Roman Republican Coins and Books by Andrew McCabe
Plated Coins - False Coins of the Roman Republic
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61BC 408 C.PISO FRVGI solid silver and plated coin, apparently reverse die matches but see border dots 7-9pm, the die for the plated coin was made by reproducing a real coin the finished incorrectly by hand
Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum

Links on this page to Plated Coins - False Coins of the Roman Republic:

Plated Coins of the Roman Republic - Introduction
Ahala's Plated Coins - False Coins photoset Plated Coins - False Coins

My other web-pages - links in the menu bar at left - trace a path through Roman coinage from the earliest times through Augustus, but I take a break from the sequence at this point to discuss plated coins. Plated coins are such a contentious subject that anything I utter, as a non-expert, may be discounted. Instead, with permission from the authors, the key reference texts by Michael Crawford are reproduced in full along with selections from other sources: Clive Stannard, Philip Grierson, William Campbell, Phil Davis: and some examples of plated coins from my database and other sources. This web-page only addresses plated coins during the Roman Republic, although it include some look-back citations from later documents as to the effects of Sulla's fundamental and long-lasting Lex Cornelia de Falsis about forgery, As with all things in Roman times, whilst we have some excellent historical texts from Republican times, there's an explosion of documentary evidence on Roman life and laws as we move into Imperial times, often reflecting practices that go back to the Roman Republic.

Books and Articles: Plated Coins

Greek and Roman Plated Coins, William Campbell, ANS Numismatic Notes and Monographs, 1933

This small format but still substantial book (200 pages, 180 photographic plates) is a scientific analysis of plated coins from experiments by Campbell on a large number of plated coins that he destructively tested, metallurgical analysed, and photographed using microscopes. It is important for a proper understanding of what a plated coin is. The illustrations are excellent if a bit technical and aimed at scientists in places, but lead to conclusions that are now standard numismatic knowledge today. For example that plated coins were generally made using silver foils rather than dipping or chemical techniques. Knowing this allows for the visible signs to be seen on coins with unbroken plate. Campbell gets over the small-format limitations by clever use of fold-out plates. He makes many references to the 18th century Sheffield Plate technique, also a double-foil method that is related to the techniques used by the Greeks and Romans. Campbell's analysis of one coin based on its photographed cross-section is reproduced at the bottom of this page.

Michael Crawford: Plated Coins - False Coins, Numismatic Chronicle 1968

Professor Michael Crawford has kindly given me permission to reproduce his classic 1968 article on plated coins, complete and unabridged. Rather than me commenting, let his words speak for themselves.

Michael Crawford: Roman Republican Coinage: Plated coins, pp 560-565

Michael Crawford provided a summary of his views with some slight amends in Roman Republican Coinage, togeter with an inventory of coins that demonstrate abberant features and exclude the possibility of their being official mint products. I include Professor Crawford's comments on plated coins and an abridged list below.

Clive Stannard: Papers on Mint Techniques relating to Plated Coins and Forgeries

Clive Stannard’s publications page includes a related paper on mechanical reproduction which is relevant to the techniques used in plated coins and include amongst his oddities in numismatic techniques a discussion on plated brockages, and a discussion on a hub die, likely a forgers. Clive has given me permission to reproduce his short paper on a Plated Brockage below.

Phil Davis: Plated Coins of Quintus Cornificius

Phil Davis' note on Cornuficius reproduced below presents what may be a specific exception to the general rule on plated coins being forgeries, in circumstances that could not have applied at the mint at Rome. Understanding why this is an exception may help the udnerstanding of the general case of plated coins being forgeries.

The Roman Law of Counterfeiting, Philip Greirson, in Essays Harold Mattingly, Carson and Sutherland eds. 1956

Philip Grierson reviews the main tenets of the law on counterfeiting in the Principate and Dominate. The main provisions in Imperial times stem from Sulla's Lex Cornelia de Falsis of 81BC so we get a clear view also of the law as applied in the late Republic. Later in this web-page I quote some key provisions from Grierson's paper that cast light on counterfeiting law in Republican times and by extension also on the practice of counterfeiting itself.

Plated Coins - False Coins

Michael H. Crawford, Numismatic Chronicle, 1968, reproduced with permission of the author.

Footnote additions in green text by Andrew McCabe

No-one seriously doubts that a large proportion of the plated Roman coins which survive for study can safely be dismissed as private forgeries. But it is widely believed that some plated Roman coins should be regard as official products of the mint1. Neither evidence nor probability supports such a belief.

(1) For instance, E. Babelon, Monnaies de la République Romaine I, liii-lv, [AM: trans. "coins of careful manufacture and which are regular as regards types and legends evidently come from the workshops of the State; coins of barbarous manufacture whose legends show serious errors and which often match the obverse of one magistrate with a reverse of another magistrate or of a different period, are certainly the product of Roman forgers' workshops]. L.A. Lawrence and E.A. Sydenham, Numismatic Chronicle [NC] 1940, 190; E.A. Sydenham, The Coinage of the Roman Republic xliii-xliv [AM: text in footnote 11]; E. Bernareggi, Rivista Italiana di Numismatica [RIN] 1965, 5. For my earlier acceptance of plated Roman coins as official, see Seaby's Coin and Medal Bulletin 1963, 342. For a full account of the legal aspects of coin forgery in the Roman world, see P. Grierson, Essays in Roman Coinage presented to Harold Mattingly (Oxford, 1956), 240.

The criteria for dismissing a great many Roman coins as private forgeries are quite simple. Such coins may display garbled legends,2 they may be hybrid pieces combining an obverse and reverse of different periods,3 they may bear inappropriate control marks,4 they may have the wrong die-axes.5

(2) See M. Bahrfeldt, Zeitschrift für Numismatik 1877, 44-49 for a list of examples [AM: Bahrfeldt lists many "unorthographic legends, odd types etc", almost entirely plated. For example plated coins of C.MARI C.F.CAPIT having control numbers (which should match): VI-LXXV, XII-CXXXIII, LXXXVIII-CXXXV, CIII-XXXVIII, CIIII-CXXIIII; plated coins of LENT MAR having control letters (which should match): B•-Y•, K-G, P-F, Q-E, Q-•O•; plated coins of L.CASSI CAEICAN which have their scheme of control letters (A with X, B with V etc.) incorrectly matched or doubled (E matched with TR). Legend errors include plated coins with TOC.L for L.COT; all the letters N and S reversed in C.CONSIDI NONIANI SC; T.POMPONI MVSA (sic); Q.CAEPIO BRIVS IRO CO (sic) and others.]
(3) See, for example, M. Bahrfeldt, Nachträge und Berichtigungen i, 201-202 [AM: Bahrfeldt cites in illustration five combinations of just one type P.PETRON TURPILIAN, Augustus 18BC, combined with reverse or obverses of different coin types of Augustus. The Hannover catalogue illustrates a range of plated hybrid types, including (RRC numbers) 215/214, 215/236, 217/216, 276/279, 279/276, 241/245, 238/250, 249/250 (see note below), 244/249, 257/286, 311/364, 341/364, 388/387, 326/429, 444/440, 521/542, 500/Octavian, Augustus/364, Domitian/393]
(4) NC 1965, 153 [AM ref. also Bahrfeldt's examples in footnote 2]
(5) See, for instance, A.S. Robertson, Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin cabinet clvii

It is also clear that plated coins, once discovered, were regularly rejected in the Roman world. They are almost unknown in hoards6 and presumably got in only occasionally by mistake, but occur frequently in site finds and were doubtless thrown away when they could no longer be passed (to pass a false coin was illegal - see below).7 A whole profession came into being to test coins - the nummularii. Their earliest tesserae probably date from the late second century BC.8 During the first century BC, hoards began to contain coins with punch-marks on them, made to see if the silver9 surface of the coins masked a bronze core.10

(6) Except, of course, in those hoards which consist entirely of plated coins and are to be regarded as forgers' stocks. The following Roman examples are known to me:
  • Apulia - M.H. Crawford, Roman Republican Coin Hoards (London 1968) [RRCH], no 65 - quadrigati [AM: the hoard, now in Museo Nazionale di Taranto, contained 75 plated quadrigati with legend in relief in linear frame]
  • Forli - RRCH 271 - denarii [AM: 61 plated denarii down to issue of C.NAE BALB; Notizie degli Scavi 1884, p34]
  • Vidy - RRCH 482 - quinarii [AM: 45 plated quinarii down to issue of CAESAR IMP VII with ASIA RECEPTA; found 1945 Switzerland; Schweizer Münzblätter 1956, p7]
  • London - NC 1940, p185 - denarii down to Claudius I
  • Athens - ANS Museum Notes 1966, p71 - cistophori and denarii down to Commodus
  • The Lucoli hoard - RRCH 164 - consists partly of plated denarii and partly of pure silver denarii, mostly in fragments ready for the melting pot. [AM: 2 victoriati, 115 denarii including plated pieces, 67 fragments of denarii, down to Q.FABI LAEBO, found 1933 and in Museo Nazionale di Roma: Annali dell'Istituto Italiano di Numismatica, AIIN 1957, p79]
(7) Compare the Cosa hoard (RRCH 313) with 2,004 pure silver denarii and the site finds from Cosa with seven plated coins against seven of pure silver [AM later Cosa data in footnote 35, including from the catalogue by T.V. Buttrey]. For the rejection of false coins, see Cicero, de officiis 3,23,91; [AM "If a wise man should inadvertently accept counterfeit money for good, will he offer it as genuine in payment of a debt after he discovers his mistake?" Diogenes says, "Yes," Antipater, "No," and I agree with him".] Persius, Saturae 5,105. [AM Satires of Juvenal: "Have you learnt to distinguish between the appearance and reality of truth and virtue, lest you should be deceived, as people are who take bad money for good, when, instead of answering to the appearance of the outside, which is fair, they find, upon sounding it, that it is brass underneath instead of being all gold"]

Roman financial tally sticks, British Museum, various dates eg 1st July (Kalends Quintilius) 46BC  (year of consuls G.Jul and Aem.Lep, ie Caesar and Lepidus)

