Editor's note: The following is the final segment of a
multi-part Coin World series about the market for ancient coin
fakes and forgeries prepared by Jeff Starck for the December 2014
monthly edition of Coin World.
Read other posts in this series:
While replicas like those being sold today by Charles Doyle are
generally inexpensive, the other reproductions are a little pricier.
Many collectors are willing to buy the “classic” fakes, such as
Beckers, Paduans, and Robert Ready electrotypes, said Kerry
Wetterstrom, former editor of ancient coin journal The Celator,
as they have been published and are overall of high quality.
“A lot of sophisticated collectors’ collections included
counterfeits identified as such,” he said. “They collected them as a
way to educate themselves and because of curiosity, to see what’s out
there so they didn’t get fooled.”
There is a genuine price disparity between the actual thing and the
purported coins. While it is not unusual for Becker and Robert Ready
pieces to sell for several hundred dollars, a few examples of copies
sell for more, like reproductions of a Kimon dekadrachm, or a Naxos
tetradrachm, Wetterstrom said.
Classical Numismatic Group auctions over the past few years bear
A Becker-made copy of a circa 409 to 406 B.C. silver decadrachm of
Akragas (also in Sicily), in Good VF, realized $1,840 in a March 13,
2013, online auction (with the 15 percent fee). For comparison, a
similar, authentic example sold for €20,700 ($28,721 in U.S. funds) in
a March 10, 2014, auction by Gorny & Mosch (including a 15 percent
buyer’s fee added to the hammer price).
A Good Very Fine Robert Ready electrotype of a silver tetradrachm
from Syracuse, in Sicily, styled after a piece by the famous artist
Kimon, realized $747.50 in a June 26, 2013, online auction (including
the 15 percent buyer’s fee). Authentic tetradrachms of Kimon are
famous, and command multiple tens of thousands of dollars when sold at auction.
A struck original Cavino, graded Good Very Fine with a planchet
crack, imitating a sestertius of Trajan, sold through the firm’s
online auction closing Nov. 5, realized $977.50, including the 15
percent fee. A comparable example was unavailable of an original coin
having the same design as the Cavino piece.
Rosa pieces are not that expensive, less than $100 each usually,
which means sales are probably limited to the Internet or large lots,
according to Wetterstrom.
These pieces are perfectly legal to own, and to sell, as long as
they are identified as reproductions and modern (i.e.,
post-Renaissance) fakes, Wetterstrom said.
“I can’t say that I have ever encountered one mislabeled as an
original, but it probably has happened, somewhere, at some point in
time,” Wetterstrom said.
The Paduan sestertii are the most likely pieces to be misleading,
because of the patina that comes with their age.
Education is the largest arrow in the collector’s quiver when
beginning to collect these pieces.
Besides Wayne Sayles’ book, Classical Deception: Counterfeits,
Forgeries and Reproductions of Ancient Coins, another useful
reference is David Hendin’s Not Kosher, Forgeries of Ancient Jewish
and Biblical Coins. Collectors should read works by and speak
with experts, and study to make themselves aware of the field.
Collecting forgeries and reproductions of ancient coins has moved
into the mainstream.
“They used to be more of a curiosity, every collector owned a few
old fakes, but in this day and age of expensive, perhaps even
record-breaking prices, these types of forgeries give the collector of
average means the opportunity to own something that they can still
admire, but would never be able to afford if genuine,” Wetterstrom said.
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