what to look for.
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  4. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you for your reply. I have learned something from your post - and I really appreciate that. As I am inexperienced I assume this concern is new to me but well understood by most here. I hope more collectors express their concerns and advice.
  5. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    I am less concerned about fake ancient coins. The majority of ancient fakes are easy to spot with experience. Ancient coins were made by hand and have acquired signs of age. Few forgers can fake either one convincingly, very very few get both right. If you "know the coin or know the seller," you should be fine.

    As for examples of fakes.... I bought this coin because it was a fake and I thought it was a fun curio. Rather than pointing out why it's fake, it may be more fun to hear the answers of others.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
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  6. BusterLuke

    BusterLuke New Member

    Sand cast mould caught my eye here... ironically, it seems, I believe that sand casting was used to mould certain Roman provincial coins (namely some types of ‘rough edge’ tetradrachms), as itself a counter forgery measure. I have at least one in my possession, and this information was given to me by a coin expert at the British Museum
  7. maridvnvm

    maridvnvm Well-Known Member

    The following is an example of a sand cast fake:-


    A coin or quite often a fake is taken an pressed intosand to create moulds. The use of sand means that the level of detail in the resulting coin is lost leading to softness. The sand also leads to the sany dots on the coin. Sand simply isn't fine enough.

    These are sold in the street markets in Turkey.

    The original host for this coin was identified and can be seen below so you can see the loss of detail from the sand casting process.

  8. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    For methods of producing fakes and how to spot fakes, check the Ancient Coins Beginners' FAQ Thread, and in particular, this post on page 2 of that thread:

    Resources for learning how fakes are made and how to detect them:

    Forum Ancient Coins' "Learn to Identify Fakes Coins"
    http://augustuscoins.com/ed/numis/fakes.html (part of CoinTalk member @@Valentinian's extensive website about ancient coins)

    Databases of known fake coins:


    Extensive lists of known sellers of fake coins (heavy on eBay dealers; always check for the seller name here before considering purchase of an eBay coin unless you know the dealer to be reputable):

    Forum Ancient Coins "Notorious Fake Sellers List"
    Warren Esty's (CoinTalk's @Valentinian) list of disreputable sellers


    This week I was going through pictures of coins I bought in my first months of collecting... before I knew where to check for fakes... and I've found a fake in my collection. I'm embarrassed that I never gave the coin the scrutiny it warranted even after learning about how to spot fakes and where to check for similar fakes. It will be interesting to see how the auction house responds when I bring it to their attention. I bought the coin in 2013.
  9. Haren

    Haren New Member

    This is interesting topic and I 100% agree. There are many fakes unfortunately on the market more on Ebay but don't think that famous auctions houses or VCoins are free of fakes. I personally pointed few dealers and auction houses to fakes they had for sale some removed it some did not. I think these days best way to detect for certainty is a combination of few observations (XRF, Strike vs Cast signs, Surface analysis under 20X magnification etc) As for the coin you put it is obvious fake. The disjoint on the bust is one of the signs. The nose, mouth of bust are disconnected to the bust. Also the characters on the legend are wrong style and modern looking very uniform. Also the surface is mushy .
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  10. Haren

    Haren New Member

    Just a note on fake seller list.. Many of the Ebay fake sellers often have many IDs .. Once they are nominated they create a new ID so I don't think that list is very useful. It is good to check Ebay sellers feedback and check how long their ID on Ebay was active for
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  11. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    The term sand cast was used to describe a coin I posted, which is probably where you saw it. That coin is absolutely not sand cast. With experience you gain the ability to tell the difference. Sand casting has a uniform "sand" texture like the ones Martin posted. Corrosion can be uniform or in spots, but corrosion usually has sharp edges while casting bubbles are usually round and smooth.

    Also a struck coin will have very sharp details where the coin surface was protected. In other words, look at the deep parts of the coin that won't wear away as quickly as the high spots. The more genuine coins you look at the more fakes will just jump out at you.