(8) Pauly-Wissowa [RE] xvii,1415 [AM: Herzog, Rudolf. Aus der Geschichte des Bankwesens im Altertum: Tesserae nummulariae, 1919, in RE 17, 1415-1455. "Nummularius: Validators of coins since the second half of the 2nd century BC. So-called tesserae nummularia guaranteed that money in a sealed container. Since the 1st century BC the four-sided tesserae had on side one the name of the nummularius (initially slaves, then released and free-born); on side 2 is the name of his owner, or the surname of a free nummularius; on side 3 the check note (spectavit) stating the day and month; and on side the consuls of the year". Examples above in British Museum.] See also Plautus, Persa 437 [AM: Loeb edition: Conversation between the slave Toxilus and the pimp Dordalus. Toxilus hands over the money for his sweetheart, whom he wants the pimp to manumit. Tox. "You kindly take this". Dor. "Why don't you give it to me?" Tox. "You'll find here sixty coins, good, honest cash. Set the girl free and bring her here immediately". Dor. "I'll soon have her here. Jove! I don't know whom I can get to test this for me".] Cicero in Verrem ii,3,78,181 [AM "Out of all the money which it was your duty to pay to the cultivators, you were in the habit of making deductions on certain pretexts; first of all for the examination, and for the difference in the exchanges..."] and especially Petronius, Satyricon 56 - "nummularius, qui per argentum aes videt". [AM: "What should we say was the hardest calling, after literature? ... the money-changer's, because he's got to be able to see the silver through the copper plating"]
(9) Although the coins discussed in this article are denarii, the conclusions to be drawn are valid for all Roman precious metal coins.
(10) See, for example, the mark on Pompey's cheek on the coin illustrated at BMCRR, pl.cxx,8.

The reason for supposing that some plated coins none the less originated from the mint are extremely flimsy. E.A. Sydenham held that "as regards style, plated and unplated coins are indistinguishable from one another. Actually one or two examples of silver and plated coins struck from identical dies are known".11

(11) The Coinage of the Roman Republic xliv. [AM: Sydenham xliii-xliv: "The question whether plated denarii for a regular part of the State coinage, issued under the direction of the triumviri monetales, or whether they are illicit issues produced and put into circulation by unauthorized persons, is not easy to decide. On the one hand, the almost unbroken series of plated issues from c. 130 B.C. onwards and the fact that, as regards style, plated and unplated coins are indistinguishable from one another (actually one or two examples of silver and plated coins struck from identical dies are known) weigh strongly against the view that they are forgeries ... On the other hand, there were repeated popular outcries against the prevalence of false money and repressive measures were taken by the government to stamp out the evil; e.g. the Lex Cornelia de falsis of Sulla, which amongst numerous offences against the coinage, expressly forbids the practice of plating (aes argentare). Cicero states that the praetor Gratidianus (c 86-82 B.C.) devised a test for false, presumably plated, money for which he received a public oration. The precise nature of the test is not recorded yet not withstanding the ingenuity of Gratidianus and the provisions of the Lex de falsis, there is no question that the issue of plated denarii continued unabated. While it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the practice of plating was connived at, if not expressly allowed, by the Roman mint, it is equally certain that a considerable number of plated coins should certainly be classed as contemporary forgeries". For Gratidianus see also footnote 30 below.]

The argument from style is simply irrelevant. The style of pieces of pure silver covers the whole range from excellent to appalling and the fact that a plated coin is of good style proves no more than that it is a successful forgery. It proves nothing about the origin of the coin. At least some plated coins are of good style because the dies used to strike them were copied from pieces of pure silver. The pieces illustrated below provide an example.12 The obverse of the plated piece (at centre) is very similar to that of the first pure silver piece (at left). Likewise the reverse of the plated piece (centre) is similar to that of the second pure silver piece (at right).

314-1 plated left with two good-silver right and centre examples of a denarius of L.COT

(12) Silver coin, left: Berlin [AM: Münzkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 18200477]; Plated coin, centre: Berlin; Silver coin, right: the Hague.

The argument from die-links is more impressive. If it is true that plated and pure silver pieces were struck from the same dies, the official nature of some plated coins might seem established. But a careful examination of the coins illustrated below13suffices to destroy this argument. The coin above is of pure silver, that below is plated, and at first sight the two coins seem to be from the same dies. The only obvious difference is that the plated coin has a slightly blurred appearance. But a closer look shows that the two coins display evidence of different and incompatible die breaks.14 The dies used for the plated piece were also a millimetre smaller.

340-1 plated and good silver examples of C.Calpurnius Piso Frugi with different die-breaks showing the plated coin did not come from official dies

(13) Silver coin, above and Plated coin, below: Hannover [AM: Kestner-Hannover 2872, 4.06 grams; and 2873, 2.92 grams]
(14) The silver piece shows on the obverse one break at the back of the head beside the V, another between the falling hair and the upper loop of the wreath, another at the front of the neck truncation. None of these breaks is seen on the plated piece. But this has on the obverse a break between the falling hair and the upper loop of the wreath which is different from the break on the silver piece. The plated piece also has a break between the back of the neck and the lower loop of the wreath. This break is not present on the silver piece. [AM: also see Jean Lefaurie, Méthode de fabrication des coins de deux monnaies de Séverine, in Bulletin de la Société Française de Numismatique (BSFN) 1960, 441: The two coins discussed seem to have been struck with the same die but on one piece, compared under magnification, the devices are slightly smaller, by 0.2mm at any comparable point. The only explanation is that one piece was struck with a die moulded using a coin already struck.]

The two coins, therefore, cannot possibly have been struck from the same dies (compare the dies reported in BSFN 1960,441).

The only likely explanation of the phenomenon is that the dies used for the plated piece were mechanically copied from a pure silver piece, which had been struck from the same dies as the pure silver piece illustrated here before the appearance of any die-breaks. Impressions could have been made in wax, then clay moulds, then the dies. These derivative dies doubtless acquired in use die-breaks of their own, before being used to strike the plated piece illustrated here.

If this is so, there seems no reason why a Roman forger's dies should not have copied a pure silver coin with perfect fidelity. Cases of "plated and unplated coins" apparently from identical dies provide no evidence whatever for the official origin of some plated coins.

Given, then, that there is no numismatic evidence to suggest that Roman plated coins were official mint products, the overwhelming literary and documentary evidence that they were not should be accepted. The Lex Cornelia de Falsis forbade the production of adulterinae monetae, which in the late Republic and early Empire must be plated coins (surviving in vast numbers, compared with a handful of base metal coins).15 The passing of false coins was also forbidden.16

(15) Cicero, in Verrem ii,1,42,108 (text in footnote 24 below); Iulius Paulus, Sententiae 5,25,1 (Fontes iuris romani anteiustiniani ii,410) [AM: The Lex Cornelia Testamentariam concerns those who adulterate, wash, cast, cut, corrupt or intrude a vice into gold or silver coins, or refuse a money stamped with the face of the emperor unless it is a fake one. If they are of the elite (honestiores) they shall be exiled to an island, if they are of low class (humiliores) they shall be condemned to the mines or the cross.] Digest of Justinian 48,10,8 and 9 (Ulpian). [AM 48.10.8 (=de off. procons. 7) "Quicumque nummos aureos partim raserint, partim tinxerint vel finxerint: si quidem liberi sunt, ad bestias dari, si servi, summo supplicio adfici debent". trans. "Whosoever shaves off a part of gold coins, or colours or imitates a piece: if he be free, he shall be given to the wild beasts, if a slave, he shall pay the ultimate penalty". 48.10.9: (=de off. procons. 9) "Lege cornelia cavetur, ut, qui in aurum vitii quid addiderit, qui argenteos nummos adulterinos flaverit, falsi crimine teneri. Eadem poena adficitur etiam is qui, cum prohibere tale quid posset, non prohibuit. Eadem lege exprimitur, ne quis nummos stagneos plumbeos emere vendere dolo malo vellet". trans: The Cornelian Law states that those who introduce some flaw into gold, or those who cast fake silver coins, are held guilty of the crime of counterfeiting. The same penalty is given also to those who, although they could have forbidden this, did not forbid it. In the same law, it is said that nobody should buy or sell in bad faith coins which are plated or leaden.] For the post-classical legal sources see P.Grierson.
(16) Digest of Justinian 48,10,9 (Ulpian) (see footnote 15); Codex Theodosianus 9,22 [AM: "Si quis solidi circulum exteriorem inciderit vel adulteratum in vendendo subiecerit, quicumque solidum circumciderit aut adulterum supposuerit aut falsam monetam fecerit, capite puniatur". trans: courtesy J.Melville Jones "If anyone trims the exterior circle of a solidus or offers an adulterated one for sale, whoever clips ('circumcises') a solidus or falsely creates an adulterated one or makes counterfeit coinage is to suffer capital punishment."]

It is sometimes argued that a passage of Pliny should be interpreted to mean that M. Livius Drusus, tribune in 91 B.C., arranged for an eight of the silver coinage to be plated - "octavam partem aeris argento miscuit".17 This interpretation lacks all plausibility. The passage should be considered with another passage of Pliny - "miscuit denario triumvir Antonius ferrum, miscent aera falsae monetae, alii e pondere subtrahunt ..."18 In both stories miscere might be expected to refer to the mixing of a base metal with the silver. But iron and silver are virtually immiscible. In the story about M.Antony, therefore, either Pliny wrote ferrum instead of some other metal or he meant to describe the process of plating. Although legionary denarii of M.Antony are occasionally reported as consisting of silver plated on iron,19 the fact that the legionary issue as a whole was struck from debased silver suggests that Pliny meant to talk about debasement and simply wrote ferrum in error. If, therefore, miscere can keep its natural reference to debasement in the story about M.Antony, it should keep it also in the story about Livius Drusus. And since there is no trace of debasement in denarii of the years immediately after 91 B.C., the story about Livius Drusus should be taken as referring to an abortive proposal.

