Greek Coin Forger’s Die Hub

SKU C.9079

17th Century AD to 19th Century AD





Gallery Location



“The early eighteenth century saw an exceptionally active international trade in ancient coins and antiquities and the formation of a number of significant collections assembled by aristocratic amateurs, scholarly gentlemen and cunning dealers throughout Europe. The centre of the antiquities trade was Rome, teeming with dealers who purchased the many coins, gems and other objects found daily in excavations in the city or in the fields of the Roman campagna. In turn, the dealers sold to the local Roman aristocracy, to learned collectors and to the many visitors to the Eternal City on the Grand Tour. There were also forgers in Rome, skilful craftsmen who worked with less than scrupulous dealers to sell their copies of ancient coins as genuine to unsuspecting collectors.”

– Jeffrey Spier and Jonathan Kagan, “Sir Charles Frederick and the Forgery of Ancient Coins in 18th Century Rome”

References to the forgery of ancient coins are first recorded as early as the mid-16th century. Over the next several centuries, this nefarious trade expanded to meet the rising demand for antiquities. Forgeries existed both to prey upon naïve travelers as well as to meet the demand of connoisseurs seeking out especially rare or unique specimens. The forgers themselves typically had a background in metallurgy, jewelry, or occasionally legitimate medals and coin fabrication. The techniques of the forger were varied. Sometimes authentic coins were doctored to appear to be much more valuable examples. In other cases, dies were created from ancient examples, allowing the forger to mint multiple copies. There also exist so-called fantasy fakes, those coins that imitate the general style of ancient coins, but to which no specific original reference can be attributed. Forger’s coin dies such as this are a fascinating and often overlooked aspect of numismatics. After all, some schools of fakes have become collectable in their own right, and coins of the most famous forgers, such as Giovanni Cavino, have themselves been forged by later generations.

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