    But I think the most important thing is like you said, know the coin or know the dealer. I'll throw in "don't believe everyone on the internet" either. :)
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  12. Theodosius

    Theodosius Fine Style Seeker Supporter

    One thing to keep in mind is that sophisticated ancient fakes are made by restriking or pressing an authentic but worn ancient coin using fake dies. This takes an vg or f ancient and turns it into an ef and possibly rare design. That makes metallurgical analysis not useful in spotting the fake.
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  13. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    It took about a minute to find this so don't click on the below until you try.
  14. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    I admit that I am by no means an expert, but as someone who is trying to learn how to discern authenticity, is the situation really this bad? I've seen a few coins in the FORVM fakes database that still fool me, but for the most part fakes seem to have noticeable flaws. Are that many slipping by?
  15. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Orange Julius, Aside from Doug, who found a like copy listed on forumanancientcoins, nobody has pointed out why the coin looks fake. The 1st thing that jumps out to me is the lettering in the inscriptions :eek:! This isn't Roman lettering, see photos below of Roman folles c. AD 300 for comparison. Isn't it odd that the inscription on the fake reads NOBC followed by AVG o_O ?

    IMG_1409 (2).jpg
    Diocletian, c. AD 300, follis, 10.09 gm.jpg
    And of course the modeling of Moneta is amateurish. I'm surprised how many fakes are listed of these common follis coins. Where is the market for these fakes :wideyed:?
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  16. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    Care should be exercised these days when purchasing coins based on photos supplied by unknown or unfamiliar sellers. In the case of misrepresentation or obvious deception you will be able to recoup your money - maybe. Online photographs can be “doctored” very easily these days to “enhance” coin appearances and remove features. There are now free Apps readily available that can be used to remove surface blemishes - or features - easily and quickly. By way of example, I used such an App on the following coin of mine - original coin with blemishes left, and “fixed” coin right. It took me just a few minutes to do.

    6258EBC6-B649-4068-9C29-2695E3F53CB9.jpeg 2858D912-7937-47FB-B05C-0C8E389EEF6F.jpeg
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
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  17. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    Here is another example - pic showing hole in center of coin (left) and then “fixed” (right):

    F27CE1F7-7493-4ABC-AA0E-66E47545D464.jpeg E2C69038-E898-465A-997F-67108CA104CD.jpeg
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
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  18. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    ………… and one more:
    2940821F-E12D-4019-B979-5C04B0F80B8B.jpeg 07638E05-CDDC-4E05-964F-4DEFEFA3804B.jpeg
  19. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Odd may not have been the word I would have chosen but it should attract a certain amount of attention. I suppose it could be worse - the fakes dated 44BC come to mind. Without the legend flag, how many of us would suspect the coin? The Forvm listing suggests they are sold as fakes. Are they sold a gift shops in Bulgarian museums?

    We have some decent but certainly not complete resources of known fakes. I went to the Forvm one first and they had this one.

    Here we go with the big 'philosophy of collecting' question. How many is 'that many'? Given a random selection of 100 coins claiming to be ancients, would being able to state correctly 'real' or 'fake' on 99 make you feel good? That means that you might have one unknown fake in your collection for every 100 coins you bought. I consider that pretty bad and hope my number is more like one in a thousand. Our experts in the business may open a parcel of 10,000 coins. 1 in 1000 errors would hardly be considered stellar performance. That may be why no one is asking me to expertise coins for a living. I have to live with the fact that I make mistakes and buy an occasional fake. My level of ability will not qualify me to expertise coins professionally but allows me to enjoy the hobby. I recently discovered for certain that a coin I had questioned for 30 years was, in fact, a fake. I questioned it in 1992 but wanted it to be real. I am out the price of the coin since the seller died years ago. If his heirs were willing to accept the return of the coin for refund, I am not sure I would want to give it up. Keeping it will remind me not to be so stupid......maybe.....I hope. How many more such signs of fallibility can I accept in my collection before I say 'enough'? One in 100 would be devastating; one in 10,000 would be something I would be proud of. Where is my 'that many'? Yours?
  20. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

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  21. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Best advice to avoid this....buy only from reputable dealers, auction houses. If you want to be 100 percent safe, go for authenticated/ TPG slabbed coins. Best thing they point out defects like hairlines/ tooling/ smoothing/ cleaning/ repairs/ spot removal. Only problem a MS 5/5 strike 5/5 surface is a CNG EF, even the GEM 5/5 5/5 would not qualify as a CNG FDC.
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