(17) Pliny Natural History 33,46. [AM: "Livius Drusus, in when 91 B.C. tribune of the people, alloyed the silver with one-eighth part of copper."]
(18) Pliny Natural History 33,132. [AM: "The Triumvir Antonius alloyed the silver denarius with iron: and in spurious coin there is an alloy of copper employed."]
(19) NC 1843-44, pp67-68. The piece was surely struck by a private forger, not by M. Antony. [AM: JY Akerman, On the Forgeries of Public Money. "The coin in question ... flew to the magnet like an iron ... It is of the Leg. VI. Thus far the account of Pliny is corroborated; but I think it right to mention, that I have examined, and tried with the magnet, many hundreds of the legionary denarii of Antony, without discovering a second example containing iron". M.H. Crawford in the later RRC writes "The silver denarius plated on iron of LEG VI in Oxford (NC 1843-44, pp67-69; Th.Mommsen, RMw, 386 n.63) is, I now think, a modern forgery, not an ancient one (contra this footnote 19)]

It is also true that there is some evidence for misconduct on the part of the moneyers. But the form which this seems to have taken does not amount to the official production of plated coins. In the classical period of Roman law, moneyers seem to have been thought capable of two basic offences, both regarded as peculatus.20 They might steal or they might mix a baser metal into the bullion from which the coins were made, presumably pocketing the profit. Subsumed under the heading of theft was the possibility that the moneyers might strike money for themselves. If they did so, they were not guilty of making adulterina moneta, but of furtum, and they thus presumably made acceptable coins out of stolen bullion, forma publica,21 instead of simply stealing coined money. At a later stage, the moneyers seem to have started using their skill to make adulterina moneta, but outside the mint.22 The accusations of the Anonymous de rebus bellicis that the mint itself was to blame should not be believed.23

(20) Iulius Paulus, Sententiae 5,27 (Fontes iuris romani anteiustiniani ii,413) [AM "Ad legem Iuliam peculatus: Si quis fiscalem pecuniam attrectaverit subripuerit mutaverit seu in suos usus converterit, in quadruplum eius pecuniae quam sustulit condemnatur". trans. "Concerning Lex Iulia Peculatus: If someone lays hands upon, removes or moves money from the fiscus or converts it for his own use, he shall be condemned to a fine amounting to four times the money he took".]; Digest of Justinian 48,13,8 (Ulpian). [AM (= Ulpian, de off. procons. 7) "Qui, cum in moneta publica operarentur, extrinsecus sibi signant pecuniam forma publica vel signatam furantur, hi non videntur adulterinam monetam exercuisse, sed furtum publicae monetae fecisse, quod ad peculatus crimen accedit. Is autem, qui furanti sinum praebuit, perinde habetur, atque si manifesti furti condemnatus esset, et famosus efficitur." trans. "If anyone, while working in the public mint, strikes for himself silver from an outside source using an official die or steals a struck coin, he is not held to have used counterfeit money, but of having committed theft of the public moneys, which falls under the crime of embezzlement (peculatio). He, however, who supplies a purse (sinum) for the theft, will be treated as though he were found guilty of red-handed theft, and he shall subject to infamy (infamia)" NB Infamy is a punishment involving loss of public rights applied to low-class crime such as prostitution, pimping.]
(21) Forma, applied to coins, seem to refer to the type, not the die, see Thesaurus Lingae Latinae s.v. forma, iii, 1, α, β.
(22) Codex Theodosianus 9, 21, 2 = CJ 9, 24, 1 and 7, 13, 2. [AM: "Quoniam nonnulli monetarii adulterinam monetam clandestinis sceleribus exercent, cuncti cognoscant necessitatem sibi incumbere huiusmodi homines inquirendi, ut investigati tradantur iudiciis, facti conscios per tormenta ilico prodituri ac sic dignis suppliciis addicendi". trans. "Since some mint workers secretly produce counterfeit coins, all will recognize that it behooves them to seek out men of this sort and to hand over the culprits to the courts, so that they may be forced to reveal their accomplices by torture and may be condemned to the appropriate punishments"]
(23) De Rebus Bellicis 3, 1. [AM: trans. courtesy J.Melville-Jones: Among the mischiefs that are intolerable for the state, the quality of the solidus, after it has been debased through the fraudulent behaviour of certain persons, vexes the people in various ways and lessens the dignity of the royal image on the occasions on which it is refused through the fault of the mint. Therefore the workers of the mint must be brought together from everywhere and assembled together on one island, where they will be beneficial for matters relating to coinage in general and the solidi, and in fact be prohibited permanently from any contact with the nearby mainland, so that freedom of association may not opportunistically degrade the integrity of a public service. Complete confidence in the mint will be guaranteed there, and there will be no room for fraudulent action where there is no opportunity for trading.]

Three points call for special emphasis. Cicero would hardly have talked about forgery as he did, if he had known that the state engaged in the practice.24 If the state had engaged in forgery, the attempt to supress it when practised by others would have been most unlikely to succeed and thus virtually pointless.25 Finally, a state practising forgery would hardly have built into the law the provision that false coins could be rejected,26 nor would it have permitted the existence of the nummularii, whose function was to weed out false coins.

(24) In Verrem ii,1,42,108 - "Multa videmus ita sancta esse legibus ut ante facta in iudicium non vocentur; Cornelia testamentaria, nummaria, ceterae complures, in quibus non ius aliquod novum populo constituitur, sed sancitur, ut, quod semper malum facinus fuerit, eius quaestio ad populum pertineat ex certo tempore". [AM: "And in these cases we see that many things are established by law in such a way that things done previously cannot be called in question, the Cornelian law about testaments, about money, and many others, in which no new law is established in the nation, but it is established that what has always been an evil action shall be liable to public prosecution up to a certain time".]
(25) The edict of Gratidianus of 85 B.C. has nothing to do with the suppression of forgery. For a discussion of this edict and of the monetary history of the eighties B.C., see Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 1968, 1. [AM: see footnote 30 below]
(26) Iulius Paulus, Sententiae 5, 25, 1 [ref. footnote 15]; CJ 11, 11, 1 [AM: "De veteris numismatis potestate. Imperatores Valentinianus, Valens Solidos veterum principum veneratione formatos ita tradi ac suscipi ab ementibus et distrahentibus iubemus, ut nihil omnino refragationis oriatur, modo ut debiti ponderis sint et speciei probae: scituris universis, qui aliter fecerint, haud leviter in se vindicandum". trans. "On the power of the old coins. The emperors Valentinianus and Valens. We order that the Solidi of the old emperors, invested with respect, should be given and received by the buyers and sellers, so that absolutely no disadvantage (to either party) shall arise, so long as they weights are due and their appearance is honest: let everyone know that those who act differently should not be punished lightly.]; Novellae Valent. 16 [AM: Citizens: in an affront against our fathers, the coins struck with their names are refused by all buyers. We cannot suffer this to go unpunished any longer. Thus, by this edict, let the entire world recognise that the capital penalty will be given, if anyone believes they have to refuse a solid gold coin of the correct weight] The provision is invoked in, for instance, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum [CIL] IV, 3340, cliv (A.D. 61) [AM: "HS nummis MLD argentum probum recte dari stipulata est Dicid[ia] Margaris spopond[it Poppaea] Prisci liberta No[te] actum Pompeis VIII ... L(ucio) Iunio Caesennio Paeto / P(ublio) Calvisio Rusoni co(n)s(ulibus) ... Poppaea [Pris]ci" trans: "1450 sesterces in coins. Dicidia Margaris has promised that honest silver shall be given without fault. Guaranteed by Poppaea Note. Signed in Pompeii on (...) in the consulship of L. Iunius Caesennius Paetus and Publius Calvisius Ruso [...] Poppaea Note, freedwoman of Priscus"] and Oxyrhynchus Papyri [P.Oxy] 1411 (A.D. 260).

The number of plated Roman coins with correct legends, control marks, and die-axes is a very small proportion of the total. They should unhesitantly be regarded just as very successful forgeries.27

(27) In conclusion, two ancillary points may be made. Firstly, it is possible that certain irregular coinages, produced in periods of civil war, may include both pure silver pieces and plated pieces. But one must not argue from coinages such as these to the official coinage of the Roman state. Secondly, if false dies could be mechanically copied from a pure silver coin, it is doubtful whether any surviving Roman die can be regarded as official.

Text and images © Michael H. Crawford, with permission.
Footnote additions in green text by Andrew McCabe

Plated Coins - page index: Roman Republican Coins and Books by Andrew McCabe - Home Page

Plated Coins: commentary in Roman Republican Coinage

Michael H. Crawford, in Roman Republican Coinage, RRC, pp 560-562, reproduced with permission of the author.

Footnote additions in green text by Andrew McCabe. To ease cross-reference numbering continues from that above.

Plated Coins28

I have argued in NC 1968, 55-59 that all Roman Republican plated coins are unofficial forgeries;29 my reasons for doing so still seem to me to be valid and may indeed be further reinforced; I therefore restate them here with certain modifications.30

(28) For the technique of plated coins see A. Barb, Numismatische Zeitschrift 1930, 3; E. Darmstaedter, Mitt. Bayer. Num. Ges. 1929, 27 = N.Circ 1931, 54; O. Dahl, Metall-Wirtschaft 1931, 659 = Berliner Münzblätter 1931, 329 (all arguing that plated coins were made by covering a base metal core with silver sheet); W. Campbell, Greek and Roman Plated Coins (accepting this for some pieces, but arguing that other pieces were made by dipping a base metal core in molten silver); E. Bernareggi, RIN 1965, 5; E. Kalsch and U. Zwicker, Microchimica acta (Wien) Supp. iii, 1968, 210 (all finding evidence only for the first method); M. Picon and J. Guey, BSFN 1968, 318, Monnaies d'argent fourrées fabriquées par trempage (arguing for the second method). [AM: that only a method of coating rather than a soldered plating could produce the elongated grains and thin leaves of silver seen at the inner skin contacting the core.] The remarks of A. Barilli, RIN 1942, 44-46 are not based on experimental evidence.
(29) I am prepared to countenance the possibility that the authors of military issues, themselves illegal (see p.604), may have included plated pieces in their issues; but I do not think it likely. [AM: RRC p.604:] "The issues of Sulla and the Sullani, of Caesar and his opponents, and of the Triumvirs and their contemporaries were in my view quite simply illegal. Note also the probably Marian issue of anonymous quinarii, RRC 373. The issue of Pompeius as Proconsul, RRC 402, belongs in this context. It is interesting that gold first makes its appearance as a major monetary metal in military issues. Sulla did not strike before the end of 83 (see p.80: RRC 359, 83 B.C., and RRC 367, 82 B.C.), that is when the invasion of Italy was decided on and he no longer even formally recognised the authority of the Republican government; similarly Caesar struck only when the decision to cross the Rubicon was taken (see p.89: The absence of RRC 443 from hoards of the 50s...). For the Triumvirs the Lex Titia might perhaps be invoked; but it cannot explain the coinage of the Liberators or of men such as Q. Cornuficius and Q. Labienus. For all these coinages, the moneta castrensis of Lucan V(sic),380, the exigencies of war provided the reason and, insofar as one was needed, a justification could be found in the belief that the war was for the res publica. The context in which this moneta castrensis appears is clear evidence of its illegal status" [AM: Lucan I.374-380: "per signa decem felicia castris perque tuos iuro quocumque ex hoste triumphos, si spoliare deos ignemque inmittere templis, numina miscebit castrensis flamma monetae". trans: By your standards, victorious in ten campaigns, and by your triumphs, I swear, whoever be the foe whom you triumph over - If you bid me plunder the gods and fire their temples, the furnace of the military mint shall melt down the statues of the deities; Also see (courtesy J.Melville Jones) St Jerome (Hieronymus), Vita S. Pauli Primi Eremitae, 5 "Erant praeterea per saxeum montem haud pauca habitacula, in quibus scabrae iam incudes et mallei, quibus pecunia signatur, visebantur. Hunc locum Aegyptiorum literae ferunt furtivae monetae officinam fuisse, ea tempestate, qua Cleopatrae iunctus est Antonius". Paul seeks refuge in the lower Thebaid during the persecution of Decius and Valerian. There were also on the rocky mountain a few huts, in which even then the corroded anvils and hammers with which coinage is struck could be seen. Egyptian literature records that this place was the workshop of a clandestine mint, at the time when Antony was joined to Cleopatra.]
(30) I wish what I say here to be taken as superseding my remarks in NC 1968, 55-59; for the edict of M. Marius Gratidianus, which has nothing to do with plated coins, see p.620. [AM: RRC p.620: "The Praetors of 85, I believe, took steps to enforce observance of the official exchange rate of sixteen asses to one denarius. The semuncial reduction of 91 and the dislocation of normal life caused by the events of the next few years had apparently caused the nummus, here the denarius, to be tossed about, so that no-one knew its value. The Praetors presumably promised redress to anyone who was defrauded by the operation of irregular exchange rates".]

(1) A large number of plated coins are self-evidently unofficial forgeries; the list which follows these notes provides ample proof.

(2) Forgery of coins was illegal at Rome,31 so was the mere possession of a forged coin;32 rejection of forged coins was specifically permitted;33 there was a profession one of whose major functions was the testing of coins to see if they were genuine or plated.34 The effectiveness of these nummularii may be seen from the fact that while excavated sites are littered with plated pieces, presumably thrown away as too hot to handle, hoards almost never contain plated pieces.35

(31) [AM: Provisions of Lex Cornelia relating to false coins per footnotes 15 and 24 above] (note particularly the strong disapproval of forgery expressed by Cicero, an ex-quaestor).
(32) [AM: Penalties for adulterating, making or circulating false coin per footnote 16 above]
(33) [AM: Checking and rejecting of false coins per footnotes 7 and 26 above]
(34) [AM: Profession of nummularia per footnote 8 above; although not cited by Crawford, the following passage from A. Persius Flaccus, Saturae V, 104-6 is absoutely relevant (courtesy J.Melville Jones): "Tibi recte vivere Talo Ars dedit et veri speciem dinoscere calles, Nequa subaerato mendosum tinniat auro? Scholiast: Ita callidus es similitudinem veritatis agnoscere, ut aes auro obvolutum percutiendo intellegas? Sicut nummularii faciunt qui nondum instructi denarios aureo infectos pro auro accipiunt, quia usum dinoscendarum earum rerum non habent". The art of living righteously: Has your philosophy, Talo, enabled you to live righteously, and recognise the appearance of truth, so that there is no false bronze ringing beneath the gold? Scholiast: Are you so clever at recognising the truth, that you can recognise bronze which is wrapped round with gold by tapping it? As money changers do, who when they have not yet been trained, accept denarii coated with gold as gold, because they do not have experience in recognising these things.]
(35) Compare, for instance the Cosa hoard of 2,004 denarii of pure silver (RRCH 164) and the site finds from Cosa with 10 plated coins against 11 pure silver coins. [AM: T.V. Buttrey documented the Cosa hoard in Memoirs of the American Academy of Rome XXXIV 1980. This includes four plated pieces amongst the cited 2004 coins, all of different types (RRC 206, 335, 353, 385), and the remains - one side of the silver foil surviving - of one further one plated piece, Crassipes RRC 356, amongst a group of Rubrius Dossenus RRC 348, causing green corrosion to have leached over the group, thus showing that the Rubria were laid down together. This one piece of Crassipes resulted in 19% of the corrosion deposits seen in the hoard just in that small group of Rubria. Twelve other fragments of plating were found in the hoard, which may be from a smaller number of coin(s).] The regular occurrence of plated coins in large quantities on sites within the Roman Empire and their relative infrequency outside the Empire makes it clear that whoever produced them intended them to be used within Roman territory. There are, of course, hoards consisting largely or entirely of plated pieces; they are to be regarded as forgers's stocks. For some examples see: [list per footnote 6].

(3) No serious historian of the Roman Republic will countenance the degree of idiocy, not to say schizophrenia, which it is necessary to attribute to the Roman state if one is to believe that it manufactured plated coins and yet allowed, even encouraged, their weeding out and their rejection.36

(36) Note the nummularius employed by the Roman community of Cereate, CIL x,5689 [AM: nummularii at Antium (ILS 7262) and in the ager Pomptinus (ILS 7463) are also cited by M.H Crawford in Money and Exchange in the Roman World, JRS 1970]

The only thing which may be held to commend the belief that some plated coins are official mint products is the occurrence of plated and silver coins apparently from the same dies. I say apparently from the same dies, because it seems to me certain that in many cases the die-link is not really there. But even if cases could be proved, the considerations advanced above would suffice to make it certain that when the die in question was being used for the plated piece it was being used unofficially.

To substantiate my belief that some die-links between plated and silver pieces were only apparent, I drew attention to two coins from Hannover, one silver and one plated, which at first sight come from the same dies, but which display evidence of different and incompatible die-breaks.37 The only likely explanation of the phenomenon is that the dies used for the plated piece were mechanically copied from a pure silver piece, which had been struck from the same dies as the pure silver piece illustrated here before the appearance of some die-breaks. 38 These derivative dies then acquired in use die-breaks of their own.

(37) Hannover 2431 (silver - s.g. is 10.57) and 2432 (plated); the dies which struck the plated piece produced a somewhat less sharp outline and were also somewhat smaller; with this latter feature compare the difference in size between the two Imperial dies, one mechanically derived from the other, mentioned in BSFN 1960, 441. [AM refer footnote 14 and related illustration for differences between the dies; also for the cited BSFN example]. The die-breaks are misrepresented by M.R. Curry, N.Circ 1973,233,n.56.
(38) Note, for instance, in addition to the pieces discussed above, BMCRR Rome 3754 and BMCRR Rome 3815 (C.Piso Frugi) [AM: compare the reverses in great detail: note for example the horse's foot and lettering touch the border dots in the plated coin but are clearly distant from the border in the solid silver coin, but in almost all other respects the reverses are the same. The coins were struck from different dies despite the impression of a match]; Paris, AF 9766 and AF (Mn.Fonteius with P P on obverse, M on reverse); cf Tony Hackens, RBN 1962,31 for the issues of M.Volteius and Petillius Capitolinus.

61BC 408 C.PISO FRVGI solid silver and plated coin, apparently reverse die matches but see rev. border dots 7-9pm, the die for the plated coin was made by reproducing a real coin the finished incorrectly by hand
Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum

In order to make the derivative dies, each side of a coin was presumably pressed directly into the heat-softened face of a die to be. That some such procedure is possible and that good quality results are possible is now proved by the discovery of a group of dies for striking Republican coins at Tilisca in Romania.39 One of these dies seems at first sight the die which struck a denarius in the Maccarese hoard;40 but it cannot have done so because the relief on the latter piece is higher than would have been produced by the die. The only plausible explanation is that the Tilisca die was mechanically copied from a coin struck from the same die as the Maccarese hoard coin, but considerably more worn. If this was possible in Dacia, it was surely possible for a forger in Italy.41

382/1 C.NAE BALB Venus Roman Republican denarius, low-relief obverse die found in Dacia and also coin of higher relief but same form, Maccarese hoard, showing the die did not make this coin despite apparent match

(39) N.Lupu, Jahrbuch für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte 1967,101 [AM: Aspekte des Münzumlaufs im vorrömischen Dakien]; also mentioned in Dacia 1966, 505; Studii si Ceret&acaron;ri Istorie Veche 1966, 419; see above picture of die.
(40) Maccarese hoard 1082, see coin pictured above. [AM: note as evidence the band of hair running over the ear - the details are present on the coin but missing from the die which evidently was reproduced from a worn coin.]
(41) Ancient dies are listed by C.C. Vermeule, Ancient Dies and Coining Methods [AM: Vermeule does not list any Republican dies] add for the Republican period the die listed on p.23 [AM: RRC p23: The victoriatus with the legend Roma incuse RRC 96 is certainly of Spanish origin; six of the seven specimens known come from Spain and a die of the issue is preserved in the Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan in Madrid], also a reverse die for a denarius of C. Marius Capito (B. Mitrea, Ephemeris Dacoromana 1945) and a reverse die for a legionary denarius of M Antonius (E. Pegan, Congresso 1961, 435). The first I regard as an official die, the last two as forgers' dies. The reverse die for a denarius of L. Scipio Asiagenus acquired by the BM in 1870 (accession number, 1870/2/41) is not now to be found, but seems to be a modern forgery (E.A. Sydenham, NC 1935, 230). It is clear on statistical grounds that the majority of dies surviving from antiquity must be forger's dies, whatever one may think of individual examples; the opposite view would commit one to the belief that the mint was a good deal more careless over dies for precious metal coins than over dies for base metal coins, since relatively very few examples of the latter are known. [AM: William Malkmus "Ancient and Mediaeval Coin Dies" in "Conii e scene di coniazione", 2007, Travaini and Bolis eds, lists sixteen identifiable Republican dies, including those in this footnote but oddly overlooking the above Naevia RRC 382 actually pictured in RRC, and the Valeria RRC 365 shown below. Malkmus' dies include: RRC 96(R), 311(O,R), 323(O), 337(R), 378(R), 384(O), 386(R), 443(R), 466(O), 486(R), 544(3O, 2R). All that have provenance come from either Spain or the Balkans and can be presumed, per Crawford, to be forgers' dies unless individually proved otherwise, except for RRC 96]

I conclude that there is no numismatic evidence weighing against the inference to be drawn from the factors mentioned at the beginning of these notes and that the view that the Roman Republic struck plated coins is unsupported by any ancient evidence.42

(42) The article by P.P. Serafin, AIIN 1968,9 is not a serious contribution to the subject; her acceptance of Grueber's impossible chronology for the coinage of the early first century means that her calculations of the relative frequency of plated coins of the issues of different periods is without evidential value.

Text © Michael H. Crawford, with permission.
Footnote additions in green text by Andrew McCabe


Professor John Melville-Jones kindly provided me an extract of texts relating to forgeries from the forthcoming Testamonia Numaria Romana. Though not referenced by Crawford, I could hardly miss the following three short quotes, in a somewhat lighter tone:

  • Cicero poses a more felicitous moral problem in De Officiis 3,23,92: "Si quis aurum vendens orichalcum se putet vendere, indicetne ei vir bonus aurum illud esse, an emat denario quod sit mille denarium?", If someone who is selling gold believes that he is selling orichalcum, should a good man inform him that it is gold, or will he buy for a denarius something that is worth a thousand denarii?

  • Plautus, Mostellaria 892: "Pinacium: Tace sis, faber, qui cudere soles plumbeos nummos". Weak jokes are as useful as lead coins: Pinacium: "Be quiet, you smith, you who strike lead coins!"

  • Plautus, Trinummus 961-2 "Charmides: Eine aurum crederem, Quoi, si capitis res sit, nummum numquam credam plumbeum?" Charmides wonders whether the Sycophant can be trusted: "Should I trust him with the gold, When in a matter of life and death, I wouldn't trust him with a lead nummus?"

Plated Coins - page index: Roman Republican Coins and Books by Andrew McCabe - Home Page

A Plated Denarius Brockage of L.RVSTI

Annotazioni Numismatiche 32, 1998, Clive Stannard, reproduced with permission of the author.

A brockage results when a coin sticks to one of the dies, and strikes the next coin, creating a piece with the same design on the two sides, once in relief, and once incuse. Most are 'obverse brockages' (that is, the coin has stuck to the upper, or trussel die), because 'a coin attached to the lower anvil obverse die would be more likely to be seen and removed'.1 Brockages occur most often during intense, high-speed, production, when the operator works on without noticing the error. They are particulary common in the Roman Republic: 'the overall impression is of a coinage produced carelessly and in haste ... Given the scale on which the Republican coinage was produced, we should not be surprised'.2

389-1 L.Rusti Plated Brockage, coin above and plaster cast below illustrated, ref. Clive Stannard 1998

The coin is twice illustrated here, from plaster casts to show the form; and from the piece itself to show where the plating has come away

Another common phenomenon of the Republican silver coinage is the high number of plated pieces. Crawford has maintained3 - it seems to me conclusively - that all are forgeries. The best evidence for plated coins as an official mint product would be the identification of plated pieces from the same dies as good silver pieces; but he has argued that the apparent examples were made by forgers mechanically reproducing dies; moreover, even if plated coins were shown to share dies with good silver pieces, they could very well be the product of fraud in the mint, by workmen stealing dies, or bringing in plated flans for striking. The contention that the Roman state mixed plated pieces into issues is therefore not susceptible of positive proof from the numismatic evidence, though the inferential negative argument from the many aberrant mules and mistakes, and from the existence of forgers' hoards of all plated pieces, is strong.

The existence of brockage fakes might seem improbable, on prima facie grounds; it is unlikely would be working in volumes and at rhythms such as to give rise to brockages; I imagine, moreover, that they would carefully inspect their output for pieces that might give them away, and that brockages must be spotted.4 However, I illustrate an obverse brockage of a denarius of Cr. 389/1, L.RVSTI, 76BC (2.99 grams). I know of no other plated brockage.5 A number of untestable hypotheses could be formulated to explain it; it is better at present merely to record the piece, in case it can be of relevance in later discussions.

(1) J.P. Goddard. "Roman Brockages: a Preliminary Survey of their Frequency and Type", in M.M. Archibald and M.R. Cowells (eds.) Metallurgy in Numismatics, Volume 3, (1993), p.76
(2) M.H. Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage (1974), p. 583
(3) M.H. Crawford, p. 560-566. In "The hub from ancient Spain reconsidered" NC 1988 pp 141-143, I commented on a forger's cast hub for mechanically copying dies.
(4) Though, as good silver brockages obviously passed current, there would be no absolute reason to withdraw them.
(5) "I do not know of any other plated brockage. When I went through the lists of Republican Hoards to estimate frequency, I would have remembered and noted any specimen like yours. After the MIN-3 article appeared, I got a nice letter from an eminent scholar-collector of the Republican series, listing details of over 100 Republican brockages, but no mention of a plated one" (Goddard, personal message, 31 March 1998).

Text and images © Clive Stannard, with permission. Clive has a website with research papers on minting technology and Italian small change.


Clive Stannard's piece was written in 1998 and other plated brockages have since come to light. Aaron Emigh has a website showing eight Roman Imperial Plated Brockages. M.H. Crawford in RRC also noted on p.560: "M.Bahrfeldt observes ... also that some plated pieces are brockages ("Antike Münztechnik", pp 14 and 9 of offprint). I have not seen Bahrfeldt's paper.

Clive Stannard had the following comments on the brockages on Aaron Emigh's site: "Plated brockages are an index of speed of work. But there could also be a laziness factor, when someone simply didn't bother to scrape the offending stuck coin of the trussel. Neither of these are linear measures. One could look for signs that the dies are forgers' dies. I assume [the illustrated coins are from] transfer dies. I would not regard these coins as evidence for the mint striking plated coins. There is another interesting index, which is linear, and shows the number of coins struck from a single pair of dies with a coin stuck to one, that is, the spreading of the incuse image over time. I illustrate some spread brockages - not plates - in Evaluating the monetary supply - were dies mechanically reproduced in antiquity?" The evidence of these pieces bears out the suggestion that forgers were working at speed, with large volumes. John Goddard in Metallurgy in Numismatics 3, showed that in the time of Gallienus, obverse brockages are more common, suggesting that the reverse die was in the pie, not the trussel".

The Hub from Ancient Spain reconsidered

Numismatic Chronicle 1988, pp 141-143, Clive Stannard, abridged with permission of the author.

The interpretation of the object published in the 1986 NC1 as a hub for the official Roman Republican coinage involves special pleading: although it does indeed appear to be a hub, it is likely to be the work of a forger. One major deficiency points to this conclusion: the head of the hub is too small to bear the whole design. The edge of the hub cuts through the exergual inscription, through Victory's wings and through the top of the trophy. No official mint is likely to have prepared so inadequate a tool, for, if a die were struck from it, an engraver would still be needed to clean up the edges of the design.

A more economical explanation is that this is a forger's hub, made by casting bronze in the imprint of a victoriatus in clay or casting sand. This is also the simplest explanation as to why the inscription should be included on the hub. The shape of the coin - a little smaller than the design - is reproduced, and there is no linear border because a well-centred piece, with all the border off the flan, was chosen. The forger may have lacked the skill to cut a die or may have had no confidence in his ability to reproduce the Roman style. In any case the labour involved in the process (mould, bronze cast, and hubbing) was simpler in its elements and probably less in total than the preparation and engraving of a die. The main argument advanced against this - that no forger would make a hub (as this implied more work) unless at least two dies were intended - cannot stand. The lesser - that a forger would not have attempted the newer uncommon coin - has little value: it is precisely the unusual, the new, that is most easily counterfeited and passed; this is the case today and seems to have been the case in antiquity.2

The assertion that [AM: genuine, good silver] victoriati from dies made with this hub have been identified seems to me to be wishful thinking. [AM: Clive Stannard at this point lists numerous small differences between the good-silver coins illustrated in the NC 1986 article, and the forger's hub under discussion]. It follows that the identification of this forger's hub cannot be made to prove the Spanish origin of a group of coins, nor can it lend credence to the argument that the Roman mint used hubs for official coinage. A cast hub is at best a poor instrument: the metal is liable to blow-holes and surface weaknesses, which will deteriorate with use, and the mould must be taken from an actual coin which means means that dies must anyway be engraved.

The mechanical copying of dies has been demonstrated before (though, I feel, incorrectly explained), significantly in connection with forgeries. Crawford has drawn attention to two denarii, one silver and one plated, with the plated piece coming from copied dies, and suggest that "in order to make the derivative dies, each side of the coin was presumably pressed directly into the heat-softened face of the die to be". E.Pagan3 has also published some forger's dies from Yugoslavia, all with very clear steps down, as having been made by forcing actual coins into the metal of the die. I doubt that this is easily done and would argue rather that all these dies were made with cast hubs like the Spanish example.

(1) M. Garcia-Bellido, A Hub from Ancient Spain, NC 1976 pp 76-84
(2) J.P.C. Kent, The President's Address, NC 1986, "the major reforms were marked by a wave of counterfeiting of the new coins".
(3) Die antike Prägenstempel aus Yugoslawien, CIN 1961, Rome 1965 vol 2 pp 435-441

Text and images © Clive Stannard, with permission. Abridged from the original.

A Plated Quintus Cornuficius


As with many of the Imperatorial series that came to an abrupt end with the death of a relevant Imperator, one wonders how the coins of Brutus, Cassius and their confederates might have developed. The issues of Cornufucius are of great interest; Phil Davis provided the following write-up for this rather interesting plated issue which questions whether our general assumptions on plated coins are applicable in every last case. Michael Crawford indeed considered and allowed for this case in "Plated Coins - False Coins" where in the very last paragraph he says "It is possible that certain irregular coinages, produced in periods of civil war, may include both pure silver pieces and plated pieces. But one must not argue from coinages such as these to the official coinage of the Roman state". Perhaps he had Cornuficius in mind when he wrote this, although in RRC footnote 302 page 565 he says, "For plated denarii of Q.Cornuficius with aberrant style see F.Gnecchi, RIN 1900, 154; Bf.ii,110; A.Alföldi, Mélanges Carcopino, pl, 7 (wrongly disposed to treat the pieces as official mint products)". However the coin discussed below is not of aberrant style and consideration of it and other good style pieces of this Imperator, known in more than usual frequencies, may fit with the last thoughts of Crawford's Plated Coins paper.

Note by Phil Davis

Quintus Cornuficius was the republican governor of Africa Vetus (the "old" province) from 44-42 BC, during the civil wars. He was a man of considerable refinement, a poet and orator and a close friend of Cicero and Catullus. In 43 BC, Cornuficius refused to hand over his province to Antony's nominee, and he was proscribed by the triumviral government. In 42 BC, he was attacked by Titus Sextius, the governor of the neighboring province of Africa Nova. The course of this local conflict mirrored that of the wider civil war. Cornuficius enjoyed some initial success, even briefly invading Sextius' province, but he was utimately defeated and killed outside Utica in 42 BC. Before his defeat, Cornuficius produced a remarkable coinage in gold and silver, of astonishing artistic achievement. The three obverse types, heads of Africa, Jupiter Ammon, and Ceres-Tanit, all refer to his province of Africa. They share a common reverse, which depicts Cornuficius as augur being crowned by Juno Sospita, seemingly a reference to his own Lanuvine origin. All of these coins are of considerable rarity today. In Tresors Monetaires XX, 2002, p. 1-4, Michel Amandry published a definitive die study and corpus of this fascinating issue. Amandry knew of only 24 denarii of all types, including 12 with the head of Ceres-Tanit. These latter were struck from only three obverse and six reverse dies; three of these reverses were also paired with the Jupiter Ammon obverse.

509/5 Cornuficia Denarius Q.CORNVFICI AVGVR IMP. head Ceres or Tanit, Cornuficius crowned by Juno Sospita. Utica 42BC. AM#09158-42

Q. Cornuficius; Denarius Fourre, African Mint, 42 BC, 4.15g. Amandry-27 (D6/R11) Cr-509/5, Syd-1354 (R9); Sear, Imperators-231. Obv: Head of Ceres-Tanit r. Rx: Q. Cornuficius standing l. wearing veil and holding lituus in right hand; Juno Sospita stands on r. with crow perching on shoulder holding spear and shield in l. hand and crowning Q. Cornuficius with r.; Q CORNVFICI AVGVR IMP around.

The present cataloguer is aware of two additional specimens of Ceres-Tanit; thus, this coin is perhaps the fifteenth known example. Following Crawford, the "conventional wisdom" is that all plated Republican silver coins are contemporary forgeries. The coins of Cornuficius seem to present an unmistakable exception to this general rule. Three coins in Amandy's Corpus are also fourrees; thus, including the present coin, out of 15 known examples, four are plated. This is an almost inconceivable percentage, if these fourrees are indeed ancient forgeries. They are struck from two obverse and two reverse dies; thus the hypothetical forger would have needed to possess by happenstance at least two examples of this exceedingly rare coin. There is good reason however to believe that in this particular case the plated coins are just as "official" as the good silver ones, especially as the plated and good silver coins share dies. It is possible to construct a persuasive scenario for this claim which doesn't violate Crawford's general dictum. The good silver coins would be the money Quintus Cornuficius minted to pay his soldiers, in the early, successful days of his struggle for North Africa. As the war turned against him, it is easy to imagine him increasingly strapped for precious metal, and resorting to striking more and more plated denarii. His soldiers expected to be paid, and were probably prepared not to examine that payment overly closely. At the end, he was restricted to Utica and its environs; how much silver could have remained there after months of fighting?.

Text courtesy Phil Davis © Harlan J Berk, with permission.

Plated Coins - page index: Roman Republican Coins and Books by Andrew McCabe - Home Page

Campbell's Greek and Roman Plated Coins: an example

I reproduce below a plate from William Campbell's 1933 classic metallurgical analysis, "Greek and Roman Plated Coins". The frontispiece of the book has a fold-out full-coin cross-section with an enlargement at six points in the cross-section. No doubt confusing countless generations of numismatists, the cross-section and its enlargement are upside down relative to each other in the frontispiece, and the key to the plate is later in the book with a diagram that looks little like the photographed shape of the coin and is upside-down relative to the photo. However in the picture below I've placed the two photos and the diagram in the correct relative positions, with their commentary below: This is only one of 38 coins analysed by Campbell, in a lengthy small-format book, but the discussion around this coin is in a similar vein to others in his book. Note that the conclusions in this case apply specifically to the pictured coin, and not universally to the fourrees in his monograph. The coin whose cross-section below is of Lucius Lucretius Trio, Neptune and a boy on a Dolphin 76BC.

Cross-section of a Roman Republican Denarius Campbell Plated Greek and Roman Coins 1933


The two layers of silver are joined at the lower left corner by a patch of eutectic.


A thin band of eutectic shows between the copper core and the silver in the lower part, while the upper silver coating consists of a thin film of silver surrounded on both sides by a matrix of eutectic.


Practically the same; on the extreme upper right the film of silver has disappeared - the coating is wholly eutectic. The black zone is copper oxide due to corrosion.


The lower silver coating is in two distinct layers, with a layer of eutectic both inside and outside. The upper coating is all eutectic; the black zone, mainly copper oxide.


Very similar to D. In striking the copper coin was made to flow considerably in places causing the grain structure to be elongated parallel to the direction of flow.


Irregular patches of eutectic show between the core and the upper coating. The lower part of the core is badly corroded.

Campbell concludes - for this coin only - that the silver coating was not produced by dipping a copper blank into either molten-silver or molten silver-copper alloy, nor was it made by the Sheffield-plate method where sheet silver is applied to copper by heating the two in close contact such that they produced a film of eutectic alloy by diffusion. Instead, eutectic alloy, or silver solder of 72% silver and 28% copper was attached to the copper and that further addition of silver solder caused the coatings to run with the layered results as seen in the lower half of the cross-section. The book considers each coin on the merits of the metallurgy it presents to the microscope and reaches different conclusions in different cases.

The Roman Law of Counterfeiting

Philip Grierson, in Essays in Roman Coinage Presented to Harold Mattingly, 1956

I cite below some key statements by Grierson on the development of Roman Law on counterfeiting through Imperial times, that also cast light on the law and practice of counterfeiting during the Roman Republic. Sulla's Lex Cornelia de Falsis seems to have had a very long life, as accounts of legal changes in the Empire only mirror changed circumstances, e.g. the widespread use of gold and reintroduction of bronze from the late Republic onwards, and the widening citizenship franchise. The basic tenets of Sulla's law seem to have survived through the fourth century AD. There are some surprises to a modern mind - counterfeiting was generally not a capital offence, it was generally treated as a form of theft or fraud rather than a political crime, and counterfeiting of bronze was not addressed at all.

Lex Cornelia de Falsis

The basis of the Roman law regarding counterfeiting was a section in Sulla's lex Cornelia de falsis c.81BC dealing with the coinage. Its text is lost, and we have to reconstruct its tenor from Ulpian's summary of some of its clauses. It envisaged only the silver coinage, and the punishments it laid down were subsquently construed as banishment (free men) or death (slaves) for anyone guilty of counterfeiting silver coins or conniving at the offence. The buying or selling of coins of lead or tin, i.e. pieces which might be mistaken for silver, was also forbidden. Gold coins were not dealt with, for at that time the Republic had none. No mention at all was made of bronze, presumably because the decision had already been taken to discontinue coinage in this metal. The approach of the law of counterfeiting was purely ethical: it envisaged the offence as a form of fraud, and liable to be punished as such. There is no trace in it of the political approach, which regards counterfeiting as an offence against the state. These features were to influence profoundly the later development of the law of counterfeiting.

Iulius Paulus, Sententiae V, xii, 12 (courtesy J.Melville-Jones): "Eius bona, qui falsam monetam percussisse dicitur, fisco vindicantur. Quodsi servi ignorante domino id fecisse dicantur, ipsi quidem summo supplicio efficiuntur, domino tamen nihil aufertur; quia peiorem domini causam servi facere, nisi forte scierit, omnino non possunt". The punishment that is to be inflicted on counterfeiters: The property of a person who is declared to have struck false coinage is to be vindicated to the fiscus. But if slaves are said to have done this without the knowledge of their master, the supreme punishment (i.e., death) is to be inflicted upon them, but nothing is to be removed from their master; since slaves cannot make their master's situation worse, if it happens that he is in ignorance.

Developments in Counterfeiting Law arising from the Lex Cornelia

The Lex Cornelia de Falsis was one of those great constructive pieces of legislation dating from the late Republic and the early Principate on which all subsequent criminal law was built up. Future development came partly through the replies of the emperor or his ministers to requests for decisions in particular cases and partly through the opinions of the great jurists as embodied in manuals of law and handbooks for provincial governors. The terms of the Lex Cornelai were extended, as was natural, to cover the gold coinage. The ways in which gold or sulver coins might be maltreated, by falsifying, washing, melting, clipping, breaking or injuring were elaborated in great detail. The refusal to accept gold or silver coins bearing the imperial portrait, provided they were genuine, became an offence. Makers of tesserae (such as that shown below) which might be mistaken for coins were exempted from punishment, provided it could be shown that they had acted innocently and made amends.

61BC 408/1 #09180-24 Apollo Horseman Lead Tessera Imitative Denarius issued by Fabia and Fronto

Counterfeiting by Mint Workers

There was the special problem of the moneyers. In the main they were liable in the same way as the other folk. But if they abstracted the dies or other instruments from the mint and used them for coining elsewhere, it was held that in so doing they were guilty only of theft (peculatio), not counterfeiting, since the coins, even if not properly authorised, were struck in due legal form. The fact that the lawyers regarded it as necessary to take special note of it should perhaps cause numismatists to revise the generally accepted view [AM: in 1956] of the official character of the plated denarii of the late replublic and early empire. If the misuse of regular dies, as envisaged in the dictum of Ulpian, really took place on an extensive scale, it disposes of the only serious argument in favour of the official origin of these coins.

Punishment for counterfeiting: Not a capital offence

Penalties which are essentially those of the Lex Cornelia (exile for the rich or banishment to the mines for the poor), seem to have applied only to silver, for Ulpian prescribes severer measures against those caught tampering with gold coins (free men being condemned to the beasts in the amphitheatre). We are confronted by the surprising fact that under the Principate no legislation against the counterfeiting of bronze is known to have existed. The gold and silver were par excellence imperial money, Caesaris moneta, the bronze was not. There is reason to believe that as late as the mid fourth century the death penalty was not normally inflicted, and that counterfeiting was not thought of as a capital crime. The evidence for this comes from the amnesties which it was becoming customary for the emperors to issue every Easter and from whose operation those guilty of capital crimes were expressly excluded. Two amnesties of 367 and 368 give a list of such offences: treason, sorcery, murder, adultery, rape, tomb-robbery and soothsaying. Neither makes any mention of counterfeiting.

A Hoard of Plated Claudian Coins

A forger's stock of plated coins together with a lump of bronze made from melted coins, no doubt ready for use as raw material, was found in North Suffolk in 1995 and reported Coin Hoards X. The hoard is on display in the British Museum. The examples shown below are of good style, with die-matches evident in the two top-right coins.

Suffolk forger's hoard of plated coins, detail of 6 coins various types of the emperor Claudius

More coins below show mostly common obverse dies, and a couple of further reverse types. Other examples amongst the 56 displayed in the Museum include an obverse of Augustus and of Tiberius. Many of the coins have lost silvering no doubt due to physical and corrosive effects but had they not, they might easily have been mistaken at sight for genuine coins even to an expert. Michael Crawford's work on Plated Coins - False Coins, explains how predominantly all plated coins are forgeries but this Suffolk hoard is a visible demonstration of that reality, coming from an unquestionable forgers context yet with a wide variety of plated coins of apparently good style.

Suffolk forger's hoard of plated coins, detail of 12 coins various types of the emperor Claudius

Plated Coins - page index: Roman Republican Coins and Books by Andrew McCabe - Home Page

List of Plated Coins in Roman Republican Coinage

Michael H. Crawford, in Roman Republican Coinage, RRC, pp 562-565, reproduced with permission of the author

Format changes by Andrew McCabe for conciseness and in order to embed references by Michael Crawford to other pages in RRC. Any resultant errors are my responsibility.

The following list of plated coins is not intended to be in any way an exhaustive catalogue of the aberrant legends and types which occur on plated pieces but is should suffice to prove that many of these are characterised by abberant features which exclude the possiblity of their being official mint products.

I do not here list plated hybrids, the existence of which provides further support for the view that plated coins are not official mint products; it is worth remembering, however, that hybrids are often wrongly reported as being of pure silver, when they are in fact plated. The only examples known to me of hybrids of pure silver are (1) a denarius (Rome, Capitol 2858) of L.Trebanius RRC 241 with the obverse type of C.Augurinus RRC 242; it is of pure silver and should be regarded as a hybrid produced in error by the mint; (2) two denarii Turin F645, and Hannover 3894 cf. M. Bahrfeldt Nachträge i,2, of M. Aburius Geminus RRC 250 with obverse of aberrant type; these obverse could technically belong to the issues of Ti.Minucius Augurinus, P.Maenius Antiaticus, N.Fabius Pictor or to that with elephant's head, but their style is almost certainly thar of the issue of P.Maenius Antiaticus RRC 249 The denarii in question are of pure silver and should be regarded as hybrids produced in error by the mint. [AM: the Hannover 3894 catalogue entry refers to this coin as plated; I cannot tell whether this was later determined or if the catalogue is in error]. (3) Haeberlin 2075 = Mabbott 4113 combines the obverse of RRC 391/2 (Cupid) with the reverse of 391/3 (Roma and Venus). (4) Denarius combining obverse of RRC 488/1 with reverse of RRC 489/1 (both issues of M. Antonius) overstruck on a denarius of C. Lentulus RRC 393/1 which is plated, a fact presumably not apparent at the time of overstriking.

391-2 Cupid obverse hybrid with 391-3 Roma and Venus obverse ex-Haeberlin

For the sake of completeness I list those ancient forgeries which are known to me which are not plated pieces, but pieces composed of a base alloy intended to resemble silver: A denarius of L.Sempronius Pitio in the Cordova hoard and another in Paris. A denarius of M. Tullius "di piombo" in the Ossolaro hoard. A denarius of Sufenas in the BM, 3.97% silver, 1.30% gold; rest tin, antimony and zinc. A denarius of A. Plautius, 70% tin; 28% antimony; 1% zinc; 0.7% lead; traces of sulphur, iron, nickel and copper (G.F. Carter, Chemistry, November 1966,11 = SCMB 1965,58). See also F. Gnecchi, RIN 1892,165 for lead forgeries from Rome of Republican silver and Imperial silver and bronze.

Needless to say, the commonness of different issues of plated coins by and large reflects the commonness of the issues which they copy.

List of Plated Coins, number as per RRC - ALL coins listed below are plated.

  • Table XIX - RRC 22 irregular control mark combination Rudder/Ω Naples F1403;
  • Table XX - RRC 336 irregular control mark combinations B/frog Glasgow; F/plough Paris, AF; O/crab Turin, Simboli 352; and BMCRR Rome 1768; V/fly Glasgow.
  • Table XXI - RRC 340/2 cornucopiae control mark but differs from usual die, Hague 207, s.g. 9.05
  • Table XXIX - RRC 363 irregular control mark combination insect/X published by Riccio Catalogo 137
  • Table XXX - (a) RRC 365/1a wreath control mark but differs from usual die with blundered reverse legend C.VAL FLF and both standards belonging to the hastati, Tübingen and Turin; (b) RRC 365/1b - E control letter but differs from usual die, Bologna (RN 1969, pl.vii,4), Glasgow, Turin, BM; and (c) RRC 365/1b - N control letter but differs from usual die with blundered reverse legend C.VAL.FA, as BMCRR Gaul 20 (s.g. 0.86, not noted in 1970 edition) NB blundered legend off-flan on this coin; and Parma (RN 1969, pl.viii,5)
  • Table XXXI - (a) RRC 366/1a with no control mark, Milan 1480 (b) RRC 366/1a retrograde N control mark, BM (c) RRC 366/4 XVIII control mark
  • Table XXXIII - RRC 378 irregular control mark combinations VI/LXXV Turib F3370, Paris AF; XII/CXXIII Hannover 2859; LVIIII/LXVI Leningrad; LXXXVIII/CXXXV Gotha; CIIII/XXXVIII Berlin; CIIII/CXXIII Paris AF and BM.
  • Table XXXV - RRC 385/4 irregular control mark combination cock/OB Berlin and BM
  • Table XXXVII - RRC 398 III control number but differs from usual die, BMCRR Rome 3302, ANS HSA 10507 and Hague 1497.
  • Table XXXVIII - (a) RRC 399/1a irregular control mark combination obverse: dolphin but no letter, reverse: Π Copenhagen and BM (b) RRC 399/1b ditto, dolphin but no letter / Π Quadras & Ramnon 277, BM and Copenhagen, (c) ditto dolphin & C / A, Paris A8661 (d) ditto sponge & H / C, BMCRR Rome 3346
  • Table XLII and XLIII - RRC 340 irregular combinations not from usual dies as follows: (a) head r laur. N/horseman r, palm, FRVG, G above, BM (b) head r laur. M/horseman r, palm, FRVG, arrow-head above, Copenhagen (c) head r laur. caduceus with club as handle / horseman right, whip, FRVG, torque above, (d) head r laur. CXI / horseman r, conical cap palm FRV, two dotted parallel lines above (e) head l fillet, •L / horseman r, conical cap palm FRV, arrow-head below, Copenhagen (f) head r fillet oil jar strigil / horseman r, palm FRV, IΛ above, BMCRR Rome 3724 (g) head r fillet CCX / horseman r, phrygian cap, crescent below, C.PISIO (sic) L.F.FRV, Copenhagen (h) head r fillet club / horseman r, palm FRV Λ above (i) head r, key / horseman l, torch, FRVGI, lizard above, BMCRR Rome 3750 (j) head r fillet DXX / horseman r, palm, FRV, T above, BM (k) head r fillet V (non-existent in silver) / horseman r, FRV, Ξ, BM
  • 247 - RRC 210/1 ROMA garbles (M over A), Paris, Rothschild
  • 248 - RRC 215/1 Q.MRC, Hannover 1638, 3.21 grams
  • 249 - RRC 224/1 mark of value X instead of XVI, Paris, Rothschild
  • 250 - RRC 250/1 ROMA instead of NOM, Hannover 1870 and 1871
  • 251 - RRC 230/1 (a) Victory in biga instead of Diana, and XVI instead of X, Capitol 2725 (b) regular obverse but same reverse die as for (a), Capitol 2724
  • 252 - RRC 231/1 (a) Juno has a bow instead of a sceptre, Hannover 1855, 3.94 grams (b) C.RENIV instead of C.RENI
  • 253 - RRC 232/1 CN.GE instead of CN.GEL, Budapest and Copenhagen
  • 235-1 plated denarius of Sextus Pompeius Fostulus with irregular types - odd obverse jar shape, star instead of X

  • 254 - RRC 235/1 (a) aberrant types pictured above, odd shaped jar behind head and star instead of X, Vienna (Bahrfeldt i,pl.ix,222)
  • (b) SEX.P instead of SEX.POM, Glasgow
  • 255 - RRC 236/1 (a) M.BAEBI instead of M.BAEBI Q.F., Bahrfeldt i,54 (b) M.BAEBI M.F., Vienna 926, BM two specimens
  • 256 - RRC 243/1 T.MINVCI instead of T.MINVCI C.F., Bahrfeldt ii,62
  • 257 - RRC 252/1 retrograde S in L.POST ALB. M.Bahrfeldt, ZfN 1877,44
  • 258 - RRC 258 denarii of N.Fabius Pictor with aberrant control marks, see M.H. Crawford NC 1965,153
  • 259 - (a) RRC 282/3 C.MALLE L.F. instead of C.MALLE C.F., Glasgow (b) RRC 282/4 Bituitus is missing his carnyx and legend is L.LIC.CN.DM, cast in Berlin, Fallani. Wrongly cited by M.H. Crawford as a variant of RRC 282 in the M. Thompson's Agrinion Hoard, hereby corrected as a plated piece.
  • 260 - RRC 257/1 / RRC 286/1 hybrid, Gotha (M.Bahrfeldt, ZfN 1877,32), the coin is serrated and wrongly cited as an example of official serration in the mint in M.Bahrfeldt's "Münztechnik", p10, by H.Mattingly NC1924,33 and by E.A.Sydenham NC 1935,229, whereas it is a plated hybrid.
  • 261 - RRC 292/1 P.Nerva, abberant types, Glasgow
  • 295/1 Plated Denarius of L.Torquatus, note missing reverse praenom and slightly irregular obverse style, BMCRR Italy 521
    Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum

  • 262 - RRC 295/1 missing the moneyer's praenomen, BMCRR Italy 251 cf. Bahrfeldt iii,72. 3.51 grams, The BM online catalogue does not mark this as plated but it clearly is, and identified as such by Crawford.
  • 263 - (a) RRC 296/1a obverse with RRC 296/1e reverse, Vatican 2238. (b) in place of the star above Scipio's head there is the denarial XVI sign, Bahrfeldt i,90 (c) ROMAA instead of ROMA, Bahrfeldt i,90
  • 264 - RRC 299/1a with AP.CL.T.M instead of AP.CL.T.MAL Q.VR.
  • 265 - RRC 307/1a obverse with RRC 307/1b reverse, Paris A9759
  • 266 - RRC 313/1b but L.MEMMI CAL instead of L.MEMMI GAL, Paris, AF.
  • 267 - RRC 314 with TOC.L instead of L.COT, Bahrfeldt, ii,22
  • 268 - RRC 316 no control letter on reverse, B.Chaurand, BSFN 1965,467
  • 269 - RRC 318 but Victory in biga right instead of left, Paris, AF (control mark •R above)
  • 270 - RRC 320 (a) L.IVLI L.F CAESAR instead of L.IVLI C.F. CAESAR, Rio Marina hoard; three examples of abberant control mark combinations, which should match, in (b) Vienna 35614 (c) Glasgow (d) Toronto
  • 271 - RRC 321 eight examples of abberant control mark combinations (a) Haeberlin 892 also with retrograde reverse legend (b) BMCRR Rome 1736 (c),(d) Morell (e) M.Bahrfeldt, ZfN 1877,45 (f) Gotha (g) Cambridge and BM (h) Paris, AF.
  • 272 - (a) RRC 322/1a obverse with RRC 322/1b reverse, Turin F2524 (b) RRC 322/1b obverse with RRC 322/1a reverse, BMCRR Rome 1606
  • 273 - RRC 327 four examples of abberant control mark combinations (a) O/X, Vienna 36542 (b) N/O, Copenhagen (c) O/K, Syracuse hoard, RRCH 154 (d) Φ/A, BM
  • 274 - RRC 329 eight examples of abberant control mark combinations (a),(b) Oslo (c) Paris, AF and Hannover (d) M.Bahrfeldt, ZfN 1877,46 (e) Haeberlin 1119 and Paris AF (f) Haeberlin 1120 (g) Berlin and Hannover (h) Morell
  • 275 - RRC 335/10b with P instead of R below head of Apollo, ANS
  • 276 - RRC 337/3 with control letter H rather than control number on reverse, Vatican 3756
  • 277 no entry
  • 278 - RRC 360/1b with C.LHMEAT instead of C.LIMETAN, Paris, AF.
  • 279 - RRC 379/1 with the PR of Procili replaced with upside-down LR, Mainz Stadtarchiv
  • 280 - RRC 383 XXVII control number but differs from usual die, Vetulonia site find in Museo Nazionale di Firenze
  • 281 - RRC 388/1 with legend AMOR O.SATRISΛVS, Vienna
  • 282 - RRC 391/3 with legend including retrograde letters C.EGNATIVS N.F. CN.N, Paris AF
  • 283 - (a) RRC 392/1b obverse with RRC 392/1a reverse (b) RRC 392/1b with legend L.FARSVEI
  • 284 - RRC 397/1 with legend P.LENT.P.F.P.N. instead of P.LENT.P.F.L.N.Q.
  • 285 - RRC 400/1 with control numbers that don't match: IIII/VII, Basel, Hannover 2934, Hague 541; XI/XXIIII Oertel collection cited by Bahrfeldt iii,25
  • 286 - RRC 410/2 with legend T.POMPONI MVSA instead of Q.POMPONI MVSA
  • 287 - RRC 413 (a) head of Vesta right rather than left with legend LONGIN III instead of LONGIN.III.V, Babelon i,333 (b) moneyers name on obverse and control letter C on reverse, Gotha and Jungfer collections cited by M.Bahrfeldt ZfN 1877,47
  • 288 - RRC 422/1a obverse with RRC 422/1b reverse, Bahrfeldt i,13 and pl.1; Haeberlin 2336 = Mabbot 4107; Paris AF
  • 289 - RRC 424 retrograde N and S throughout C.CONSIDI NONIANI, Greau 210
  • 290 - (a) RRC 448/1 with legend ////ERN// instead of SASERNA, Bahrfeldt i,138 and iii,53 (b) RRC 448/3 with legend SASENA instead of SASERNA, Paris AF.
  • 460/2 Plated denarius of Metellus Scipio and Publius Crassus but with reverse legend C.CASSIVS in place of CRASS.IVN

  • 291 - RRC 460/2 with legend C.CASSIVS instead of CRASS.IVN, Haeberlin 2634
  • 292 - RRC 454/2 (a) with NERVA III VIR above rather than around horseman, Paris AF (b) obverse legend A.LICINI instead of A.LICINIVS, Paris AF. Note, RRC has 455 (sic) for this entry; this corrects.
  • 293 - RRC 477 Buttrey Pietas type 6, NC 1960,90, is clearly plated
  • 294 - RRC 483/2 with retrograde N in Q.NASIDIVS, Paris, AF
  • 295 - RRC 488/2 with retrograde NT in M.ANTO.IMP.R.P.C., Paris AF.
  • 296 - RRC 489/2 obverse with RRC 489/1 reverse, Haeberlin 3006 (whence line-drawing illustrations in BMCRR vol.2,393 and Babelon)
  • 297 - (a) RRC 494/43 with obverse legend CONCOROIA and reverse legend completely reversed, M. Bahrfeldt ZfN 1877,49, Bahrfeldt i,78 (b) RRC 494/39 obverse with RRC 494/42-43 reverse and legend L.MUSSIDIVC LONGVC Paris AF.
  • 298 - RRC 500/3 with reverse legend LEIBERATAS (sic), Kunst und Münzen 25/5/69,420
  • 299 - RRC 502/2 with legend Q.CAEPIO BRIVS IRO COS (sic), M. Bahrfeldt ZfN 1877,49
  • 300 - RRC 504/1 with legend C.FLAV.HEMC instead of C.FLAV.HEMIC, Paris AF
  • 301 - RRC 508/2 with legend I.PIAET.CEST (sic), Paris AF
  • 302 - RRC 509 for plated denarii of Q.Cornuficius with aberrant style see F.Gnecch, RIN 1900, 154; Bahrfeldt ii,110, A,Alföldi Mélanges Carcopino,pl.7, 7-8 (wrongly disposed to treat the pieces as official mint products). [AM: This note on Cornuficius refers to aberrant style pieces. The Cornuficius 509/5 discussed on this page may draw different conclusions)
  • 303 - RRC 517/5a with legend INP instead of IMP, Paris AF
  • 304 - RRC 522/2 with legend III.VR instead of III.VIR, Berlin
  • 305 - Plated quinarii of Caesar with invented types, see SM 1956,7 (Vidy hoard)

Text © Michael H. Crawford, with permission. Format changes by Andrew McCabe - any transcription errors are entirely my own.

A Forger's Die

I thought it appropriate to end this web-page with a picture of a forger's die which I handled and photographed recently. The die is of type 365/1 C.VAL.FLAC. Looking at it for more than a moment it becomes clear that such a piece would never be sturdy enough to allow for the mass-production of coinage at the mint in Rome. Furthermore and very obviously, the die-face is not properly finished - it appears to have been formed from an impression of a real coin but some details at the left of the die are just not there. This could only have been made by some form of mechanical transfer as discussed throughout this web-page, from a coin that itself missed the same details due to being offstruck or weakly struck. For if engraved by hand, why not produce a finished image? Of course coins from this die will evidently miss the same details. Perhaps they weren't caught in ancient times but a keen eye such Michael Crawford possessed when compiling the list directly above should catch such forgeries today. A final thought - this die may be a forgery, but even then it demonstrates a forger's die which was made by mechanical reprodution.

365/1 C VAL FLAC Eagle Standards Denarius Bronze Die for minting coins

Plated Coins - page index: Roman Republican Coins and Books by Andrew McCabe - Home Page

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See my rarity estimates for Roman Republican Bronzes: Roman Republic Bronze Rarities..